Staffing Issues in Fixed Operations - Part 3

Apprenticeship Programs for Continued Growth in Fixed Ops

Apprenticeship programs play a vital role in fostering continued growth in Fixed Ops, providing aspiring technicians with hands-on training, practical experience, and mentorship from seasoned professionals. By offering a structured learning environment, apprenticeships cultivate the next generation of skilled workers, addressing the industry’s talent shortage and ensuring the provision of high-quality automotive services.

These programs also enable individuals to develop a deep understanding of emerging technologies, keeping the Fixed Ops sector adaptable and competitive in an ever-evolving automotive landscape. Here’s what our dealer partners are doing in their service departments to encourage the progress of their technician team.

Michaela Reardon – Service Manager

We hire our service advisers exclusively, people who have no service
selling experience. We like to hire people who have customer service skills
or people who have sold other things. And then we put them through a four-week training class with our corporate trainer, teaching them
all of our processes here that we have at Checkered Flag.

During that process, they visit our different locations, shadow with our experienced staff, so they can see what the day-to-day job is going to entail. And then we pair them with an experienced consultant to be in there on-the-job training on the first drive. We do all of it in-house.

Chad Blair – Fixed Operations Director:

I don’t think that there’s any better way of getting someone through here rather than having someone who’s been trained by the the Honda Process. You know, they already have a basic knowledge of the technical side of things. And the cool thing we’ve been doing is having them work here part time while they’re in school. So then when they graduate school, they end up being in here full time and they’re ten steps ahead of everybody.

Maribel Martinez – Service Manager:

Something that this store started doing this year is we started a mentoring program. So basically what we do is we take someone that has, you know, a decent amount of automotive knowledge and we just help train them up, send them to schools, pay for their training.

We put them with a master technician, so that they can have someone overseeing the work that they’re doing. So this way they don’t just make silly mistakes. They’re going to make a mistake. Their senior person is there to help them to correct the errors and help the technicians learn. So this way they grow. And hopefully, you know, the thought and theory is that they’re going to become flat rate technicians eventually and then we just grow them again.

Tom Miller – Parts & Service Director:

I think we’ve been more aggressive in entry level positions and trying to train some kids up. We’ve got a good relationship with C.D. Hylton High School right now. It’s producing some good solid kids coming out of there and they’re looking to expand their knowledge so they get the basics just coming out of high school we can grab them before they, you know, wander off to other areas.

And in conjunction with that, we have our own mentorship. It’s a tier system now. We put them with the lead technician, they shadow them. And as they increase their training and knowledge on the job, we we advance them, we give them a clear, expectation, I guess, or a clear path of what they should expect. Then at least they know there’s something down the pipe, and then the education.

We offer education through Ford Motor Company that is 100% free, paid by Ford and us as well. And then in conjunction with that, we send them when we send them out to school, to Ford, we pay for their expenses, we pay them while they’re in school, so it’s a pretty good deal.

Chris Seaver – Parts & Service Director:

And so what typically happens is we we have someone from the high schools, the local high schools reach out. Hey, I’ve got I’ve got somebody that needs an apprenticeship location. So I’ll set them down in my shop foreman and we’ll talk to them hoping that it’s something that this young man or young lady wants to do permanently as a vocation.

And so we will hire them. Having spent a year under the shop foreman. And then once they’re out of high school, put them online as an hourly tech. You put them on flat rate too early, they get discouraged cause they can’t do things very fast. They don’t have the knowledge base that some of the older guys have. So after three years we put them on flat rate.

Matthew Stradone – Parts & Service Director:

The biggest deal is getting the entry level technicians and giving them a path and training process to follow so that you can grow them. And ultimately I feel like you build the most loyal technicians and it’s easier to retain technicians that way because they’re starting with you. They’re learning your processes, they’re learning your ideas, and they’re really practicing what you’re teaching now. So ultimately, I think that’s been our success.

Wendy Capri – General Manager:

We do have a technician back there who is basically everybody’s mentor, and he’s agreed to stay on part time to hopefully do that more than actually turn.

Don Shaffer – Fixed Operations Director

All of our maintenance technicians when they come in. Part of what they do on a weekly basis is they will go and work with the more experienced technicians to learn on doing proper NPIs and start getting them into doing some more of the maintenance services, the lower skilled level where they’re actually capable of doing it. We know obviously that the quality is going to be right.

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