We’ve been discussing the tidal wave of technology being installed on new vehicles with the goal of providing awareness of what is happening in our industry; this is so you can prepare your team to be service ready when they arrive at your door. In this edition, we’ll discuss how to go about preparing for the near future when your team will be servicing and repairing highly complex vehicles in your bays. But first I must warn you that some of what I’m going to suggest is not going to be easy. It is going to be hard, and it is going to require significant change in the way you do business. It is going to mean you need to pay for the talent and skill required to solve problems with complex machines and systems. It also means you’re going to have to invest in the right equipment and information, not the least expensive or the one-size-fits-all solution. You’re going to need to not just raise your labor rate, but modify totally how you price and communicate value to your customers. In essence, we are moving from being mechanics to acting more as the technologists we are becoming.
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We first need to accept the fact that we as an industry are woefully unprepared to be working on the vehicles in our bays today, let alone what we see on the showroom floor at the dealer down the street. Sure, we’ve attempted to stay abreast by changing the way we change oil and beginning to discuss ADAS technologies. However, I fear we don’t have enough skilled people who truly understand the foundations of electricity and physics of the technology in a way needed to provide confidence in the owner of the vehicle. This takes time to acquire and deploy, which is why we haven’t yet achieved the competence needed. So, let’s look at three groups who we need to support in this effort: your technicians, your sales team and your business model.
I’ve mentioned this many times over the last several years: the lack of foundation in electrical/electronic skills today is astonishing. Most of the vehicles in your bays today are equipped with a data network that requires a technician with a solid electronics foundation to understand and repair. So, the first step in becoming prepared for future technologies is to ensure anyone working on these technologies has a deep understanding of foundation electrical/electronics and is fluent in data network analysis and diagnosis. These skills include the ability to effectively use a factory wiring diagram and a digital storage oscilloscope; it means being able to read with full comprehension the service information provided for the system being serviced. It also means that not only can the technician understand and apply what they read, but that they have the ability to teach these skills to others. Proof of skill is a critical step in moving toward our goal of being competent in serving our customers.