Month: March 2012

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Customer retention is ‘biggest challenge’

Customer retention is the biggest problem facing dealers over the next year.

That’s the conclusion of research carried out by Alphera Financial Services.

It found that 81 per cent of dealers regard customer retention as their biggest challenge to overcome.

Eighty per cent of dealers say the internet has impacted on customers and they way they buy their car.

Most dealers, 61 per cent, believe it’s easier to retain customers who paid on finance than those who paid in cash.

Customers are becoming more aware of the finance options open to them, hunting for the most competitive deal.

They are also taking control of how they want to buy their cars, which has been reflected in the uptake in Personal Contract Purchase (PCP).

A third, 37 per cent, of dealers think PCP will be the most important finance method in 12 months’ time while almost a quarter, 24 per cent, expect Hire Purchase (HP) to continue its success,” it said.

© Metropolis International Group Ltd 2010 – Thursday, 29 March 2012 – MotorTrader.Com

How to highlight hidden talents on your CV …..

Listing facts and figures on your CV can earn an interview but there are also ways of showing off less tangible successes.
John Lees helps answer your employment questions (Picture: Metro)
Are you having a problem putting CV advice into practice?
Do you realise the need to write about tangible achievements but don’t know how to?

"I’m supposed to be quoting hard facts and figures,’ ‘but all my achievements come from using soft skills so I can’t quote numbers to prove I was successful."

Realising that achievement stories make candidates stand out will put you ahead of the game. An industry commisioned survey looked at the things employers want to see when reading a CV and found that four out of five find it useful to view a summary of career highlights and achievements on page one.

Start by listing as many achievements as you can, taken from work, learning or hobbies. Go through old work logs or ask colleagues to remind you of times when you made a difference, added value or introduced new thinking or methods.

Look at your last job description. In what ways have you redefined the job or delivered more than was expected? Think of times when you faced obstacles – perhaps a time when you helped retain a key customer or averted a quality-control disaster. Don’t hesitate to add achievements from your studies or life outside work.

Step two is to provide measures wherever you can. Mention targets, sales figures, numbers of any kind that indicate the scale of your projects. Point to tangible cost savings. Use percentages to show growth or change.

What about less tangible outcomes? Many candidates such as Rachel find it hard to communicate what they have achieved using soft skills including negotiation, persuasion and communication. You might talk about improving staff retention by helping others to grow and develop, or making teams work better, or persuading people to change. If you can’t quantify using numbers, tell the story of your results – such as ‘maintained team morale during a difficult takeover’ or ‘managed a number of difficult public meetings’.

Now pick the best seven to nine achievements to include in your CV as bullet points, beginning with action words (‘Initiated’, ‘Managed’, ‘Designed’) and varying the length.
Mentioning organisation names helps the reader relate these points to your work experience, and presenting your ‘Key Skills & Achievements’ directly after your profile transforms your CV from a dull documentary into a lively trailer for what you might say at interview.

If you’re asked for evidence at interview, don’t just repeat the achievements documented in your CV. Go back to your original master list for back-up evidence. Learn how to tell achievement stories with the same brevity and impact that they have in writing – rehearse a simple three-part structure (situation, contribution, outcome) so that each story showcases your skills.
Why do achievements matter? Because although we remember evidence, stories stick in the memory longer. Finding fresh ways of describing what you do best will also shorten your job search time.

John Lees is author of The Interview Expert (Prentice Hall). For free career tips and details of his workshops, see John will be speaking about job hunting in London tonight. See

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Supply shortages jack up ex-fleet car values…..

A shortage of ex-fleet cars going through auction is jacking up prices, according to CD Auction Group.

Managing director Roger Woodward said ex-fleet vehicle volumes at auction fell 15 to 20 per cent in the first quarter so buyers had to pay more to secure the right stock for customers.

“If you go back to 2009, fleet sales were down just over 20 per cent in the year as a whole and almost 30 per cent in the first six months.

“Those are the cars which are now coming back, or rather not coming back, to the used market,” he said.

Woodward said he had seen typical auction prices rise by a couple of per cent of CAP Clean in the last two weeks.

“The market is still tight so condition and specification remain critical. We know some fleet operators are tempted to extend contracts and that is adding to the supply issues," he said.

According to Woodward, the current supply situation is likely to prevail until the final quarter of 2012, or even the beginning of 2013, since fleet sales did not start to recover until the close of 2009 .

Information supplied and Motor Trader Magazine Friday 23rd March 2012,QY7D,29PUCJ,26C0V,1

If you have got an interview, make sure you’re ready for the questions

Interview candidates regularly play a game called ‘duck the obvious’, pretending that questions are far too random to plan for. In reality, about 80 per cent of questions can be predicted.

