Make Training Work for Everyone9 Mar, 2004 By: Ronelle Ingram imageSource
Make Training Work for Everyone
can we keep the techs we train?” This is one of the most frequently asked
questions I get when discussing technician training. For many dealerships it
seems that within six months of hiring and training a new tech, they either ask
for a raise or simply quit.
there are no easy answers to this question, I can offer a few suggestions based
on the success of our company. We have not had to hire a tech in over five
years. We continue to train all of our techs. We did not have to hire a single
digital specialist; we grew them from within. We have invested in our company’s
future by investing is our current employees and have been rewarded with their
continued dedication and commitment to our company.
cost of hiring, training and providing appropriate parts and tools for one new
technical employee can cost an independent dealer well over $100,000. The direct
and indirect cost of employee turnover can make or break the profitability of
your dealership. Each new hire (or loss of an existing technician) has an
enormous monetary and emotional price to your service department. Having techs
that can trust one another and provide specific talents is essential to a
profitable service department.
how do we keep them technically trained and continue their employment at your
company? The key to training and keeping a technician lies in the techniques you
employ and your dedication to their continued growth. But, as the employer, you
need to know that your technicians are going to be as dedicated to you as so are
Before You Employ
Be up front with your employees. Openly explain the need for their continuing
employment as a condition of being sent away for training. Require a written and
financial commitment on the part of the employee before your company will
provide formal training or receive any completion bonus. A written commitment of
continuing employment is a first step to explaining to your employees what will
be expected of them in the future. Many employers who use some sort of “good
faith payback agreement” explain the entire concept and usage in their
pre-employment interview process. When you are up-front with the requirement
attached to employment and training, you may eliminate those potential employees
who are only interested in what they can get out of the job rather than what
they can bring to their work.
Legally, you can not demand repayment of normal wages during a training period.
However, you can have an agreement that an employee who leaves your employment,
before a predetermined time, must repay all “out of pocket” expenses for the
training. This includes the cost of the training course. All reimbursed (or
provided) travel, lodging, per diem, necessary books or other equipment expenses
must be repaid. Some dealers prorate the cost having it lowered one-twelve per
month over the course of a year. Other dealers have a pay back in full policy if
the newly trained employee leaves within one year.
secondary benefit to this type of arrangement is that employees who are not sure
of their dedication to this job, will not asked to be trained. Many a good
employee realizes that for personal (or professional) reasons their
circumstances may change within the next 12 months. We use a “Good Faith Payback
Agreement” that each tech is required to sign before being sent to a
manufacturer’s training school. We also use this form when reimbursing techs for
network administration classes taken outside or during regular working hours.
Most successful dealers offer in-house and external on-going training programs.
As an employer, you must balance the cost of educating an employee with the
additional worth of that worker, once they are educated. A progressive dealer
will normally send all highly valued employees to at least one formal training
program each year. Most successful dealerships have a written training program
with specific guidelines and rewards. An employee that believes he will receive
ongoing training, bonuses and earned pay increases is always more likely to
stay. And, with a payback agreement, the employee always has a cost factor
hovering over their pocket book if they were to consider leaving your
level of learning has a different initial cost. Some require time during the
regular workday and payment of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Others can be
accomplished rather inexpensively outside of regular work hours. An appropriate
bonus and/or small hourly increase can be offered accordingly for successful
completion. Bonuses provide an additional one-time monetary incentive without
increasing the base wage. Examples of learning levels and benefits include:
Computer classes that require time consuming out of class study. An employee
who earns an A+, MCSE, CNE, or other computer, network or Internet literate
certification has invested 100’s of hours of off the job learning time.
Self-paced learning-earning schedule that allows the employer to decide what
technical or computer skills are desired. The dealer then creates a program
that offers a one-time bonus, as well as a small pay increase once these
plateaus of training are achieved.
employee, who takes a 16 week advanced printer and networking class three
evenings a week at a local junior or community college, deserves a cash bonus,
reimbursement for the cost of fees and books and a 50 cent an hour raise.
senior tech you want to become HP certified on three newly released printers
and some new color products. Together, decide what the best way for them to
achieve the desired skills and certification. Hands-on, HP Certified training,
attending a local college, vocational class at night, weekend or online
learning and certification can be used.
employee who is sent to a pricey hands-on formal training school during work
hours can be offered a bonus for receiving an exceptionally high grade. Upon
completion, the newly certified tech can be offered overtime wages for
teaching a voluntary evening or weekend class to some of your other employees.
important and often overlooked way to reward technicians is by making a big deal
of the payment of educational bonuses. Award it at a service or company meeting.
Frame the completion certificate (or color copy) and display it in a prominent
area in your office or showroom. Periodically upgrade the tech’s business card
listing their new certification. A tech that accomplishes a major degree or
certification can be given his completion bonus and new business cards that
proudly display his certifications during a service department meeting.
Success can become contagious and learning is remarkably rewarding. A trained
employee is much happier than a tech that must struggle to work on equipment he
knows little about or feels the industry is passing by his own set of technical
those who are thinking paying for performance will cost too much money, think of
what it will cost if you don’t. What is your business worth? The cost of
advertising, interviewing, training, issuing parts, tools, service forms,
teaching company procedures, introduction to customers, etc., will cost far more
than monetarily rewarding a current employee for newly acquired skills.