Training is Key to Developing Productive Team of Employees

Training is Key to Developing Productive Team of Employees

Shop owners may want to view technical training as an investment in employee retention. A well-trained employee, after all, is generally a more productive employee. For technicians paid on commission or flat rate, this added productivity should have an immediate impact on their income.

For other employees, added productivity can mean less overtime and—if your compensation plan is set up to include bonuses or profit-sharing—some added income as well.

No matter what department your employees are in, there is training available to help boost their skills, speed and accuracy.

I-CAR brings training to you

I-CAR is perhaps the best-known provider of collision repair technical training, but there may be things you aren’t aware about the training organization and its offerings.

For example: It’s no longer necessary to leave your shop to get I-CAR training, information or even welding qualification testing. Although I-CAR’s instructor-led classroom training is still its key offering, a number of other options are available.

Go online to the I-CAR website and check out more than 40 online training programs. Most of the classes are 30-60 minutes in length and cost $45. While some of these classes are vehicle-specific (such as, “Ford F-150 Frame Replacement”), other more general classes have been added on such topics as “keyless entry” and “MIG brazing.”

The online training catalogue always includes a free demo class, and successful completion of any of the classes’ online post test will earn you one-quarter of a Gold Class point.

I-CAR offers its steel and aluminum welding qualification tests in about 100 sites across the country, but is also now equipped to bring the tests to you. Specially-equipped trucks can bring the testing to any location where there are at least five participants (which can include those outside your company), a couple of open stalls for the testing, and a lunchroom or other quiet area for the classroom training.

That I-CAR training can now also help you earn a college degree. I-CAR has developed a relationship with the University of Phoenix, which offers associate or bachelor’s degrees online and through its nearly 200 campuses nationwide. A student with I-CAR training may receive up to 30 transfer units, which can knock as much as a year and $10,000 to $15,000 off the cost of a degree.

Details and a course transfer guide can be obtained through a special joint website, or by calling the University’s Teresa Hutchinson at (800) 433-2490, ext. 71740.

Estimate system training

If that new estimator you’ve hired has years of experience but with a different estimating system than the one your shop uses, the good news is that the three major estimating system providers offer a wide variety of training options: classroom, onsite, online and computer-based.

And the even better news is that many of these training options are included in the cost of your monthly subscription fee, and no longer require the costs of travel and time away from the shop to attend.

Audatex, for example, said more than half of shops are now choosing to get their initial Audatex training and certification using the company’s computer-based training online.

The company also offers 5 to 10 “virtual classes” online every week. These are live classes with an instructor that Audatex users can “attend” via computer without leaving the shop. Many of these classes are recorded and available to be viewed 24/7 via the website.

Audatex’s web-based estimating system makes training even more readily available by including it on virtually every page of the estimating system; click on “Show Me” to get a list of topics that are particular to the page you are on and watch a 3-minute-or-shorter video that shows you how to do what you are asking about.

CCC Information Services also offers classroom and onsite training for users of its estimating system. Its basic course covers creating estimates and supplements, utilizing parts and labor time databases, digital imaging, connecting to CCC’s EZNet communication network, and CCC Pathways maintenance.

The “advanced user” course covers more estimating functions, understanding workfile and estimate statuses, parts tracking and reconciliation, EZNet communications, and correspondence and reporting. Call CCC at (800) 523-8924.

Mitchell for many years has offered a “Mitchell Guide to Professional Estimating,” designed primarily for beginning estimators. The $75 book includes basic terminology, how to read a Mitchell manual, using the Procedure Pages, etc.

Mitchell users can complete a variety of online training as well as find out about twice-monthly “ShopTalk Live” webinars —each about 45 minutes in length—on using Mitchell products at Mitchell University. Many of the webinars have been recorded and can be viewed at the company’s website 24/7 (without the interaction available during the live sessions) (, click on “Support”).

Much of this training is available free to Mitchell users. Training-by-telephone is also available for a fee for those interested in more individualized assistance.

Some estimating training is also available beyond what the estimating system companies offer. The Automotive Management Institute (AMI) offers classroom as well as self-study courses related to estimating.

For details on the courses, visit the AMI website, click on the “AMI Catalog” and look for collision-related classes under the “Operations & Service” section.

The Masters School of Autobody Management in Galesburg, Illinois, offers a 1-day estimating course that includes the “172 Forgettables,” items that estimators often neglect to include on estimates.

Return on investment

Training budgets sometimes takes a hit at some companies turning tough economic times, but downturns may be the most logical time to make the investment in employee training. First, it’s easier to fit the training into an employee’s schedule than it can be when business is booming. Getting the training in now will help them be more productive down the road when business improves. But training can also make sense for the return it offers in terms of keeping good employees.

“One thing a lot of businesses may not look at real closely is what training does for employee morale and retention,” one trainer in this industry said. “A business that is actually investing in training of its staff, I believe, has more success in retaining employees. It demonstrates a genuine concern for their

Paint company training centers

All five of the major paint companies operate training centers throughout the United States that regularly offer one- and multi-day classes for paint shop employees. Much of this training combines classroom and hands-on instruction.

Your paint jobber can help get you training schedules and locations, or check out the training sections of each of the paint company websites:

  • For information on Akzo Nobel training, visit the site for their Sikkens brand. The company operates five training centers around the country.
  • BASF, select ‘Resources’), like several of the other companies, publishes a quarterly schedule of classes being offered at its six U.S. training centers for its Glasurit, R-M, Carizzma and new 90-line waterborne products.
  • For a yearly schedule of DuPont, Standox or Spies Hecker training, visit the DuPont Performance Coatings website, click on ‘Automotive Finishes’). DuPont training is offered at four training centers around the country, and Standox and Spies training at three others.
  • For PPG, click on the ‘Automotive Refinish’ link) training, go to the ‘Training’ section, and pull up the “Collision Center Matrix” for a suggested training path of classes for shop owners, managers and refinish technicians. You can read the class descriptions or go back to the training menu to check for locations and schedules for each of the classes.
  • Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes has six regional training centers around the country. Select any of the more than 30 courses offered, and get a complete description of the course as well as a schedule of when and where it is being offered.

John Yoswick

John Yoswick is a freelance writer and Autobody News columnist who has been covering the collision industry since 1988, and the editor of the CRASH Network... Read More

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