THIS WEEK

Don’t panic! That is the message from BP in their recent report regarding future use of fossil fuels. They claim that even with adoption of new, low and zero emission technology, the use of fossil fuels will continue fairly unabated for the next 20 years. Giving them, presumably, plenty of time to adapt their model. And plenty of time for car manufacturers to adopt new technologies.
Don’t panic! Might be good advice to UK car production workers, as Ford is the latest to suggest that they might be looking to move production out of the UK post Brexit. While they don’t produce cars over here any more, they make a lot of engines and components. Such a crucial and iconic manufacturer would cause real damage to our industry if it were to move. As ever in this increasingly fraught debate, it is impossible to tell whether this is posturing and scaremongering, or reality. I suspect in most cases it is the latter, but it is undeniable that most large businesses are against a no-deal Brexit, and will do anything to influence the debate in the opposite direction.
As Carlos Ghosn continues to try to secure his release in Japan, it would appear that Renault and Nissan are making overtures towards healing their rift. Or at least letting the world know that they still want a long-term union. Meanwhile, their erstwhile leader has sacked, or parted company, from his previous legal team and his new appointees are making a fresh challenge against his continued arrest.
Finally, just in case BP were wrong in their predictions, it seems that Shell are hedging their bets. A significant takeover this week of a recent battery start-up, Sonnen, which specialises in home battery “Walls”, the sort of thing that Tesla has diversified into. As one blogger put it, we might think of oil as a commodity, but it is a convenient way to use stored energy. So big oil’s interest in batteries isn’t exactly surprising. Which is why BP and Total have also bought battery businesses in the past couple of years.
Have a great weekend, only 4 weeks until the start of the F1 season.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
A compliment is a gift, not to be thrown away carelessly, unless you want to hurt the giver.
Eleanor Hamilton
Insist on yourself; never imitate… Every great man is unique.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
THIS WEEK

I can pretend that the big news of the week has been Nissan’s decision to pull out of manufacturing the X-Trail in Sunderland, allegedly breaking an agreement with the government. But I won’t, even though its ramifications will be widespread. Because I suspect that the damage that has already been done by the Brexit debate has clearly signalled what is going to happen to car manufacturing in the UK over the next 10 years.
I could suggest that the investment by Amazon in Aurora, a self driving car start-up (notice how they really never invest in existing manufacturers, the technology is so new, the thinking so different that they seem to steer clear of our industry) with $530 million, no small sum, will be the one that will have the biggest impact. And in time, like everything else that Amazon has already done, it could well be.
But the big news so far today, at least, is the announcement that JLR made a thumping £3.4 billion loss in the last quarter of last year. Now okay, there were some technical reasons for this – they wrote down the value of their estate and their technology by most of that. However in trading terms they still lost nearly £300 million, which caused the write-down and everything else.
Obviously we are all hoping for a significant change in direction in markets over the next few years, because the current status quo is not sustainable. Global trade wars, trading blocs like the EU beginning to fracture, Chinese market beginning to plummet (still, at least that’s only a quarter of the world’s population) European neighbours falling out with each other over yellow vest protesters. You look anywhere and the news is not good. And if I look through the headlines of the major business papers, the only good news stories in our sector pretty only come from new entrants, not from the existing players. Headwinds pretty well everywhere.
Have a great weekend, be careful though, there are headwinds in the weather forecast too.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

For most men life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed.
Clifton Fadiman (1904 – 1999)
If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.
Don Marquis (1878 – 1937)
Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. So procrastinate now, don’t put it off.
Ellen DeGeneres

Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.
Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845)

THIS WEEK

The global economic situation is worrying, but the UK is even worse. Whatever the outcome of the Brexit talks, one cannot get away from the fact that investment in car manufacturing in this country has fallen by 80% in the last three years. And while, to balance the argument, it fell by 50% in the two years before that, you could argue it should have gone up again. I’m not sure that this island of ours is being seen as a good place to invest in at present.

