LAS VEGASNeglecting training could lead to injuries, death, costly penalties or business-destroying jury awards.
That somber wake-up call was the message at an information-packed [email protected]Best Practices seminar for tire professionals sponsored by the Tire Industry Association (TIA) during the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
If there's an injury, or God forbid, worse, the first thing they're going to ask is if you have proof your employee was properly trained to perform that task, warned Shawn Pease, TIA's director of automotive tire service.
All of the association's automotive tire service training programs will be updated for 2017 to keep pace with ever-changing, more sophisticated technology and tools. The programoffered in workbook/DVD format as well as onlineis aimed at new hires as well as veterans who must have proof of training or a refresher course. TIA issues a certificate of completion after the employee passes a final test.
The certificates are good for two years. A tip from Matthew White, TIA's tire service director: Hold off buying the DVDs because the updated versions will be out in the first quarter of next year.
Basic training, also known as the 200 level, is required for every employee. For more experienced technicians, TIA offers certified technician programs (300 level) that require attending a training seminar taught by a TIA-certified instructor and passing a final examination.
The association's most advanced courses (400 level) are the certified instructor programs that tackle the latest technology and mix hands-on exercises and demonstrations with classroom work.
Training covers a swath of subjects ranging from personal protective equipment like the proper work shoes and safety glasses, to wheel/tire removal, identifying problems, tire repair, balance and run-out, to bolt hole seats and proper lug nuts.
Mr. Pease also mentioned the challenges veteran tire professionals can present when they think they know everything they need to know because they've been doing it for decades. Those who are new to the field may wind up duplicating mistakes or risky procedures.
I run into this all the time. (The technicians) don't take care of themselves, Mr. Pease said. They don't use any of the safety equipment, and it's only a matter of time before something happens.
The TIA program also covers the proper ways to lift a vehicle. A manufacturer may require specific locations and procedures to safely raise a particular model. Mr. Pease said he once received a phone call from a tire shop's technicians working on a Mercedes-Benzwhen they lifted the vehicle, its doors popped ajar. They wound up having to replace the customer's vehicle.
The insurance company wasn't too happy about that, he said wryly.
The Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) (www.autolift.org) is a very helpful resource that publishes a guide showing the lift points for scores of vehicles, he noted.
Training is something your lawyer can beat you up with, Mr. Pease continued, so have some kind of standard procedure for your shop, where each time a customer comes in, you use ALI. Every time you get a question, you can resort back to the guide.
But unfortunately you run into people who say, 'Ah, um, geez yeah, well, I think, maybe....' They don't know, they're guessing.
Guessing is not what we do anymore.... You don't want to take all year doing your job to the best of your ability and then, one day, you forget to look something up or forget to do something and you wind up having a vehicle that's broken.
Mr. Pease warned that if you have to defend yourself in court, you can show that you used ALI's book and you put the lift pads in the right spot. And you might then be able to tell them, 'Maybe there was a problem with the vehicle'such as running over railroad tracks too many times and you have a bad frame.
Maybe it's been in an accident. It wasn't your fault.
Soaking up the information covered at the TIA seminar was attendee Ron Russell, a partner and operator of RNR Tire Express & Custom Wheels franchises in Virginia and the District of Columbia.
It was the best half hour I've spent (at the SEMA Show), Mr. Russell told Tire Business.
There needs to be a solid, basic foundation and everyone has the same basic knowledge, whatever that task iswhether it's tire install, custom wheel business, TPMS, suspension repair or alignment.
The thing that will sink your ship is safety, he added. If you don't care about your customers, you shouldn't be in the automotive repair business. It doesn't take but one customer to get hurt to ruin your business.
Jeff Yip is a Texas-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Tire Business.