Technology has changed so many things in our lives. Anyone who has been in the automotive industry very long is aware that technology has not only changed the way we live and work but is constantly evolving at an incredible rate. We are in an industry where the options are: keep up or close your doors.
The only way to continue to ride the technological wave is to keep trained technicians and continue aggressive training. To give you an example, when I worked at Ford, the technicians there were required to continuously train. Every quarter, new modules came out and to maintain his/her qualifications, a technician had to complete the new modules within a specified time. Failure to keep up with qualifications meant loss of certification and loss of income. Even if a tech was Master Certified, they had to maintain that certification.
In the aftermarket world, things are a little different. Every shop should have a detailed training program and hold all employees, including management, accountable for that training. As a service advisor, I have an ever-growing amount of training available. As a once neglected area, the advisor position is being increasingly recognized as the source of business the shop has available. Proper phone and people skills are imperative to keep a shop full of vehicles. Full shops mean full pockets for everyone.
There are numerous online training platforms (such as Technician.Academy), and automotive training expos occurring throughout the year all over the country. Most areas have local training provided by parts suppliers and local and national organizations such as ASA.
The automotive industry as a whole has recognized the shortage of qualified technicians and is finally beginning to invest its energy in making the industry more attractive to future generations. Many high schools and most colleges are now offering more trades-type courses, including automotive technology. Scholarships are available from multiple sources and apprenticeships programs are growing exponentially. Some of the more progressive high schools are partnering with local industries to provide “signing days” for students entering the workforce just like the athletics departments have been promoting.
The Cost of Training in the Digital Age
I understand the pain and expense of sending a tech or advisor to train, both in financial terms and timewise. Not only are there costs for the actual training, travel expenses, lodging if it’s a multi-day course, and any other miscellaneous costs incurred throughout the process, there is also lost revenue, having to pay an employee to train instead of working in the shop, and there’s a loss of flow. Admittedly, I cringe every time I lose a tech for a day or more for training. I recognize all of the advantages of a highly trained technician, but that only softens the blow.
Here’s why your shop should provide the best training it can:
- A well-trained technician will be able to locate and properly repair a vehicle, faster and more efficiently. That means more billable hours for the tech and the shops. If you’re not sure how to make this work, ask me.
- A professional service advisor will be able to get more of the right kinds of customers in the door, present needed services and repairs in a way that creates trust, and get customers to return as loyal clients.
- All employees appreciate that they are being allowed to continue their education and improve their craft. A happier, more appreciative technician will produce more for the shop and themselves.
- Studies show that being appreciated creates higher employee satisfaction rates than money.
- Training on information systems and knowing where to look for information cuts down on valuable diagnostic time, estimating time, and parts look-ups.
- “Fixed right the first time” can be more than just a motto.
All of the above items create a happier customer base in the end. Happy customers come back, are more trusting, and will recommend you to their friends.
“The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training employees and keeping them.”
Article By: Bruce McDowell
Bruce is currently a Service Advisor for Garber Diesel Service Truck & Trailer Service Center
Bruce’s credentials include: AMAM through AMI, ASE Certified Service Advisor, Ford Motor Company – Master Service Manager, Master Service Advisor, Master Parts Manager, Master Warranty Administrator plus 2 Management Degrees, Stationary Engineer License, and Retired Navy. And above all… modest.