Our industry is fairly unique, in that it is one of the very few products that are produced in large numbers and that are counted accurately (even if there are some pre-registrations in there). When output and investment fall as spectacularly as they have done, we should all take notice.

It was announced this week that Go Vauxhall, the wholly owned subsidiary of the manufacturer, was being absorbed into Robins and Day. They are, of course, a wholly owned PSA subsidiary that represents Peugeot and Citroen. A significant move as the French owned group’s three brands align more closely. We wonder whether we will begin to see triple branded showrooms at some stage, and whether this represents the start of an important trend for the group.

Two widely diverging views of China this week. First of all, SoftBank and their $100 billion Vision Fund, (set up to invest in technology companies all over the globe) is set to invest heavily in Guazi, which is one of China’s largest used-car trading sites. The company is only five years old and is already valued at $8.5 billion. With the slowdown in new car sales in the Chinese market, peer-to-peer selling of used cars is seen as the next big thing. And Vision Fund wants to be right at the forefront of this investment.

This contrasts sharply with Ford’s experience this week which has seen its ambitious Chinese joint venture suffering a 54% fall in sales over the past year. Not surprisingly, US products are proving quite difficult to move in China at the moment with the ongoing trade war.

Have a great weekend, don’t forget to pack your Arctic clothing.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then–we elected them.
Lily Tomlin (1939 – )
Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.
Otto von Bismarck (1815 – 1898)
Success didn’t spoil me, I’ve always been insufferable.
Fran Lebowitz (1950 – )

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910), Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line

Personality tests, or profiles, are still used as part of the act of application process by some employers.

I’m often asked the right way to fill them in. Well, let me tell you a secret, there isn’t one.

But there is a wrong one. Such tests are designed to find out what you really think about yourself, and they also check for inconsistencies. Why? Because if you’re lying it is much more difficult to be consistent and this will be high-lighted.

So here is my advice. Be yourself, instinctively you will know most of the answers straightaway. If you really want to impress, put yourself in a confident, in control, decisive frame of mind. And then take the test.

I had a candidate recently who decided (wrongly) that the client was looking for a very detail minded, highly organised, disciplined individual. Except that was just not him, so he came across as dangerously in need of psychiatric care. Which was not the impression they were trying to create.

Personality profiles are rarely used now as a Pass/Fail mechanism. They are much more used to influence the interview process.

So relax about them, answer them confidently, instinctively and you will be fine.

 

To be honest, I’m not certain why these are still used. Most of the information you were required to calculate in days gone by is done on screen.

Nevertheless, some employers have a bee in their bonnet about numeracy skills. They view it as absolutely essential to be part of this industry.

The problem is, because we do so much by computer, and rely on them so much, most people don’t know how to answer the questions nowadays. Perhaps this is one reason why some assessment centres have such a high fail rate?

But you can cope and train yourself to be good. There are plenty of sites where you can practice numerously skills online. And that is what I suggest you do. Some even request that you do it without a calculator. Fine for anybody with great mental arithmetic – though why that would make them a great manager I have absolutely no idea – not so great for the number blind amongst us.

But practice does make perfect, so you can tell your percentages from your efficiencies, from your deductions and so on. If you think you are likely to have to take one of these then practice. At least you won’t panic when confronted with one for the first time.

I hope that all adds up.

Sitting where we are, in the middle, we can tell that it is a difficult automotive market.

But there are bright spots, regionally, by franchise, by department.  As a rule though, we know the market is tough. Falling consumer confidence and falling sales are making people nervous.

And nervous people make bad decisions, or at least different decisions to the ones they make in good times. Which is my message this week – to quote The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy “Don’t Panic!”.

Or rather don’t throw away all the good practices you have learnt in rather more benign times, especially when it comes to recruitment.  Because the mistakes you make in haste and under pressure now will only come back to haunt you, and in today’s litigious environment they could cost you a lot.

