Among the many growth strategies shop owners deploy, one of the most underappreciated may be a well-trained staff. If your service professionals, managers and technicians aren't trained regularly and properly, that lack of training will invariably affect how vehicles are repaired, which affects everything down the line.
It's easy to understand the need for training, However, it's also essential to understand what training options are out there and where those dollars are best spent to offer the most benefit for each individual shop. Understanding the various training options and how to implement them will be a tool you can use to create and build the best team and create lifetime employees.
"If you're not training regularly, you'll fall off the radar. The shops that will succeed are the ones that offer regular training programs," says Kurtis M. Barks, CEO of Complete Auto Body & Repair in Missouri. "We run an eight-week on, eight-week off training program in our shop. We use potential future technicians that are in schools learning about the industry. We pair them with one of our senior technicians and show them the ropes. That way, it allows them to see if this is a profession they want to pursue and for us to see who will stick.
“We hope that we'll be their first choice once they graduate and they'll have been trained in our system. We work with local schools to ensure they get credit in those schools for the time they train with our shop. It's a great system that's worked well for us."
Here's where to start thinking about options and how regular employee training can lead to your shop's growth in every facet.
Different Training Options Bring Different Results
Training is obviously important, but determining the best training strategy for your staff is the key to success. You can only reach your destination if you know where you're going. For training to be effective and produce results, you need clear goals for the training in each part of your shop and what kind of training helps those parts.
- OEM focused—training built around staying up to date on the certifications your shop holds
- Job focused—training designed to advance an employee’s set of skills for his or her specific role
- Management training—training designed for managers or those wanting to move up into management roles
It's essential to identify where to get the most "bang for your buck" when investing in training. Training with clear planning and goals will lead to the best results.
"We make sure all of our team is up to date on training and that everyone is kept well-trained in their respective skills," says Wendy Ott, owner of Auto Body Concepts. "We ensure our team is certified and uses Sherman Williams' training. We also ensure our team has all the classes they want to learn from and use in their training. Because the technology of cars is often changing, regular training is needed. Shops need to be up to date and aware of all the safety measures to ensure a vehicle is safe when it leaves our shop."
When it comes to investing in training, there are many things to consider before committing time and resources. Think through each part of your shop and business where training can help:
- Where could you add training?
- What kind of ongoing training should you set up for each part of your shop?
- What type of training is needed? Is it online, in person or a combination of both?
- What training programs align with your style and goals?
- What metrics and goals are you hoping the training can help you accomplish?
The Right Training Creates a Better Working Environment
Investing in training has many benefits for a shop. Exploring training options gives your team the training they need to be the best in their position. Training also creates a better working environment for your team and makes them want to stay.
"Creating the right culture is important in our shop. We've been recognized for our culture, and that makes us proud. We use the Culture Index, a quick survey to see what people are naturally good at and then know what training they need. The good techs in our industry are in high demand, so we work hard to create a culture and environment in which they want to work with us," says Barks.
Employees feel valued when shop owners invest in training. It creates an environment of growth. As you give your employees more skills through training, they become better at what they do and produce better customer and vehicle service.
The Types of Shop Training
Every shop owner is familiar with the major certifications technicians and shops can work on securing: ASE, I-CAR, OEMs, etc., but training in a shop can include much more than working toward attaining these standard certifications.
Many colleges and trade schools offer training on repair procedures, customer service, leadership development, management training, revenue growth strategies, systems creation, marketing and much more.
"Explore the OE certifications because that training helps you become more of a specialist. The population decline is a real thing; one-third of people don't want to do the trades anymore. That's why training and specialization are important. Training helps keep our industry strong," says Barks.
There are ways to enhance your education even beyond the official training channels. YouTube—such as the regular tips shared on the SCRS channel—podcasts and blogs are just a few of the ways to access training information. Training is also more versatile than ever, with options for in-person study as well as virtually.
There are easy ways to train your employees, and the online training options are trackable—you can know exactly where a team member is in the training process. Finding the right training method for each set of employees can help maximize what they get out of it.
Investing in Training Builds Shops
Training is one investment that touches every part your shop and the employees managing those parts. Having the most informed employees for their role will help ensure quality in each department. Just like each employee needs the right tools to do their job, it is the shop’s responsibility to provide access to the knowledge they need as well.
While these steps will help determine the best training option for your shop, it must be backed with an investment in time and resources in the programs and professionals that help your employees. Once you’ve determined the best fit for your goals, it may help to share your vision with your leadership team and department heads. Get everyone on the same page with the training you'll offer, so that everyone is training with intention.