Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur, has a famous quote we need to take to heart in the automotive repair industry:
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
When we look at other trades in the United States – electrician, plumber, HVAC – a well-defined apprentice/journeyman process is the norm. In the automotive repair industry, we have spent decades focusing on hiring automotive technicians who are already experienced. I can’t emphasize this enough – if you are an auto repair shop owner who doesn’t value continuing education and training for your technicians and service advisors, you will be out of business in the next 5 to 10 years. you must provide training and education. Period.
The why is clear: fewer young people chose technical school training programs in the early 2000s. We are feeling that today with the shortage of experienced technicians all of us are facing. A large percentage of current automotive technicians are over 50 years old and we don’t have enough people to replace them as they retire. Many technicians chose to leave the industry entirely.
Non-ATI members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies for how to build a great team, increase your bottom-line, and grow your business in ATI’s shop owner events. Register for a webinar at www.atievent.com.
So, if you want great technicians in your auto repair shop you are going to have to grow them yourself. This benefits your shop in multiple ways:
- You will be offering a benefit few auto repair shops offer – the chance at a high paying career in a high demand job market.
- Your older, more experienced technicians can move into the role of trainer and mentor, providing them with a chance to continue to be highly valued and efficient with an apprentice and providing you with the opportunity to keep someone with decades of knowledge who may find it difficult to bill out a solid 40-50 hours per week due to physical issues.
- The technicians you train and mentor become your bench, a continuing list of highly skilled employees. Whether you keep them or find them a job elsewhere (yes, keep reading), with a great training program in your shop you will not have to rely on job ads to replace someone in the future.
- You get to teach people how you want things done – no bad habits to break, no re-training based on previous experience from a shop that may have followed less than best practices.
- With the right apprenticeship, your labor profits will go up as your payroll costs go down.
Setting up an effective and profitable technician training program in your shop takes time. You may need to sell the idea to your senior technicians so they see the benefit to them. Developing a curriculum for training and a means to measure ongoing growth is vital to making sure you deliver on your promise to teach, train, and mentor those entry-level technicians. Getting the entire team engaged in this process will guarantee success, especially during the first few months of growing pains as this new business model develops. But I can tell you it’s worth it – and frankly, it’s a necessity if you want to be in business long term.
Non-ATI Members: Are you ready to make more money, have more freedom, and build a team of automotive technicians and service advisors that can wow your customers? Register for a webinar at www.atievent.com.