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AM Awards 2012: Entry deadline approaching

2011 will be remembered as a year of considerable challenges to the automotive industry, a period of battening down the hatches to ride out of the stormy economic conditions and lacklustre consumer confidence.

For dealers, success will be hard won and based around doing the basics well, a focus on customer service and meticulous attention to detail in all areas of the business.

Success in adversity should be shouted about because it is the true measure of performance – and that is why the next AM Awards is so important to your business.

An AM award brings with it the respect of the industry and publicly acknowledges the importance of the people in your business and is an ideal way to give your teams a pat on the back.

A great many dealers agreed last year, leading to a record number of entries.

We are once again delighted to have MSX International as our auditors and together we have refined the categories and the judging process to be as confident as we can the awards look at the industry as a whole and spotlights the real achievers to ensure we recognise the ‘best of the best’.

As well as established and new judges – details will be revealed soon – we’re also delighted to welcome Christopher Macgowan, former chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and visiting professor at Buckingham University’s Business School’s Centre for Automotive Management, as an independent chairman to the judging panel.

There are two new categories, Best Fleet Dealership and Tyre Retailer of the Year. Explanations of these awards and all the others can be read below.

The journey to winning an AM award begins here. Good luck.

For more information see



Best Training Programme

Sponsored by: Black Horse

Training is crucial to continually develop your staff. Training refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific, useful tasks. In addition to the basic training required for a trade, occupation or profession, there is a need to continue beyond initial qualifications to maintain, upgrade and update skills throughout working life, i.e. to aid continual professional development.

Last year’s winner: Mercedes-Benz UK

Best Dealer Website

Having a strong profile online is vital for a dealership to prosper. It is often the first place your customer will
look when researching their next car purchase. The website is a crucial marketing tool that should bring in a significant proportion of your leads and is increasingly a means by which you can build and maintain
relationships with customers.

Last year’s winner: Harwoods Group

Best Digital Initiative

Sponsored by: Razsor

A website is just one of the ways in which a dealer can embrace digital technology: smart phones, SMS, ezines, apps, Groupon, video streaming and live chat are just some of the buzzwords becoming increasingly common in the industry in the last 12 months. This award focuses on how a business has been able to move beyond a website to truly embrace new technologies.

Last year’s winner: Marshall Motor Group

Best Marketing Initiative

Sponsored by: Auto Trader

Marketing is about more than just advertising your business. It’s an ongoing process of planning and executing the marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion) for products, services or ideas to create exchange between individuals and organisations. Marketing includes advertising, distribution and selling. It is also concerned with anticipating the customers’ future needs which are often discovered through market research.

Last year’s winner: The Co-operative Motor Group

Excellence in Business

Excellence in Customer Service

Sponsored by: EMaC

Customer service is one of the most important issues facing retailers, repairers and bodyshops. Outstanding customer service is crucial to the long-term success of any business. Happy customers will be loyal to the business and they will tell others about their positive experience – the best form of marketing. Given the importance of customer service, programmes and initiatives that work deserve recognition and this award is designed for that purpose. The award will recognise the most successful attempts to improve customer service from a franchised car or LCV dealers.
Audited by: MSX International.

Last year’s winner: MRG Volvo

Most Improved Company of the Year

Sponsored by: Total Lubricants

Every business can go through a rough patch if the eye is taken off the ball – what’s key is how the business reacts. This award recognises those companies that have put in place a recovery strategy that has borne the right results. It is open to franchised car and LCV dealers.
Audited by: MSX International

Last year’s winner: Sinclair Group

Aftersales Operation of the Year

Service and repair is one of the most profitable parts of the motor industry and it’s also one of the most
competitive - with franchised workshops slugging it out with independents for business – and crucial as the new car market remains unstable. Only those companies that offer value for money and high levels of customer service will succeed. This category is open to franchised workshops and independent authorised repairers, either individual site or complete network.
Audited by: MSX International

Last year’s winner: Rybrook Warwick

Sales Team of the Year (new or used cars)

Sponsored by: Barclays Partner Finance

A business has to work as a team to work effectively and this award acknowledges the power of
individuals working together towards an acknowledged goal in a new and/or used car sales department in the last 12 months. The goal could be a broad one to improve business generated long-term in the showroom or on focused targets in a burst of activity.
Audited by: MSX International

Last year’s winner: Cross Roads Subaru

New award - Tyre Retailer of the Year

Sponsored by: Continental Tyre Group

This award is open to any franchised business or a standalone manufacturer authorised repairer. It recognises the performance and strength of the operation in the replacement tyre market, showing that the business takes the tyre opportunity seriously across sales, marketing, customer satisfaction and training. Entrants are eligible for sales of any brands of tyre.

