Skill, Strategy And Training Needed To Battle Today's Vehicles

No matter what you work on these days, it's influenced by the latest technology. Whether it's the brakes, engine or transmission, the world of electronics plays a role in the system's controls. Fighting back against this onslaught of technology means coupling the right diagnostic tools with the necessary training.

So here are some things to consider when partnering diagnostic equipment with the right training for winning your day-to-day battles. After all, fixing the problem isn't usually the challenge, it's finding the source of the problem quickly, accurately and reliably.

Training Needs And Budget

Training should be viewed as an investment that must be weighed carefully before making a commitment. A training program that doesn't make you or your technicians more effective wastes time and money. So here are some things to consider:

  • When looking to invest in a piece of equipment, be sure to factor in the cost of the training, if it's not included with the equipment. A diagnostic tool is worthless on its own and can only be acknowledged as a profit center if a technician knows how to use it effectively and efficiently.
  • Examine the population of the vehicles you plan to service. If part of your business plan includes expanding into a make of vehicle you don't currently service, be sure you allocate an appropriate amount of money for training and tooling.
  • Remember that all of the technicians in the shop are resources in their own right, so support them and their training needs. This may mean sending technicians to daytime classes instead of evening clinics.
  • Also, even though there has been a shift from instructor-led training to non-real-time training (including the internet), always focus on the overall effectiveness more than anything else. It may even help to ask around about different programs for opinions on what does and doesn't work. Simply put, training only pays if a technician absorbs it properly and puts it to use effectively and profitably in the shop.
  • Task match technicians to the training and jobs you want them to perform. There's no sense sending someone to classes when they don't have the right aptitude and attitude for the work. Make sure your technicians are the right tools for the business.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of training on an on-going basis to build a feedback loop.
  • Continue to evaluate the bottom line to ensure that the training is benefiting the business.

Training Sources

Some believe that the more sophisticated and expensive the equipment, the better the chances are of finding the problem. While advanced testing capabilities enable you to gather more details about the nature of a problem, the information has to be carefully evaluated using the powers of deductive reasoning. That comes through training and experience.

So if you're considering a piece of diagnostic equipment, it's wise to ask about the training component that may or may not come as part of the purchase. Local community colleges also serve as valuable links to diagnostic training, and have established connections to the automotive service community. Localized training can prove to be a real advantage when seeking quality, low-cost options.

On a national level, as far as training goes, here are a few websites you may also want to check out:

  • www.trainingfortechs.com. This site provides listings for training of all types. At the site you can register to have access and notifications of training programs across the country.
  • www.obdiicsu.com. Here you can find listings of OBD II-specific training, along with other useful information that can be help deepen your understanding of OBDII diagnostics and related issues.
  • www.iatn.net. It's regarded as the place to be for technicians to gather all sorts of information. The site hosts numerous forums that can help you find training, tools and equipment. There is also a regularly scheduled TechNight event that tackles technical topics and issues in real time.

Gearing Up For Battle

Another critical element of your diagnostic training plan is a service information system. This is where you gain additional intelligence needed to formulate decisive battle strategies against technological foes. Some shops use a combination of information resources to ensure they get the coverage they need.

Help put the advantage in your favor by fighting your battles wisely with the right combination of diagnostic training and equipment. That way, you can launch an assault against the worst opponents to your bottom line.

Questions or comments on this article, e-mail the author, Dave Cappert, at dcappert@gmail.com.

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