Training Yourself and Your Staff to Win Part 1
Although professional athletes are usually considered to be at the top of their game, savvy team owners never stop investing in great coaches. You’d be wise to run your shop the same way.
The majority of auto repair shop owners today are not training to win. In fact, only a small portion of them have developed an effective training plan. Many reasons are offered by those who have not developed a formal or even an informal training plan. They include:
- They feel their random training efforts are adequate.
- They do not know how to set up a training plan and have not sought help to do so.
- They do not have the time to devote to developing such a plan.
- They feel they and/or their staff cannot afford any more time and/or money for training beyond what they have invested or are investing.
- They often let their staff dictate to them that they do not need training, or dictate the kind of training they want, which quite often is not the training they need.
Of course, there are many more excuses as well. Most shop owners view training as an expense, which, if not properly planned and budgeted for, may be very true. However, we believe training must be viewed as an investment, and that it must generate a desired return in the form of increased gross and net profits as well as improved cash flow.
A formal training plan for you as an owner, and for your staff, should be an element of your overall business plan. A well-implemented training plan will lead to increased profits and cash flow, a must for every business.
Elements of a Formal Training Plan
There are several basic elements to a formal training plan. They are:
- A skills assessment based on job descriptions
- A written specific objective for each training investment
- Implementation procedures
- Methodology for measuring progress toward stated objectives and return-on-investment
- A budget
- A continuing education agreement
- A continuing education log
Let’s explore them individually.
A skills assessment form should be developed, and should include the following: position,employee’s name, date of assessment, a rating system (eg 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest), and a list of required skills for the position.
A skills assessment form simply requires the employee’s supervisor to list all of the skills required for the job and then, either together or individually, rate the employee’s ability to use those skills. After being completed separately by employer and employee, they would then get together and compare ratings and discuss them until a final combined assessment is reached. The supervisor then would recommend appropriate training to bring the employee’s skill levels up.
Written Specific Objective(s)
Once the skills assessment is complete, there must be a written specific objective created which documents the need for and investment required for training for the employee, so that they may either acquire or improve the required skill(s). When training is scheduled, the written specific objective should then be shared with the employee prior to them receiving the training.
Many shops do not follow up with their staff regarding the training they’ve received, nor do they hold them accountable to implement what they learned. It is, however, management’s responsibility to hold the employee accountable for implementing what he or she learned and for attaining the objectives. By using the written specific objectives as a guide, both the employer and employee know clearly what is to be accomplished as a result of the training. If the objectives are not met, management then must make some additional decisions.
When an employee is to receive training and the written specific objectives are determined, the implementation procedures must be conveyed, in writing, to the individual receiving the training.
Methodology for Measuring Progress and Return-on-Investment
We’ve heard from owners of many repair shops that much of the training they received was ineffective. When asked if they have a formal training plan, most have stated they do not. When asked if individual employees know the objectives and implementation procedures, many have stated they do not.
Therefore, it’s imperative that every training plan include a measurement process for each type of training purchased. This can be as simple as a tracking form indicating a score before the training and a score after. The tracking should also integrate how sales, profits, and cash flow were impacted, thus providing a way to measure the return on the training investment made.
Tip: One way shop owners can make their training investment go further is to require that the individual who received the training shares materials and information received with others on the staff.
We will return next time to finish discussing the remaining elements of a formal training plan.