Mobile product training provides a whole range of benefits.
One word on everyone’s lips is TRAINING. The Why is simple: a shortage of skilled workers, the increasing complexity of vehicles and the demands of informed customers require a continuing cycle of training. The How is not so straightforward. Shops are located everywhere, both within and outside of major centres. Time for training is constrained by shop demands and life balance. The investment required for trainers and facilities is imposing.
As Derek Chinn, Regional Sales Manager, Ontario & the West for Mevotech observes, while training is desirable, accomplishing it is a challenge. “The person in the shop is changing a rotor while they’re trying to learn more about the business and technology.”
Increasingly, parts manufacturers and suppliers are taking training to the shop via the Internet, through technical rep visits, or by means of mobile “classroom” vehicles—platorms that can take education to where technicians can partake in the upgrades they need without stealing significantly from their work schedule.
Part of the program
Tenneco sees mobile training as a key component of its blended learning program and an important contributor to that program’s success. Ethan Bregger, Tenneco’s Aftermarket Training Manager, North America, explains that conventional training is a start, but in isolation it is not sufficient.
After a training session there is an immediate spike in replacements when technicians and service advisors are exposed to Monroe’s four-step suspension replacement assessment process, but that tends to fall off soon after.
That said, if the initial training is followed with ongoing eLearning and especially with localized training, the level of replacements can be sustained and refreshed on a continuous basis.
Ride control, like all elements of automotive engineering, is a constantly changing technology, so Tenneco has developed a fully equipped mobile training trailer that takes the technology on the road to trade shows and to various customer locations. Once a group is exposed to the complete mobile learning environment, their understanding, ability to communicate with customers and subsequent replacements can benefit significantly.
Federal-Mogul Motorparts’ Director of Training and Customer Experience, Brent Berman, who directs the Garage Gurus training network, explains that for the past five years the company has stepped up its connection to “the guy that throws away the box” who is the most pivotal component of their business—“the reason we’re all here.”
The company adapted the philosophy of their St. Louis training centre to 12 regional training centres and 35 vans known as Gurus on the Go, including three in Canada. The vans are only about training—not product sales. Through a program of visits and Lunch ‘n’ Learns the trainers use their multimedia van setup to generate expert technology sessions.
Like an increasing number of industry players, Federal-Mogul is very upfront about its commitment to the Garage Guru program. “We believe that trained and informed technicians are the heart of the rapidly changing vehicle repair industry.” To achieve that goal, they too use a multi-tiered support approach incorporating onsite, online and on-demand. The Gurus On-the-Go component takes the learning process to where the technicians are, making it possible to train a much larger constituency.
The effects of CAFE
According to Derek Chinn, eight out of 10 technicians aren’t familiar with Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards as an impact on vehicle manufacturing. While more efficient engines and powertrains can turn less fuel into more power, the other half of the equation is reducing weight and that weight comes from everywhere—body panels, interiors and, critically, chassis components.
Today the lube intervals have been extended (even to once a year in some cases) while the parts have been made lighter. To explain this new reality, the Mevomobile brings information to shops and jobber locations with knowledgeable techs on board to go over where failures can occur and why. Training is a priority throughout today’s industry, and mobile training in particular is positioned as an increasingly beneficial component of a multi-tiered training program.