Planning For Training Part 1
Auto technology today is quite complex, requiring technicians to begin their careers with a great understanding of the basics, as well as some very specific training on the more complex systems found on most cars. Business gross profit margins are lean, operating expenses are high, and profitability is difficult to attain and maintain. Combined with very aggressive competition, these changes have made the auto repair business very challenging for the majority of the industry.
So if you want to succeed in this industry, where do you begin? You should start by challenging all of your current methodology, become very open-minded, and continuously seek information and training that is directly applicable to your business. The next step is to create and implement a formal training program for yourself and all of your employees.
Formal Training Program
It is interesting that most shop owners see the value in educating their customers, so that it’s easier for the customer to understand and make decisions regarding the maintenance requirements and repair needs of their automobile, but most shop owners have no formal training program in place for each of their employees.
The first and foremost decision that should be made in order to help grow your profit margins is to invest in training and prepare a training budget. This investment decision must include investing in both technical and management training. Each employee’s skills should be assessed on a regular basis and an individualized training plan should be established to keep each employee completely up-to-date on equipment use and methodology. A good tip is to put all your staff through on-going business management and sales training. As a result everyone in the company will know how they fit into the big picture, how their contribution affects the whole, and how to approach and handle customers.
Often, employers assume that new staff know how to operate the equipment used in their daily job activities, when in fact much of the time employees either train themselves, receive informal assistance from fellow employees, or avoid using the equipment and/or processes altogether. Your formal training program should begin with an orientation and on-site training of employees on the proper maintenance and use of equipment utilized, as well as all of the processes involved with the performance of their daily job activities.
We recommend that shop owners should have employees attend training during the normal workday, and to pay travel expenses to send their employees to wherever the best training is available, which also helps to incentivize the employee to go through the training.
Technicians should receive a minimum of 40 hours of training annually and service advisors should receive at least two days of sales and customer handling training twice a year.
Experience also suggests that a budget of 3% of sales be considered as a guide when preparing your training program. This budget should include the training requirements for all staff and owners.
Return on Investment / Accountability
A commonly overlooked element of investing in a training program is the consideration of an expected return on investment. One of the quickest methods of obtaining a significant return on investment is to have the employee who attended training formally share the information with other employees shortly after returning to work.
Additional accountability and return on investment can be obtained by having the employee officially rate the course and materials to the employer, and formulate an action plan for implementation of what was learned.
Check back next time as we discuss the types of training available, and where you can go to find them. In the meantime, if you are looking for Service Advisor Training, we have our Service Advisor Skills class starting on January 14th. Call us at 800-755-0988 to enroll, or if you have more questions.