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When Chris Roberts rejoined Vauxhall after six years running Thurlby Motors, he noticed gaps in the skill set of the managers. Only 18% had gained a Level 3 qualification, compared with 45% in other sectors.
“To get the best out of our industry and our people, we’ve got to derive management skills and push those forward as a collaborative group,” Vauxhall's retail network development director said.
Such changes include developing line management at dealer level and attracting talented young people fresh out of schools and colleges.
'We’ve got to derive management skills and push those forward as a group' - Chris Roberts, Vauxhall
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Roberts said one challenge is dealers feel reticent about manufacturer training. Often it creates a spike in performance immediately afterwards that tails away because there aren’t the management competencies and performance measurements to ensure the team member continues to use their new skills. In recognition of this, Vauxhall has mapped its current training against the AMA (automotive management accreditation).
Using assessors and approved trainers, its ‘gold standard’ training is focused on driving behavioural change. Often managers lose sight of what they should be doing, driving their teams and improving performance, because of their administration burden.
It starts with AMA Trait psychometric analysis, to identify a manager’s competence and identify any training gaps. Training to fill that gap takes out cost and is more effective, said Roberts.
The goal is to improve the customer experience, enable staff to sell value in the product rather than just negotiate on price, and create a happy workforce that’s been managed and motivated correctly so it will deal with customers more professionally.
Salespeople, service advisers and business managers are going through it, and next year it will be rolled out to general managers.
“To make this happen you need time. So analyse what your managers currently do that they shouldn’t do, what don’t they do that they should do, and what they do that they need to carry on doing. You’ll drive out some time savings.”
Roberts said the motor industry must do more to encourage schools and parents to push children towards it. It needs to get the message out that the industry is about technology – sales teams explaining infotainment, aftersales using diagnostics and management control systems.
To achieve this, Vauxhall has piloted an apprenticeship ‘toolbox’ that dealers can take to schools and colleges, or invite them into their dealerships, to explain what the industry is about.
Relative to an industry with 700,000 employees, current apprentice numbers are poor, Roberts said. He suggested hosting meetings in schools and colleges, donating vehicles to those colleges, or getting the lecturers involved in dealerships.