June 20, 2018 at 3:07 pm #65587Tom HamParticipant
What have you done to get techs to take certification tests?
Might be ASE or maybe licensing of some kind where you are.
What worked for your techs?
What didn’t work?
Tom - Shop Owner since 1978June 23, 2018 at 12:15 pm #75132SpencersAutoParticipant
Our pay scale is based off their certs. If they don’t have them current they don’t get paid as much.June 23, 2018 at 5:04 pm #75133tomkingParticipant
We pay for ever test they pass but I find that no one cares about taking them because they can just go down the road to get a job and there not required at the next placeJune 25, 2018 at 7:07 am #75134Chris CottonParticipant
I think first you have to hire right. You have to do a good enough job interviewing potential techs that they understand how important it is to you that they already have and keep the certs or in growing your own you have to set the expectation that they test for X amount (and pass) every year or every cycle.
2nd you have to have a pay plan in place that rewards them for getting their certs.
3rd find out what motivates your techs and use that to your advantage.
Owner-AutoFix SOS/DieselFixSOS & Level UP Peer Groups
www.autofixsos.comJune 26, 2018 at 6:34 pm #75143Joseph Van syocParticipant
I always had to pay for my tests, even as an employee. I will tell you I have heard every excuse in the book why techs wont take the exams, and always from guys I know damned well would fail. Certification ought to be a job REQUIREMENT. (not merely a preference) If you as as employer are paying for the exams and providing training, what is the excuse? You can now take ASE exams year round at your convenience. You take them or you work elsewhereJune 26, 2018 at 9:20 pm #75145Alan Ollie Gelfand Pres.Participant
Do you pay your techs more per hr. If they have more certifications ?
Do you pay your techs for training?June 27, 2018 at 1:45 pm #75146Joseph Van syocParticipant
Moot since I run a one man shop without employees. I can tell you that as an employee I had to pay for my own certifications, and train on my own time (although the boss usually picked up the class fees) I think making the tech bear these costs out of pocket is nuts.October 31, 2019 at 7:01 am #93805
I believe leading by example is huge. Expecting your staff to train and stay current with certs and skills while the owner does not creates confusion for the staff, also it distances the staff and owner as they become more proficient if the shop is being run like it always has over time the shop will suffer.November 1, 2019 at 2:48 pm #93842
We pay for our techs’ training and certifications as a company benefit that most other shops don’t offer. My main gripe about training is there are very few training programs that test the students’ knowledge of the class’ subject matter afterward. Whether live or online training, most do not test. Seminar training is the worst offender.
A CEO of a major trade organization once told me that if they tested after a seminar, it would reduce attendance. Maybe so, but it would also separate the men from the boys. IMHO, a “Certificate of Attendance” is meaningless.
If online and live automotive training courses and seminars tested students’ knowledge of the course material, maybe more shop owners would see value in the training. For most shop owners, they currently don’t see enough value to spend the money.
Just my thoughts.
1 user liked this post.November 1, 2019 at 4:28 pm #93844
Larry I agree with you that there is not very much training out there that gets the owners a return on investment as far as what the tech actually learned during class. Bosch was doing a class recently on electricity that I attended and they have begun to Utilize their API onto Mann website as a testing platform post training seminar so we were all given access to a test that was 10 questions long that had to do with the topic of the training we had attended that night and upon completion we got to print out a certificate for the shop to bring back they also have a lot of starting point tests that the tech can take to get a baseline of where they are beforehandNovember 1, 2019 at 10:03 pm #93854
Thanks for the reply. I’ve been in the transmission repair specialty field all of my adult life and here’s what I’ve learned about training for my particular specialty. Much like electrical, transmissions aren’t the type of thing you can simply take apart, figure it out and put it back together again. Those days went away many decades ago.
It takes knowledge of transmission theory and principles of operation which takes academic skills the majority of technicians don’t have or they would have gone to college. Some didn’t finish high school. What I learned by looking at the high school transcript of prospective employees is that if they were a poor student in school, they are going to be a poor student in life. The really good students in high school, virtually all go on to college.
I can honestly say that out of the hundreds of thousands of dollars we spent on training over the years, the vast majority of it was a wasted investment mainly because of the poor students, but partially because there was no testing. I’m talking about both live and online training.
