Are You Losing Focus?

If so, it might be because you’ve forgotten the fact that you’re in the ‘knowledge’ business.

Independent shop operators realize their labor rates must move higher to retain competent technicians, and the customer/client must be educated about the realities of this issue. But before anyone can command higher labor rates, management must acknowledge a critical point: Your shop must attract and retain competent technicians and support staff.

No one in the industry has the right to request higher rates if their staff isn’t properly trained to execute all services accurately, professionally and efficiently – for the price being demanded from the customer.

A comment that comes up frequently, though, is, “Where can I get competent technical training?” This is the key point. For the past 20 years, too many shops have been making their training decisions based on price. They wanted the best quality training, but the majority of them weren’t willing to pay for it. The industry has lost some fantastic trainers because of this attitude.

The best trainers I’ve met have been exceptional people – personable, highly skilled and willing to absorb all the details the right way. They’ve stayed on top of their skills, shown tremendous pride in their work and have been a step ahead of their students’ knowledge. And they were prepared to travel the country to share this knowledge.

All those trainers loved the industry and had a high regard for its true potential. But too many others didn’t appreciate the elements of their craft. And the independent sector wasn’t willing to pay the skilled professionals a professional fee to insure they stayed.

A parallel comparison can be made about the public. They don’t seem to appreciate the skill level required to become, and remain, a competent technician, just as the independent sector of our industry doesn’t appreciate the skill level to do it.

If you’re not happy with the availability and level of technical training, you’re witnessing the results of past attitudes toward the financial support of training. That’s why there’s an acute shortage of competent trainers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the good ones are ready to secure a better future for themselves and their families by looking around for better-paying jobs.

A few years back, I was aware of one competent technician. He had the ability to become a dynamic trainer and even hinted to me the desire to become one. However, he found a substantially better income as an equipment salesman. Our industry is providing zero incentive to retain the best trainers or attract new ones to take over their roles.

We must forget thinking in terms of price on everything we do, and every level of our industry must get behind this concept. We’re in the “knowledge” business, and knowledge is the key to survival and growth. To receive, and experience, the knowledge shared by skilled technical trainers is an investment in your business, not an expense.

Consider this: Whenever you pay a skilled trainer a professional fee to deliver his knowledge to you and your people, you can recoup your investment within 30 working days. How can we complain about paying the fees they seek? If they’re the best, pay them like the best, or the industry will lose them. The choice is yours.