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Guest Opinion: Why dealers need graduates

Dealership management system supplier Pinewood has moved from only employing ex-dealership staff to recruiting graduates. Neville Briggs, managing director, explains why.

Dealership staff have an understanding of dealer life that simply can’t be achieved in any other way. But we became, in a sense, too dealer-focused. We needed people who could help us think outside the box so we decided to start a graduate recruitment programme, mostly recruiting slightly older graduates with business-orientated degrees.

It is still possible to walk into any room full of motor industry people and find widespread cynicism about training and especially about education. The word ‘graduate’ is quite often met with a sneer. But our experience has been positive.

We have now taken on nine graduates. They enter a four-phase, four-year career development programme designed to equip them with the skills and experience needed to make a genuine contribution to Pinewood in the future.

And their impact on our business is starting to be seen. The experience and know-how of ex-dealership people is still central to how Pinewood operates, but our graduates bring something different to the mix.

They have some knowledge of dealerships but are not limited to that knowledge, and habitually think on a broader canvas. Together with our dealership people, they are helping us to create an approach that is both innovative and pragmatic, which we believe is an enviable balance.

For a company targeting growth, there is no substitute for market experience but experience alone only takes you so far. You must also be willing to learn from a wider world, and graduates play a key part.

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