The IMI is in talks with modifying magazine Max Power about a number of initiatives, including discounted subscriptions for students, and is also redesigning its website to make it more accessible. It claims its visual communication will be radically different.
“We believe the association with Max Power will make us cool – our problem is that we are a professional body called an institute and that doesn’t turn younger people on,” says Stuart Brooks, IMI head of public relations.
”This is a new direction for the IMI. We will offer students a value-added partnership so that when they are qualified, they already understand what we do and will be more inclined to become a member. They will also be more open to ATA (Automotive Technician Accreditation scheme).”
The IMI’s 24,000 members are typically aged between 35-50 years old. But around 47,000 students are undertaking apprenticeships at IMI-approved centres. Currently less than 10% go on to take up full membership.
Brooks hopes the new package, available in April, will help to achieve a 25% conversion rate. This year is not all about attracting more youngsters into membership, however. The IMI will also launch in April an affinity programme to help boost membership numbers among older people in the automotive industry. Among the offers being negotiated is competitive insurance for home, business, personal accident, tools, banking and travel.
Meanwhile technicians signing up to the IMI-governed ATA have exceeded 1,500. With more carmakers and independent repairers committing to the programme, Brooks is confident of doubling that figure in 2006. The accreditation model could also be extended to other industries.
“It’s being looked at in the motorcycle, roadside assistance and bodyshop sectors now,” says Brooks. “And during the course of this year the possibility of extending it to the sales side will be looked at in some detail. The IMI has already produced a paper on service advisers which covers some aspects of sales.”