Training is a top-five strategy in the automotive service business. Shop owner CEO’s must focus on culture, marketing, financial results, processes and creating a learning culture in their business among others. Owners must lead the way by attending business management/CEO training. Training is a retention tool; keep that in mind.
Shop owners must create a learning culture in their business. This leadership allows the entire team to understand the value of training not only for themselves but to the business. Since the CEO is attending business management training and is coordinating the training for their service advisor and technicians, everyone has a seat on the northbound train.
It is easy to discount training as a cost, not an investment. The shop owner must have the processes and systems along with a flow of customers to generate the profits necessary to invest in a comprehensive training program for the entire company. No doubt this is a chicken and egg issue. Can’t train unless I have money to spend or should I train with the limited funds I have. The training upside is the investment in training helps to generate profits and satisfied customers.
In recent technician interviews, they share the value and importance of training. They are the first to admit that if the tech isn’t a life long learner they may not see the value of the investment spent on them. Technicians must be involved in their training. Shared costs can be in order as you start to build your learning culture. If they show they are getting value and using their new education, the owner can take more costs off the technician. The techs I’ve interviewed say you can spot a current or future Master Technician, because, for them, training doesn’t end at 5 PM.
Here are 8 ideas to help excite a new and improved training strategy:
- Add $2 to your labor rate and carve out that revenue stream for training.
- Create a monthly bonus related to training goals. (See 8 below)
- Invest in local training. It will cost less than the big events involving travel.
- Look for areas of struggle inside your business and find the training that will help. From business management, service adviser and technician. On the technician front, work with your suppliers to get the training, your team needs, on their local/regional training schedules.
- Look to join an association that brings training to their members. You will find every type of training available.
- Consider daytime training that allows for a better transfer of knowledge. Trainers want to do daytime training, but the industry is slow to accept it. This is no different than a PTO or vacation day. Schedule around it. Retention of the course material is higher.
- Training Tactics: During and after training.
- You do not have to remember every fact you learn. Jot notes in the margin of the manual. Dog ear a page. Carry post-it notes to flag special pages.
- Put your techs or adviser into a situation from which they can use their new training, so it helps crystalize their new knowledge.
- Teach their peers in the shop what they just learned. When you teach you learn.
- Create a monthly requirement of X number of training hours for all roles in the company.
- Keep a spreadsheet or ‘brag board’ on every training class each technician and service advisor has attended. Build a training resume on each team member.
- Weekly meetings need to discuss training.
- There are many creative ways to reward roles for their training commitment. A few ideas:
- 4 hours approved education completed = $1 more per hour paid in the following month
- Hold 4 or more ASE’s = $1 additional
- ASE master tech = $1, ASE L1 =$1. (Covering all expenses for passed exams)
- You can also reward additional bonuses for comeback rates under a certain percent, production over 100%, number of billed hours and even tenure with the business. Get creative and build upon your training culture. What gets measured gets managed and rewarded.
We are up against talent that could look to other industries because they provide paid training. Yet you need to find team members that take education seriously. You may have to improve your hiring practices and work environment. Ask yourself:
- Is your environment removing the enthusiasm?
- Is your business an extended family?
- Are you fostering a healthy place to work that includes growth and opportunity?
- Do you appreciate your teams’ unique talents?
- Do you thank them for a hard day’s work?
- Is their pay commensurate with their competency?
- Is your team involved in the business?
- Are you setting the right example?
I assembled a great panel to discuss this topic. If you want more insight on improving your training culture and reward system, please give a listen to your industry colleagues as they bring you a powerful discussion on technician training strategies and rewards: http://remarkableresults.biz/a072
Carm Capriotto, AAP
Host of Remarkable Results Radio Podcast