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AM / IMI People Conference: ‘People are the key to business success’

A business can have the most efficient processes, advanced technology, a top-notch product and the best location, but if the people are not motivated and engaged, it will struggle, Dr William Holden, chair of business growth consultancy Sewells will tell delegates at this year’s AM and IMI People Conference.

Dr Holden will explore how to succeed in a highly competitive environment when he speaks at the second People Conference, which, once again, takes place before the prestigious AM100 Dinner at the Park Plaza Riverbank London hotel on 11 June.

He said: “Businesses don’t succeed, people do. I have seen businesses which have an ‘ok’ product, the marketing is a bit patchy and the processes are inconsistent yet the people are inspired, motivated and enthusiastic and as a result the business is successful. Likewise, I have worked with companies which on the face of it, appear to have everything in their favour, but are not successful because there is no buy-in or passion from their staff.

“In the automotive sector, there is a huge amount of technical and analytical knowledge, but an understanding of what makes people tick, how to motivate people and how to implement effective people management strategies is wanting.

“What does make people tick can be surprising. Remuneration is important, but it is not the overriding factor. Recognition, responsibility and respect rank far higher. Automotive retail is target driven and if a business wants to smash its targets, not by a marginal amount but with an improvement that is tens or even hundreds of times more, the focus has to be on leaders and managers mastering the so-called “softer skills”.

“There is a general ignorance of the importance of softer skills and that’s partly due to the macho, high energy image of the sector. The competitive advantage lies in unlocking the unused potential of the people who are working in the business and developing an unstoppable culture which allows people to thrive and the business to be more profitable. This requires a totally different mind-set from the leaders of the business.

 “Sewells was originally a business which was 100% focused on automotive, but over the past 25 years, we have expanded our portfolio to incorporate a host of other industries providing us with insight from a variety of sectors. We categorically know the motor industry is lagging behind by some 10 or 20 years in its approach to employees and customers. Many of the measures the sector references are against themselves, they are not benchmarking against other industries, if they did, the gap they would see would be staggering.”

Dr Holden plans to expose the inadequacies of the traditional model of managing people in the automotive retail sector before providing insight, real life examples of best practice from other industries and tangible ways of motivating staff to achieve business success which delegates will be able to implement on return to their dealerships. The session will include comparisons with other industries in which Sewells has helped companies gain ground such as finance, manufacturing, education, telecommunications, petrochemicals, leisure and retail and will draw on its experience with clients like BT, Kellogg's, Barclays, Mars, Rolls Royce Aero Engines, Marks and Spencer and Shell to name but a few.

Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers, with a limited number of supplier tickets on sale. To book, please contact Emma-Louise Kinnaird on 01733 395133, email  or visit

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