In a tight market, employers only call in people they are confident can do the job, so an interview means you’re pretty close to an offer. Prepare yourself for questions dealing with any lingering doubts in the recruiter’s mind. What are these questions? The ones you hope will never be asked.

Perhaps you dropped out of a course, changed jobs rather too frequently or spent a long time temping. Perhaps your last job has little obvious connection to the roles you’re currently chasing. You might be explaining a gap year (watch out for a forthcoming piece on how to handle career breaks). Or maybe you don’t want to be pushed and probed on that big inescapable issue: ‘Why are you on the job market at the moment?’

Nearly every candidate I work with shows discomfort when asked to talk about redundancy or being unemployed. In the past, employers used to worry about candidates who had been ‘let go’ or people who had been out of the market for months rather than weeks. Today, both of these are regular occurrences.

As with any CV dilemma, the problem becomes bigger if you react badly. That’s why you need short, uncomplicated rescue statements – pre- prepared answers that ensure you move forward.

The tricky topics need two lines of defence. If you are asked why you were made redundant, don’t be defensive or cast your employer in a bad light – this introduces the suggestion that you might have been a problem employee. Nail the problem quickly: ‘The organisation restructured and several posts were made redundant, which prompted me to think about the kind of work I’d really like to do.’

The same kind of single-breath summary can usually get you into safer territory. So if you dropped out of your degree or changed jobs more than the norm, offer a snappy, positive reason such as: ‘I decided to get some real-world experience.’

A short rescue statement allows the interviewer to tick a box and move on but have a second line of defence for the seasoned interviewer who wants to know more. Secondary defences will still be brief but will do one thing very clearly. They will show that you make decisions about your own career, that you actively seek out interesting work and learning experiences, and look for new challenges.

Here’s a great idea , Remember the ‘warmer’ and ‘colder’ game children play, giving clues about how close you are to hidden objects? Give short answers to questions on negative topics and longer answers to positive enquiries. Make sure you take the interview to a ‘hot’ place every time you can.

John Lees (@JohnLeesCareers) is author of The Interview Expert (Pearson). For free career tips and details of John’s workshops, visit

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5 body language moves that will ruin an interview

Much of the information that we communicate happens non-verbally via subtle signals we put out with our posture, gestures and attitude. It's no surprise, then, that your success in a job interview depends quite a bit on almost everything except what you actually say. Recently, WiseBread explained the most common body language mistakes people make in interviews — and how to avoid them.

Here are the highlights:

Your handshake makes a critical first impression. Your dad probably taught you how to shake hands and his lesson was more important than you know. Make it firm — not body-builder-aggressive and certainly not feeble like a dead fish. Also, be sure your hand is dry, so if you're perspiring, wipe it off before you meet your interviewer.

Don't touch your face. People touch their faces instinctively and without conscious thought. But if you want to make a good first impression, you'll need to be very conscious of where your hands are for the duration of the interview. Keep them well away from your nose and mouth, which can be a turn-off to germophobes. And for everyone else, touching your face is sometimes interpreted as a sign of dishonesty.

Don't cross your arms. Even if you only know one or two ways to read body language, you probably know this one — crossing your arms is a sign of defensiveness and passive aggressiveness. That's not the impression you want to convey, so put your hands on the table where they can't cause you any trouble.

Don't stare. You probably know that making eye contact is a good thing, right? Well, there's a difference between positive eye contact and just plain staring. This is one of those things that should be natural, but if you think too hard about it, it is challenging to do in a natural way. The bottom line is that you want to maintain eye contact in moderation, without letting it devolve into uncomfortable staring. At the same time, don't let your eyes wander around the room as if you're bored.

Avoid nodding too much. You might think it's a good idea to nod a lot, either to appear to agree with your interviewer or to imply you're paying close attention, but the reality is that this can make you come across as sycophantic or spineless. Like eye contact, nod in moderation, and only when it's clearly appropriate.

Data supplied By Dave Johnson via LinkedIn

Is this really still going on?…..

Consumers need to protect themselves from the risk of buying a clocked car, warns vehicle history expert HPI. Latest figures from HPI reveal an increase of more than 10% over the last 5 years in the number of used cars it checks recording a mileage discrepancy. According to figures from HPI's National Mileage Register (NMR), over 1 million cars it checked in 2011 had an inconsistent mileage reading, leaving buyers vulnerable to paying over the odds for a vehicle.

An HPI Check includes a mileage check as standard, offering used car buyers a safeguard against the growing danger of clocking. "It is simply too easy for sellers to hike up the value of a car by turning back the miles on the odometer, making clocking one of the biggest risks for consumers," explains Kristian Welch, Consumer Director for HPI.

