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Dealer profile JCT600the economic doldrums, AMi analysis shows the dealer group has been pretty much restored to pre-recession levels. In fact, JCT600 achieved record sales in 2011, at £623m. Pre-tax profit was £8.5m - still a third less than 2007, but reduced by excep­tional costs and an £800,000 goodwill write-off. AMi shows that in the last decade the group consistently held its gearing below 36%, while return on capital employed was above 10% every year except 2008/09. The family-owned group certainly appears to be a regional powerhouse. Despite the presence of AM100 rivals such as Benfield, Co-op Motor Group and Pendragon in its heartland, it is Yorkshire's major motor retail brand.Chief executive John Tordoff is proud of the group's solid foundations. "Back in 2006 we were approached by a banker who accused us of having a lazy balance sheet. He said he could loan us enough money to double the size of the business and it'd be happy days. I thought, maybe we don't want that."Then when the economy collapsed we were extremely happy we'd not taken up his offer," he said.The 2008/2009 crash led to a lot of hard work taking cost out of the business, and while costs have gone up since as sales have increased there is still significant management focus on keeping them under control. Many costs are outside the group's control, such as depreciation forcing stock write-downs. Nevertheless, these are managed carefully, such as with focus on stock turn and a close eye on its Kerridge dealer management system.Across the business much focus is on continuing a cultural change that was initiated four years ago. It stemmed from a recognition that the company was not demonstrating how much it valued its people, and consequently wasn't engaging them to the best effect. It raised its investment in employee Sponsored byContinuesdevelopment, recruited an in-house full-time trainer, and began more training and development than ever before to create a talent pool.A sales executive training programme was launched almost two years ago, borne out of real­isation that there were young people fresh out of university just like Tordoff's son Sam with great people skills, communication and attitude, but who couldn't get started in their careers. JCT600 takes them on as trainee sales executives, gives them a good salary with no commission for six to 12 months, during which it doesn't let them near a customer, but "we train and mentor them to death". Now almost one in five sales executives in the group have come from this process. "They're all under 30, had never sold a car in their life, but they

New car marketNewsDealerConferenceUsed caranalysisNewsRecruitmentdigestDealerprofileShowroombelow the industry average. In recruitment, new starters undergo a four-month induction process which ensures they're the right fit for the business. Their welcome pack of a mug, mouse mat and coaster even displays the seven values as a constant reminder."As an industry we're crap at attracting the right people, inducting them, training them and coming up with development plans for them to give them a career path. We're changing that in our business."Its headquarters on the outskirts of Bradford re- inforces that focus on values. The seven words are displayed in its reception area. Alongside is the statement "Trusted by the world's best manufac-turers". All training is held at the headquarters, so employees are reminded regularly of the pillars on which JCT600 sits.Getting workers engaged with the values hasn't been easy. Tordoff admitted that initially the company simply expected staff to live them. However it has become clear the company needed to do more to demonstrate to employees how the values affect them, so they can become part of the fabric of the business.As a result, the group has worked with employee engagement expert Andrew McMillan, the former head of John Lewis customer service, who is speaking at AM's Franchised Dealer Conference this month, Together they devised a campaign of seven values for seven months. It started in February with 'Team' - every business held a team bowling event leading up to a 15-team final in May. Separately, 100 employees, including Tordoff and his son, undertook the Yorkshire Three Peaks chal-lenge. Each person chose their own charity to support, and together they raised more than £10,000 for a variety of good causes. March was 'Respect', focused on respect for "As an industry we're crap at attracting the right people, inducting them, training them, and giving them a career path. We're changing that in our business"John TordoffContinueshave the right attitude and a strong work ethic, and know how to talk to people. People buy from people, so that's what we look for," Tordoff said.Investment has also been made into its business leaders. This year 21 managers from across the company graduated from an 18-month certificate in automotive management course at the University of Buckingham's Centre of Automotive Management.Ahead of these investments, JCT600 developed seven core values to the business which it expects all its people to align themselves to: Team, Respect, Communication, Passion, Integrity, Excellence and Dynamic.The board is confident staff are now more engaged and understand what the company is about. Work-force churn has decreased significantly to 17%, well