Training and developing your staff is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for operating and growing a well-run business.
In my experience, growth is a matter of gaining market share. Gaining market share is a matter of creating and delivering the highest levels of quality, speed and cost performance for your customer. The foundation and most critical success factor for delivering the quality, speed and cost performance that are needed to gain market share is our people.
The Right People
If your goal is to add locations and gain market share, you’ll need to have the right people who can adhere to your standard operating procedures. You can’t manage dysfunction and be successful, which is why you must constantly train and develop the right people. Everyone coming into your organization must understand your vision, your entire process and their role in the process – and that only happens with training.
We recently developed a training path for all of our positions. It took a lot of thought, research and hard work to put together, but it was well-worth it. We can have our people transfer or fill in at any of our stores and they know exactly what to expect.
We start by introducing new employees to our company, vision, mission and values. We educate them on our marketing strategy and give them an overview of the performance indicators of quality, speed and cost. We ‘re a DRP-friendly organization, so we spend a lot of time on each of our partners’ KPIs. Also, we introduce our entire end-to-end process and overview of all organizational roles and professional development opportunities. We also go over safety and the right-to-know law; all employees are S/P2 certified within two days of hire.
Then, we deliver role-relevant training. For example, guest services representatives (GSRs) receive training around customer service, sales and estimating. Members of the disassembly team (estimator, disassembly tech, parts coordinator) receive training directed at our A+ blueprinting process.
We take a little different approach to technicians’ training and development. The training of our entry-level body techs starts in our blueprinting area, where we make them part of the damage analysis team. They learn how to properly disassemble; organize what has been disassembled for the estimator; expose and analyze what’s damaged for the estimator; create an organized, loaded parts cart for the downstream techs; mark the damage up with colored crayons for the downstream techs and painters; and how to read an estimate. In addition, there’s training on plastic repair, headlamp repair and our specific equipment.
The majority of our technicians are I-CAR Platinum, and our entire organization is I-CAR Gold Professional. Once the training is complete and they’ve had their I-CAR training, they’ll start repairing damage that’s within their capabilities. They work with a mentor or mentors who consist of an A tech and/or a production manager.
Once our techs are in the body shop, they see and have an appreciation for the upstream work done in disassembly. We strive for perfection in blueprinting and parts procurement, knowing that if you hand over a job to a tech with all the damage written, all the OEM or I-CAR data in a folder that pertains to the damage, all the right parts and all the take-off parts organized on a cart, the repair goes as planned and the promise date is achieved.
We’re constantly moving entry-level techs up the chain, and many have become great techs making a wage well into the six figures.
Attracting and recruiting techs is a challenge. We’re always in recruitment mode. We attract techs from across the Northeast through job fairs, social media as well as our website.
We believe in promoting within so our people, regardless of their position today, can get on the path of professional development. One example is a young lady who started her career with us as a GSR and is now one of our leading location managers running one of our highest-performing locations.
Another example is a young man who was in the hospitality industry for many years and used those skills to improve our front-end business processes including customer service, sales, and communication and culture. He went from a GSR to managing one of our locations, and today he’s a district manager overseeing six of our locations in Upstate New York.