Are We Vampires? Why Do We Only Come Out At Night? A Call For More Daytime Training
My friend Matthew Shanahan recently posted a very cool case study here on DN. His case study was titled "Myth-Test The "Basics" First. In this post he wasn't challenging the idea of testing the basics. He was challenging our idea of the basics, or more so, our inability to change our idea of what the basics are. At least that's what I got out of the post. I think his post was awesome, but I really want to draw attention to something that he said when he was replying to a comment on that same post. In his reply, he shared his frustration with how narrow sighted our industry can be when it comes to seeing the value in taking advantage of learning opportunities during the business day.
I really appreciated his comment because I've been an advocate for daytime training for a few years now. It surprises me, how long it took for me to realize how unfair it was that nearly all our training resources are only available after business hours. I don't think that I'm alone. I think others fail to realize how inappropriate this is too. Our professionals need to sharpen the saw too. We need our time. For some of us, automotive technology is our life. For some of us, there's not much we'd rather do but we can't expect that from everyone. We certainly can't expect that moving forward as we continue to try to find ways to attract the talent that our industry needs. We can't expect to attract high level individuals if we can't fix a lot of things and one of those things is making more training available during normal business as opposed to asking our professionals to use their own time to stay on top of things. I'm not suggesting that we must stop everything that we're doing. I'm merely suggesting that we consider making some adjustments (Like fuel trims).
Going back to Matthews comment, His example was a live/broken vehicle. I personally think that there are few better ways to learn than on a live/broken vehicle. The only problem with using live/broken vehicles as opportunities to learn, is those scenarios are hard to plan. I think a large part of the reason for our lack of daytime training is due to our lack of planning. We need to be willing to schedule time for our team members to attend training. We can't rely solely on slow times because they often don't come and when they do, we have other things to do.
Show your team that they are worth investing in. Get them out of the shop for a day here and there. Turn their jobs into careers. More often than not, you, your company, your team, and the industry will benefit.
Several training companies do offer day time training. I hope that others will chime in and enlighten us with some details in this area. I also know that several training companies have tried to make training available with little to no success. The seats weren’t being filled. Let's ask for more daytime training and follow through with our commitment to fill the seats.
I understand Brin. I think part of the issue is owners not seeing the value in daytime training. This needs to change. Making training mandatory and a planned expense would help. It's hard enough to find a job in our industry that gives paid vacation, and when they do, the tech needs to choose between spending time with their family or at a training event.
If training was a mandatory, planned expense, I really feel that more people will take advantage of it. If more take advantage, more quality day time training will become available. If all that happens, we all grow as an industry.
That puts the pressure on "someone" to create a curriculum and schedule to do this training during business hours.
I think this puts us in the chicken or the egg scenario.....right?
If they offer the training and no one can attend, do they stop?
If no one offers the training, how can we attend?
These are all the "how do we fix it" questions that pop in my head.
Comments? Remarks? Criticisms?
I think we are heading in the right direction as evidenced by VISION having their highest attendance last year. The message is spreading. we just need to keep spreading the message. Training needs to be made available locally. The local mechanic needs to be made aware. Maybe part of the problem is they are unwilling to pay for something they "know" won't be worth it. Maybe more "sponsor funded" training need to be available (as long as the sponsorships stay out of the classroom) pass the saving to the customer. Just spit balling here...
We have the curriculum but yes, trainers will need seats filled to make it work. I'm hoping that we, as an industry will start going in this direction but first, we need to open a dialog. I truly think that most haven't put much thought into it. This is the way I look at it. If dealer franchises and corporate chain stores can do it, we can too.
I use live/broken cars all the time to train the rest of the techs in the shop best way for them to learn it to do it with someone in house to help if they go left instead of the "right" way. I have pushed many tech to improve their skills this way, sometimes with a small push that helps them learn, other times kicking them in the deep end, but still at the edge, ready to "save" them. Great Post Brin
I agree. I've had mixed results. Sometimes the people I was helping would shut their brain off and wait for me. When it would come time to toss them in the deep end, they would sink and pull me down with them. Other times people have learned.
Yes, both of those are typical scenarios. I think that the important thing to consider is, we need to focus on the ones we got through to. If we focus on the ones that we can't get through to, we burn out. That being said, if we give 10 pieces of solid advise to an individual and they ignore 7 but take 3, remember, you made a positive influence on that individual 3 times. 3 is better than 0.
Absolutely. There's no better way to learn than on real broken cars with someone knowledgeable to guide you.Thanks Michael.
