CINCINNATI-Michel Tire Co., one of the nation's largest independent retail tire dealerships, has opened its own in-house training center in a move to improve the company's services. ``Basically, our whole philosophy in business is to be a customer-oriented service company,'' said Roberta Michel, vice president of the 50-store chain. ``It's hard, in today's environment, to find employees who will treat the customer the way we want them to be treated.''
So Michel Tire has taken matters into its own hands. Rather than constantly search for such individuals, the company decided to train its current employees.
``We are trying to get everyone in the company to know a little about everybody's job, but specifically to know the most about what they do professionally,'' she said.
Michel Tire's training center is located in a building, about the size of a four-bay shop, near its main offices. It contains the latest automotive- and tire-related service equipment, as well as two classrooms.
The company employs a full-time training instructor and is using on-staff employees who are experts in their respective areas to help train their peers.
It also is taking advantage of trainers offered through manufacturers and is working closely with local technical schools.
All 550 of Michel Tire's current employees as well as new hires must take three days of training covering such areas as company policies and objectives, customer awareness and sensitivity, basic Michel Tire product knowledge and point-of-sale computer operation, Mrs. Michel said.
In addition, the company has developed two training programs-one for the technical/mechanical areas, the other on merchandise/management programs.
``Our goal is for everyone to get training slanted toward whatever job they have,'' Mrs. Michel said.
Technical/mechanical courses include vehicle inspection, tire installation and repair, oil and lube services, wheel alignment, shocks and struts, vehicle suspension and CV repair, brake repair, cooling and heating systems, air conditioning, exhaust systems, and battery, starting and charging systems.
Merchandise/management programs cover personnel management, retail management, time management, crisis management, motivation, effective communications, fundamental principles of selling, advanced selling techniques and courses on telephone and external sales, selling to wholesale customers, selling tires and wheels, and a course on selling services.
Since officially opening in May, the company has trained about a third of its employees.
So far, their reaction has been very positive, Mrs. Michel said. ``Everyone feels needed and are very pleased.''