There are all sorts of metrics and formulas to evaluate the success of training programs, but perhaps the most effective method is by asking one simple question: did you learn what you need to know in order to complete the job? For bottom line businesses such as automotive service departments where there are no areas of grey, this is the definitive test. Every minute an automotive technician spends trying to figure something out is time that a customer’s vehicle sits idle, and represents the potential for lost business and revenue.
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, automobiles have become extremely technical in nature and can contain more computerized functions than the space shuttle. It is unreasonable to expect that a technician, no matter their level of experience, will have instant recall on every component of the vehicle. Therefore, immediate access to reference materials and training-on-demand tools such as web portals, videos and online manuals have become critical aspects of any dealership’s ongoing training initiative. While holistic training programs are great refreshers for experienced technicians and solid entry points for apprentices, what matters most in the moment of truth is access to the information that allows technicians to complete the job in front of them.
Each year, new models roll off the assembly line containing dozens of new features, enhancements and designs. This necessitates that technicians receive updated training on how the changes will affect maintenance and service protocols. Because innovation in automotive technology never slows down, it’s imperative that training programs always stay one step ahead in order to provide the training and information technicians rely upon to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. The concept that the training box can ever be checked off has been replaced with the belief that access to the most current and reliable materials is what creates competitive differentiators between dealerships.
The battle for customer retention is one of the most important business considerations for a dealership. They realize that a poor experience in one of their service bays can affect consumer behavior well beyond a single service appointment. It can lead to lost business in terms of service and sales and potentially even cause a shift in brand loyalty. Having worked with several of the world’s largest automotive companies I can say with authority that when it comes to service, they all have similar tactics: hire the best people; give them the tools they need to do the job right the first time, every time; provide them with the access to the information and training that makes them as efficient as possible.
If I could offer one piece of advice to service managers it would be to ask your technicians on a regular basis whether they have instant access to the information that allows them to complete required services. If you don’t get a ‘yes’ one hundred percent of the time, there is a breakdown in your training program that needs to be addressed.