Stereotypes are something that everyone has to deal with, regardless of their occupation. For example, if you are a lawyer most people will assume that you are intelligent, wealthy and, potentially, bossy. However, recent reports have suggested that there are a number of negative stereotypes associated with motor traders, including that they aren’t paid well and don’t have many skills. This, obviously, isn’t true, however it highlights the fact that motor traders need to do more to change the general perception of them…
The Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) recently commissioned a survey of ninety nine MPs to find out their views and attitudes towards the motor trade, with the results being, frankly, rather shocking. It found that even though sixty per cent of those surveyed believe that there are those that work in the motor trade industry in their constituencies, over half also claimed that they think motor traders are “low skilled, low paid and dirty.”
In response to these controversial findings, IMI chief executive Steve Nash said: “There is a terrible confusion in parliament about the people in our industry. They understand that large numbers of hard working people make their living in it, and that 35 million vehicle owners depend on them to keep them on the road. Beyond this they are quite happy to perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes of a grimy back street trade. This attitude is not helping the public to understand the level of skill necessary to work in our sector.
“The IMI will be calling for MPs to support licensing the motor automotive sector when MPs return from summer recess. IMI Accreditation (ATA) in its many variants has been developed as a template for some form of licensing, should the authorities wish to pursue this. Furthermore, the public are already able to establish who the appropriately qualified individuals are and where they work via the IMI’s Professional Register. We would encourage all MPs to take a look too.”
What are Motor Traders like?
Even though it’s never a good idea to apply sweeping generalisations to any group of people, at the end of the day it’s something that we all do. Therefore, it’s important that the public view motor traders as a whole differently. As stated by IMI chief executive Steve Nash, contrary to public opinion motor traders are highly skilled and without these skills would not be able to complete their day to day tasks. Most motor traders these days, especially those that have joined the industry in recent years, have studied at college or taken part in apprenticeships in order to get into their careers. Furthermore, motor traders learn and improve every single day as part of their work – something that not many of us can claim.
Changing the Stereotype
Changing stereotypes is rarely easy, which is why it is unlikely one survey will lead to MPs and the general population changing the way they think about motor traders anytime soon. However, there are things that motor traders, groups and associations can do to put the foundation down for a better future for motor traders. Educating people is one of the best ways to change stereotypes, so it would be good for the government to change their ways and then show others how they can do the same. For example, they should advise members of the public that not all motor traders are the same, and that to find one that is reputable they should look for those that have some sort of accreditation or are part of an association.
As a motor trader, you can also do your bit when it comes to changing stereotypes by giving your customers as much information as possible about your business and your personal skills. For example, you can display information in your garage or dealership about your motor trade insurance policy, your skills and qualifications and even testimonials from previous customers. By reminding people of your successes they will start to see you as the skilled, reliable motor trader that you are instead of just another stereotype.