The challenge of training is critical to the continued success of the aftermarket, but how to improve participation is an elusive challenge all its own.
According to a panel at the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium, technical and business management training needs to be revamped and more clearly understood in order to address more properly the needs of the service provider.
"It’s being taken by the best in class people, not by the service providers who really need it," says Ray Datt, president of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada and a participant in a panel discussion on training at the symposium, being held today and tomorrow in Chicago, Ill.
Datt says that this is as true of the Interactive Distance Learning program as it is for other more conventional forms of training. Technical proficiency in Canada is better than in the U.S. due to the licensing program in place, but it is far from a complete answer.
"But certainly the job is not owner. We have the same challenges because our licensing process does not require re-certification. The ASE test results are higher because of the initial training, but were not getting them back."
Ken Walker of Meineke Discount Muffler shops says that it has had good success with Internet based training, and more importantly has been able to measure positive results.
"We have 40 courses up on the Internet. About 60% of those are in sales and marketing or business systems, 40% are technical," he says, adding that this has provided them with the opportunity to measure the results.
"We see an 8-10% sales increase as soon as they take the course," he says. In a recent promotion, the chain saw an overall increase in sales of some 14%, but those stores that took the Internet training program saw an average increase of 22%. "
"There is absolutely a dollar for dollar return. The more dollars we spend on training, that shop’s sales go up."
How to deliver training continues to be a difficult issue though. "What is the best time to hold training?" asked Larry Pavey of Dana Corporation. "Some say it should be done during the work day, some in the evening. Some are willing o do it on weekends, some evenings. The reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. I wish that everyone had the initiative to go out and get it, but sometimes it has to be convenient to happen."
"It all makes sense until 5:30 on Tuesday when one more tow truck comes in or a water pump–why do we always use water pumps?–starts to leak just before a car is supposed to be ready," says Mitch Schneider, a service provider, technician and noted journalist to the trade.
The Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium has attracted more than 400 automotive aftermarket executives from around the world for this, the 7th annual event.