How to Train Techs, Even During Crunch Time

How to Train Techs, Even During Crunch Time

When your team can easily recall and apply new information, they grow in confidence and effectiveness.

Many automotive shops hold long training sessions for their technicians and service advisors periodically throughout the year. But when the summer service onslaught arrives and bays are filled consistently, shop efficiency is more important than ever. Anything unrelated to getting customers in and out of those bays — like continuing professional development and training — falls by the wayside. 

Making time for instructor-led training can be difficult, if not impossible, to fit into the shop schedule during the summer rush (or any other time, for that matter). Multi-hour sessions, evenings, and weekends require extra time from your staff when they may already be working at full capacity. Plus, research has shown that learners are less likely to retain information presented in the long-form, one-size-fits-all training model that most shop owners know.

What if I told you that you could continue training your team – without a huge time investment or lost productivity – while navigating the summer rush? 

Today’s Class offers a different training approach that better aligns with how your shop operates and how your team learns. Your staff can improve their knowledge retention and job performance in minutes a day and without being out of the shop during a critical time. Today’s Class delivers daily personalized training sessions based on individual strengths, weaknesses, and job roles for technicians, service advisors, and managers. The daily training sessions can be accessed via an app or online and require just three to five minutes to complete.

Less Time, Better Knowledge Retention 

Phil Carpenter, Director of Operations at Urban Auto Care in Colorado, embraces daily training because it addresses the challenges of too little time and too much information to cover with quick training sessions and manageable pieces of information. 

Finding an hour at a time for techs or service advisors to sit in front of a computer in the middle of the day was a challenge. Local, in-person lunch-and-learns were an option, but Phil says it’s hard to send the techs out in the middle of the work day. Finding the right time for training is essential for all shop owners.

Daily training is a more manageable way for shop employees to learn. It supports learning smaller bites of information every day instead of one large chunk in a single sitting. Consistent daily training reinforces learning and leads to long-term knowledge retention — research shows that 90% of what people learn is lost in 30 days unless it’s reinforced.

Phil used to send his techs and service advisors to large conferences, where they would attend breakout sessions over two or three days. Unfortunately, that type of training wasn’t ideal for his team. As typical of these sessions, there was a large volume of data and materials to process. “Outside of the timing of the training, the techs felt they were drinking from a fire hose,” Phil says. And that wasn’t the only issue. “If they didn’t go back and review later,” he adds, “they didn’t retain it.” 

When your team can easily recall and apply new information, they grow more confident in their skills and perform their jobs more effectively. Improving your technicians’ and service advisors’ skills will positively impact your shop’s daily operations. Additionally, your team will be prepared for seasonal demands by assessing their knowledge and brushing up on procedures that only get performed regularly at certain times of the year.

A training program that can be accessed on any connected device makes it easy for shop owners and employees to log in daily when they have five to ten minutes to test their skills and knowledge.

Measurable Progress, Faster Results

When your team works hard during the summer rush, giving real-time feedback and providing extra assistance and learning support where necessary is important. A critical part of training includes evaluating your staff’s progress to understand how training impacts your shop. With instructor-led training, shops are not usually given data on what their team learned, their challenges, or their opportunities. This lack of data makes it difficult to measure your team’s growth and determine where to focus training efforts. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Today’s Class measures knowledge, confidence, and engagement data, enabling shop owners to efficiently identify and rectify learning gaps. For example, one-on-one discussions with your staff can now be data-informed; access to a dashboard on your phone shows you when your employees last trained, what topics they struggle with, where they excel, and more. Using these insights to coach your employees more effectively can lead to better production, fewer surprises, improved communication, and even increased employee retention.

Increased Productivity 

Implementing daily training in your shop doesn’t mean eliminating traditional training. But when shops rely on it entirely, gaps in knowledge retention begin to form. The key is knowing when to leverage traditional training for your team. During especially busy times at the shop, like summer, having your staff in the bays is critical. 

Daily training empowers you to make informed decisions based on data. You’ll understand which personnel require hands-on training and when they need it. This allows you to take a much more proactive, targeted approach to training – a more productive experience for you and your team.

In his role as director of operations for six locations, Phil advises shop owners to create a “learning environment.” At one Urban Auto Care shop location, a foreman wanted to see what the daily training was all about. After trying it, he began completing the daily training with two technicians every day. Then the other techs joined in. The team still talks amongst themselves about what they thought they knew, what they needed help with, and what they learned. When asked why he thought his team kept with the training, Phil said, “Maybe it’s a little bit of FOMO, fear of missing out.” If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.

Here’s to growing this summer!

As Vice President, Strategic Planning & Development at Today’s Class, Ron Shanas leverages his 40+ years of industry experience to guide the introduction of this unique platform to the automotive aftermarket. His perspective, experience, and relationships extend from the shop floor to the C-suites of the tire and automotive services industry. 

Prior to Today’s Class, Ron operated a successful international consultancy and held positions at Bolt On Technology, SRS Identifix and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company among others. An accomplished executive and third-generation industry veteran, Ron is passionate about helping independent, multi-location, and enterprise auto service orgs implement professional development programs that improve productivity, reduce turnover, and better target their training spend.

Ron and his bride of 40 years reside in Las Vegas, NV. He enjoys reading, cinema, classic cars, e-Biking, acoustic guitar, is an avid drone pilot/videographer, and a home automation enthusiast.

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