I agree wholeheartedly and have been an advocate of day and evening training sessions. Back when, yes I said it but it sounds better than ...years ago or I remember when. You see there was a GM Training Center in Dedham Ma. and it was the "Go too place " for those of us who meant this to be a career not a job. ALL the training and educational venues were daytime and at any given time of the week I could find the who's who from all over New England. Yes it was largely Dealership oriented BUT! in many instances if not the majority of the time .....Independent techs outnumbered the dealership techs through the AC Delco program .......and we worked together very closely. I know ,I Know that was then and this is now and I cannot immediately explain why its become such a burden on people. As a trainer, and knowing many of the Best in the field ,we have heard all the reasons why not but only a few solutions.
So! with that being said.... This is what I have experienced and can recite the numbers as if it was yesterday, Our State had a IM program back in the mid 2000s and I was contracted to oversee its implementation.....long story short......Registered Repairer Program =968 shops representing 1,705 techs, 95 percent L-1 status after 14 months and a 4.8 repair grade average...fix it right the first time and the lowest repair average of all the 16 programs.....OH! our Saturday Hands on venue averaged 45 to 60 gentlemen.
Why ! added value to the process such as College credits towards a Associates degree, status in a fantastic program with marketing the company on the inspection side along with several other entities. What value is it, I mean was, it raised the bar for our industry and the State of Massachusetts, to this day reconnaisse the value towards their goals and to the ultimate benefactor......the vehicle owners aka our customers. I know its a little off track but I believe if the added value in which to enhance our/their careers is recognized we will see a great increase in technician participation in training. When our Company was in full operation, we compensated our employees in many ways to attend and nobody ever said no .
So! with ending my thought process I will let you know that ........ our Best then are still in our industry at many different levels and those that have come in contact with one of our past "Family Members" have excelled greatly which is my return on investment.......aka Value added.
Charles R …. AMAM, CMAT L-1
Wow Charles, that was a mouth full! Yes, it can be a bit cliche to say, "those were the good old days", but after hearing about the GM training center and the IM program, I would understand if you did.
Hearing your story, is a reminder to everyone that we need to campaign to acquire and retain our safety and emissions programs. I also need to "come in contact" with not one but all of your past "Family Members"! I want to excel greatly!
Thanks for your words Charles,
I actually find there is alot of day time training available but its not practical to attend it all. This is a major factor for some shops that only run 2 too 3 techs in the shop yet has the work load for 4 techs. Unfortunately closing down for a day or two for some shops could cost thousands of dollars but also not attending training can cost thousands quickly with Misdiagnosis. So how can we compromise on this problem we are faced with. Well I think some of the training needs to be modified to a Lunch time webinar where the shop buys lunch and pays for their time and they agree to watch it and put it into action immediately. Also any night classes they should be compensated for attending. Daytime classes you would likely need to pick your top tech to attend and have them teach what they learned to the shop and of course compensate for that time. Any other ideas out there?
Mike your point is exactly what our shop runs into. We have a 3 bay shop with two techs and an owner/service writer working the front counter. We work very hard to be able to close the shop down for certain events like Vision every year. Vision is what inspired a few of us Philly guys to organize and make Super Saturday a much bigger event than it was prior to last year. Our goal was to get our local shops the same training in our back yard that all of us travel the country for. The ironic part is, even with Super Saturday just outside of Philadelphia every October very few shops are as interested as we are, it turns out to be 75+% of the same people from all the big events. I suppose that is why we are who we are. I do believe as a professional technician some sort of governing body to keep shops accountable for training could be helpful and show more credibility to the public.
I am truly blessed to work for an employer that values education and can see the return investment when quality training is available.
Looking forward to meeting most of you guys next month at Super Saturday.
Great point about the shops losing money for the day, but could lose that just as easily by being under trained. I think the training shift needs to happen at a different level, management training. Most of the automotive management classes I have attended are so narrow sighted on daily and weekly numbers. Also, there are certain things you just simply cannot calculate ROI for, best judgement needs to be used.
When you say that you find that there's a lot of day time training, are you referring to traditional classroom leader led, hands on leader led training or something something less traditional? Are you referring to National training events?
I agree, it can be hard for any shop to send any of their team to training during production time but especially for smaller companies with less staff. I get it, I know it is easier to send your team after hours. That's why after hours training is more prevalent by far.
For me, it's about doing what's right and expecting our team to give up their time without showing them that they are worth giving them our time is not right. Not in my eyes anyways.
