The theme for the 2017 conference was 'Our Journey'

We gathered team from across the company for a round up of our year.

Here at Vantage we feel that it is important for us to have a yearly conference to make sure that everyone is clear on the companies priorities and focus. It's important to be able to reflect on the successes and areas for improvement from the previous year in order for us to progress in a cohesive and unified way.

We always have interesting speakers and endeavour to make the conference as interactive as possible to really engage our team. This year was no different. The 2017 conference was held at Pavilions of Harrogate. Where more fitting for our conference than just down the road from the companies origins? This is particularly special in relation to the conferences focus, 'Our Journey'.

Our MD, Mark Robinson, opened the conference with an impassioned speech about​ how far the company has come since it's creation in Knaresborough back in 2003. Keen eyed delegates will have spotted a Toyota Yaris in pride of place when they came into the conference. This is actually one of the first cars to have ever been sold by Vantage. It's in fantastic condition and after a spruce up from Toyota Leeds it's now joined the Vantage Heritage Collection. 

We also had an interactive speech from our operations director, Andrew Mallory, who gave us plenty to think about in regards to the type of leadership qualities that we should be striving for. Phil White, Chairman of the board, followed with an unusual start to a speech. Everyone loves an icebreaker and the bad dancing that ensued certainly did that, he followed this with a message on there importance of admitting when your wrong and learning from your mistakes, a critical skill for all managers to learn. 

We had a very special guest in the form of Ewan Shepherd, director of Lexus UK, who inspired us all with his speech on how the Lexus brand are committed to creating amazing in everything they do, certainly giving us all some food for thought. He even brought the new LC500 with him for us all to see, it really is a fantastic vehicle. 

After lunch, which gave us a chance to look at some of the amazing vehicles we had on display, we kicked off with a Q & A session with the board of directors which gave the teams the chance to ask some of those burning questions that they may have had.

We were then honoured to have racing drivers James Dorlin, who is currently racing in the Clio Cup, and Finlay Robinson in another Q & A session along with ITV Sport pundit Paul O'Neill. They spoke to us about how crucial dedication is in order to be able to achieve your goals and the value in being able to learn from your errors to achieve your best.

I think we all really enjoyed these sessions, which enabled the team from across the company to get involved. It was particularly interesting to hear how these young racing drivers goals can be mirrored in our own ways of working.

We were lucky enough to get Julia Muir from Gaia Innovation to attend our conference and talk to us about women in the motor trade. Vantage are proud to be members of the UK Automotive 30% club. The 30% club encourages people to commit themselves to a target of 30% of women on management boards by 2030. This diversity is something that Vantage are keen to strive for and Julia is a driving force behind this initiative.

In addition to the 30% club Julia talked to us about 'Speaker's for Schools' which our MD is part of. This initiative gets people from our industry into schools to talk to young people, particularly girls, about what sort of jobs are available, breaking down gender stereotypes and opening up their eyes to avenues they many never have considered before.

It was great to see that Vantage already have a lot of women in our team but the issues Julia raised were certainly eye opening and have given the teams a lot to consider in terms of recruitment.

Following Julia we had Nick Horton from profit box. Nick came to speak to us about 'Raving Fan' culture and the importance of customer satisfaction. Everyone took something away from his speech, both figuratively and physically, and he certainly got the team enthused with his subject matter.

Here at Vantage our key phrase is 'Passion to Please' so we pride ourselves on putting our customers first in everything we do. that being said, Nick brought about some interesting examples and questions for the team to engage in. He has challenged us to ask ourselves how much further we can push ourselves to exceed the customers expectations.

Thank you Nick for your invigorating speech, we can't wait to see how the teams back in the centres embrace the 'Raving Fan' culture.

Here at Vantage we are proud supporters of The Prince's Trust. We are passionate about doing our best to enable them to carry on their great work. One of the things that the trust does is to teach young people how to speak publicly, thus improving their confidence and improving their employ-ability skills. At last years conference we had a young lady deliver a very sobering talk about how the trust has helped her. This year we welcomed back the trust with a new speaker.

Dominic Loftus is a young man with an inspiring tale to tell. We were all gripped as he told us the story of how he came to need the assistance of the Prince's Trust and how far he has come since receiving their help. I think we all came away from that session with a better understanding of not only the ways that the Prince's Trust is able to help young people but a tangible example of the importance of their work. It is so important that our teams can see how our efforts to support the charity is appreciated and the effect that this work can have on young people.

New for the 2017 conference, was the Vantage Recognition Awards. Our centres had been asked to nominate who they thought best epitomised each category and from there a winner was picked from the shortlisted categories. It was fantastic to see our teams get involved in this and shout about those that they feel deserve recognition.

After the awards ceremony our MD rounded off the successful conference with some thank you's, notably to Melanie Williamson for all her hard work organising the day,and some exciting announcements that we will reveal in due course. I think all of the team at the conference left with a positive frame of mind and a lot to think about and bring back to their teams and the day to day running of their centres. Here's to another successful conference and many thanks again to Pavilions of Harrogate and the Motiv8 team for making the conference run smoothly.