Shop Management: Taking Time Out to Train
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Shop Management: Taking Time Out to Train

Good technicians – the ones who you want working at your shop – understand that they must continuously learn new skills to diagnose and repair today’s advanced automotive systems. Your mantra of "Fix it right the first time" requires your techs to get up-to-date technical training and knowledge.

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By Edward Sunkin
Editor, UNDERHOOD SERVICE

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Good technicians — the ones who you want working at your shop — understand that they must continuously learn new skills to diagnose and repair today’s advanced automotive systems. Your mantra of “Fix it right the first time” requires your techs to get up-to-date technical training and knowledge.

Some industry experts estimate that a competent technician needs to spend about 40-plus hours a year updating his or her automotive repair knowledge and skills. But here’s the dilemma for the shop owner and the tech — when do you find the time to train? The main issue to consider is that if the tech isn’t taking away the training information to use later on the job, then you are just wasting his or her time, as well as your money.

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And when you are taking techs away from servicing vehicles in order to train during business hours, that can put a burden on any size repair shop.

Many in our industry believe that it is best for the training to be scheduled during the daytime (which also happens to be your shop’s business hours) when a technician is refreshed and more open to learning. Those who adhere to this thinking say that night or evening classes are far less effective because the technician has put in a full day’s work and is probably both physically and mentally tired.

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One way to address the issue of evening training is to have the techs report to work later in the day — giving them a chance to rest up or run personal errands in the morning. Or you could compensate techs who opt for evening training by taking them to dinner (and not just pizza — but a real meal). Remember, what you spend on a good dinner for your tech staff will be rewarded in increased profits following their training.

And then there are weekend training programs. But do techs really want to give up a weekend to improve their job skills? You’d be surprised, especially if you provide an incentive, like rewarding them with an extra day or two of vacation during the year or compensating time used for weekend training with time off during a business day.

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The important issue here is to make sure your front office doesn’t over-book scheduled vehicle repairs on days your techs are tied up with training or are away from the shop. Remember, part of your responsibility as a shop owner is to develop training programs that best fit both your shop’s and your technicians’ needs.

I’d like to hear from you. When does your shop find the time for training and how do you compensate your techs for their time? Also, how many hours of training do your techs and service advisors receive in a year?

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You can e-mail me at [email protected]. Please include your shop name, size and location.

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