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Four Ways Dealers Can Prepare Their Service Technicians for Advanced Technologies Within Cars

Service technicians have never had an easy job. Depending on the car, the service needs, and potential accident damage, technicians have their work cut out for them. However, what happens when you begin to add self-driving capabilities, advanced sensors, and full-on computers to new vehicles?

Instead of only working about the mechanical side of cars, technicians into today’s dealerships have to be adept at understanding the complexities of technologies associated with current vehicles.

What can dealers do to ensure their service technicians are ready to handle these demands? There are a lot of resources and options out there for dealerships who want to expose their service technicians to training and development. Take a look at these four ways to further the knowledge of your service technicians.

Find Academic Programs that Have Scholarships

An article from Automotive News highlighted the work many automotive suppliers are doing to further the training and development of service technicians at local dealerships. Companies like Snap-On Tools, Harbor Freight Tools, Specialty Equipment and Market Association, and 3M are partnering with automakers to supply scholarships to various students attending postsecondary universities and accredited tech training programs with a focus on automotive technology and repair. For example, since 2013, 3M has raised over $1 million in scholarship money for over 300 military veterans who want to become service technicians and is also working with the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair to design online instruction for technicians. So, if you want to send some of your service staff, it is likely that someone can foot the bill.

See What Your Suppliers are Directly Offering

Many automakers partner with local community colleges to offer service technician education and certification training programs. Toyota has Toyota’s Technician Training and Education Network (T-TEN) automotive technician training program. Toyota partners with community colleges, vocational schools, and Toyota and Lexus dealerships to produce world-class automotive servicing training which can lead to an associate’s degree. Ford and General Motors also have similar partnerships to promote service technician education. This training will likely include lessons and information on new technologies in today’s cars.

Bring in Some New Talent

Today’s cars should almost look like a service department, a blending of the old with the new. The general mechanical element of how a car works is not going away anytime soon, but the technology used to enhance these elements are rapidly changing. Experienced technicians and those new to the field can stand to learn from one another. Dealerships should look for programs where they can attract experienced new talent. BMW’s Service Technician Education Program (STEP) is an excellent example of a program giving new technicians the skills they need while developing these individuals into what dealerships are looking for. The STEP program is a 16-week BMW Course that mixes textbook and hands-on mechanical work with an emphasis on guiding students on how to work with electronic systems. These students are receiving first-hand knowledge of how to handle some of the newest components in today’s cars. Schools like the Lincoln Technical Institute, programs like the Fiat Chrysler’s Mopar Career Automotive Program, and career fairs are also great places to look for new service staff talent.

Allow Service Staff to Spend Time with These Vehicles

The best way to learn how to use something is to spend time with it. If you cannot currently afford to send your staff to train (yet), but want to get them comfortable with some of the new technology in cars, allow them to work with this technology in a non-pressurized environment. While it might not be enough for them to feel comfortable taking anything apart, it will give them an introduction into what these new vehicles are capable of doing, and how much work will likely have to go into repairing them. It is also not a bad idea to have them browse through or read a service manual for the car. Again, this will not substitute a full-on training session, but it will give them a starting point and make them capable of answering fundamental questions customers may have about the car.

Final Thoughts

Technological changes in any industry always have lasting ramifications and are shown to impact a lot more than what was initially intended. When engineers begin to add infotainment dashboards, adaptive steering, and self-driving capabilities to cars not only did it change how dealerships sell cars, but it also altered how dealerships service them. As a result, it is imperative that service technicians be exposed to as much education as possible to fully understand the new service complexities that come with new technologies. More and more automakers are partnering with community colleges, vocational programs, and universities to bring this knowledge to service staff. As technology becomes more of a staple in today’s cars, it is highly likely the job of the service technician will continue to evolve as well requiring even more specialized training.

Chanell Turner
Chanell Turner
Chanell Turner is a contributing writer and investigative journalist for CBT News.

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