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AADA to offer car trade education

Learning curve: The Australian Automotive Dealer Association is introducing university courses, and is targeting dealer middle management.

Dealer staff will be able to study service and sales using NADA course material

4 Jul 2014

FRANCHISED dealers will be able to accelerate the development of their middle management staff when the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) starts offering a range of university courses from next February.

The courses – an industry first in Australia – will be modeled closely on those offered by the National Automobile Dealers Association of the United States and will be presented in Australia under the NADA University banner.

The new education program will be launched at the 2014 AADA Dealer Convention on the Gold Coast, which will run from Thursday July 10 to Saturday July 12.

The convention features a strong list of speakers, including Fiat Chrysler Group chief executive Veronica Johns, who will deliver the opening keynote address.

The closing keynote address on Saturday will be delivered by former prime minister John Howard.

The whole program on Friday will be built around headline speaker Paul Cummings, who made a big impression when he last visited the AADA convention in 2007. He will deliver a series of four sessions around the topic of sustaining excellence.

“We are bringing the NADA University to Australia,” said AADA chief executive Patrick Tessier. “This is a terrific development for the car business in Australia.”

Mr Tessier said the course material would be adapted for Australian purposes and delivered through the Motor Trades Association Institute of Technology in Queensland.

He said the rest of this year would be taken up with a trainer-training program to ensure there were qualified instructors in place by February.

Mr Tessier said NADA had 16,500 members in the US and an annual budget of about $100 million. It offers an extensive education program, with in-person courses through the NADA Academy at its Virginia base and through its online NADA University.

The NADA University offers hundreds of courses in seven topic areas, but Mr Tessier said the initial curriculum in Australia would not be that extensive.

The courses in Australia will be two-day and three-day in-person courses, initially in Queensland but later all around the country, wherever the students are.

“We will not have the on-line education courses in our initial offerings until we can gauge what the acceptance will be,” Mr Tessier said.

The courses in Australia will not be aimed at dealer principals but at those staff members who have contact with customers.

“It will be aimed at service providers, service managers, new car sales managers, new car sales people. We are not aiming anything at the dealer principals at this point in time.

“We are aiming at the middle management of the dealership. That’s where we believe the audience will be. And we also believe that’s where the need is, by the way.”

Mr Tessier was confident the service and sales courses offered by the NADA University in Australia would attract good support from the 1500 or so dealerships around Australia. AADA membership is currently 896 dealers.

The NADA courses initially will not be aligned with the government's Training Package requirements in vocational training. Mr Tessier also said the AADA had not yet approached any Australian universities in a bid to have the NADA courses recognised such that a student could receive a credit in a university course for work done in the NADA course.

He said the AADA would consider making that approach after the first year of delivering the NADA University courses. "That is where the benefit would be if the individual wanted to progress their higher education qualifications," he said.

Mr Tessier said the courses would also be offered to car-makers that do not have similar in-house training for their dealer networks.

“We are certainly going to talk to the manufacturers who don’t have training for them being involved in the NADA University program for their own franchises.

“There are many that don’t, so we would hope that the NADA programs we are going to introduce would be supported by those manufacturers or OEMs that don’t have a training regime.”

Mr Tessier was quick to point out that the sales courses were not about how to become a red-hot salesperson.

“This is not about high-pressure selling. This is about product knowledge, delivering customer service, providing for the consumers a path to buy a car and get everything they require in a format that is delivered professionally.

“This is not about teaching sales people how to high-pressure people into buying cars. Far from that.

“We are trying to eradicate the industry of those people, not grow more of them.”

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