2020 has been an extraordinary year, and a challenging one for many sectors.

And while many senior executives are upbeat about the future, many of the sector’s employees and loyal servants need support right now. BEN, the automotive charity, gives that support, just at a time when industry performance and contributions have dried up.

This year has been a particularly testing one for the charity. And it was recently announced that they had a £1 million shortfall. Many groups have dug generously into their pockets, and we are asking our readers to do the same. Should you wish to contribute directly to them their donation page can be found here


But there might be another way for you. 

You have always meant to get your CV professionally written, to get that competitive edge in what is a very competitive market. Over the next three months, our sister company Workagain is offering to donate £25 to BEN for every CV writing, interview coaching, assessment centre and personality profile package that is purchased through our site using a special code.

Just use BEN25 when you purchase your product and £25 will go straight to the charity. (And you’ll get 1p off, so we can count it properly!) Click on this link to use your code.

For individuals their support services focus on health and wellbeing: physical, mental, financial and social: http://ben.org.uk/our-services/support-services/ – within each campaign section there is a downloadable leaflet and case studies.

They need all of our support. 

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.

Want to subscribe to this blog? click here.

Do you know the most important factor in determining happiness at work? Not money, not career prospects, not job satisfaction. It is culture.

Or rather cultural fit. Do I want the same things as my employer does? Do we see the world the same way? Do we share a common ethos? Do I buy into their goals and aspirations? Do I want to work for them?

I recent survey showed that the majority Millennials are prepared to take a pay cut to work for a company whose goals they believe in. A significant minority will not work for a company that is at odds with their world view.

The single most quoted reason for a new recruit not lasting long? The promises made at interview never materialised. And most serious promises are the intangibles – “we are a people company”, “there are plenty of chances of promotion”, “you will be given all the support necessary to do the job”, “you need a life outside of work”.

It has been dubbed the Emotional Contract.

Terms that are too vague to be legally binding, but indicate the way that people are expected to work, how they develop, how they interact. If you break it they may not have recourse in law (yet), but they will vote with their feet.

Especially the ones you really want to keep, the ones with the “get up and go”. Lie to them and they will be the first to get up and go before you even realise what you’ve done.

I second that.

Want to subscribe to this blog? click here.

When the industry or, more particularly, a manufacturer goes through a bad patch, the first instinct is that the people at the coal face are letting them down, rather than looking at the underlying causes.  

The knee jerk reaction can be to change all the managers first and then see if it makes a difference.  Just like a failing football club will ring the changes. And I guess we all know what will happen if you just swap everyone round – the more it changes, the more it stays the same.

Anyway, dealer standards mean many franchises insist on approving each Dealer Principal and every one, sometimes every senior manager, has to be assessed in depth. The cynic will say this is a good money spinner for the manufacturers – assessments can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds.

But it means that decision making has shifted, and with managers having to please two masters, in some areas staff turnover is increasing rapidly.  Good for us as recruiters perhaps, but is it in the long interest of the business?

If you scratch an itch it will get better for a while, but it always seems to come back itching more.

Want to subscribe to this blog? click here.

I was quoted quite a few years ago as saying that the retail motor industry was founded on a lie.  And they were right, the quote was down to me. When was I quoted?

Well, you would probably have missed it, because even my Mum did – it was about 15 years ago on a live interview for the long, long lamented but never ever watched Automotive channel for Sky. And I explained that what I meant – the lie was the way that cars were sold to consumers.  

Most buyers assume that dealers make money is on the original sale and aftersales prices are so high because they reflect the cost of the technology and training required to service today’s hi-tech products.

But anybody who works within the industry knows this is not exactly the case – wafer thin margins of 2-4% on sales are matched by mind-boggling 65-80% margins on aftersales, or at least on the labour part.

But there are serious long-term problems with this approach.  Any part of your business model that generates unusual profits is open to attack from outside.  The independent sector will get better if the rewards are so high for servicing vehicles. And they will do with the blessing of the authorities if our charges are seen as excessive.

In addition, the rise of Electric Vehicles means that we are likely to perpetuate the low margin culture on sales, but then have to forego the profits on aftersales, broadly speaking because there won’t be any.

So that will be our conundrum over the next 5 years, how do we wean ourselves off a reliance on aftersales, especially if it going to disappear?

Want to subscribe to this blog? click here.

I recently talked with my Bank Manager, naturally a very important person for us. After we had talked about us, we talked about the changes in his industry and in ours. And he explained the revolution in retail banking, and especially in banking for small businesses, over the past fifteen years or so.

At the start the banks’ main focus was on pure short-term profit. The advent of call centres and of Internet banking meant the personal touch was no longer necessary. So people were moved around very quickly, promotions were often rapid and talent was sought in every other sector of the economy to boost the banking talent pool.

And the customer became a number. I remember his frustration, as he couldn’t get close to his customers. Equally customer loyalty wasn’t valued so we got much better deals by moving, first away and then back.

