Shop owners know that the biggest factor in the success of their business is their employees. Hiring hard-working, knowledgeable and trustworthy technicians is the first step in establishing and maintaining a thriving business.
However, finding the right talent is becoming increasingly more complex. Industry advances like ADAS make it difficult for even the most skilled technicians to stay current on industry trends and the advanced skills that are required in modern collision repair. Technicians need to keep up with rapidly changing technology and the structural changes happening in new vehicles—and that’s where auto tech training comes in.
While some collision repair methods can be self-taught through experience, OEM vehicle changes, and things like computerized measuring, require hands-on training from someone who knows what they’re doing.
|(Image courtesy of Chief Automotive Technologies) Showing the proper procedures for using Chief’s Tesla holding system.|
Why training is important
Ask anyone in the industry, and they’ll say training is important, but many shops don’t take the time to do regular training with their technicians. Many technicians and shop owners believe that because they’ve been doing repairs for 30 years, they know what they’re doing, or they’ll figure it out. But that mindset is dangerous. Cars are continually changing, even within the same model year. A 2019 Honda Civic a tech worked on in January may have significant differences from the one brought in July. If technicians don’t keep up on training, reading manuals and following procedures, then they’re doing it wrong.
Modern collision repair requires technicians to understand:
- How a collision impacts a vehicle and how that force travels.
- How the vehicle absorbs the impact and where to look for structural misalignment.
- The methods of repair or replace and joining the more advanced and diverse metals, fibers and plastics that are used in vehicle manufacturing.
These are essential requirements that a collision repair technician needs to grasp in order to return a damaged vehicle to its original design specifications. But, more importantly, not understanding how to properly repair a vehicle can put the car owner’s life in danger.
Four ways to incorporate training in the shop
Training doesn’t have to be expensive or involve sending technicians out of the shop for days on end and lost revenue. There are several ways to incorporate training into daily shop operations.
Make it a part of new-hire orientation
When hiring, shops may be down a technician and need to quickly get someone who can get to work right away. That’s all and well, but it’s important to set new technicians up for success by allowing enough time for training.
If finding time is a challenge, put a safety-conscious employee in charge of training. That person will have a big influence on the new hire, and not just in terms of training and skills. They will be more likely to take on the trainer’s habits when it comes to things like safety, efficiency, tidiness and more.
Young technicians may also be new to using some equipment, so even after initial training, make sure they have help the first several times they use any new equipment. And be sure to ask for feedback and allow them to weigh in on training. Ask them about the training processes – what did they wish to learn but didn’t? What went well, what didn’t?
Create a culture of training in the shop. Be clear that training is part of the shop’s culture and set clear expectations for new employees that it’s okay to ask questions or ask for help and encourage ongoing learning.