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AMA leads the way in setting the standard for industry competencies

By Chris Phillips

Does this sound familiar: Line manager Joe will be absent for a couple of days.

The timing could have been better, but there’s no choice – he’s needed for some brand training, along with counterparts from other dealerships which have the same franchise.

Assignment completed, the dealers can tick another box on the franchise agreement.  

It’s what one HR manager describes as “the sheep dip exercise – training is carried out, but is it appropriate for that particular individual?”

Another likens it to a “one size fits all” approach, with an assumption that dealer and manufacturer training templates are correctly aligned.

But there can be a perceived mismatch between provision and need and this is one of the challenges facing motor retail in its attempts to improve the calibre of management skills and leadership.

Carole Burman, HR director at the Marshall Motor Group, spoke of “dealerships and their brand partners wanting to take a slightly different approach” to training and development,  a point taken up by Simon Pridgeon, managing director of training provider Capita Learning and Development.

“Manufacturers have their requirements, while the larger dealer groups, with their own training resources, have theirs and this creates a complex landscape,” said Pridgeon.

It also brings the risk of unnecessary cost.

“It’s not uncommon for a manager to find himself on a manufacturer course being told something he’s already learned at the dealer end, so you’re paying twice for the same thing,” said Pridgeon.

Steve Nash, chief executive at the Institute of the Motor Industry, said: “There is a massive amount of duplication, with brand A not recognising brand B because manufacturers believe theirs is a unique way of doing things.” 

Nash, formerly BMW’s director of aftersales, believes this is just one of the reasons why dealers and manufacturers should sign up to the IMI’s Automotive Management Accreditation (AMA) scheme.

It’s based on principles similar to a programme for technicians to assess job competence and identify any need for skills development.

Problems resolved

An earlier scheme, introduced by Automotive Skills, one of the government appointed Sector Skills Councils before it was disbanded, failed to get support because it was seen as “too academic”.

The IMI has since taken over the SSC role and Nash acknowledges that AMA had its flaws when it was launched in 2010.

“The delivery mechanism was not as effective as it should have been, mainly to do with the initial candidate assessment cost.

It was not the best route to build a population of candidates.”

Now, having gone back to dealers and manufacturers, Nash is confident that problems have been resolved, with AMA gaining momentum, aided by a cash injection of more than £660,000, most of it from government. 

Steve Scofield, the IMI’s head of accreditation, reports that the organisation is currently working with 24 carmakers, 11 of which “are already mapping their programmes against the AMA framework to see where they are hitting the mark and where the gaps are”.


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