The average Canadian repair shop is understaffed by at least three people: One in the bays, one at the front counter, and one in the back office. The excuse that everyone gives for this is that “competent people are hard to find.”
But what if you didn’t have to look for competent people? What if your shop actually attracted them?
Think that’s not possible? You’re wrong. Even these days, shops could have a steady stream of quality applications coming in. The key is to build the kind of reputation that draws success-oriented people.
Here are some points to ponder:
Does your shop have the reputation of encouraging employees to be the best they can be, and then helping them get there?
Does your shop have the reputation for paying the best wages in your market?
Does your shop have a reputation for maintaining a high level of staff morale?
Is your shop’s physical atmosphere a fulfilling environment to work in, day in and day out?
Is your shop a fun place to be?
To some, these descriptions may sound impossibly utopian. But all of these qualities are possible with the correct emphasis on training and development. It is management’s responsibility to set the tone of the business… and that includes establishing a workplace culture that celebrates achievements, unity, and teamwork.
Too often, owners or managers think that as long as an employee has the necessary skills to do his or her current job, no further training is required. This is a recipe for disaster in today’s aftermarket. Forward-thinking shop owners realize the importance of hiring the best people they can find, making them even better at their jobs by offering the best possible training, and then paying them exceptionally well with excellent benefits.
Helping employees reach their full potential is part of developing a truly great staff.
It is important that every owner or manager takes inventory of the pool of talent they have in the shop. Not only must each employee be fully trained to do their current job efficiently and effectively at the highest level, but they must also be prepared to move into other, more demanding jobs within the company, serving a higher function. This starts with personal and professional development.
Employee development improves the effectiveness of employees, and has the effect of driving the company’s ongoing success. When skills fall behind, shop productivity is the first area that suffers. When productivity suffers, net profit suffers.
Can you imagine the strength of your team if everyone were properly prepared to take over a different aspect of the company? Think about the depth of talent you’d have at your disposal. As successful owners know, no one person can do everything. But everyone can be part of a great team.
A word of caution: training dollars do not guarantee success. Training is highly subjective. Its effectiveness can vary from employee to employee, and from year to year. So, it’s important to determine what is the right training, prioritizing the goals you want to achieve.
Have you already planned and booked your key training events for 2020? Do the training classes you’re considering advance the knowledge and talent of each individual? Do you have a proper follow-up process after each class to determine what the employee has truly gained?
In addition to technical classes, are your employees learning the importance of creating a positive total shop experience? Too many shop owners keep their employees in the box, which causes them to stagnate. They cannot reach their full potential, both as an employee and as an individual. When employees have the opportunity to see a wider picture of the business, they develop a higher regard for the various functions 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 allows you to see who might be able to fill any voids when the occasion arises.
Too many shops find out the hard way that knowledge of some key tasks are not widely shared in the shop. When someone is taken ill, or leaves the company, there is a knowledge void that must be filled. It usually prompts a mad scramble to get someone else up to speed to make sure that work gets done. Much better is to make sure ahead of time that you have an adequate depth of talent within the shop, and that several people are trained and able to do every job that needs to be done. People don’t like going home at night stressed out because management threw them in the deep end, expecting them to do something they were not properly trained to do.
Finally, I hear many owners say they “just can’t get away” for management courses or industry functions. Why? Because there’s no one to replace them within the business. This truly is a sign of poor planning, and a poorly managed business. Let’s hope they never get injured or sick, because the business would have to close the doors!
Owners owe it to themselves and their businesses that they are not the only person who understands how the business works. Today’s successful business is a team effort, with everyone sharing in the responsibilities, knowledge, and critical tasks.
Consider your attitude toward continual training and development… before it’s too late.