He felt that banks had forgotten that banking wasn’t just about numbers, it was about people. About ten years ago, after the crash, Business Bank Managers took back control of local areas. And they were kept in those areas for a time, developing local relationships, understanding their customers properly.

But then internet banking technology got better, and more relied upon.  And then it was the customer who took the lead, deciding that it was quicker to go on line than to phone. It was faster to rely on a machine driven decision than to wait for a human.

So now there are fewer business banking teams, covering more people.  And banking has moved out of branches, less cash, fewer cheques, and is carried out more remotely. And branches are closing.

Banking is a huge business and its model has changed several times since the start of this century. I am not sure automotive retailing has changed much in that time, but it’s about to.

You can bank on it.

Want to subscribe to this blog? click here.

A recent report estimated that 60-70% of a dealer’s costs were spent on salaries and staff.  That is quite an overhead.

And quite an asset.  And, according to other studies quite a leaky bucket.  On average at least 9 days out of every working year are lost to absenteeism.

We had a chat to a number of the top employers to find out how they viewed the absenteeism problem.  

As you would expect, there was a range of opinions, but it is interesting how polarised opinions are.  It seems that most of you view as absenteeism a bit like crime figures. It is either something that has to be stamped out, or it is a symptom of something else.  There are very few employers are out there who view it as a bit of both.

But it is a real cost. 9 days adds about 3.5% to your staff costs, and just as importantly a lot of stress, reorganisation and disruption to other employees.  But just as the loss of talented performers from your business is both avoidable and controllable, so is absenteeism.

But you need to decide to tackle it.

Want to subscribe to this blog? click here.

My sons are in their 20s. I think one of the greatest tragedies of their generation is the fact that over 50% of them have gone to university, racked up massive bills and left with a degree that has been, at best, devalued by so many others.

So it is good to see that the government, in the form of Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, has recognised the technical training is worthwhile. In an interview with The Times in late September he promised to put much more importance on technical training. And to ensure that it was recognised for what it is, an ideal way for technically, rather than academically, minded school leavers to improve their skills and find the right way into the workplace.

It is over simplistic to say that society is divided between thinkers and doers, but there is an element of truth to it. And the sooner that we recognise that technicians, engineers and other skilled trades are just as valuable and important to our society as consultants and academics, then the better it will be for all of us.

And perhaps one day we can return to a system where we are not trying to educate everyone to degree standard, and it becomes more affordable for all.

Ask any managing director in our sector and they will all tell you that talent matters. And if talent matters then you will only attract the best if you have a great career brand.

Let me take this argument one step further, a really successful employee could earn you £.5m improving in improved performance, year in year out. There aren’t many franchises where you could say the same about an individual customer.

But every customer that makes an enquiry with you, however speculative, would expect to get a prompt reply. Even if you only convert one out of every 10 enquiries, you would not expect anything less in today’s environment. So you do not see websites saying “We get an enormous number of people asking for quotes on vehicles, if we do not back get back to you assume that we are not interested in your business”

Now study the recruitment section of many websites in this sector. That is almost word for word the quote from one that I looked at this morning. Why not say “We are one of the leading brands in automotive, one of the most aspirational places to work and we value our potential future employees. We value you so much that we won’t even send you an automatic acknowledgement if you register with us?” And I know there are plenty of others like it.

And yet many people in HR tell me talent is so difficult to come by in the industry at the moment. Do you wonder when you treat it like that?

Want to subscribe to this blog? click here.

Employers, what are you doing? You cannot automate everything. Talent management does not become a process. Talent is about people.

Take a look at this tweet I saw a couple of weeks ago daft recruitment, it is typical of the processes that there are out there today. Many of you employers don’t even have the good grace to reply to highly qualified candidates who have just spent 45 minutes filling out your application form and telling you about their career aspirations.

Football has every single statistic about performance going, and yet humans are still heavily involved in recruitment at every level. We all know that the fees gained by their agents are outrageous, but that is because they recognise the importance of human intervention.

And yet you all want to recruit the very best in the business, you tell me you do. But you rely on systems that look at people’s social media profiles, Twitter feeds and LinkedIn entries and make a judgement about them. You ask them a series of connected, difficult questions and reject those who don’t quite get it right.

You hold assessment centres two days before the end of March (yes it happens surprisingly often) and then exclude those sales managers who can’t make it. Would you want to recruit a sales manager who could make the end of March?

And then after that you give most of them no feedback, and if you offer them a job it takes two weeks often to get anything on paper (or email) down. Two weeks? At which point another, more switched on group has taken them out of the market. Would you let your sales team take 14 days to send out an order form?

It is time to get back to the human, I don’t care what science tells you about a better way of recruiting, you can use it as a useful aid, but do not use it as your main means of filtering.  You are so scared of making the wrong hire, you don’t make any. In footballing terms you are so scared of missing, you don’t shoot.

Apart from anything else, there are people out there who know how to play the game and they tend to attract the best people.

Want to subscribe to this blog? click here.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com