Chesney: Importance of building daytime opportunities for training

I recently participated in a Town Hall meeting with Carm Capriotto. We discussed ideas to help grow technicians, service advisors and managers. Some of the topics discussed included daytime training and forming training groups.

Chris Chesney

During that discussion, we were pointing to the “new car dealer” as the standard bearer and justification for daytime training. I lived in that world for many years of my career and still have relationships there today.

Dealership training opportunities

As a dealer technician, I was given a career path. It was a road map that defined how I could invest in the training path offered along with the time in the bay needed to master new skills. This would result in moving up the ladder to a higher wage and enhanced value to my employer.

Classes were scheduled by the OEM training group and consisted of time in the classroom and in the shop. I was paid to attend these classes during the workweek from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with break for lunch. As a result, my employer recognized me with a promotion and a pay raise.

All of these elements of a structured training program that is based on a true career path were in place in the 1970s and are still in play today. So why can’t the independent aftermarket repair industry support this type of investment in their business and people?

Career paths in independent market

The NASTF Education Team is working on the “career paths” for the industry and others – including my company (CTI-WTI) – that are modeling these. I believe the progressive shops that are investing in training and the growth of their people have a road map that rewards their teams as they progress though their career paths.

There are some very good training providers in our industry that provide both classroom and hands-on training on a variety of topics available in hundreds of locations across North America . Yet the classrooms are not always full, and the model has, over the years, become almost exclusively focused on a four-hour night session or a weekend all-day session.

The only weekday daytime training that my team does on a regular basis is for the Enterprise organizations or big box companies. Our WTI team does weekend daytime training exclusively because the student is more able to absorb the information and put it in action after class if they are exposed to the information after a good night’s sleep. This is a very valid reason to train during the day.

The only drawback to this model is that there’s only 52 weekends in a year and several of them are holidays. The CTI team delivers thousands of classes at night across North America in four-hour segments after work to sometimes tired or exhausted students.

We have hundreds of classrooms that have great attendance while some areas of the country have sporadic attendance. The fact is, after a long hot summer day in the shop, it’s easy to justify skipping class tonight. So, what’s the answer?

Rethink your approach to training

Let’s consider daytime training during the week for the obvious reasons listed above. But, more importantly, for us to raise up our industry as a viable career path for young prospective technicians, we must change the way we approach training.

We’ll discuss the other delivery options and how well they work, but I think we all agree that classroom and hand-on training are the only delivery methods that have a chance to transfer knowledge with proof of skill. So, what’s stopping you? The most common excuse is you can’t afford to let your techs go to class during the day because your production will suffer.

Or, the dealership can afford to do daytime training because they sell new cars and have that margin to support the loss in the bays. To the former I would say that your ability to send them during the day is based on the plan you’ve put in place to do so. They won’t be in class every day. Plan for those days that they will be in class.

Get creative with your training opportunities

Work with your training organization to create half day events where your B-tech goes to class in the morning and you’re A-tech goes in the afternoon. There are many ways we can work with you to build a model that allows you to partner with your local shops creating training groups. Here’s a hint: CTI-WTI has been doing that for over 20 years.

To the latter I would challenge you to understand that the margin on new vehicle sales is very small and the shop is expected to carry the margin load for the entire dealership. It’s been that way for many years.

So, it comes back to planning.

Work with us or your training provider and challenge us to create daytime opportunities. We will build it if you’ll come.