Manufacturer Awards

Used Car of the Year

Sponsored by: Car Care Plan

This category considers used cars aged six months to three years. It considers the quality of cars, how well they have retained their residual value, the strength of manufacturers’ used car programmes and level of
engagement from retailers, and use of remarketing.Additional judging comes from car pricing guide Parker’s.

Last year’s winner: Volkswagen Golf

New Car of the Year

Sponsored by: Supagard

Innovation, quality and a money maker for dealers are the key watchwords for the AM new car of the year. The cars will all have been launched during 2011. They will have made an immediate impact on the market by moving on the segment while dealers will be able to exceed targets without discounting. Quality will be exceptional, driving performance will impress and the car will be designed for maximum appeal.

Last year’s winner: Jaguar XJ

Franchise of the Year

Sponsored by: Ai Automotive

In no other sector is the link between manufacturer and retailer so important and at times as sensitive. This award seeks to recognise the brand that in the last 12 months, has for dealers, fulfilled on promises made by the manufacturer partner. Do the dealer and the manufacturer have a mutually beneficial relationship, does the manufacturer understand and work with the retailer’s business plans particularly where it involves more than one brand? And are there clear and effective lines of communication to enable long-term dealer confidence? Entries accepted from car and LCV manufacturers and dealers. A vote by AM readers will decide the winner of this category.

Last year’s winner: Ford UK

Retailer Awards

New award - Best Fleet Dealership

A fleet focus is providing many dealers with improved profits. This category will be looking for a site which provides excellent customer service to the fleet market from fleet finance options through to dedicated fleet sales operations and service departments used to dealing with the multitude of issues fleet operators and leasing providers have to face.

Audited by: MSX International

Best Used Car Retailer

Sponsored by: Experian

Used cars is a competitive part of the market fought over by franchised dealers, car supermarkets and
independents. This award is open to any company that sells used cars and is intended to recognise those who have turned the practice into an art form – not to say a hugely successful and profitable business.

Last year’s winner: Mercedes-Benz of Salisbury (Jacksons Bournemouth)

Best Dealership

Sponsored by: The Warranty Group

This category is open to single-site owner operators and to best performing dealerships with a larger group network – both single franchised and multi-franchised showrooms. It will recognise the performance of each individual, team and department in a dealership rewarding, where appropriate, sales, marketing, new and used car sales, the workshop and administration.

Audited by: MSX International

Last year’s winner: Strathmore Motors (Volvo)

Best Retail Group (up to 10 sites)

The motor retail industry is made up primarily of smaller, regional groups. This award category is designed to recognise and honour those companies – ones with up to 10 dealerships. Entrants will show how they meet the AM Awards’ criteria of quality, innovation and service and how they tracked their performance improvement over the past five years. A copy of the most recent full company accounts will be required.

Audited by: MSX International

Last year’s winner: Essex Auto Group

Best Retail Group (more than 10 sites)

Sponsored by: Mapfre Abraxas

As the industry consolidates, retail groups are getting bigger. This award recognises the unique complications and complexities that come from co-ordinating a large retail group with more than 10 dealerships. Entrants will show how they meet the AM Awards’ criteria of quality, innovation and service, and how they have tracked their performance improvement over the past five years. A copy of the most recent company accounts will be required.

Audited by: MSX International

Last year’s winner: Lifestyle Europe

Headline Awards

Carmaker of the Year

Sponsored by: Mondial Assistance

The judges will focus on the product offering. Not only are the models on the forecourt right for the customers now in terms of practicality, cost, style and the environment, but is the manufacturer making a clear
statement of intent on the development of new models and supporting technologies that is matched by a track record of delivering on promises?

Is the manufacturer sensitive to the voice of the consumer, the change to the legislative landscape and dealer feedback when it comes to planning?

Last year’s winner: Land Rover UK

Retailer of the Year

Sponsored by: Q8 Oils

This award is given to the best retailer in the UK. The five winners from the retail categories – best fleet dealership, large retail group, small retail group, dealership and used car retailer – go head-to-head to decide the winner. Quality, service, profitability, innovation and a robust business plan are essential.

Last year’s winner: Lifestyle Europe

Personality of the Year

Sponsored by: Easi-Drive

This award is presented to the person who has had the biggest impact on the motor industry during the previous 12 months. The recipient is decided by the editor of AM, Jeremy Bennett.

Last year’s winner: David Main, BEN

AM Hall of Fame

Each year the ‘AM Hall of Fame’ recognises someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the automotive industry. The recipient is decided by AM editor, Jeremy Bennett.

Last year’s winner: Mike Muscroft, TC Harrison chairman

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