days to deadline of 20th May 2011

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The National Training Awards Press Office will send out press releases following the announcement of the regional finalists, regional ceremonies and the Gala.

The Press Office will also be happy to provide comments from spokespeople at The National Training Awards and Government for you to include in your own releases.

And don't forget to include any press releases on your website, intranet and in your company newsletter to ensure your exciting news reaches all your stakeholders.


Mercedes-Benz Dealership Races out of Recession

Robust customer service training helped a Mercedes-Benz dealer to propel itself out of the recession, gaining a 300% ROI and £177,000 reward from Mercedes-Benz itself.

H&L Garages Limited is one of 23 Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealer groups covering the UK with seven sites across Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. It was formed in 1966 and has held the Mercedes-Benz franchise for over 40 years.

H&L is privately-owned and was bought by the directors in 2006. It employs 230 staff in a variety of roles from accounts clerks through to diagnostic technicians. Its main activities include supplying vans and trucks to a broad range of business operators, as well as providing 24-hour, seven days a week servicing, repair and parts.

Towards the end of 2008, the outlook was bleak, both for the company and for the automotive industry, as news came in that a prominent Mercedes-Benz commercial dealer had gone into administration. In addition, van sales were 55% down on the previous year and trucks were down 45%. Operators were clearly reducing their fleet sizes in response to market changes within the transport industry, and H&L was also experiencing a gradual erosion of booked hours in its Aftersales - sales and parts - departments across the group.

It saw top quality customer service as the key to retaining and winning business and weathering the recession, and recognised that the Mercedes-Benz Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) would provide a comprehensive measurement.

The company also had the opportunity to subsidise its training investment by using government funding for two key customer facing staff roles throughout the group, Sales and Aftersales, via professional customer service qualifications, measured and verified by the leading award body for the motor industry.

The company entered 46 learners into the programme, which consisted of a two-day classroom-based training event tailored for H&L. This was followed by a rigorous, in-workplace coaching and assessment process that lasted eight months. The course taught 108 measurable behaviours that impacted on the customer interaction and experience, including influencing and conflict handling skills.

The government Learning & Skills Council funding contributed £44,000, essentially paying for the entire follow-up and assessment process, with H&L training provider costs at £9000.

Fortunately, the customer-facing programme more than paid for itself, as it led to a very high Mercedes-Benz CSI rating - 89.2% in 2009, up from 83.9% the previous year - and a recognition payment of £177,000 from Mercedes-Benz.

But there were also big business benefits as qualified staff behaviour and performance was transformed. The standard of sales and aftersales improved dramatically, and sales of vans increased from 398 in 2008 to 419 in 2009, and this was in a marketplace that was down 55%. The Aftersales department also halted the drop in booked hours it had experienced, and sales competence increased across the group.

H&L believes that the customer service programme made all the difference to its fortunes. In March 2010 it embarked on a repeat programme to train a further 19 staff. It has also introduced online training to help reinforce learning messages and introduce a competitive element to the programme.

Ian Jones, Mercedes-Benz UK Managing Director, says, “The impact of this programme on our organisation has been substantial. In fourteen months we have made significant progress both in terms of service quality and staff engagement. In contrast to other dealers in our network, where the approach to the recession has been major staffing reductions, H&L has managed to engage staff and succeeded in establishing an understanding across the workforce that has allowed major changes to be implemented delivering savings and improving service.”

The Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz commended H&L on its commitment to training and development during one of the worst recessions to hit the industry in decades. H&L is now held in high esteem within Mercedes-Benz, and this was recognised at the recent Dealer Awards ceremony where the company picked up the coveted Aftersales Dealer of the Year Award.


Entry name: H&L Garages Ltd
Location: Humber Road, South Killingholme, Immingham, South Humberside, DN40 3DL
Entry no: 100356
For further information contact:
Tom York – Senior PR Executive 020 7429 2828 or tom.york@ukskills.org.uk
Antonia Lee – Marketing Manager 020 7429 2825 or antonia.lee@ukskills.org.uk


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Company literature
Announcing you have won a National Training Award can add real kudos to your company - remember to include your achievement on email signatures, business cards and company literature.