In my many years at AM, I have lost count of the number of motor retail executives who told me the biggest challenge their business faces is people.
Retaining the great ones, attracting new good ones, developing their skills and processes, and managing the underperformers – all are critical elements of success in a business where the margins are slim and the pressures are great.
Our industry is working hard to improve outsiders’ perception of the behaviours and skills displayed in a modern franchised dealership. More groups than ever have their own academies, or are featured among the UK’s best workplaces, and AM’s own People Conference and Best UK Dealership To Work For initiatives are signs of the appetite for insight into staffing issues.
Which is why it is so disappointing to see the type of ‘mystery shopping’ article that The Daily Mail delighted in splashing over its front page recently (Read AM's recent news insight on PCP car finance here). That it is an awful, obscene newspaper, in my opinion, cannot mitigate an apparent failure of salespeople to follow a proper process, to reflect on what they are promising, to put the customer before their own desire to sell a car.
I hope such cases are in the minority, and the professional practices and controls talked about at the highest level of dealer groups really do percolate through to the hard-working people on the showroom floor. Because if they don’t, the industry’s perception will continue to be tarnished, and automotive managers will face a real struggle.
Diesel is another issue whose treatment by the press is exercising car dealers. Take AM's two-minute survey on how it has affected your business here.