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Investing in your Technicians with Training

An Investment in Your Technicians is an Investment in Your Business

If you took the advice in my previous article about hiring young, new talent, then you have already made an investment of time. You’ll want to protect that investment by retaining your employees. The best way to do this is to offer free and incentivized training.

Technicians are aware that the industry is constantly evolving, and to remain as a competitive employee, they must stay on the cutting edge of new tools, tech, and systems. Any technician worth your investment will come looking for what training programs you offer. When I was still turning wrenches, the first question I asked any employer was what training they offered. I even took a pay cut for better training opportunities. If you want intelligent and talented techs, and if you want them to stay longer than 6 months, you need to offer quality, comprehensive, and measurable training.

New Car Dealerships

If you are a franchised, new car dealership, then training should already be offered by your manufacturer. It is a beneficial practice to take it a step further by paying your employees for their time spent training. The first dealership I worked for even allowed me to do the training at home and would still pay me the flag hours for the classes. You can also set goals for the techs and offer bonuses if they reach them by deadline, or set higher pay grades for the technician levels.

While all new car dealers have this training available for their technicians, I have seen many that don’t care whether or not their techs participate. These dealers are often more sales focused and completely miss out on the benefits of a well trained and efficient service department. Good technicians and shops can help salespeople seal a deal. If a customer is unsure about the price of a new vehicle, but then sees a clean, sophisticated shop complete with attractive technology and educated technicians willing to discuss the vehicle’s systems, then that is often their deciding factor.

Used Car Dealers

For used car dealerships, however, there is a little more work involved. First and foremost, pay for your technicians’ Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) tests. This is the industry’s standard measurement of experience and skill for technicians. Having a few ASE Master technicians will greatly boost your customer’s confidence in your shop, and allow you to offer more competitive labor rates.

Secondly, NAPA, AllData, Chilton, and many other companies offer classes both in person and online. Most offer classes for ASE test prep, basic skills and knowledge, new technologies, and first aid and safety. My favorites were Advanced Auto’s CARQUEST and NAPA’s instructor led classes. These will boost your technicians’ confidence, ASE test scores, and workplace happiness.

Get Creative

No matter how you decide to educate your technicians, make sure they want to do it. For hourly employees, this can be as simple as allowing them to do it on the clock. If all your techs are flag hourly, then offer flagged prices for classes, rate increases for ASE patches, and bonuses for education goals. It may seem like a lot of money to put into someone else’s future, but good technicians will recognize opportunity when they see it.

The best technicians are the educated ones, so if you educate all of your technicians, you’ll have the best shop.

Tyler Davis
Tyler Davis
Fixed-Ops Specialist and Contributor to CBT News

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