"Worryingly, we are seeing a new trend whereby some owners are clocking a car regularly throughout their ownership, making it even harder for buyers to establish if a vehicle's mileage is correct. We also know there are people who are returning leased cars to the leasing company, having adjusted the vehicle's mileage so that they meet the terms of their PCP (personal contract plan/leasing) agreement, which is further adding to the problem. With 1 in 20 cars we check recording a discrepant mileage, buyers need to take steps to be sure their potential purchase really is everything it seems."

Modern digital odometers make it easier than ever for clocked vehicles to evade detection. Whilst altering a car's mileage is not illegal itself, not declaring that mileage change to a potential buyer is. Clocking a vehicle can add potentially hundreds of pounds to the perceived value of a car. The real worry is that unsuspecting buyers could be saddled with higher running costs further down the line, as the vehicle is likely to have more general wear and tear than expected, and may have missed vital servicing intervals.

Used LCV values suffer a 4.7% drop from the 20-month high recorded in January

Suplied by: BCA Commercial Pulse: Used Values Fall In February

Used LCV values fell by £211 in February to £4,272 according to BCA's latest figures, a 4.7% drop from the 20-month high recorded in January. BCA's Pulse data shows average LCV values fell in all three sectors of fleet/lease, dealer part-exchange and nearly-new thanks to a combination of softer demand and changing model mix as supply pressures continued.

The February average figure of £4,272 was the lowest recorded in the past six months and performance against Guide Prices fell by one and three-quarter points to 98.23%.

However, year-on-year, February 2012 was £126 ahead of the same month in 2011, equivalent to a 3% improvement – despite the average age and mileage rising by four months and over 6,000 miles respectively in the same period.

Duncan Ward BCA's General Manager – Commercial Vehicles commented, "This is the second year running that we have seen values decline in February following a strong January performance. We noted in our last report that demand softened towards the end of January and that largely set the tone for the following four weeks."

Ward added "However, values remain at a much higher level than they were a year ago, despite both mileage and age rising by around 8% in that time. This is in line with our expectations – shared by Professor Peter Cooke at the Centre for Automotive Management, Buckingham University – that the market will continue to experience a relative shortage of units under five-years old in the short- to medium-term. As a result of the lower new van sales since 2008 and the trend for larger businesses to hold on to vans for longer, it may become increasingly difficult to source good quality used LCV stock and this means values are likely to remain reasonably firm as a result."

Values in the fleet & lease LCV sector in February fell back by £160 (3.1%) to £4,948, although year-on-year values are ahead by £349 or 7.5% – a larger margin than the previous month. Interestingly, the January to February decline is almost exactly the same as in 2011, when the fall was £159 or 3.3%. Average values have been noticeably higher over the past six months, even though average mileage and age have remained largely static at around 70,000 miles and 44 months during that period. Fleet vans averaged 98.06% of CAP in February, down two points compared to January.

Part-exchange values also fell in February from £2,840 to £2,770 – a decrease of £70 or 2.4%. CAP comparisons fell by half a point to 98.5%, but outperformed fleet & lease stock despite being nearly three years older and 20,000 miles more travelled on average when sold.

Year-on-year values for part-exchange vans were ahead by £205 (7.9%) – although this was only half of the differential seen in January. Reflecting the Fleet & Lease price trend, there has been a notable uplift in average value over the past six months.

Nearly-new values fell slightly to £13,280 (down 2%) after recording a big gain in January. As always, this has to be taken in the context of the very low volumes reaching the market and the model mix factor. CAP performance fell by two points to 99%.

Published by BCA All material © BCA 2005-2012

For further information on this report contact:

BCA Public Relations Department, Blackbushe Airport, Blackwater, Camberley, Surrey GU17 9LG

Tel:01252 878555 Fax:01252 743447 Email: [email protected]

General Enquiries Tel: 0845 600 66 44 Email: [email protected]


It can be daunting having to give a presentation at a job interview ….

Facing an interview can be tough enough, but having to give a presentation before you begin can terrify even robust candidates.

First of all, let’s be clear why employers do this. With a good supply of candidates, employers want to get more out of the hiring process, but the reason they ask for a presentation is to get a real sense of whether you can communicate and influence.

Learn from the classic mistakes people make in presentations. Too many candidates misunderstand (and over-complicate) the task. They try to cram 50 ideas or 15 slides into eight minutes, hoping that something will stick. Or they overstuff PowerPoint slides with long sentences – and then read them all out. Limit yourself to four punchy bullet points per slide, and state your best lines out loud rather than on screen.