Take these examples of panic measures from the past couple of weeks, both from reputable, well respected employers.  A manager needed a team leader quickly, meets a candidate from a stable background and offers the job almost on the spot, he confirms with an offer letter.  

As soon as notice has been handed in the contract is issued, asking him to break his current contract of a month’s notice and start within a week.  It is made clear that if he cannot agree the offer will be withdrawn.

Another client needs a sales manager and briefs us on a package – let us say of £50,000.  We put up several candidates, but one in particular we know is strong and emphasise that he is only interested if the offer is indeed the full 50.  Long process, lots of meetings and a call is made to this candidate – would he consider £35-40,000?

You and I know the answer, something unprintable followed by “Why have I wasted the last 3 weeks?”.  The client relents, and offers the full package. Except by now the candidate has lost interest and trust.

In both cases the recruitment was unsuccessful and left both parties feeling aggrieved.  The employers were upset because they felt they had offered what was required and had been rejected – the candidates because they knew there had an attempt to “tuck them up”.

THIS WEEK

It is not going well for Carlos Ghosn. Just a few hours ago Nissan and Mitsubishi issued a statement saying that he improperly received nearly $9 million from a jointly owned Dutch company. In addition the Japanese courts have continued to deny him bail. He has now been held since 19 November and there are even rumours circulating that Renault is about to look for a new head. Nobody outside of this case can tell exactly the truth of the matter, and whether this is a particularly vicious political battle between the rival Japanese and French arms of their coalition, but the personal consequences for somebody who was considered probably the biggest star on the global automotive stage is enormous.
And talking around the industry at the moment, there is a fair amount of doom and gloom. Not least because many commercial decisions have stalled in view of the paralysis in the wake of the Brexit crisis. Given that almost anybody I have spoken to in business is not in favour of a no-deal Brexit, one wonders what the future is for the country. And whatever the solution, the majority of people just wish that it could be sorted. After all we were told before the vote that this would all be done relatively easily. I am not certain most of us believe that now.
Looking across the pond to the United States, I see that Ford (who have not exactly posted fantastic results over here recently) are in talks with VW about technology for pickup vehicles. Considering they are two of the largest manufacturers in the world, it shows the level of investment required to launch new products. And  for those of us who remain suspicious that in time car manufacturing will become less important, and car software and the bolting together of standard components will become the norm.
Have a great weekend, why not pop down to Paris while you still can.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

This paperback is very interesting, but I find it will never replace a hardcover book – it makes a very poor doorstop.
Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980)
He who hesitates is not only lost, but miles from the next exit.
Unknown
I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), (attributed)

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

THIS WEEK

Well 2019 is only a few days old, but it is already looking like a particularly difficult year. So much for the hope that we could turn a corner this January.
Two stories clearly dominate UK news this week, first of all Jaguar Land Rover and Ford are preparing to cut thousands of jobs in the UK. Let us look at JLR first. With plans to cut up to 5,000 jobs, this is not very long after they announced cuts last April totalling 1,000 contractors to their manufacturing side. This time the emphasis will be more on distribution and marketing, though they have not guaranteed that factory positions will not go. It has been a pretty disastrous 18 months for the manufacturer, coming at a time when dealers have had to invest eye watering amounts in their new “Arch Concept” combined dealerships. With some groups still to put their hands in their pocket for some sites, you wonder what leverage the manufacturer will have to make sure this goes ahead.
Ford’s market share in Europe has slumped over the past couple of years, from 8% to around 6.5%. In a market as big as Europe, that is tough to recover from. Put alongside Vauxhalls well published problems (don’t forget they used to be part of GM until they were sold to Peugeot last year) the American manufacturers are having a tough time. Which is not surprising, as they have not been at the vanguard of the new technical revolution, and both (as well as JLR) have been slow to move away from diesel technology into electric and hybrid.
The other story to dominate is not really an automotive issue, but it is an automotive problem. And by this time next week it looks as if we will have a little more certainty, or uncertainty, over the future of the whole country. Because until Brexit is sorted out, car manufacturers will continue to desert the UK and move their production to mainland Europe. This is no longer “project fear”, it is the simple reality of being within or outside of the EU.
Have a great weekend. 2019 can only get better, we hope.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

If men could only know each other, they would neither idolize nor hate.
Elbert Hubbard (1856 – 1915)
My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?
Charles M. Schulz (1922 – 2000)
In America, through pressure of conformity, there is freedom of choice, but nothing to choose from.
Peter Ustinov (1921 – 2004)

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

I was watching the game between Liverpool and Manchester City and wondering who would end up as champions.

