Service, collision repair training opportunities abound

Sept. 21, 2017
Why can’t we get shops to train employees? That is where the conundrum comes in -- the training that the shops know they need becomes secondary to their immediate problems at hand.

Training helps shops improve their processes, but training also takes employees away from their shop. Often people are too busy handling issues to break away to train.

Training, in most cases, will help alleviate those issues, at the very least, it helps manage the stress that most collision center employees face. 

So why can’t we get shops to train? That is where the conundrum comes in -- the training they know they need becomes secondary to the immediate problem at hand. As I write this I know there are shops that have procrastinated on their I-CAR and OEM certifications and are trying to figure out how to get all the training they need crammed into the last quarter of the year.

So how do we change shop owners’ minds to give training the same importance as their immediate problem? I would say we could help them handle those problems, but that would require training. Generally, shop owners say that they can’t afford to lose people to training. My answer is to show them the different opportunities and ways to get the training they need to improve their operation without sacrificing the time they need to spend at their shop. 

I-CAR has removed obstacles and excuses for not training by adapting their training to meet not only the increasing vehicle complexity requirements but also to meet their customer’s needs. Through I-CAR’s hands-on, virtual and on-line education choices, you can take the courses you need when they fit your schedule. 

Collision Hub’s Repair University has courses available in four different categories. Refinish, Body Repair, Operations Management and Estimating. The courses provide training in short video tracks that you can watch during a lunch hour. Collision Hub’s Repair University Live is a subscription based monthly training presentation covering subjects like; Scanning vs Calibration, OEM Repair Requirements, Understanding Estimating and the Guides and Structural Anchoring and Measuring to name a few.

The Automotive Management Institute offers courses in Leadership, Financial Management, Operational Management, Sales and Marketing, HR & Personnel Development, Risk Management and IT management through their on-line education program. If you prefer instructor-led programs, AMi has courses such as Financial Management, HR & Personnel Management, Risk Management, Leadership, Operational Management and Sales & Marketing available.

National conferences such as NACE Automechanika offer a large variety of courses under one roof that allow you to maximize the time away from your shop. In most cases, you can take four to five courses in a day in multiple disciplines. SEMA is the largest convention in North America and has five full days of training courses available through the Society of Collision Repair Specialists Repairer Driven Education series.  If those two venues are not enough to get you out the door for training opportunities, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers/New Jersey also has a conference that provides training. This Northeast conference has training available through a variety of providers to include I-CAR, MEA, AMi, and ASE as well as free training opportunities.

In addition to everything I have mentioned, paint manufacturers, repair product manufacturers, distribution partners, auto body associations, tool and supply vendors, and various other entities provide training throughout the year.

While training might not be convenient, it is a necessity in the evolving collision repair industry.  Vehicles are becoming more complex; the repair methods are more specific and you must learn or be left behind. I think Tom Hopkins says it best: “You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort and money into training, grooming and encouraging your greatest asset.”

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About the Author

John Shoemaker

John Shoemaker is a business development manager for BASF North America Automotive Refinish Division and the former owner of JSE Consulting. He began his career in the automotive repair industry in 1973. He has been a technician, vehicle maintenance manager and management system analyst while serving in the U.S. Air Force. In the civilian sector he has managed several dealership collision centers, was a dealership service director and was a consultant to management system providers as an implementation specialist. John has completed I-CAR training and holds ASE certifications in estimating and repair. Connect with Shoemaker on LinkedIn.

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