Technician Training and Development
Today I looked again in the want ads. Over 30 shops advertising for technicians on the local online site. This past week one shop foreman told me he could keep 5 more technicians busy if he could find people willing to work. Many of these employers are looking for Master Technicians. We have hashed this problem on here many times. Good technicians are moving laterally within the trades for better pay. Many are retiring. We are not attracting youth as fast as techs are leaving. Even when we find those willing to work, they lack the skills needed to work unsupervised.
As a Mobile Tech, I visit a large amount of shops on a given week. I see problems in the culture. Service advisors who have some repair experience get frustrated with the technicians who don't diagnose problems 100% perfect. Technicians feel that management does not understand their struggles of balancing time spent on a vehicle vs. flat rate. Technicians feel that the management takes the customer's side too much of the time.
Why do technicians miss the mark in diagnosis? The management will say they take shortcuts and guess too much. What technicians tell me is they lack the tools and training to do the job correctly. They say they give it their best effort. When things go sideways they have to work for free and it is just not right.
Many of the diag.net crowd see the value in investing into their technicians. These problems are minimal for them. I am somewhat singing to the choir. I want to focus on the tools and training aspect of the conversation.
For the shop owners out there,
Would a service where a Master Tech came into your shop and invested time into mentoring your aspiring technicians be of value to you?
This would one who could teach diagnostic techniques. They would use best practices along with industry standards.
The thought process would be that as your technicians worked with their mentors they would become Master Technicians themselves. Instead of playing technician roulette you could build your own team from scratch. No more want ads. No more finding out the great tech that you hired is an axe murderer on the weekends. Where do you get your pool of potentials? I would suggest that you work with your best customers to find them. Visit the local High Schools and find students that want to go to work vs. the College route.
The proposal would be this.
The shop hires a green technician. (Could have High School, Trade School or Shop Classes)
The mentor comes in and monitors the growth of the new technician.
The mentor spends time helping the technician work through his assigned tasks. (a few hours a week) The mentor would help the tech correct errors.
The technician would follow a skills plan based on the needs of the shop and the abilities of the technician.
The mentor would be responsible to make sure the needed skills would be mastered.
Hi Mike. Your proposal has some potential. However, the "raw material" must show potential. When I still worked in a dealership, it became my job in part to assess and mentor new hires, whether they were qualified or prospects that might be suitable candidates for apprenticeship. As a "shop foreman without title" (we had one official shop foreman) I was one of two, paid for extra duties
Hi Martin, Thank you for your comments. I find that when starting an article it is hard to get in all the ideas without loosing folks half way through. In Steven Covey's "How to win friends and influence people" The BS principal is brought to light. In the case he explains, a new manager comes in full bore and makes a huge impact on the numbers. During the same process burns out the personnel
Michael, I think it's a great idea as the shops most likely to go for such a set up are also the most likely to have the proper culture to support it. I know that I consider those I've had conversations with on here just the type of mentor your discussing, including yourself, so I thank everyone here for that. I have first hand experience in your plan, albeit in reverse. My first job was at a
Hi Chris, I Love your example of a process that works. I grew up on a small farm. My Grandfather who by today's measure was very poor, fixed his own equipment. Many of my summer days were spent learning how the machines operated. Along with the implements there were trucks and tractors. Although I made lots of mistakes, on that farm I learned the basics. From that point I took old parts from
I try to do exactly this when I am doing mobile diagnostics for a shop. Th routine goes as follows, a technician is assigned to work on the car and as a team we work through the problem from the beginning. In some cases I spend as much time teaching the technician how to use the tools that the shop already has while in others we do the procedure(s) with my tools. Either way the focus is to get
Hi John, Since I carry very few tools with me, I experience the same thing. One evening I went out to program a Silverado truck with a Duramax engine. Once hooked up I found there was no communication with the PCM. The whole bus was down. I worked with the whole shop team for three hours disconnecting and jumping modules to find the culprit. We used their labscope and I showed them how the
Hi Mike: The biggest issue facing most of my customers is a lack of qualified help. A racehorse (good tooling) does them no good without a good rider. Your thought has some merit. You've got to get there early though. Marty described some of the potential issues. You described some of the logistical issues. Some shop owners may get on-board. I have some customers who grouped together to sponsor
Hi Guido, I agree there are problems with Trade Schools and Colleges. I see a different role for them in the future. I would say that most instructors are sincere. They want their students to succeed. It would be good to know why so many students do not succeed once trained.
