I work as an estimator at a large DRP shop. What classes or training can I pursue to take my career to the next level as a shop manager or director?
Great question! It’s great hearing from someone excited to be in the industry!
There is plenty of high-quality training available, much of which is available in books. Other relevant training may be found at your local community college. Industry specific management and technical training is also available.
Everyone who’s considering a move from an estimator or technician role to a manager or owner needs to understand that management requires a far different skill set. And the owner’s role requires a far different skill set than a manager. To get a feeling for the differences, read Michael Gerber’s “The E-Myth Revisited.”
Since management requires a firm understanding of motivating a wide variety of individuals, read Charles Coonradt’s “The Game of Work.” Negotiation is a part of everyone’s life, especially managers and owners. Read Fisher and Ury’s “Getting to Yes.”
Managers and owners need a firm understanding of financials. Take a basic accounting class at your local community college. Accounting 1A is simply the best business class available. While you’re there, you might as well take basic marketing and selling classes as well.
Generally available as seminars, industry-specific management training is available from a number of sources. Check out the Automotive Management Institute or check with your paint company and jobber. Many training programs are sponsored by industry suppliers. There are short programs at regional and national trade shows. One- to three-day programs are also available. Most are AMI accredited and count toward your designation as an Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM).
If possible, go out of your market to attend these programs. Much can be learned by meeting and talking with other shop people at these events, and people are much more open to those who pose no competitive threat.
I-CAR training is the most widely recognized technical training in the collision repair industry.
Take advantage of refinish training through your jobber or paint manufacturer. Even if you’re not a painter, the documentation and manufacturer-recommended techniques can be helpful in selling and negotiations.
Manufacturer-specific training is also available. Take advantage of that source, especially when you’re in a dealership or OEM-certified environment. Get training in aluminum!
Finally, the only constant is change. The industry today is significantly different than it was just a few years ago. If you took a class three years ago, the information is probably outdated today, so make training an ongoing process for yourself and your future employees.