I agree with the lunch and learn webinar idea. Between formal webinars, online, on-demand training videos we can certainly take advantage of a lunch and learn scenario.
I also agree with the idea of having a team member attend some training and coming back to teach/share/report what they learned to the rest of the team. I first heard this concept in Baltimore attending ATI's Service Adviser Course. They claimed that the best way to learn was to listen to the material that has been presented to you, then teach the material to others. Recently, I heard a shop owner on the Remarkable Results Podcast say that he request his team to do just that.
Those are great compromises Michael. We certainly have a complex career. We have to take advantage of every opportunity to learn.
Yeah its tough thats for sure and yes I was referencing the national events seems most of them are during work hours. Of course in my area we have some of the very best trainers available like John Thornton. I think alot of the local stuff dont seem to be well advertised at least for my area. I didnt realize CTI did anything in my area until very recent. And yeah asking techs to give up their time only is not fair. Thats why I would like to find a equal balance between the two and somehow pass it along and get shops on the path of doing great both for themselves and their employees. Thanks for your reply and I must say your post hits home.
Great post, Brin. Thanks for the shout out!
To be honest I have become less concerned about the industry as a whole, my concern is the long-term sustainability of independent shops. There are many factors that make me concerned like tooling - that's a whole other post :-)
One recurring theme at conferences, in magazine articles, and every independent shop owner I ever see is the technician shortage. Now, I could create at least 5 other posts about some of the reasons, but let me stick to training. While there has been some action by groups that mean well, the reality is that most of this is complaining with little action. While independents have been busy complaining and worrying the dealers have mobilized. The dealerships are already at an advantage recruiting new techs due to their resources, but they have really stepped it up.
Millennial and gen Z always seem to have a reputation of being "lazy" or not motivated. My experience teaching college students is quite the opposite. They want to work hard and do something meaningful, they don't want to work hard for the sake of working and making money. My students have a thirst for knowledge and want to learn everything they can. I am seeing most of my students gravitating towards dealer careers. In their defense - they reach out to the college faculty and ask "what do we need to change to attract your students?" More importantly, they have listened and made changes.
Students should never be forced to leave school for a job. Unfortunately we are an industry that doesn't place much value on formal education. Most employers don't care too much about a degree on a resume. Many of my students in independent shops feel pressured to not finish their education or struggle to finish because employers are not willing to work around their schedule. The dealers have learned to be more than accommodating and actually tell our students they need to finish their degree to move up in the industry. A large percentage of my students also say they picked dealers because of the training. The recruiters lay out their training path and what they will do for the next couple years. On a side note, these techs are compensated for all training and it is done during business hours.
So, if you are a student what job do you pick? Students are picking the job that pays 50% more, works around your schedule, and has a detailed career plan with training. So beyond productivity increases - could offering daytime training help with recruiting the best techs? I think so.
It is very common for professionals to close business down for a handful of days a year to attend training and conferences. I would bet your doctor does not expect their staff to attend training on the weekends during family time, at night after a long day of work, or use a vacation day to go during the day. I bet they aren't doing it for free either.
I agree with you. I think not only tech training but management training is needed.
I feel one of the biggest reasons why I don’t see a lot of training opportunities in my area is turn over. I can think of over 2 dozen people in my area that make a circuit of the independent and dealers. They never stay, while I know a lot is the guys - surely some of this is on management. I wouldn’t hire not one, but yet they get job after job.
I would attend daytime training. I will be at the end of the month NC IGO is having Aste in Cary NC. I wish I could fix what I think is the true issue. The people who give us a bad name that need it most refuse to attend.
Yes! Both, management and technical technical training is needed. Great leadership is everything. In my opinion, we have been in trouble. We aren't treating our selves or our teams like we should but through open dialog like this, and by sharing these conversations with others, we will continue to get better.
I'm so stoked that you are attending ASTE later this month. Look up Isaac Rodell, Tanner Brandt and Tomi Oliva while you are there.
I met Isaac last year at it. I will be sure to talk with them.
All the replies to this are great! I ran some Saturday training 10 years ago, and had decent attendance, but it finally stopped working. In this area daytime training just won't work (central VA). The shops won't let the techs loose to attend for all the usual reasons. The fix is for shops to build daytime training costs (lost production, tech pay, class costs) into their labor rate/ROI calculations. Increase what you charge to cover the costs of the daytime training, and support the training that comes around and ask for more from your training providers! Techs also need to DEMAND daytime training instead of using their off time for it. But it all starts with the owners. If it doesn't start at the shop owners level, it will never work.