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Coach’s Corner: A Question of Training

A Question of Training

How to ensure your techs meet your performance standards. You do have standards, don’t you?

YoungTechTraining is a frequent subject of conversation among shop owners. But they’re not talking about the sort of training that develops young people interested in pursuing careers in the automotive service and repair industry.

They’re talking about continuing education for their working techs, education that teaches them new techniques, advanced testing skills, use of new equipment and a knowledge of rapidly evolving technology that’s currently being integrated into automotive systems.

The question I usually hear them discuss goes something like this: “Why should I send my techs to training? They don’t seem to want to go, and I’m not sure we benefit from them going.”

Think about that question, and you realize it focuses only on the shop and its employees. It misses the primary purpose of the business: to serve the customers, who have an expectation that the shop is capable of providing high-quality repairs in a competent and efficient manner.

You, as the business owner or manager, have the responsibility to ensure that customer expectations are met. Here are some of my suggestions for what a shop owner should do to carry out this responsibility:

Make continuing education a requirement of the job. The conversation should start as early as asking job applicants how they feel about training during the pre-employment interview. Create a performance standard for the required number of training hours the technician must attend each year, and make it clear from the beginning that failure to meet the performance standard will put the tech’s job in jeopardy.

Pay technicians to attend training. For technicians to see any value in the training, their compensation should include incentives for training attendance. This step is easy to accomplish by setting up a performance-based compensation program. Also, offer to pay registration fees and related travel expenses. The costs of continuing education should appear as an item in every shop’s budget.

Require the technician to complete a training evaluation form. Upon completion of the training, have your techs fill out a simple form recording the name of the course, name of the instructor, and date, location and length of the course. In addition, give them statements to which they can agree, disagree or state no opinion. Examples include:

  • The class was a good use of my time.
  • The class was a good investment for the company.
  • Customers will benefit from my attendance.
  • More training on this subject is necessary.

Also, ask them to write at least three things they learned in the class that they can immediately apply to their job and to list three questions they had on the subject prior to the class that were not answered. Then, ask them what type of training they’d like to attend in the future.

Have them turn in the completed training evaluation within three working days of attending the training. The shop’s office will then have a record of the training, and the training hours can be tracked to determine if the technician is meeting the performance standard you’ve established.

If the technician does meet the standard, you’ll have a positive answer to the question: “Why should I send my techs to training?”

Give your young techs the training they want and need! Send them to the Young Technicians Symposium from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, to be held during NACE | CARS in Anaheim, Calif. For complete information on NACE | CARS, including schedule of classes, speaker info and more, visit NACEexpo.com or CARSevent.com.

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