Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2003   by Bob Greenwood

Training Employees Today Is Not An Option

The average shop in our country today is understaffed by at least one person in the bays and one person in the office. The excuse that everyone continues to hear is "competent people are hard to find"...

The average shop in our country today is understaffed by at least one person in the bays and one person in the office. The excuse that everyone continues to hear is “competent people are hard to find”.

Please consider the following question; “Instead of Management constantly looking for competent people , why does your shop not attract competent people?”

If attracting the best in your market area is not the case, then further consider these questions;

Does your shop have the reputation of taking its people to the highest skill level that they are capable of being by always encouraging them to be the very best that they can be…and then fully supporting them to achieve that level?

Does your shop have the reputation for paying your people top dollar for a job well done?

Does your shop have a reputation for always having a very “high” morale?

Is your shops physical atmosphere a pleasurable environment to be in day in and day out?

Is your shop a “fun” place to work in?

To some, this may sound like utopia, however it truly is Management’s responsibility to set the “tone” of the business. All these points require in-depth training. Management’s attitude towards training is a “tone”.

Too often, many owners/managers think that as long as an employee has the necessary skills to do the job, no further training is required. This can be, and is, a recipe for disaster in our aftermarket business today. Better shop owners realize the importance of getting, and keeping, good staff include giving them the right training to start them off, then pay them exceptionally well with excellent benefits, and make sure you are continuously developing them to reach their fullest potential. You really can’t have one of these points without the other.

It is important the every owner/manager takes an “inventory” of the talent they have in the shop. Today, Management must not only ensure each employee is fully trained to do the current job efficiently, and execute at the highest quality level, but must also consider employee development to prepare them for another, larger function within the company. Remember one very important point…employee development is suppose to improve the effectiveness of the employee and ultimately, the company, and when skills fall behind, total shop productivity is the first area that suffers. When productivity suffers, net profit suffers.

Consider adopting the attitude, that “employees of this company must be properly prepared to take the company over”. This would mean that the right depth of staff must be in place to accomplish that objective because, as owners know today, no one person can do everything.

Keeping that objective in mind, it must clearly be acknowledged that the relationship of training dollars paid out does not guarantee success of a shop. Training is very highly subjective and its effectiveness can vary from year to year, so it is important to consider training in selective areas and prioritize what Management requires to be accomplished.

Select training courses that challenge the employee and assists elevating them to a higher understanding of the total shop experience. Too many shop owners “stagnate” their employees by keeping them “in the box” restricting them from knowledge that helps that person grow as an individual. When employees have the opportunity to “see” all business aspects, they start to have a higher regard for individual functions within the business that must be carried out on a daily basis in order for the business to succeed. This creates a much healthier climate within the shop, and also creates the depth to fill any “voids” when the occasion arises.

Currently many shops have some people do a bit of everything, and as soon as someone’s not there, everyone discovers the things nobody else knows what, or how, to do. Having not trained anyone else in the company to do various functions creates a “void” and raises the stress levels of individuals within the shop. People do not enjoy going home at night “stressed out” because Management was not taking responsibility to create the right “talent depth” and atmosphere within the shop.

Finally, I hear many times by owners of shops that “they just can’t get away” for this course or that course, or for this or that function. Why? Because there is no one to replace them within the business. “They” are too busy. “They” have made themselves “too” important. This truly is a sign of a poorly managed business. Let’s hope “they” don’t get hurt because the business would have to close the doors. Maybe “they” should hire themselves a body guard to ensure “they” don’t get hurt. Yes, I am being sarcastic here, which is not a good writing posture, but I am trying to make a very important point that all owners/managers must review within their business.

Consider your training attitude, and full requirements, before its too late.

Robert (Bob) Greenwood is President and CEO of E. K. Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. and Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. Bob has over 27 years of Business Management experience within the automotive industry, counseling individual shops in Ontario. E. K. Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. offices specialize in the independent sector of the automotive industry, preparing analytical operating statements for Management purposes, personal and corporate tax return completion, Business Management consultation and Business Management and Employee Development Courses. Visit E. K. Williams & Co. on the Internet at and sign up for their FREE monthly management letter sent to you by E-mail. Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. is a company devoted to developing Automotive Shop Business Management skills through the E-Learning environment over the inter-net. Students learn at their own speed, and at a time, and place, that best suits their needs; available 7 days a week 24 hours a day. Visit Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. on the Internet at Bob can be reached at (613) 836-5130, 1-800-267-5497, FAX (613) 836-4637 or by E-mail; or

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