The training, which has been developed with the Henry Ford College at Loughborough University, will help the company combat the problem of “staff churn” and is designed to maximise employees’ potential. It will be available to 100 sales staff aged 16-24 within the group.
“We’ve excellent people in our company but we need to raise standards for our customers and make it more of a career for our staff,” says Chris Hayden, Ford Retail Europe director. “What we must do is make car retailing a more attractive long-term prospect.
“We will never become a truly successful business if people are going to dip in and dip out. We’re looking to provide the training and create a career which is more attractive for young people as well as graduates.”
The programme will receive Government funding through the Learning & Skills Council. However, Hayden insists Ford Retail is also “not holding back on investment”, adding that training is one of the highest costs of the business.
Henry Ford College principal Deborah Saxton explains that the scheme will take much of sales executive training out of the hands of the sales managers at Ford Retail’s dealerships and allow them to concentrate on the business.
Instead, Henry Ford College will provide mentors, who will regularly monitor apprentices’ progress and assess the evidence of competence they gather while working towards their qualifications: IMI Technical Certificate Levels 2 and 3 in vehicle sales, NVQ 2 and 3 in vehicle sales, plus key skills Level 2 in communication, application of numbers and IT.
The ultimate aim is that apprentices will graduate with high levels of competency in all parts of the job.
“This is hugely exciting because it will drive up levels of competence in the business. This should make a big difference to the consumer’s experience and help dealers make more sales,” says Saxton.
“Anything we can do to keep good quality people in this business, to make them more effective and improve customer satisfaction is in all our interests.”
Provided the programme proves successful, Saxton believes there may be opportunities to open it out to older sales staff and to develop training for sales administrators.