I’m hearing strange discussions at the moment regarding training. Some shop owners are questioning if it’s the right undertaking for their business at the moment — we’re coming out of the pandemic but heading into greater economic uncertainty.
It’s safe to say that the merits of great training are evident. It’s always the right time for training. The world doesn’t stop changing — certainly not the automotive aftermarket — so skills need to continuously be sharpened. This, of course, applies to both the non-technical and technical aspects of learning in your repair shop.
But here’s where there is some debate: Should I send my team to face-to-face training? Do I set aside time for online training? What about in-store coaching?
The correct answer is “all the above.” Not the answer you wanted to hear? Well, each option has its merits and advantages.
You should set time aside during regular working hours for a combination of online learning, toolbox talks and, where needed, in-person training off-site.
Shops should schedule toolbox talks and online learning programs as a part of the “normal week.” Toolbox talks are an excellent opportunity during a coffee break or natural pause during the workday. Topics would include specific news topics that you want your team to know about in the industry or even how your business is doing.
The online training courses can be scheduled according to your workload but it’s important to ensure that both you and your team understand that learning is part of their job and therefore a requirement of employment.
In-person learning is great to solidify the online training and to practise the skills picked up online. I have seen the best results come from a blend of online and in-class learning — ignoring one could cause you to unwittingly lose out on the full experience.
Remember, the practice of a new skill is also applicable in the workplace. For example, if you have a technician doing electrical online courses, make sure that they get the next electrical job that comes in the door. This will go a long way towards cementing the knowledge for them and helping your shop.
Though the focus is very much on technical training, it’s vital that we don’t forget about management training — developing your own skills and your managers’. Enhancing your skills to run the business and having managers who are on top of their own training is critical to the success of the business.
Greg Aguilera is a director of IAC Canada, an organization dedicated to the management development of repair shops in Canada.