AKRON (Dec. 19, 2005) — Tire dealers and service shop owners who don't support training must not understand the true cost of untrained or under trained workers.
I'm convinced that if they really knew this cost, they'd become very training-conscious people.
What's more, bosses need to apply some fundamental management techniques to ensure that their training dollars aren't wasted. Mostly, this consists of applying the old rule, “Inspect what you expect.”
First, let's review the true cost of untrained or undertrained workers. Successful business people know the cost of doing business.
I beg readers to calculate the true cost to the tire dealership of turning away work when it becomes apparent that their technicians aren't knowledgeable enough to diagnose and repair the vehicle. Calculate that loss and e-mail it to me.
Smart service managers should pick and choose work carefully.
Naturally, you should avoid the repair and/or work you aren't prepared to do. Please calculate the point at which you realize that you're turning away more work than you should be—especially jobs that your competitors are devouring.
You might respond with a comment such as, “We'll do fine by skimming off the quick-service, maintenance-related items, Dan.” Please tell me why a motorist who is willing to spend money would go out of his or her way to give you the easier work.
My field experience tells me that they're much more likely to give all the available maintenance work to the shop that's qualified to fix the vehicle's problems in the first place. Time really is money to your best service prospects and many of them prefer the convenience of a “one-stop” shop.
Next, analyze the real cost of an undertrained worker who has to do the job a second time. For instance, many tire dealers and exhaust/undercar specialists I encounter are branching out into electrical repairs.
I get the impression that many of them think electrical troubleshooting knowledge is an innate skill for people who turn wrenches for a living.
Suppose the vehicle has a dead battery and the technician guesses that replacing the alternator will fix the problem.
He guesses wrong and the charging system still doesn't work. Then he and his boss do what too many people do and blame the replacement alternator.
Replacing the alternator a second time still doesn't fix the vehicle. Each alternator replacement took an hour to do.
Forget for the moment that the vehicle still isn't fixed. The basic rule of automotive time management states that installing the second alternator didn't cost the business one hour—it actually cost two!
The “do-over” cost one hour of actually turning the wrenches as well as the forfeit of one hour's labor that should have been sold for profit.
You have only a finite number of labor hours to sell every week. The more effectively you account for every available hour of labor time, the healthier the business will be.
Remember, comebacks and do-overs always cost the business twice the labor.
Calculate what these mistakes cost you and suddenly the price of training looks downright cheap.
Second, inspect what you expect from training.
For instance, interview technicians when they return from classes and gauge their reactions.
Inspect each worker's class workbook. I believe that a workbook totally devoid of notes is a bad sign.
There are no ironclad rules here but the lack of notes could suggest anything from boredom or poor learning/study skills to a topic that's way over the technician's head.
This worker may need a more basic class or simply more coaching and encouragement. Keep an eye on him or her.
Finally, always encourage workers to apply what they have learned in class.
Watch them apply it. Typically, essential diagnostic tests take minutes. Typically, ignoring the tests costs you hours.
Do the math and let me know which approach improves your service shop's productivity.