One of the perks of MCI membership is the opportunity to attend social and networking events, with MCI breakfast meetings becoming increasingly popular. Attendance at last month's meeting was the best ever. Around 50 members and invited guests enjoyed breakfast and a tour of facilities at Silverstone’s new state of the art events conference and exhibition facility, known as ‘the Wing’.
The first was Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe and Chair of the Parliamentary All-Party Motorcycle Group, who explained how members could influence their local MP to speak up for the motorcycle industry. In view of the weight of correspondence an MP receives, he advised those who wanted to get a response to avoid long letters (which may get put to one side), to send personal rather than template letters (these have more impact) and to keep the letter brief (one page max.):
“The first sentence should make it clear what you are writing about. You need to establish how this will affect constituents, and set out exactly how the MP can help with straightforward action. This could be asking them to write a letter, saying something at a meeting, speaking to Ministers or asking parliamentary questions.”
Stuart Dey, who is Business Development Director of Shipleys LLP was the second speaker, whose address included ‘survival tips’ for SMEs. He prefaced the talk with the motto “make common sense common practice”, explaining that the points he was going to make were not new thinking, but pulled together a number of recognised strategies which enabled businesses to monitor their on-going viability. By keeping on top of cash flow, by identifying and regularly reviewing key performance indicators, it is possible for SMEs to stay on course and correct problems much earlier.
The other highly useful element of Stuart’s talk was his insight into dealership practice, as someone who has bought 20 motorcycles for personal use in the past 14 years (one of them twice). Dealer apathy was the main reason he gave for switching brands, in contrast to his wife’s on-going loyalty to the dealer who came and picked her up when her bike broke down, a few years after buying it.
Stuart’s main recommendation for dealers was to look after customers or potential customers properly and not to be lulled into concentrating on people that are great friends to the dealership, but don’t actually buy bikes.
The third speaker was Richard Philips, Managing Director of Silverstone, who outlined recent developments and exciting plans for the site. These include the opening of a technology school in September, a new archive/museum and the possibility of working with manufacturers to expand the range of motorcycle events, for example ‘try out’ or safety days.
There are plans to make Silverstone carbon neutral by 2019 and two doctoral students have been taken on to produce a ‘road map’ of how this may be achieved.
Watch this space for news of the next MCI breakfast meeting.