In his inaugural address, Burgess highlighted the need for the SMTA to build its members’ relationships with consumers, especially through introducing a Motor Industry Code of Practice by working closely with “other leading UK organizations in the motor industry”.
“It is clear to me that consumers and government expect the motor trade to put its house in order,” he says.
Burgess also aims to improve the Scottish motor industry’s view of itself, which he believes needs to be more professional. He says: “We need to get away from this trade image and I think this ties in well with the code of practice.”
In addition, Burgess will address the growing black economy in the automotive industry, which is seeing more and more people selling vehicles outside of the regulated trade.
“This is a major issue,” Burgess tells AM. “It’s easy to be a trader without much cost nowadays. We need to make customers aware of the advantages of dealing with our members rather than internet traders and those on the black market.”
The SMTA will begin to address the issue by way of a general announcement making people aware that the situation exists. To make further progress, Burgess hopes to learn from the Irish motor trade, which in the past has built closer political links than its UK counterpart. “We need to make advances in this area, too, and use the government to help tackle the problem of the black market,” he says.
Alongside his presidency, Burgess is involved in a number of small businesses. He runs Autouniq, a small non-franchised dealer site in Stranraer, south-west Scotland, the online car shop Car Connections and is joint managing director of Premier Allianze, a motor trade consultancy business. He also joined Fleet Alliance in order to grow the consultancy business in Ireland and Scotland.
In the past, Burgess ran six dealerships representing Ford and Peugeot across Dumfries and Galloway, which he sold to the GK Group in 2002; served on the Peugeot National Dealer Council for two years as Scottish chairman; and has been a director of Scottish Enterprise for the past seven years.