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Service Manager Christa Collins on Training New Fixed-Ops Hires from Scratch

What separates one service department from the next? Some may say the service technicians and the work they do. Today we’ll learn about a training program that Christa Collins, Service Manager of Planet Subaru, wrote for her technicians and other best practices in the service department from her perspective.

Planet U (University) is a fixed-ops apprenticeship training program that Christa developed to guide new hires in the service department from the onboarding process up until they become seasoned professionals. This program was born out of a need for talent in this area. The dealership was having trouble recruiting auto technicians with the skill level that they required. So, Christa decided to focus on training employees from scratch and mold them to the standards set by Planet Subaru.

The Planet U curriculum has really opened up the hiring pool to candidates who might have otherwise been overlooked. There are now 27 women in every dealership department, including 6 female mechanical technicians. They have also welcomed employees from diverse racial backgrounds, the LGBTQ+ community, and former active-duty military veterans.

The Planet Subaru service department faces a lot of similar challenges to dealerships across the country, especially customer acquisition and retention. Christa says a lot of their strategy stems from the dealership culture. They pride themselves on being the ‘undealership’, and providing an alternative to what some customers are used to. Their dedication to lowering the environmental impact of vehicles and diverse employee body resonate with customers in the local market.

Christa Collins began working for Planet Subaru in 2005 with every intention of holding the job temporarily in college. 15 years later she is an Automotive News 40 Under 40 Honoree for 2020, and last year her store wrote around 15,000 repair orders.

Did you enjoy this interview with Planet Subaru service manager Christa Collins? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic with host Jim Fitzpatrick at

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