MSO Embraces Intense Training and Cleaning During Pandemic

MSO Embraces Intense Training and Cleaning During Pandemic

At Mike’s Auto Body, their motto during this pandemic is “It’s not a slow time…it’s go time!”

While many “essential” businesses are currently closing their doors and furloughing or laying off employees, Mike’s Auto Body is using this time to “re-build, re-energize and refresh” in several areas to become a better company overall.

When the pandemic finally passes---and if you know the precise date, please let us know---this MSO with 17 locations in northern California’s East Bay will be in a good position to continue without missing a beat. By aggressively pursuing training for many of it its managers, estimators, technicians and painters, the business has everyone working full-time at getting better, according to Mike’s Director of Marketing Dane Dearlove.

Dearlove is playing an important role in the training piece of the plan, alongside Region Manager Jason Toner.

“We’ll be a better and stronger company across the board after this entire thing is in our rearview mirror,” Dearlove said. “Many of our employees are going to be able to focus totally on their OE training and other forms of education to truly enrich themselves during the pandemic. So, we’ve decided as a team to pursue things with a focus on improving techniques, and training is definitely one of the best ways to achieve that. If we want the team to be a cohesive group, we need to keep all of the players together.”

Mike’s Auto Body’s Director of Training Lupe Algood is trying to strip the panic out of the pandemic for his apprentices and mentors, by keeping them busy, engaged and productive while helping them to enhance their skills.

“We’re upgrading, fine tuning and painting a lot of our equipment,” he said. “This way, we will be ready when we get back to our normal production schedules. Our students and techs are focusing on improving themselves and are going to use this unique opportunity to achieve big things that will help us all down the road.”

Mike’s Auto Body is offering a wide range of different training programs to its employees and trainees, led by Dearlove, Toner and Algood.

“We’re doing all of our I-CAR Gold training right now, so that all of our people will maintain their certifications,” Dearlove said. “At Mike’s, we pride ourselves on maintaining an I-CAR Gold status at all of our locations. In today’s world of collision repair where cars and processes evolve rapidly, we need to stay on top of it so that we can continue to serve our customers and maintain our status with I-CAR.”

Toner also sees significant value in pushing training during these uncertain times.

“We are meeting with all of our estimators [wearing face masks and sitting 6 feet away] and focusing on what all of our insurance partners require,” Toner said. “We are always working on enhancing our estimating processes so that we can continually get high KPI scores. We want all of our estimators to be the most knowledgeable in the industry and that requires intense ongoing training to achieve that.”

Other training Mike’s Auto Body is facilitating for its employees includes EPA Section 609 certification, which, under the Federal Clean Air Act, requires technicians who service motor vehicle air conditioning MVAC systems or handle Freon to be certified.

This includes repairing, leak testing and topping off of air conditioning systems low on refrigerant, as well as any other repair that requires the dismantling of any part of the air conditioner.

In addition, the MSO is providing PPG training for technicians who want to master the proper use of all PPG color tools and color theory and its practical application in matching and tinting if necessary. Hands-on exercises provide the technician with practical tinting experience. Certified technicians are recertified to the next level for which they are eligible upon successfully completing this program.

“We provide this training for both our painters and our preppers and it covers a lot,” Dearlove said. "They learn about things like color perception, color theory, color plotting, understanding the formula, types and methods of color adjustment, as well as hands-on tinting and blending exercises.

"There are so many new products out there now like colored clearcoats, pearls and more three-stage systems. We need to continually learn about all of them and how we can use them to provide a superior finished product.”

Another series of training classes Mike’s technicians and estimators will take during this slow period will be Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) seminars provided by TechZone, a diagnostics company in Concord, CA, that has been providing technical services for Mike’s Auto Body for the past 14 years.

TechZone President Matt Patterson and his team of experts will conduct the training.

“As automotive technology changes all the time, we need to move quickly to stay ahead of the curve, and ongoing ADAS is the most important technology out there right now,” Patterson said. “By staying on the cutting edge and learning as much as they can when it comes to airbags and ADAS, the techs and Mike’s are positioned for ongoing success.”

“As the pandemic clears and people’s lives slowly return back to normalcy, Mike’s Auto Body will be in a very good place, as a stronger and better company from top to bottom,” Dearlove said.

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

AkzoNobel Beta web graphic v2 600px

Shop & Product Showcase