Gold Dick Lovett Companies
Silver Dixon Motors
Bronze Norton Way Motors
The determination of the Dick Lovett Companies to give its employees the best chance of proving their worth led to the foundation of its Academy of Learning. Now, after taking the gold award for training, the group has an incentive to press ahead to make the most of its investment.
As Carter & Carter says, the group's achievement in gaining Investors in People status demonstrates “a genuine strategy of linking people development to business indicators”.
Given the importance of training, the judges were disappointed that only four companies presented entries which justified their inclusion on the shortlist. The Dick Lovett Academy of Learning has started only recently but it does show a commitment to training apparently lacking in many other motor retail groups.
The Academy of Learning was established to maximise the potential of a workforce of 380 in this privately-owned group run by Peter Lovett, son of the founder. The approach is to develop all employees through the achievement of specific business tasks, rather than sending them “on a battery of training courses”. Staff are supported by technical training.
Dixon Motors, winner of the silver award, handles all training in-house and has clear objectives relating to the success of the business. According to group human resources director Trevor Parker, these include reducing the number of customer complaints and keeping staff turnover to a minimum.
According to Carter & Carter, many of Dixon's development activities can be found in most large group training functions. But it adds: “Dixon is clearly committed to the development of all employees and there will be tangible, measurable improvements because of the ongoing activity.” At Dixon Motors, “teamwork and togetherness” are fundamentals. The company says this is because rapid growth has meant increasingly varied and more complex training requirements. Group managers tested the system and higher productivity was reported – now all at Dixon are said to enjoy the experience.
There is another award for Norton Way Motors, winners of bronze for training, after taking gold for dealer group last year and for aftersales in 1998. Carter & Carter says the Honda dealership at Letchworth, Herts, uses standard components in its induction and performance review. But it adds: “However, training utilises an interesting mix of external and internal development activities which, having been identified, offers solutions via a broad menu of development activities.”
The dealership based its submission for a training award on its commitment to the ISO9002 procedure. All staff undergo performance measuring and training needs identification so that they can play a full part in this profitable business.
Holden Group, East Anglia's largest independent motor dealership group, is working with Training for Profit, which operates only in the motor industry, to develop an aftersales programme. A marketing campaign encouraging Volvo users to check their oil more often resulted in a rise in sales and a profit close to six figures in the first year. This was a counter to longer servicing gaps.