A New Talent Strategy for the Digitalised Dealership

The world is changing. The UK now has the biggest digital economy in the world, accelerated by the increas-ing 24/7 use of smart phones and mobile friendly commerce sites. We cannot underestimate the significant impact that digitalisation will have on our industry, and that it is arriving now. Car dealers must transition to the new blended retailing model, and employ people with the right skills and behaviours to create a great customer experience, seamlessly interacting with customers both online and in the physical world..

Research with women tells us that we still have a negative image problem, whereby they fear that being a woman will lead them to being “ripped off” or patronised in a car dealership. They feel uncomfortable in the male dominated environment of the motor trade, not least because it is hard to think of such a gender imbal-ance in any other purchasing environments. We know that women do not like the lack of price transparency and haggling associated with the motor trade, and are moving online to reduce the face-to-face interaction.

Our negative image problem affects our ability to attract talented people to work for us, particularly women. When I give speeches to school pupils about automotive careers, they are amazed and impressed at the range of opportunities we can offer. When I talk to their parents, they are excited at the prospect of their daughter working for the Brands but react in horror at the thought of her swimming in the ‘shark infested’ pool of the car dealership.

The skills needed for the blended retailing environment are changing and we do not have enough of them. We are competing with industries with better images for talent which is in short supply, and we are not at-tracting applications from enough women, so we are only fishing in half of the talent pool.

The UK Automotive 30% Club is taking action to address this. The founder member organisations include Kia, Toyota, VW Group, Mazda, Bentley, Vertu plc, Lookers plc, Vantage plc, Group 1 Automotive, ASE Global and Carwow. We are committed to the aspirational aim of filling 30% of key leadership positions with women by 2030 through a “30 by 30” strategy.

This starts with the 2016 Reach Out campaign, where we will be connecting with schools, colleges and uni-versities to spread the word about the great career opportunities we have in the automotive industry with a “Connect – Try – Apply” message.

We are collaborating with the government’s Inspiring Women campaign, led by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez to organise “career speed networking” events where female automotive executives meet girls to tell them about their careers. The first one will take place at the CDX16 event at Silverstone.

We are also partnering with Robert Peston’s Speakers for Schools Charity, whereby the Founder members of the 30% Club will visit schools to give inspirational speeches and offer work experience opportunities – at least 50% of which must be to girls.

Finally, we are creating a digital work experience matching platform in partnership with getmyfirstjob.co.uk, which will enable motor trade employers to post opportunities free of charge and connect with local school students looking for work experience.

The Reach Out campaign is truly cross sector and open to all who want to support, and there is no cost to participate. I would encourage all women in the industry to register with Inspiring Women and vol-unteer an hour of their time a year to inspire girls to join us. I would be grateful to any employer who is willing to offer work experience to post vacancies on the soon to be launched getmyfirstjob.co.uk site.

If you would like to learn more about the Reach Out campaign or the services my company Gaia Innovation can provide to help you become a digitalised dealer please get in touch at [email protected] or take a look at the gaiainnovation.com website.