In reality, interviewers pay far more attention to your personal impact than the content of your presentation. They are asking themselves: ‘How would this person look and sound in front of the workforce/board/public?’

Presentations have the power to intensify first impressions, so pay attention not just to your script but to the way you stand, move, speak. A defining judgment about you is made within the opening seconds so start with a crisp sound bite. ‘I’m here to talk about…’, is so much better than ‘I wonder if this laptop is working.’

The end of your presentation will be remembered most, so craft it well.

Finishing with a strong statement or a good open question allows the interview itself to start on a high note. Learn the first and last two sentences of your presentation by heart – so you know exactly how you will begin and end.

Average candidates have a vague game plan based around topics. Plan and rehearse the actual words, then cut out about 25 per cent of your material to make things flow easily rather than sounding rushed. Making eye contact with your audience is a crucial way of connecting with them, so reading from a script is to be avoided. Try using symbols or cartoons to help you remember your key points.

Whatever the topic, a presentation is really about what you will deliver.

Focus on three critical themes: analysis – your understanding of the organisation’s issues; connections – linking what the organisation needs to your experience; and suggested actions, which should be clear recommendations (small, quick wins are easier to sell than huge changes).

Nerves getting in the way? The good news is that performance anxiety lessens the more you do something. Your brain starts to recognise contexts and says, ‘This feels OK. I have been here before.’
This seems to work just as well with visualised scenarios as actual performances, so spend some time imagining yourself doing well in a presentation and thinking through the positive language you will use in it.

To Read more of this article :

John Lees is the author of How To Get A Job You’ll Love (McGraw-Hill).
For free career tips and details of his workshops, see

Motorists 'switch off' after just eleven minutes behind the wheel –

Brits' love affair with technology could be attributing to more accidents on the road according to new research out today which found that a lack of mental stimulation has led to a worrying one in eight motorists (13 per cent) having an accident or near miss whilst driving.

The research commissioned by esure car insurance who used the independent online research company Fly Research who surveyed 1,003 motorists from across the UK, aged 18 and over, between the 18 and 20th February 2012 found that British motorists will drive for just eleven minutes before 'switching off' behind the wheel on a long journey. A quarter of motorists (25 per cent) admit they get bored easily whilst driving, with over a fifth (22 per cent) revealing they regularly slip into autopilot.

Over a third of motorists polled (34 per cent) have made a journey somewhere and had no memory of the trip upon arrival. 14 per cent of those questioned even admitted that they had driven to the office by mistake instead of their desired destination because they were driving in autopilot.

According to the study, more than one in ten Brits (11 per cent) admitted they suffered from technology withdrawal symptoms whilst behind the wheel and a third (32 per cent) even admitted to changing the radio station or quickly checking their phone to keep their mind stimulated.

Behavioural Psychologist Donna Dawson comments: "Driving is an activity that can feel repetitive and overly-familiar, and so it is easy to slip into 'mental auto pilot' when doing it. This means repeating actions in a mechanical way without thinking too closely about what we're doing.

"Normally, this 'glazing over' is the way that the brain attempts to save mental space and energy for any new, fresh challenges that might arise. This response may happen more frequently in people who are avid technology users because without the high level of mental stimulation that they are used to, they may find driving to be more monotonous and boring than the non-technology user."

The most popular 'tech action' motorists crave whilst driving is surfing the internet (21 per cent), closely followed by making a phone call (20 per cent) and sending a text message (18 per cent). Other reasons found to influence autopilot mode were sleepiness (24 per cent) and work related thoughts (25 per cent). 30 per cent of motorists surveyed admit they have frightened themselves through realising they have 'switched off' whilst behind the wheel.

The research also found that the average British motorist wastes £47.25(*) every year in petrol due to driving "extra" miles on autopilot.

Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at esure car insurance, said: "Advances in technology have revolutionised the way we keep our brains stimulated. We all love playing with our gadgets but as this study shows this can become problematic when we get behind the wheel.

"Even on a short journey it is important for all motorists to focus on the road ahead and not let technology withdrawal systems get the better of them whilst driving."
Regional Breakdown

Those in the North East are the worst culprits when it comes to "switching off" at the wheel with 43 per cent of drivers admitting they often drive on autopilot. In contrast, people in the East Midlands are the best when it comes to concentrating behind the wheel with just 15 per cent revealing they drive on autopilot.Gender Breakdown

Proving men are creatures of habit, 16 per cent admit they have driven to the office by mistake on their day off work instead of their desired destination – this compares to just 11 per cent of women. 16 per cent of male motorists snap into autopilot mode when their partner is trying to talk to them behind the wheel, in contrast just 10 per cent of women "switch off" due to their partner's conversation.

– ends-

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For further information ple