“It’s not a one-size-fits-all; we all come with different skill sets. Some people have a more mechanical aptitude, and some people have a more electrical aptitude,” adds Lyons, encouraging the industry to review flat rate payment standards for brake repairs. “Not everybody can do it as quickly as everybody else – you have to build that time into the job.”
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“They keep integrating more and more electronics into the braking system,” says Glenn Dahl, manager of technical operations at Bridgestone. The firm operates the world’s largest network of company-owned service centers, including some 16,000 technicians employed at nearly 2,200 Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus and Wheelworks locations across the U.S.
“Three years ago we saw this coming,” and Bridgestone collaborated with NAPA to implement the necessary educational programs. “I personally work with them so we get the best of the best for our training. You have to be right up there on top of that stuff.”
Two levels of instruction are taught. “Once we get them in their comfort zone we go on to diagnostics.” The advanced sessions are “where we get into the deep dive on electronics.” Upon completion managers and staffers “can confidently go back to their stores and attack” the entire realm of brake services, according to Dahl, stressing the importance of making sure the imparted knowledge is consistent for all the company’s locations.
Courses are conducted at training centers throughout the country, combining classroom and shop environments. “We do a lot of training with mockups,” he reports, and suppliers participate in providing the instruction. “We’ll use our vendors in various capacities.”
Brake jobs account for about 10 percent of the sales at the 8,000-square-foot Advantage Auto Repair in Albuquerque, N.M., where recreational vehicle repairs are a core specialty. Owner and head technician James Bracken is highly focused on obtaining education, and he expresses enthusiasm for onsite brake system training from NAPA and periodic manufacturer-conducted instruction.
“They do them at the local community college,” says Bracken, who occasionally attends solo and then passes along what he’s learned to the technicians. “Sometimes I take them with me and sometimes I go by myself.”
Online courses are accessed, and Bracken pores over books and manuals in a constant quest to broaden his expertise. “I read a lot,” he says. “Once you have the information you can fix just about anything.”
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