Q&A: Shoreham Vehicle Auctions’ Michael Simmons

SVA auction

Shoreham Vehicle Auctions Operations Director, Michael Simmons, tells MotorPro how the organisation invests in finding and training new talent

What are the key education and training requirements for people entering your company?

Obviously this depends on the role. For drivers – we insist on a driving licence with three points or fewer to enable them to work for Shoreham Vehicle Auctions (SVA).

Vehicle appraisal executives – we support the NAMA grading courses with internal training.

Our office-based team staff have to be proficient in Microsoft packages and able to manage databases, although the most important skill is how to deal with the customer on the phone, in person and now virtually.

How do you source talent for your organisation?

We generally recruit local people and we have successfully used Indeed to recruit those staff.

How many apprenticeships do you carry out per year and in what areas of the business?

Our latest three apprenticeships have been very varied. One graduate was heading into the space industry but joined us and gained a Masters in IT via the Open University. Another we sponsored through the Prince’s Trust who managed all our internal and client marketing, while the third also joined to support the IT team.

What is the aim of this training?

The formal academic training gives them a greater understanding of their specific sector specialism, while SVA interfaces this with more general motor industry and auction training. Ultimately, all our staff need to know how to interface with the customer whether they are back office or front office – this is the most important attribute we look for when recruiting to support their formal qualification.

What impact did COVID-19 have on the apprenticeships?

None. We haven’t had any apprenticeships going through 2020, but we are actively looking at the current incentives being offered for apprenticeships with the view to take on people within the used car inspection and appraisals part of our business.

What leadership development programmes do you run?

From the managing director Alex Wright downward, we have invested in IMI training courses, particularly those online. We have also worked with the Energy Saving Trust to develop an electric training masterclass for our colleagues and dealers which several hundred dealer staff have now attended.

We have also invested in online training with ACAS for more work-related courses and for keeping team members up with best practice in the workplace.

What is your key focus for the year ahead?

The main goal is to continue with our policy of multi-skilling which stems back to when we ran two teams of people during COVID-19 in case we had an outbreak within the business.

This worked well and the two teams worked different days and in the case of our Monday evening sale, one team worked in the daytime and handed over to the second team in the evening. Multi-skilling works well within a business of our size.