Wednesday, 13 March 2019 19:00

ASA Bonus Webinar Features Jeff Peevy of AMi

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Although ASA had already hosted a Webinar Wednesday earlier in February, the association offered a bonus webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 27 featuring Jeff Peevy of the Automotive Management Institute (AMi), who discussed the “Next Generation of AMi.”


ASA Vice President Tony Molla introduced Peevy, who dove right into discussing using AMi as a competitive advantage.


“We’ve been studying training and its relationship to shop performance,” Peevy said. “A lot of us in the industry look through technical lenses and try to solve everything through tech training, equipment or technical processes, but there are some things I’m convinced we overlook.


“The younger generations are actually better equipped to deal with some of the industry’s changes and the momentum of those changes than a lot of us industry veterans are. It requires a mindset change for those who’ve been in the industry for a long time; unfortunately, experience doesn’t always work for us when it comes to changes in the industry.”


A quote was used from Will Kaydos' book "Measuring, Managing and Maximizing Performance": “It’s not the 95 percent that’s right that makes something work: it’s the 5 percent that’s wrong that messes everything up.”


Explaining the quote, Peevy noted, “We are often taught to have a positive outlook, but sometimes, we need to acknowledge it’s the little things we do that aren’t right, which throws the wrench in. We can become so focused on processes that we forget it’s all in place to please the person---the customer who walks in our door and pays us to provide a service. Much of that 5 percent we do wrong is the soft skills, which [serve as] the glue that binds a lot of what we do together.”


Skills are defined as the “ability to carry out a task with pre-determined results often within a given amount of time, energy or both.” Peevy provided some examples of soft skills, including social skills, communication skills, listening skills, attitude, time management and work ethic, among others.


“The truth is skills are skills,” Peevy pointed out. “We want to raise awareness around soft skills.”


Listening, communication, conflict, negotiation and telephone skills all fall into this category.


“People often claim it takes a lot of work to engrain these things into people because soft skills are often assumed to be personality traits---that’s just how Jeff or Jenny is,” Peevy noted. “Because of this, 94 percent of small businesses fail to formally train their customer-facing staff on these skills, but the best person you have answering the phones can still improve their skills through communications and phone training. Only 2 percent of adults have ever received formal listening skills training. We can all get better.”


Because small business owners are already so preoccupied with managing their companies, it is easy to sideline training. Peevy recommends taking online classes that will effectively teach awareness. Citing a Stanford Research Institute survey from 2008, Peevy shared that 75 percent of long-term job success results from soft skills, while only 25 percent of success is attributed to technical skills.


“Soft skills can make all the difference,” he stated.


Redirecting the presentation to employee engagement, Peevy used Wikipedia’s definition of an engaged employee: “One who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.”


He then cited a Gallup poll titled “State of the American Worker 2013” that claimed, “Engagement levels among frontline (customer-facing) employees are the lowest of any occupation/role Gallup measures. It continues to decline while engagement for every other category has increased.”


In fact, the Gallup poll showed that while only 30 percent of 100 million U.S. full-time workers are engaged, 52 percent are not engaged and18 percent are actively disengaged, meaning they are acting out their unhappiness and undermining the accomplishments of the engaged workers.


Peevy said, “If you identify certain employees as actively disengaged, you need to get rid of them, but for those who are not engaged, there’s still hope, so you need to work on them.


“Management creates a 70 percent variance in those surveyed, so if you have a lot of folks who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged, realize that you have a lot of responsibility in that. It’s also important to recognize that there was a positive variance in employee engagement as high as 28 percent amongst those whose employers provide consistent soft skills training.”


Two key factors that increase employee engagement are encouragement of one’s development by someone else at work and opportunities at work to learn and grow within the past year.


Peevy stated, “Even if employees complain about training, they recognize that it is a sign that you value them and see their potential. Do yourselves and your employees a service by focusing on some soft skills training.”


Peevy emphasized that dissatisfied customers directly tell at least nine people about their experience. He shared that according to Genesys Global Services, 78 percent of customers say competent customer service staff members are more responsible for their positive experiences because they listened and communicated well.


He stated, “You may not have dedicated staff members that are solely customer-facing, but we all benefit when we calibrate better communication with our customers.


“Engaged employees are the most productive, make the least mistakes, don’t steal, take the least sick days, stay the longest and make customers happy. Engagement requires good management, ongoing professional development and ‘soft’ skills. Soft skills training and development go beyond the workplace and help us at home. The majority of the collision repair industry does not focus on soft skills, but training and developing non-technical soft skills is the next level of competitive advantage.”


Before taking questions from attendees, Peevy explained that AMi can help by offering a path to professional development for an entire staff. AMi courses provide structured, relevant educational tracks in various formats.


“All of this provides hopes for employees,” he said. “It gives them the sense that they’re growing professionally and that you, as a business, are concerned with their growth. People stay at their jobs longer if their employers invest in their development.”


For more information on AMi and its course catalog, visit amionline.org. ASA’s next Webinar Wednesday will be held on March 20 at 1 p.m. EST and will feature ASA Washington D.C. Representative Bob Redding. For more information on ASA, visit asashop.org.

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