Training Techs Online is Becoming Popular Trend, Panel Reports
July 31, 2009

Training automotive technicians online is becoming more popular in today's technologically driven world, according to reports from two panels who met this week in Washington, D.C., as part of the I-CAR 30th Anniversary Conference. The panels included Roger Foss, national field support manager for the Toyota Customer Services Division; and Nick Notte, president of Sterling AutoBody Centers; and Michael Quinn, co-founder and chief executive officer of 911 Collision Centers® in Tucson, Ariz; Roger Cada, senior auto claim instructor for State Farm Insurance, Randy Hanson, auto claim director for Allstate, Mario Malacara, director of human resources for Service King Collision Repair Centers; Rick Paukstitus, regional president, Mid-Atlantic region, for True2Form Collision Repair Centers; and Dusty Womble, operating partner for Roger Beasley Collision Center in Austin, Texas.

"One of the biggest things that has impacted our company is online training," said Paukstitus. The company's technicians are able to access the training modules they've created both at home or in the shop.

"It can be done at home or work," he said. "We actually schedule time [for it to be done in-shop]."

Foss said even from a manufacturer's standpoint, online training is becoming the norm.

"We're clearly seeing more of a blended training strategy and more online training," said Foss.

Notte stressed it's important to make sure if online training is used, that it's available to all.

"My caution is to make it available to the diverse group of technicians we have in our shops," he said.

But what about the smaller, independent companies that may not be able to create such an online program?

"As we walk through our store, we look at all the different tools and equipment we've bought over the years," said Womble, who helped start his independent business 33 years ago.

"Open your eyes-see what equipment you have," he added. "Vendors would love to come to your store and conduct training. They love the exposure."

Paukstitus, who has developed a training system based on various modules, noted that his company was once small as well-and still conducted a unique training course.

"I was small at one time, and we started our modules in just one of our stores," he said. "This stuff can even be done on YouTube, whether you have one or 40 locations."

Company culture also can be a portion of that training, in addition to technical matters. Cada likened hiring a new technician to a child going to a friend's house, and learning that friend's family's language, habits, etc.

"Individuals come in with different backgrounds and they have to learn about the company culture they've hired on with," he said.

He also reminded other business owners that it's important to want to help techs learn.

"If I can find a way to help that technician succeed, I will help my business succeed," Cada said.

Womble also reminded the audience that training is something that does require time and patience.

"I once was told that advertising is not a short-term, impulse investment. It's long-term-sometimes five years or more," he said. "Training is the same way."

Has your company developed any type of specific training program, or do you utilize a particular industry certification program you've found helpful? Please e-mail pstacey@glass.com.

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