Shop owners need business skills training and need to invest in their business including tools and technology,” commented Larry Samuelson, president of NAPA’s U.S. Automotive Parts Group Headquarters, at the 2005 Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium*, last May in Chicago. He was speaking these words to many of the automotive aftermarket’s top manufacturers and suppliers, but he could just as easily been speaking to you or your employees. I would agree with him, but take his comments a littler further. Every shop owner needs to invest in tools, technology and training. We all think we understand the complexity of this business. Every year you hear or read about how much more complex vehicle repair and service has become. (And I mean every year since I started in this business in the early-’80s.) Many of you are small-business owners, men or women who were the best service techs in the shop and wanted to own your own business. Along the way to becoming business owners, you found out that the business looks a little different when you’re the one writing the paychecks, signing the purchase orders and hiring (or firing) the technicians. It’s safe to say that nothing is as easy or uncomplicated as it used to be.
My point being this every year is complex. Every year is difficult. Understand that yesterday’s solutions will not apply to new technology. Bill Haas, vice president of education and training at ASA said at a recent ATMC (Automotive Training Managers Council) Conference that the “lack of training will lead to a lack of understanding, which ultimately leads to a lack of service work being provided.” Would you agree? Who would work on something they don’t understand?
The majority of you employ two to seven technicians. You might still be working in the business, but it’s time you ask yourself, “am I working on the business?” My answer to that question is, if you’re not investing in tools, technology and training, then NO, you are not working on the business. And a year from now, you’ll be scratching your head, wondering why business is down, and telling anyone who will listen how complex this business is, and how difficult it has become.
So what do you do? Read Brake & Front End, ImportCar or Underhood Service and TechShop for information on the latest technology, tools and equipment. Embrace technology and training. Today’s technology provides the solutions for today’s automotive service and repair. There is more tool information and training available than ever before you only have to go as far as your desktop computer or local jobber to find it. But there is never enough training. To continue to be a successful business owner, you need to determine what training is needed in your shop and who should participate. Then put together a program for your people so they understand their place in your organization. Sales will increase and costs will go down. It won’t be long before you will see the value in training your employees.
Let’s Talk Education
If it’s June, it must be time for manufacturers to talk about new tools again. Most of the major tool and equipment manufacturers in the U.S. come together for mini-trade shows throughout the year. Typically these shows are held at a key customer’s warehouse or local hotel ballroom. The warehouse will then invite their key customers usually local jobbers, technicians and smaller distributors. You may have attended one or two yourself. Two of the most influential trade shows held in June are the TEDA Vendor Advisory Meeting and the ISN Tool Show.
This year, the 12th annual TEDA Vendor Advisory Meeting is being held in mid-June in Annapolis, MD. At this meeting, more than 70 manufacturers meet to showcase their latest products to one of the premier groups of tool and equipment distributors. After the meeting, these distributors typically hold their own warehouse show, and invite their automotive jobbers and technician customers to attend.
The other big June show is the ISN show, which will be held in Orlando. At this year’s show, more than 150 manufacturers will be represented. This is a show designed to educate jobbers and technicians on the latest new tools and equipment, as well as any updates that may have come out in the past six to 12 months. There are educational and product training workshops.
We’ll have highlights from both of these shows in the August issue of TechShop, so stay tuned.