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EXTRACT from "CarDealer" November 2009

Is your team

Fighting Fit?

 Training is the key to keeping your
team motivated and productive.
Richard Aucock looks at the
various initiatives on offer

Everyone is talking about training nowadays. The complacency of the good days has gone — now, only the few fail to realise that, to actually grow business and make more money, you need to rely on the people doing the job, rather than the market itself. But where do you start? Potentially, it's a minefield.

Particularly if you don't approach it right. Some dealers may see it as an expense which can be done without. Many training providers will give advice to the contrary here — and, indeed, better-trained staff do inherently perform better and make you more money. . . . .

There's much more to gaining skills than plain training, though. CIP Development Services runs a 'Continuous Improvement Process', which promises particularly big efficiency gains in service departments. It works by handing over analysis of the business to its employees. A team of half a dozen, in a five-day programme, analyse various operations, and they themselves work out where time-savings can be made.

These teams are not from top brass, though. 'We generally discourage having a member of management on the team, as the tendency then is for the other team members to agree with the manager's comments,' says director Ian Godfrey.

'They are less likely to come up with as many good, innovative, ideas themselves for improvement.'

These teams will be led by someone outside the business — they give a new set of eyes on proceedings, and usually see many more improvement opportunities than 'insiders'. Just make sure, says Godfrey, it's someone trained to visualise potential alternatives.

All this leads to a set of processes that focus on specifics, and which can be continuously improved upon. Hence, Continuous Improvement Process, something that's been deployed in more than 100 countries worldwide. You needn't fear about forking out to undertake it, says Godfrey: 'In every single instance, the costs of the exercise have been proved to be capable of being recovered within less than three or four months. What's more, after that, profits increase accordingly, as well as customer satisfaction and overall efficiencies.’

That's why he offers a profit guarantee: a full refund of the training programme if potential savings are NOT proven by those involved.

It's a confident guarantee. 'In one large operation with two vehicle workshops, it was proven that pre-tax profits — including profits on the additional parts sold through the two service departments as a result of the increased throughput from the same number of technicians — would increase by a little over £3.5m in the 12-month period after completing CIP! Amazing.

Throw in follow-up reviews from the team leader on an ongoing basis, which often reveal even more savings, and Godfrey reckons it adds up to one simple headline: 'The aggregate time saved will enable more vehicles per day to be serviced by that technician, without him actually working harder — just more effectively.'

Really, how can you argue? Indeed, how can you wonder about training as a whole? With the right buy-in from staff and management, it can help employees grow, help the business perform more efficiency and help you make more money in the process. All stats and evidence says that training does the job. Who will you choose to help in YOUR business? [CD]

CarDealer ~ 20 November 2009

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