Managing a retail motor dealership nowadays is a tough challenge for any businessman as it involves a combination of distinct “lines of business” such as vehicle sales, parts sales, service, finance and human resources.
Brian Joss – It is growing in complexity in terms of the product technology involved as well as the need for transformation in the staff complement, while customers have ever higher expectations of their vehicles and dealership service.
There is a tried and tested Advanced Dealer Management (ADM) training programme developed by the Sewells Group which continues to produce well qualified senior management and is proving very successful as a transformation tool.
Sewells, which has been operating in the retail motor business space in South Africa since the early 1980’s, has built up an enviable track record over the years. Sewells has also built strong relationships with virtually all the vehicle manufacturers, importers and major dealer groups and works closely with these companies in tailoring training programmes to meet their varied needs.
The ADM programme is one of these successful developments. It was added to the wide range of training programmes offered by Sewells Group SA in 2007.
Initially the year-long programme was aimed mainly at second or third generations of motor dealer families who chose to make a career in the family business. The course continues to attract members of dealer families. It is also proving a boon to accelerating the progress and improving the skills of a host of talented young people in local and international retail motor dealerships as well its many benefits in speeding up staff transformation in South Africa.
The Sewells Group’s ADM is proving particularly effective in developing retail motor industry executives from previously disadvantaged groups. Several of the OEMs and dealer groups are having special ADM programmes tailored to their transformation needs. One of these companies is Volkswagen which held a graduation ceremony for its Optima Group of dealerships recently.
At this event Sibabalwe Mlungwana, of Lindsay Saker, received a special award for compiling the most outstanding business plan out of a group of 15 delegates from the VW Optima Group, while Martin Taverner, of the Tavcor Group, came out top for his business plan in the Open Group.
“Although the ADM programme dates back to 2007, we continue to adapt it to cater for the latest trends and developments in the local retail motor industry,” explained Warren Olsen, the CEO of Sewells Group SA. “We now have a much broader view with the ADM. A focal point nowadays is assisting in the transformation process.
“This is a high-level, intensive ‘Dealer Principal Apprenticeship’ Programme where delegates can learn from the successes and lessons from some of the world’s most experienced and professional operators, academics and consultants. It is a window into international Best Practices.”
Mike Paxton, a senior consultant with Sewells Group SA – he has been with the Sewells Group for over 30 years – oversees the programme to ensure that each delegate gets individual attention and the necessary coaching to ensure success.
The programme is aimed at those people identified as future General Managers/Dealer Principals as well as current Dealer Principals wishing to further develop their skills and knowledge. Each ADM intake consists of 12 delegates. Sometimes there is more than one intake in a year, depending on demand.
The ADM programme consists of 150 contact hours of focused management instruction made up of approximately five modules of four days. The various modules take place every two months over a 12 month period. The lecture room sessions are interspersed with business visits, case studies and assignments.
At the end of the programme each delegate has to present a proposed, sustainable business plan for his or her dealership and is judged on this presentation in addition to the assignments completed during the course of the year. Special coaching is provided to those who find difficulty reaching the required high standards.
“Almost 50 different companies or organisations have participated in our ADM programmes over the years, including a significant number from sub-Saharan African countries, which serves to underline the ongoing high standing of our offering,” said Olsen.
“We are also very proud of the achievements of our delegates once they return to their dealerships and many have risen to be top-ranking general managers and Dealer Principals in some of the most successful dealerships in Southern Africa.”
The next intake is scheduled for August and Sewells’ management is expecting a full complement to register again.