The really difficult specialty areas of automotive repair (think electrical, transmissions, diagnosis) have an EXTREMELY hard time filling positions and that difficulty is what steered me in the direction of selling our shop after 40+ years in the business.
If somebody wants to be in the automotive repair industry today, my suggestion would be to pick an area, or areas, that are simple and techs are more easily found/trained. Taking my own advice, I transitioned our brick & mortar transmission shop to an online business model where we specialize in 10-year old and newer vehicles only.
We sell and install low-mileage units from insurance company totals and filter out the losses from fire, flood, or have higher mileage. It’s much easier to find somebody to install the transmission than it is to rebuild one, let alone how to diagnose and fix one.
Our business model is based on a model with the lowest liability and the greatest chance of finding qualified tech. I threw my “we can fix anything” technician attitude out the window, which was hard to do as I’ve been ASE certified in transmissions since 1975 and a master (still current) since 1980.
At my age, it’s all about a viable business model that works. To hell with the ego thing.November 1, 2019 at 11:01 pm #93857
That is a very good insight on how someone manages their life. It is very difficult these days to find good people that have good skills because like you said many of them have been poor performance people for a lifetime and as a result they do not need or want things on the same level I do. Where I have found a bit of hope is using the training (we all attend as a group together) and I have each person do a 10 minute demonstration practicing something they took away from the training. With those things the meeting that follows we discuss how we can implement new ideas or processes to correct any problem areas we might have. I type them out and as a group we sign the document we created. It’s a new way of doing things but so far it’s working. Before my dad who is a very old school boss type would bark what was wrong and who was at fault and what he wanted different, those “meetings” fell on ears that were tuned out. Since they have been giving input on how the procedures and rules are created their has been times were I have to stop and apologize because they point out I didn’t follow a new rule which is great because it’s one step closer to not needing to be present every minute of the day.
as for the work, I definitely agree finding diag, trans and specialty work people is hard which is why I have been monitoring the hours and how much of that stuff we do. At this point our diag hours can not justify paying a tech those wages and having them RR 75% of the time. So a tech and I will usually do them and if needed help from identifix or somewhere similar. For the most part we are able to do just about all that comes into our shop. I am holding out hope that the younger generation will be more accepting of training and applying the knowledge as most of them did do some time in a college setting. I have one kid now who was stuck at a Honda dealer for 2 years only changing oil and he has been great and gotten a chance to spread his wings (supervised still) and grow.November 2, 2019 at 12:22 am #93859
I admire you for your dedication and I am most certainly glad what you’re doing is working for you. Few shop owners have that much enthusiasm. Let me tell you about my experience in trying to train my technicians.
I built and equipped a high-end classroom for training in our shop in an unused upstairs office. I spent about $5K setting it up with all the latest technology for teaching. Then I discovered that I have ZERO training in how to teach. The curse of knowledge set in and I assumed if I could understand a concept or theory then everybody ought to get it. Not so. I had the real-life version of the proverbial blind leading the blind.
People go to college and get degrees to learn how to teach. It’s not as simple as it looks. When I finally concluded that I wasn’t qualified to teach much, I started subscribing to online training courses. Then our weekly classes consisted of watching training videos and ask questions afterward.
I would also assign certain videos for the techs to watch at home because there’s so much to learn. That’s when I learned that when they get off work, they have no desire to spend their off time doing something that had something to do with work. It was just a job. I was never successful in getting technicians to think for themselves. Like you, I would direct them as to what to do because having them diagnose boiled down to a parts throwing contest.
Trust me, I tried everything and I still ended up being somewhere between a technical librarian and a head diagnostician. I wanted to work ON the business, not IN the business. I was extremely successful with marketing, advertising, and sales but that didn’t fix transmissions. If anything, it made problems worse. I unknowingly created a record number of transmission jobs we couldn’t fix. Diagnosing a correctly assembled transmission is one thing, diagnosing one after an alleged rebuild is quite another.
I sat on this problem for 4 years after selling our shop to do study, research, and interviews trying to solve the puzzle. I finally concluded that the problem is endemic within the industry and simply the nature of the beast. Most importantly, I also concluded that it was wrong for me to think I could change it. The condition is chronic and terminal. It was killing me.
Now, I feel much better about the future. I made a very long (16-minute) video pitching my business plan on my YouTube channel. Which BTW, has over 2,200 transmission-related videos and was the secret of our success in record sales numbers. I titled it Common Dilemma, Uncommon Solution.
