by Bob Beranek
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I would like to start a discussion on the pros and cons of training. Obviously, as a professional trainer, I believe that training is important to the success of any business. However, shop owners in the past have told me that training is a waste of time and money and the same result can be accomplished by time and experience. What say you?

During this series of posts, I will take the side of training as a benefit to individual advancement and business success. I would like to hear from those out there that think that training is unnecessary or a waste of money and time. However, if all of you think that training is necessary to build a successful business and promote qualified employees, then please take note of my phone number and email address. I will be glad to help!

A good shop owner will have one basic question, “Will training improve revenues?” It seems simple, but you have to really do your homework to answer that question honestly. It is easy to say, “We can’t afford training right now because of the poor economy,” or “My guys know how to install so we don’t need training.” Those are copouts. The truth is you need to do comprehensive needs assessment to determine what your technicians know and what they don’t know. Teaching your people something new will increase your revenue. Anything else is a waste of time and money.

How do you define “Success”?

Do you really want “success” (wealth) or do you just want to “own your job?”  Success means that you have to do the hard work to fine tune your operation to maximize profits and grow your business. “Owning your job” means that while you may still work hard, you are not accurately measuring your successes and failures. Training is probably relegated to initial installation training and periodic safety training to satisfy OHSA. If true success is your goal, then it begins by measuring specific key performance traits and keeping track of trends up and down continuously throughout the years of operation. Then when there is a downward trend in any area, training is commenced. This is how profits are maximized and wealth is attained.

 What is the difference between “working hard” and “working smart?”

Hard work is not only doing eight jobs a day in 90 degree temperatures and driving 100 miles one way to complete the job that no one else will do. Thousands of small business owners do this every day and should be commended for it. But have you ever stopped to question what will be the most profitable course of action? It is also hard work to put in place measurement systems that will truly tell you what is happening day to day and keeping track of trends. It is determining what to do when those trends skew one way or another and making tough decisions.

Will Training Improve Revenues?”

To determine if training will improve revenues, you must measure your problem areas. How many of you keep track of warranty work or callbacks? Track callbacks? We don’t keep track, but we don’t have many warranty calls. How do you know? How can you keep track of quality when you don’t track mistakes?

How many of you keep track of scheduling errors that cost you time and fuel costs? If we don’t do it, we’ll lose the job. Never mind that all profit was lost to get it. How can you save fuel and labor costs and increase profits if you don’t correct scheduling problems?

How many times did you send out a new tech with your top producer only to have the new guy take months to become productive? You mean my trainer? He’s my best guy, he’ll train him right. Who says he wants to be a trainer?eHe’s Your most productive technician should be your producer not your trainer. The new guy slows your producer down and the rookie will take twice or three times as long to be productive. Does that make sense or cents?

The bottom line is that training should not be done simply for the sake of providing training.  Training should be done to improve a condition that is necessary for success. Good targeted training will pay for itself two or three times over due to improved conditions, productivity, safety or quality.

Comments (2)

  1. Rick Nelson said on 19-07-2012

    Bob,
    Good idea for an article.

    In my experience, over the course of 15 years training, for auto glass technicians and glaziers, it is the “hand me down college of knowledge”. Most information taught is from someone who learned it from someone else, or my pappy taught me. “Been doing it like this for years without any problems”.

    Wrong or misguided information is propagated throughout the profession.

    There are few sources for the training needed to perform your job with knowledgeable actions / results. The Ford Carlite Auto Glass Technician Class was the premiere source for this information with four solid days of training and education. It is unfortunate that it couldn’t continue. I have not attended your classes, so I cannot comment on your current curriculum.

    With AGR, you should have the knowledge of how and why a vehicle paint system is applied and what is expected of it. How does damage to the E-coat effect the vehicle owner over the life of the vehicle? Does it void his warranty? Are the touch-up primers really doing what I am told they are for? Do they replicate OEM standards for paint scratch repair?

    FMVSS212 and FMVSS216 should be common knowledge along with how the glass is part of the crash dissipation structure, not just there for the air bag deployment.

    Same with adhesives, how is one adhesive different from the OEM material and why? If so, where is the documentation that is it up to the task? There is still a lack of understanding on urethane systems, some still use one system’s primer with other system’s adhesive. Different cleaners are used on the glass with disregard to the consequences of compatibility with adhesive systems. How does the urethane used actually gain strength over the curing process and at what temperature and humidity levels? How does this effect my customers’ safety and my installation over the course of the life of the glass? Most bond failures that I reviewed were related to the cleaning process and not using primers.

    Tools
    How can ergonomics reduce my medical cost? Is there safer ways to perform my daily task and that make my job easier? Paint scratches and trim damage should be reviewed and eliminated with training and proper tool use. All these items improve bottom lines.

    I don’t think the majority of the installers or technicians place as much value on training as owners / managers do or should. Macho Man attitudes get in the way.

    A true professional tradesman continues to learn his job every day, and should strive to learn more from other trade professionals. This knowledge should then be passed on through structured training.

    The value is apparent right away and in todays economic times, nobody can afford to not review every avenue of cost savings they can take advantage of.

  2. Daniel said on 20-07-2012

    It’s more than obvious the fact that continuous training is the key for a constant growing success.
    Professional training (in certified facilities and with qualified instructors) opens doors to the state-of-the-art technologies, materials and procedures that are not available by common means.
    If, by chance, one independent would spare his/her time to access the ultimate informations concerning AGRR, the expenses would be far higher than what would be spent on professional training. Not to mention that some items could not be well understood or have a poor impact into the daily job routine.
    Even during these harsh times, competition might be overruled by keeping up-to-date re-certifications and training courses completion documents, clearly displayed in the workshops. Think about the M.D. or the attorneys you visit to save you or your assets: the more Diplomas they display behind their oak desks, the more trust and cash you divert towards them !
    And to make a long story short: invest some dime to get smarter (you and your employees) and take this expense as a warranty for a better image, that is a better revenue, that is a better life for all.

    May Force be with you !

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