In the professional world, there are some that have no inclination to improve their skills, and there are others that do. In the case of the automotive aftermarket, those that choose the latter option will ultimately represent the future of the automotive technician with the developments in motor vehicle technology leaving behind those that fail to keep up their knowledge-base.
PMM recently conducted a survey of around 300 independent garages to gauge some of the issues that are affecting your businesses. Training was one area covered by the survey and delivered some interesting responses.
When asked how often they undertake training courses, 49% of respondents answered ‘less than once a year’. To follow, garages were then asked about the factors that prevent them from attending more training courses. Cost and time away from the workshop were the overwhelming reasons.
Those statistics set alarm bells ringing. Speak to a quality supplier or training provider and they will tell you that consistent training is essential in gaining a full understanding of the vehicles that are entering your workshop. The fact that nearly half of those surveyed are training ‘less than once a year’ suggests there are some aftermarket repairers that don’t subscribe to that theory.
It’s easy to condemn that attitude, but there are many understandable factors that contribute to the statistics, no less the inconvenience of downing tools for a half or full day’s training, and the financial investment involved in what is a difficult economic period for many businesses.
A counter to that argument is in the fact that aftermarket suppliers have made huge strides over the last few years in terms of the training facilities they are providing for repair professionals, on-site training alternatives, the access to expertise available to the independent workshop and the improved flexibility of course times and dates to suit the lifestyle of the garage mechanic.
One supplier that epitomises this commitment to technician improvement is Bosch. The automotive giant will shortly unveil a brand new STC (Service Training Centre) with the capacity to train thousands of repair professionals every year. When explaining the reasons behind the investment, the company are clear in their views that continuous training, and the capability to deliver this, is critical for the future prosperity of the industry.
Mark Heard, Bosch Marketing Manager, says: “Research carried out in 2010 showed that less than half of independent aftermarket workshops undertook at least one internal and/or external training course.
“The proportion of franchised dealers and fast-fit centres undertaking training was much higher and for fast-fit centres, there was a significant increase in training from 2009. It is clear that a significant proportion of independent workshops need to be attracted in to undertake training courses.
“Bosch will continue to place an emphasis on training progression, so once a technician is interested in and excited about training, they will be encouraged to move onto the next training stage.
“Training is important not just to increase their skills, but also to ensure they get a return on their investment for workshop equipment. As well as individual workshops’ success, we believe that the importance of developing the skills of young people to support the future of the automotive industry cannot be underestimated.
“Bosch provides workshops with the tools they need to be successful, but workshops need motivation and commitment to thrive, not merely survive.”
Mark’s comments are wholeheartedly echoed by PMM and paint a picture of a company, like many other suppliers, that is committed to technician improvement. The tools to better yourself are there if you want them; those that choose to use them will be investing in a bright future.