This is the first time in four years since block exemption was introduced that such a revision has taken place.
Kalyana Sivagnanam, head of strategy and dealer operations, says: “The new standards are based more on brand and product than before, with a view to reducing costs for dealers.
“Previously training was based more on knowledge rather than skills. Now there will be equal emphasis on product, brand and skills.”
Mike Damant, principal of Henry Ford College, says that the new training programme is based on a four tier curriculum.
“The old training programme, which had three tiers, didn't support those people that were staying in their jobs. Our new programme can go two ways for those people that want to move on to supervisory roles or want to stay in their jobs and learn new skills.”
A prospectus detailing the courses on offer is available, with offerings ranging from introductory days and customer facing course modules to an MSc in automotive retailing and dealer principal development.
“We’ve looked at what training dealers previously outsourced and have rejigged the courses to cover these needs,” says Sivagnanam. “If the training required isn’t on the standard menu then we will make bespoke courses for dealers. We want people to come here, learn and leave to sell more cars, achieve more profit and improve customer satisfaction. This is the guiding factor.”
The training programmes at Henry Ford College are open to all Trustmark brands and in the future will also be marketed to the industry in general.
“Ultimately I want us to be a centre of excellence, a resource that dealers can draw on if they want to be more profitable,” says Sivagnanam.
Training for CV staff
As well as revising training standards for its car retail network, Ford carried out a consultation and revision of its commercial vehicle (CV) training programme.
Working together with the Commercial Vehicle Working Group, Henry Ford College has identified needs specific to this sector. “We had a route for CV staff previously but this is a revised programme,” says Mike Damant, principal at Henry Ford College.
“One thing we have focused on is the skills shortage in sales consultants. There was no robust programme in place for them and we have now introduced a new curriculum called Backbone Academy.”
There is also a dedicated prospectus for CV dealers, with the launch of the programme due to take place at the Truck True Blue Event at the end of the month.