Continuing Education in Collision Repair: A Necessity for Success

Unless your collision shop personnel are up on the latest knowledge and repair technology and are constantly learning more, your business is probably falling behind the competition. Yes, training can be expensive sometimes. But by not devoting part of your budget to this important aspect of your business could cost your shop more in the long run.The collision repair industry is changing faster and faster every year and so are the vehicles. Just when you think everyone is up to speed, changes are made. Your techs need to know about any and all changes – all the time. Think about all the computers and wiring on today’s vehicles. Hook up a wire backwards and you might burn up a car. Or take aluminum. It is being used in more and more newer cars and this metal requires completely different procedures, techniques, and even special tools to repair it properly.And don’t forget about your non-tech staff. Everyone in the shop – from the front end to the back end – needs to participate in continuing education. Think about your front office and customer service staff. Could they benefit from going through a conflict resolution training course? Could the estimator produce better estimates if he understood how to use the P-Pages better? And, since the estimator is really the front-line sales representative, would advanced sales technique training make this person a more valuable asset to your business by closing more jobs? And don’t forget the detailing department. They can be taught new tips and tricks, too.The bottom line is this: From your “A” techs to the estimators to customer service to detailers, if you want to have a successful and strong business that puts out high-quality work, you must invest in continuing education.One reason many shop owners give for not investing more in training is they feel that newly trained personnel will just go to the competition – so why pay to train some other shop’s personnel? This is a very bad philosophy to have. It is demotivating, shows a lack of trust, and can breed contempt amongst employees. If you don’t trust your techs and staff, they won’t trust you either and you probably shouldn’t be working together anyway. This is not to say that every new employee should immediately be sent to specialized and advanced training. It may be a good idea to have a stated policy that employees must work for the company for 90 days before they may attend any training. Some companies even have employees sign an agreement that states if the employee leaves the company within 12 to 24 months of any paid training, the training fees must be repaid. This is fair and may work for your business.Actually, training builds loyalty. Research has shown that most employees who consistently participate in continuing education are more loyal to their employer. They know that training helps separate the good shops from the bad ones. It also helps to build camaraderie within the entire shop. Whether personnel should participate in training should not be a question. It is something that just needs to be budgeted for on an annual basis.A leading industry association, the ASA (Automotive Service Association), feels so strongly about education and training that they have an official position on continuing education. It is as follows:”The ASA supports a national training effort, whereby technicians employed by association members will receive a minimum of 36 hours of approved technical education each year.”
Citing numbers for the 2001 ASA “How’s Your Business” survey, Bill Haas, V.P., Service Repair Markets says that within the past five years, there has been a decline in the number of hours of continuing education provided to techs in collision repair shops. Currently, it is at 16 hours per year for collision repair techs. Mechanical repair techs are attending slightly more continuing education at 29 hours per year per tech for mechanical shops. Our industry should be doing better – and it can.All training is not expensive. Your vendors and paint and supply Jobber can be a great source to provide excellent training opportunities. And groups such as dealers’ associations are additional sources. These partners want your business to succeed – it is in their best interest, too. They are usually quick to respond to your needs and are even willing to set up training classes when asked. Give it a try.An old saying states that “success breeds success.” This is true. If your shop sets a higher standard in all that it does, including training, it will attract a higher level of employee. People just want to work with other people who think and act and work the same way they do. If they know that the company they work for invests in continuing education to help them improve their performance and skills, they will be more likely to stay and do a good job for a long time.

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College – University of Florida

The University of Florida is a public college and land-grant institution located in Gainesville, Florida. It is currently the fourth largest university in the United States with 49,693 students accompanied by the eighth largest budget. A notable academic college, University of Florida ranks 1st in the state and 16th among all public universities nationwide. Recognized as one of the Public Ivies and a member of the Association of American Universities, the school is ranked 57th among the world’s top 500 universities.

Although the university claims to be founded in 1853, the campus that exists today in Gainesville was actually founded in 1905. The Buckman Act created the current University of Florida by removing funding for existing educational institutions, including the University of Florida at Lake City, the East Florida Seminary in Gainesville, the St. Petersburg Normal and Industrial School at St. Petersburg and the South Florida Military College at Bartow. The first classes began on September 26, 1906, on the new campus that was built in Gainesville. The alligator was chosen as the universities mascot in 1911. The Buckman Act also established the University of Florida as the only public school in Florida for white males. Enrollment for females began in 1947 and the enrollment for African-American students began in 1958.

University of Florida is divided into 16 colleges, which offer 100 undergraduate majors and 200 graduate degrees, including the only dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary medicine programs offered publicly in the state. The acceptance rate at the school has gone downward as a result of the applicants becoming more competitive. In 2005, the average incoming freshman had a grade-point average of 3.9, a score of 1340 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test and an American College Test score of 29. Undergraduate tuition for Florida residents is around $120 per credit-hour, while it is $520 per credit-hour for out-of-state students, with a typical accumulation of 30 credits per year. The Freshman Class of 2005 ranked number one in the nation in terms of National Merit enrollment, enrolling more National Merit Scholars than any other university. A full tuition academic scholarship is awarded to all National Merit Scholars admitted to university. The University of Florida is also home to an Honors College that offers many honors courses to students who obtained high scores on their “SAT” and “ACT” tests. The Honors program lasts for a student’s first two years, but Honors program services and courses remain available to upperclassmen. The university also was 13th among all universities public and private in the number of U.S. Patents awarded in 2000.

Florida dedicates about $44 million per year to its sports teams and facilities. This could be due to having swept, For the sixth time, the overall men’s and women’s Southeastern Conference All-Sports Trophy in 2002 as well as ranking among the nation’s top 10 athletic departments for 19 straight years. The football team won a national championship in 1996 and the men’s basketball team won their first national championship this year. The Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is a great place to catch a Florida Gaters football game if you live in Florida. This school is among the top in the nation academically as well as athletically, therefore being a smart choice for any high-school graduate.

Michael Russell

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