Training is important whether employees stay or go

Jan. 1, 2020
You provide all the training you can get your hands on for your technicians, but turnover still is a great problem at your shop. It seems as if when a tech is trained, he or she puts in their two-week's notice and heads to a shop or dealership across
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You provide all the training you can get your hands on for your technicians, but turnover still is a great problem at your shop. It seems as if when a tech is trained, he or she puts in their two-week’s notice and heads to a shop or dealership across town.

There are a number of reasons people leave their jobs in the bay, and some of them you can’t control. But cutting training opportunities so freshly trained techs will not go somewhere else won’t help your cause – in fact, you’re probably doing more harm than good. Rather, there are a number of things you can look at to keep your techs in your bays and not your competitors’.

“For many years, we’ve heard the argument that just as soon as we get them trained, they go off (somewhere else),” says Bill Haas, ASA vice president of education and training. “That’s really not a training problem, that’s a management problem. If you’re investing in your employees and providing them training, and in a short period of time they go off and leave you to go and work for someone else or start their own business, as an employer, you didn’t do a good job to position your place as a business where that person wants to continue to work.”

Chris “Chubby” Frederick, CEO and president of the Automotive Training Institute, says no matter what training you provide, most people leave a business because they are unhappy with leadership or its environment.

“I can tell you that my perception is, it’s usually a leadership problem. The vast majority of my clients that once they get their leadership skills tuned up, they don’t lose many people,” he says. “Techs don’t leave because of money; it’s because they don’t like people they work with or it’s not a good time.”

Mike Brewster, AAM, of Gil’s Garage Inc. in Burnt Hill, N.Y., says his shop has had success in maintaining its staff while requiring close to 40 hours of training per person annually. Part of that also lies in promoting a team environment.

“The team is so important to us. In keeping and retaining employees starts with the owner to promote the team aspect and teamwork,” Brewster says. “We don’t see that as an issue in our shop here, losing our folks to the competition. We try very, very hard to have a positive work environment, training, treating each other with respect, routine company meetings to address any issues, asking for feedback from the employees. As far as why we train, it boils down to, boy, if you don’t, you’re going to be left behind.”

That appreciation is exactly what Haas says is key in keeping employees after you’ve trained them. He says that making sure they are appreciated, rewarded for attending training, compensated, they are more likely to stay at your business.

“It’s almost got to become what the business is built on,” he says. “We’re doing this for you: one because it will be best for the business; and two, because it will better for you as an individual.”

Training now is even more important, Brewster says, given that safety concerns with new technology such as hybrids and other service needs are constantly mounting.

To avoid your training being used in other bays, Haas suggests looking at it as a management issue first and talking about it when you interview new technicians.

“When you first sit down to interview a potential employee, training ought to be one of the things that’s talked about,” he says. “On the other side of that, (you) ought to be able to express to that potential hire what your expectations are (in terms of training). Three hours once a year? Forty hours? There has to be some conversation, and it should happen very early on in the process.”

Brewster says that process is employed at Gil’s Garage, and has been met with success.

“When we are interviewing potential employees, we’re looking for people who are looking for a career and not just a job,” he says. “I think it starts with that kind of an attitude right from the beginning. From there, we’re looking for those career-minded individuals who want to better themselves and would focus on the team aspect that we promote here as well as wanting to do their part for the team.”

Frederick adds that most owners don’t take enough time or a large enough role in recruiting, which can lead to these problems down the road.

“It’s painful to them,” he says. “They try to get through them as fast as they can or delegate to other people, which is even worse. Take time and slow down.”

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