And it put me in mind of this quote, which I first read in the One-minute Manager I believe -“Feedback Is the Breakfast of Champions”.  In an industry that is overburdened from feedback from all sides, I pondered on feedback, stats and indices and thought about how you distinguish the good from the bad.

Accounts, composite and all sorts of other figures are very detailed, providing all sorts of information, to ratios and you’ve guessed it, feedback to managers.  But is the information they contain really that useful? We all know that statistically there might be a correlation with the size of the tiles in the workshop and the number of used hybrids you sell, a relationship between the number of coffee cups in the waiting room and your service lead times, but is it relevant?

You see for feedback to be useful, it has to be used logically and responsibly.  Take a classic use of statistics and feedback that most people know about and have an opinion about — “the long ball game”.  A phenomenon that took over football about 30 years ago.

Someone sat down and statistically analysed all the televised first-class games over the previous decade.  Apart from the observation that he clearly loved sport and he had nothing better to do, he produced one fascinating statistic.  Analysing all those games, most goals were scored when the attacking team touched the ball only two or three times. In other words, over a period of 10 years the direct route was the most effective.

His findings were actually incontrovertible.  Nobody doubted that his observations were accurate.  But forgetting the adage that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics, it was then used to prove something completely different — if you hoof the ball up the field at every conceivable opportunity, then you are more likely to score goals than if you pass it between you and try and work openings.

Sadly this did two things, it made football almost unwatchable for a while, and after some limited success with this theory, most managers gave it up quite quickly when it proved not to be as effective as first thought.

So when someone shows you a stat that a different coloured tile in the workshop ups your recovery rate, ask why that is? If they say Colombian coffee increases sales, question the link.

There might be a correlation but does one cause the other? Think about it over Breakfast one day.

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THIS WEEK

Happy New Year to everybody. Hopefully 2019 will turn out to be more hopeful, more prosperous and more settled than we fear it might be. For a whole variety of reasons, not all linked to the U.K.’s exit from the EU, things will change dramatically this year. And the future of motor retailing in particular will crystallise, as technologies, distribution channels and ways of working move quickly to a new model. The problem is, we just don’t know what that model will be yet.
In the meantime, rather than get bogged down in domestic economic matters I have been reading the Wall Street Journal. The US has enjoyed its fourth record year of sales in a row. And at more than 17 million vehicles, a country that is about five times larger than the UK sells about seven times as many vehicles. But then the US is a big place.
And they cover a story that we have seen over here quite a bit, but have probably forgotten about during the Christmas break. The saga of Carlos Ghosn and his Japanese arrest. Apparently early next week he is challenging the basis upon which he has been detained, and in the meantime another senior director, Greg Kelly, has been released from jail, on bail. Something that happened on Christmas Day.
The paper also covers some of the Japanese prosecutors suspicions, things that I have not read about over here. It makes a fascinating read, and while Mr Ghosn looks to defend himself I am not going to repeat any of the allegations here. Partly because I have no idea whether they are true or not.
So it’s back to work, and probably back to reconsidering your own future. That is certainly been the case with many who have called us this week. Have a great weekend.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

An optimist stays up to see the New Year in. A pessimist waits to make sure the old one leaves.
Bill Vaughan
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
Oprah Winfrey (1954 – ), O Magazine
Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can.
Douglas Pagels, A Wonderful Resolution For The New Year!
Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution.
Jay Leno (1950 – )
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