I have a few comments. 1st, it depends on where your shop is located if you need the help. I can tell you that in my area, my shop and pretty much every shop within 20-30 miles are dead. Today is one of my techs last day and I have no plans to replace him until business picks up. Honestly, I have never seen it this bad in years. All the chains like Midas, Firestone etc. have ads out but they
Hi Michael, It is unfortunate that business is tough right now. Being in a rural area that is surprising. How do folks get around with their vehicles broken? With the bad weather this winter maybe it will pick up in a few weeks. Weather effects our mobile work. If it rains or snows it really slows up. The tough thing is that the process I am discussing would be expensive. The payoff for the
Your ideas are good and are in line with my 'whatever it takes' attitude to refill the pool of auto trades team members. There are a lot of people working on the tech shortage issue but they are working in SILO's to solve their local needs. My vision is to pool resources and seek out the best practices across the markets and cooperatively share those best practices with leaders in each market
Hi John, Thank you for the information on your venture. I need to come out and see you sometime. We have many common ideas. There are some companies that do rent a tech placements in the West. I have a friend in the Bay area doing this. It may be a growing trend. -Mike
The aftermarket needs to step up their game, at least in my area. My students are getting recruited by dealerships in masses. They have been listening to what we have been saying for years. The difference between the aftermarket and dealers is that the dealers are taking corrective action to attract young talent. They have stepped up their pay, and have awesome benefits. They have well lit, well
Matt I could not agree more. I've offered a platform to co-op the independent auto service and collision world shops but have failed to either present the process well enough or there is too much apathy in the aftermarket to get traction. I'll take the heat on this statement if I'm wrong.
Exactly Matt. I've been training dealership apprentices for years, including time that I spend training journeyperson technicians. The youngest apprentice in my program was barely 18, while the oldest turned 50 before he graduated. I have enjoyed learning how to interact with "Millennials" and have found most to be hard workers, with a minority fitting the stereotype. I absolutely agree. They
I have noticed the shops that buy tools, pay for techs, and pay for training are never really slow. There will always be slow days or weeks, but everyone makes money big picture. The shops thay claim these things cannot be afforded are usually poorly managed, around here they are slow because they offer poor services and low quality labor. This has nothing to do with economic makeup of the
We experience the same situation with dealerships here Matt. Some dealerships are independently owned and operated, having their own management protocols. They are essentially quite similar to independent businesses, but with the franchise name brand on the building. In contrast, we do have some dealer groups owned by a handful of families. How corporate policies affect each dealership, can
Well Matt, I always purchase the necessary tools. My lowest paid tech is 24.00 + incentives with a 40 hour guarantee and we both did training 3 weeks ago in Scranton PA about 1 hour away with ATG. My quality is second to none and I insist on nothing less. Why am I dead slow? That has to do with a few things such but the main reason in my opinion is that there are a number of people here who
I'd like to comment as a young technician in the industry I strive, and work hard to work towards becoming a Master Level Diagnostician. Every chance I get even as far as spending my own money to take extra training, and getting the latest diagnostic equipment to become a better tech, and do my job even better. I like the proposal/idea of having an experienced Automotive Master tech…
Hi Alejandro, You have hit the nail on the head. An in person service that helps you develop your critical thinking skills. Many times solutions to problems are not found in a database, online or in a book. It comes from using resources to develop your own test plan. The mobile business that I am a part of currently does this passively. Many times the tech assigned to the task wants to see what
Could Mobile techs offer mobile training?
Hi Darren, Many mobile techs are Master Technicians that have felt taken advantage of by former employers. (myself included) Some would be good teachers. Others just want you to get out of the way until they are done. There is the fear that if technicians at the shop learn the needed skills, they will no longer call the mobile tech for help. Several shops that my company works with have