From Draper, a suburb of Salt Lake City.November 3, 2019 at 7:39 pm #93880
What is your YouTube link? The teaching thing I totally understand. When I started to try and do this I gathered my guys and told them flat out “ look I have not taught these things before and some of the ideas are still even new to me, but if you guys will be understanding and provide feedback it will do what is intended.”
so far it’s been ok I must admit a couple times were I had something planned to teach as the guys and I sat in the office I had to ask them to give me more time because at the time I didn’t feel I could explain it in a way that would translate or make sense. My goal for 2020 is to have myself move back from doing all the teaching and actually have them doing projects by themselves and with each other then having to present them to the rest of us. This is suppose to reinforce the learning while allowing for me to see who may be a good teacher to invest in for development in that area.
if you don’t mind I would like some insight on the marketing you did as currently that is an issue. I mainly run the day to day functions of the shop and my father who started it is suppose to cut the checks and do marketing. Getting the phone to ring is what we need help with. My email isNovember 3, 2019 at 9:41 pm #93883
Thanks for your Email address. If we talk on this forum instead of private Email, maybe others might find what we talk about useful.
I’ve told my story in this venue more than once. To answer your question directly, by communicating clearly and often with my customers as well as PPC advertising (Pay-Per-Click) that I learned how to do on my own was the “secret” of our unbelievable numbers.
A rinky-dink 3K sq.ft. shop with 4 lifts was doing a consistent $1.2M/yr. We had maxed out at $700K/yr. then I discovered PPC. I would work on customer communication first. What I mean by customer communication is this:
If a shop is getting phone calls from customers asking for status updates on their vehicles, IMHO they aren’t staying in contact with their customers well enough and it will cost a shop dearly and never even know it. You can buy SMSs to do this for you or you can do it yourself for free. I chose the free route.
I text customers from my desktop PC status updates constantly during the repair. I would send pictures and/or videos where necessary. I can count on one hand how many lost sales I had after I sent a customer a “Show-N-Tell” video. That’s why my main YouTube channel (I have several) has over 2,200 videos. Most of them are me showing customers 1. What’s wrong with their transmission. 2. What we’re going to do to fix it. and 3. What we are going to do to keep it from happening again.
It was my full-time job as our shop’s Chief Marketing Officer to make the phone ring off the hook and maintain constant contact with customers through texts, emails, video, and phone calls when necessary. The phone came last in the order of priority communication. To answer your question, my main YouTube channel is https://www.youtube.com/user/larrybloodworth
PPC advertising is really useless unless you have it accompanied with Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) phone tracking where you can track what keywords and search terms the callers are using when they find your website and call your shop.
After maxing out sales at $700K/yr, we started the PPC campaigns and to make a long story short, we ended up spending about $50K/yr. with Google, Bing, & Yahoo to drive an extra $500K/yr. worth of business. In essence, it cost us a 10% commission. I also learned in our small market (SLC w/1M population) we were getting ALL of the clicks available in our market. I couldn’t have spent more money on PPC if I wanted to because there simply were no more clicks (thus calls) available. Our phone rang off the hook.
There were days and sometimes weeks I paused our PPC campaigns to simply get caught up because we were a week or two out. I came awfully close to starting a second shift at our shop but decided against it in the end. Conversely, when I was doing the marketing and communicating on a part-time basis, I got part-time results.
It’s all a lot to learn, but I chose to learn how to do it myself as opposed to hiring it out. Either way, it will make you money. The busiest shops are the ones that market themselves the best. The methods of marketing vary widely. For example…
I talk about communication. Here’s a company that has a system to text customers like it’s some brand new invention but their customers think it’s the best thing in the world. Check out their website at AutoText.me
I’m currently working on our new website that’s scheduled to launch January 1st at YourTransmission.com
I’m still specializing in 10-year old and newer vehicles only which is another ingredient to the secret sauce I’ve found to work well for the last 25 years.February 25, 2021 at 11:03 am #116340NION MARVINParticipant
As a company owner auction streaming I can tell you that ASE looks nice on the wall but are practically worthless in the field! If your tech can memorize a few things and take a test then he can get certified. I would rather have a tech that works hard to develop his or hers diagnostic and mechanical skills rather than take a multiple guess test.
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