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Clark takes AMA plunge

The Automotive Management Accreditation (AMA) scheme has claimed its first successes in Scotland after John Clark Motor Group (JCMG) put eight candidates forward. 

The managers chosen for assessment came from a variety of dealerships and their roles varied from dealer principal to aftersales manager.

Launched last spring, AMA is governed by the Institute of the Motor Industry and works in the same way as its Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) scheme. 

AMA is the first initiative to address managerial needs specific to the sector, measuring the competence of senior employees and highlighting areas of development to benefit both individuals and the companies where they work.

John Chessor, finance director for JCMG, said it had “bought into the concept of AMA” and now has eight people who have passed at different levels. 

“We recognise we haven’t done a lot of pure management development, having relied on manufacturer courses,” he said. “This was an ideal opportunity to help our people move forward, to help meet their career aspirations and to address long-term succession planning, creating the future senior executives of the group. 

“The AMA is the best way to meet these objectives and this is the start of a bigger AMA programme for us.”

As well as moving up within their existing dealership, an AMA qual-ification would allow staff to move more easily to other franchises within the group.

“It let us look at things like CSI and staff turnover. Hopefully, improvements in these individual areas will lead to an improved bottom line overall,” he explained.

Jane Norbron is director of Spikey Profile, the professional development consultancy which has provided the AMA training for JCMG. 

“JCMG deserves credit for taking the plunge and not waiting to see what everyone else did,” she said.

Half the cost of the training has been provided by the Grampian Motor Training Trust (GMTT), set up in the Sixties to promote and fund upskilling of anyone working in the automotive industry in the region.

Adrian Smith, chair of trustees, explained: “This was the first application we have had for AMA and is a textbook case of the sort of thing we support. We would like to think it will be the start of many more.

Scott Brunton, aftersales manager at Specialist Cars VW, Aberdeen, is one of those chosen by JCMG to do the course. He said “I was nominated by the MD and proud of that, but a bit daunted at first.

“I was keen on the idea – I always think I need more training because this industry is such a fast-paced one. I found it a bit nerve-racking because I wasn’t sure what my staff were going to say about me as a manager. 

“The best part has been understanding the areas I need to brush up on. I want to be a DP by the time I’m 40 and hopefully AMA is going to help.”

Paul Lanni, brand manager, Specialist Cars VW, Kirkcaldy, said he didn’t know much about AMA when it was first mentioned. 

“I did some research and stuck my hand up to take part. I was content in my own part of the business so this was a bit out of that comfort zone. 

“I would like to be a director within the business in the future and AMA is absolutely going to help that. It’s identified the gaps in the training I will need to get that level. It’s also highlighted things I knew I was good at, but that my superiors didn’t know about.”

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