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Car execs hit in the wallet

Car sales executives have received a fall in pay of 1.1% between 2004 and 2005. This happened despite an increase in basic pay of 4.5%, because of a decline in commission payments, according to research by AM-online sister title, Sewells.

Commission makes up over 60% of sales executives' total pay, and is usually awarded on the profits retained on each car sold.

However, service technicians and mechanics in both franchised dealerships and independent garages earned some of the largest increases in both basic and total salary. Franchised dealer service technicians achieved an increase in total pay of 5.6% between 2004 and 2005. This continues a run of increases in total salary exceeding 5% since 1999 for these employees, according to the 2006 edition of the Retail Motor Industry and Sewells RMI Pay Guide.

Propelling the increases for service productives is the well-known skills shortage in this area. And the 369 respondents to the 2006 Pay Guide survey reported a high turnover of service staff - essentially technicians and mechanics - and difficulties filling these positions.

In response to the skills shortage in service workshops, dealers and independents have now taken on more apprentices relative to the number of fully-qualified technicians and mechanics. Two years ago, franchised dealers only employed one apprentice for every 4.7 fully-qualified service productive. The 2006 Pay Guide survey found this had improved to a ratio of 4 to 1.

While this improvement is welcome, 2006 Pay Guide respondents clearly understood that even more apprentices are still needed. 60% of franchised dealers and 29% of independents claimed that they intend to take on more apprentices or trainees in the next 12 months - the majority in the service workshop.

BMW dealers were at the top of the list for highest paid franchise. The national average total pay across all marques for a dealer principal was £57,771 in 2005, while the average for BMW dealer principals was 44% higher at £83,174.

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