When it Comes to Training, the Time is Now

‘Later’ is a Synonym for ‘Never’

By Stefano Liessi

Does anyone remember the year 2000, and all the speculative horrors associated with the roll over from 1999? All the computers were predicted to crash, stock markets would shut down, electrical grids would perish, and we would be left in the dark ages.

When New Years Day arrived, nothing happened. The odd old antiquated device packed it in, but for the most part we survived unscathed. Here we are at the end of 2020—not soon enough for many I am sure—and we are in the middle of a tsunami of technological advancements in the automotive industry. Twenty years ago, heated seats ABS and traction control were still optional; today they are standard on base models. We’ve been hit with a plethora of technological features designed to make our driving experience second to none!

I have more than 38 years in this industry and have seen a lot of change in that time—not just in the manufacturing of the automobile, but also in the application of repair techniques and management processes. You may be asking yourself how we can keep up with all this advancing technology. The answer? Training, upgrading and educating yourself to be on par with the world around you.

The first step in your training initiatives is to be honest with yourself—how well have you kept up in this technological landslide? It’s not easy to take in all the information available out there nowadays, process it, and then apply it. It is much easier to say, “I’ll get to that later.” However, later is always just that—later. Let’s take a different approach—in the coming years, you will need the most training in the realms of vehicle technology. Right from the front end our industry is permeated with technology, from the phone, internet, e-mail, all the way to software for management systems and estimating.

For a CSR, training may be a course on customer service; for estimators, it may require some guidance on the art of blueprinting, sourcing OE data, and ADAS requirements. The list goes on. The importance of this training is something that I cannot begin to emphasise enough. The advancements we see are of leviathan proportions, but we are not keeping up.

I had this article drafted and ready for the press—then I read a study compiled by Canadian company adasThink, one that triggers the need for training. The study stated that Canadian bodyshops and related appraisal folk had missed 88 percent of the related calibration line items on 100 randomly selected estimates, compiled on various degrees of severity, on vehicles spanning 2014-2020.

This is incredibly detrimental to the industry and dealing with the speed at which it is advancing. As we read more and more, these ADAS features and autonomous features are not going away, eventually our trades people will be so far behind that it will resemble teaching your great grandmother how to use Adobe Illustrator.

The advancements do not care if we know how to fix them; we need to care about how to fix them. Learning where and how to find the information is a start, small steps, then how to deal with them correctly is key. This is something that really should not be left to later.

As these systems advance so should our attitudes and ideologies regarding the comprehension of what is needed to stay on top. Try to begin with using technology to train—yes, the online world of webinars and various training platforms. I currently have been conducting a multitude of webinars for I-CAR, I have seen many different facilities signing up, but I’m seeing a lot of the same people. This is good, as they are truly taking an interest in the topics. However, I know this is a minute segment of the industry populous.

Educational facilities also offer opportunities, though you should be selective as these sessions can also be tailored to broad audiences. Vendors or suppliers tend to be able to focus more to your facility’s requirements, but they also may only be able to assist with select areas. Coaching and consulting are great if you need specific focus, unbiased applications over a diverse culture. This can be short-term or longer involvement tailored specifically right to each staff member.

Is there a cost to training? Absolutely—and with that cost comes a return on investment. The return is in your revenue and security as a credible company, knowledge is paramount in our industry, application of that knowledge is equally as paramount.

In many cases we do not know what we do not know, and in this case, ignorance is not bliss, its inexcusable to be honest. There are a multitude of available opportunities regarding training, and in my opinion, the short-term gains from putting off training to “later” will be far outweighed by the long-term gains of knowledge and commitment to bettering yourself and your business.

A Red Seal technician and founder of Canadian Collision Specialist, Stefano enhances his experience with 12 years of I-CAR instructing, coupled with high school teaching to bring training that encompasses all learning types. With experience on the corporate side of the industry, as well as in management and ownership, Stefano’s focus is proper repairs and equitably for all people involved in the collision industry.


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