|Peter Vardy Academy director Elaine Ashworth (centre) with Sophie Raworth and Sewells’ John Maslen|
Among considerable competition from car manufacturers and dealer groups, Peter Vardy Academy leads the way in fulfilling the essential requirements the judges were looking for: a defined need, an actionable plan to address that need and measurable positive results.
Beyond this, Peter Vardy’s approach to training – based on the mantra ‘best place to work, best place to buy’ – was singled out for its holistic approach. It involves all staff levels and is broad in scope as it focuses on 10 areas of business. These include customer experience, sales process and skills, service adviser competency and ‘rookie’ development, which enhances the skills of new starters and leads to a qualification in executive selling run in conjunction with Edinburgh Napier University. More than 10% of employees are new starters and apprentices.
|Best Training Programme|
Such was the importance placed on the academy’s place in the business and the acceptance from staff of its importance that the programme has evidently become ingrained as part of the culture in Peter Vardy.
The objective was to define, capture and articulate all processes into a consistent format, giving staff clarity of their role, standards and step-by-step processes and procedures. Resources are available on the company intranet.
Needs are identified through management finding skills gaps or singling out individuals for development and customer feedback, alongside a ‘blanket’ approach where all colleagues have a shared level of understanding in a particular area, such as customer experience.
The work of the academy has contributed to over-achievement of business plans by 30% and return on sales just shy of 3%.
The judges acknowledged that for a relatively small business (10 sites), Peter Vardy’s investment in training – every member of staff receives an average six days’ training a year – was considerable, both financially and in time.
Huw Roberts, group HR director, said in the entry: “Winning this award would encourage other small and medium motor retailers to invest in training.
"We can’t just rely on manufacturers. Retailers have a key role in building skills in partnership with manufacturers.”
Highly commended: Hyundai Motor (UK); Mercedes-Benz Retail Group
Also shortlisted: Kia People
Previous winners: Mercedes-Benz UK (2011); Cross Roads Subaru (2012); Kia Motors UK (2013)
Category sponsored by Sewells Research & Insight.