Training, Training, Training
The Currys believe in helping all of their employees reach their best potential, which is why they pay for all training related expenses. But the owners take it a step further, bringing their own training into the bays. From shop training to technical lessons with an in-house technical director, classes occur up to twice a week at the shop.
On the technical side, training starts with the Curry’s Vehicle Inspection Program, teaching technicians, and reiterating to them, the importance of the inspections and how they’re properly completed. Matt Curry says the training covers everything from covering seats and floor mats when servicing a vehicle to test driving vehicles and services to be completed at mileage checkpoints in addition to manufacturers’ recommendations. One example is that at the 30,000-mile service checkpoint, technicians check and lubricate all weather-stripping in the vehicle.
Employees attend classes at least once a month. Training is offered twice a week in order to make sure all employees have access to it without leaving shop areas short staffed.
An on-staff technical director handles the in-house training on this side of the business. The senior-level manager also ensures that each technician adheres to established and codified quality and control policies. The technical director has worked with Matt Curry for about 13 years, and has experience with high-end vehicles and race teams, like Porsche. Bringing him on board helped keep the quality the Currys had worked hard to instill in their technicians in place as the shop experienced growth. He also is an asset outside of training, helping to keep the business’ vision of inspection in focus.
“Cars are very complicated and sophisticated machines. Sometimes he’ll go out and he’ll help fix cars we’re having problems with,” Matt Curry says. “He helps bring an outside source and a fresh set of eyes. We use him for that as well as in-house technical training.”
In addition to the technical training, Curry’s conducts between eight and 10 classes for other aspects of the shop, from policies and procedures to training on answering the phone, selling tires, maintenance or general customer service, handling female customers and going green.
“I think our employees, we realize how important they are. They’re the heart of our company and we’re investing our time in them,” Judy Curry says. “I think they do appreciate that. It’s always nice no matter what you’re doing to take a couple hours and step back from what you’re doing and learn something new or brush up or even practice things you know or are learning.”
Employees are paid to attend training, and also receive profit sharing. In addition to in-house training, Curry’s pays for its technicians to attend training from Bosch, Hunter, Mobil Oil and others, both at the shop and off-site, and at places like ATI and Northern Virginia Community College. Matt Curry says the employees always take advantage of the training and like it.
They also appreciate the top-of-the-line equipment in the bays, including the latest diagnostic tools including Autologic, Vagcom, Iscan, OTC Genisys and Snap-on, as well as Hunter tire equipment.
Applying the Training
Just how training at Curry’s Auto Service is on-going, obviously so is the application is real-life situations. One way the training is reiterated to employees is through the shop’s early morning check-out procedure. While some people wait for vehicles to be fixed, the company has created this policy to streamline technicians’ work for those who drop off vehicles.
“If a technician has three cars on his hook and they’re all dropped off for the day, what we want him to do is bring the first car in and check it out and back it out. Bring the next car in, check it out and back it out. Bring the third car in, check it out and back it out,” Matt Curry explains. “By the time he has the third car checked out, for the first car he checked out that morning he’s got authorization, he’s got the parts, he knows what he’s doing. He may be just checking out cars until 10, 11 o’clock in the morning, but then from 11 to 6, he’s doing nothing but working on cars. So we’re utilizing our time efficiently.”
True, this process is used at other shops around the county. But both Currys say this standardization enforces consistent shop operations and optimizes workflow management. Because of this, the shop recorded a 28 percent increase in gross revenues in 2009 over 2009, and expects a 25 percent growth in gross revenues this year over 2009.
However, the process is different for those customers waiting for service. Matt Curry says in those cases, technicians will not back their vehicles out until they have had the chance to show the customers what it wrong with the vehicle while it’s on the lift.
“It’s part of our show and tell service. We want to bring you out and show you that you’ve got a CV boot that’s blown out. Here it is. Touch it, feel it, see it,” he says. “Maybe you need a transmission flush and here’s why. And while it’s here in the bay, you have a sense of urgency to take care of it right away while you’re wait.”
They also uses every chance they get to take photos of the customers’ vehicles and send them via e-mail to the customers. It ties in to how the Currys feel the inspections and other service serve as a way to educate and train the customers on what they need to know.
“They just don’t even think that they can use this as a way to educate themselves about their car or learn something about oil changes or brakes or anything like that,” Judy Curry says. “We encourage the interaction. We hire the best and we like to be able to share that expertise with our customers.”