In our last couple of posts, we have been sharing the elements of a formal training plan, and why having one is so important. But when you start to create your plan, where do you go to actually implement the training?
There are three major categories of training in the automotive service and repair industry — technical, management, and sales — and a number of great resources for each.
Such training can be obtained from trade schools, colleges, tech training companies, and suppliers. There are many trade schools serving local areas, as well as some very large and highly accredited trade schools located throughout North America. Many of these schools offer certification programs as well as degree programs. Many also offer specialized programs, usually provided by the automobile manufacturers. The general student body consists of entry-level people.
Also located throughout the country are colleges that offer programs for automotive technicians as well as other positions within the automotive industry. To locate these schools and colleges, you may want to contact your trade associations and suppliers, or search the internet.
There are any number of well-known, highly regarded technical training companies you could contact. Many provide training in the field, at your shop, and/or in their company classrooms. Refer to the Motor Source Guide at motor.com for contact information for many of these companies.
Many suppliers to the automotive service and repair industry have training divisions and/or provide technical training. On occasion, this training may be specific to their products, but much of this training has proven to be quite useful to the industry in general.
Training in this area covers a myriad of topics. Some of the most popular are:
- Marketing — all media
- Operations — workflows, facility layout and design, scheduling, productivity, labor and parts inventory managements, customer service
- Accounting and financial management — accounting principles and benchmarking, business valuation, tax strategies, forecasting
- Personnel management — interviewing, hiring and firing, communications
- Compensation plans — all forms of compensation, all forms of incentives, benefits, training
- Business planning
- Contingency planning and exit strategies
Management Training Companies
Many individual instructors and top-notch independent training companies serve our industry. Each of these companies has its own distinct philosophy when it comes to providing information not only on those topics listed above, but others as well. When sourcing one of these companies, including ours, I encourage you to compare instructional quality, quality of workbooks and handouts, delivery and testing methodology, investment, and credentials.
Automotive Management Institute (AMI)
The Institute boasts more than 700 courses and 150 instructors. The majority of the instructors are either employed by independent training companies, are independent instructors, or are instructors employed by suppliers. Our company has been part of the AMI faculty almost since the inception of the Institute. The AMI is a great resource for anyone looking for management training specific to the automotive service and repair industry.
Each trade association serving the automotive service and repair industry has technical and management training resources as part of its benefits. Most of their resources lead back to management training companies and the AMI. These associations often sponsor all of the types of training listed earlier in this article. They are an excellent resource for training nationally and on the local level.
Parts Distribution Groups/Companies
Many of the parts distribution groups/companies have what they refer to as an affiliate service center program. All forms of training — including technical, management, and sales training —are listed as part of their programs. Often the curriculum and instruction are provided by one of the industry’s independent training companies or independent instructors. Many are also approved by the AMI. Check with your parts suppliers to see if their affiliate service center program has training available to meet your needs.
Other Industry Suppliers
There are many more suppliers to the automotive service and repair industry who either offer training and/or sponsor all types of training. Check with your suppliers to see what each has to offer.
Methods of Delivery
Training can be delivered to technical and management/sales personnel in a number of ways. The on-the-job method usually applies to the employee receiving training on equipment located at the shop and utilized in the performance of his or her job. This would apply to all positions. Most on-the-job training is provided by other employees; however, on occasion, outside training may be brought to the shop.
Many self-study programs utilize various forms of pre-recorded audio/visual presentation, including online or on DVD. Many suppliers offer this type of training as well. While it is economical, in the scope of the training consumed by the automotive service and repair industry, its use for technical, management, and sales training is somewhat limited. Its use is quite popular for motivational types of training.
Individualized coaching is provided by many of the resources described above. This type of training is especially helpful for a shop owner who is so essential to their business that participation in face-to-face training is next to impossible. This is a great style of training for shop owners who may not yet have implemented formal business or training plans, or are not yet ready to move into a peer group style situation.
Face-to-face training is a common delivery method utilized by our industry. It’s conducted in many different venues, such as hotels, trade shows, national events, and corporate classrooms.
Online training has become the most popular method for training. There are two main delivery methods for online training – one is self-study, where you watch pre-recorded webinars or scroll through Powerpoint presentations. The other, which is the one we prefer at RLO Training, is the live online method. In this method, you are in a live webinar classroom with your instructor and the other students, and can engage in meaningful discussions or ask questions directly to your instructor throughout the course of your class.
Another recommended training method is the 20-Group process, which is a proven method of delivering training, resources, and support to business owners. It’s based on a group of up to 20 business owners collectively solving problems, comparing business performance, and helping one another implement what is presented in order to improve their business. At RLO Training, our 20-groups are called The Bottom-Line Impact Groups. This is a very effective delivery method, since it holds business owners accountable to implement what has been learned. Although this process may not be for everyone, we have found that it is the quickest route to becoming part of the top 15% of the industry.
Commit to a Training Plan Now!
Without ongoing training, the likelihood of a shop surviving in today’s competitive arena is minimal. I strongly encourage you to commit to building a formal training plan for your company and implementing it immediately. Shops are moving rapidly to a six-day workweek, leaving even less time for spur-of-the-moment training — or worse yet, no training at all. It’s now time for you to train to the level at which you want to operate, in order to win!
Have you started to create and/or implement a formal training plan yet? Tell us all about it!