Years ago, automotive technical trainer Kelly Bennett told me that Tiger Woods, who, at the time, was the world’s #1 golfer, spent more time training and practicing than he actually spent competing. His point was that if someone who is the best at something continues to train and practice, then why do many shop owners feel that they don’t need to take training?
Because vehicle manufacturers constantly introduce new vehicle models and technology, shop owners should expect and demand that technicians constantly retrain and learn new skills.
Just as vehicle and technology changes, customer expectations change, regional economies change, lifestyles change, methods of client to shop communication styles change, age and behaviour of technicians’ change, and on it goes. My point is that for many reasons, shop owners and managers must continuously train and learn to make sure their shops continue to perform properly and provide profits needed to grow and survive.
Many things our shop does today are a direct result of training taken over many years. Booking the client’s next appointment; providing tire storage; being a maintenance shop and not a breakdown shop; providing loaner cars to clients; having a higher per hour diagnostic rate than our normal mechanical rate; only booking 70 percent of your day to reserve time for add-ons and unexpected needed time in the schedule. These practices, learned in training and then implemented, have had a very positive impact on the success of our shop.
Participating in shop management training with a group of other shop owners has taught me skills, but it has also been therapeutic. Most training groups meet outside the business once per month giving you a chance to step away from the shop environment.
Sharing ideas and experiences makes you realise that your issues and challenges are similar to the issues of many other shop owners. Learning how other shop owners solve their issues shines new light on your thinking and understanding of how to problem solve. Helping other shop owners can give you a sense of pride. I often leave my monthly day of training feeling less stressed and looking forward to implementing new ideas and techniques.
Invest in training
My desire to encourage and implore shop owners to invest time and resources in training is somewhat selfish and self-serving. When shops in your area give away time, undercharge for parts and fail to look after clients professionally, it causes a challenge for others to operate in a professional and profitable manner. Imagine what the dentistry industry would be like if dentists offered free inspections or buy one, get one free offers on cavity fillings.
In many aspects of our lives, if you want to be better at some activity, you train, learn and practice to get better. Being a more successful business owner is no different.
If you are struggling with low car counts, sold hours, parts to labour ratios, margins on parts, or productivity issues, there are many great trainers that can provide proven and tested ideas and methods of solving these problems. There are many excellent programs and training companies that help and train business owners and managers.
If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, you can send me an e-mail at [email protected]
Next time, we’ll discuss booking your client’s next appointment.