• The Benefits of Training

    - by Mark Czvitkovits, I-CAR Australia

    As we prepare for 2018 and brace ourselves for more of the same, by this I mean more technology in more affordable cars. The industry continues to be challenged like never before with the perfect storm that comprises the technical tsunami, consolidation and a shortage of skilled technicians. It is very easy to sit back and hope that the situation will become easier but that is a disaster waiting to happen. Business owners and managers today need to be acutely aware of these issues and be pro-active to continue being successful in their business.

    Having just returned from a visit to Darwin, Perth and Sydney earlier this year I was surprised to see the vast and differing attitudes to these issues. The technology issue is a daunting one for many business owners and the requirement to upskill within the business is a priority. Unfortunately, there is a view that someone else should pay for it, this view is a strong one, more so in some regions than others.

    Over the years we as an industry have had to retool and invest in equipment that is often extremely expensive, but we have complied. I ask the question, if you were to buy a $40,000 Inverter Spot Welder, is it being used every hour of every day? Does the measuring equipment that you have invested heavily in, is it being used every hour of every day? The brand new SPR gun that is required for many new repairs can cost upwards of $10,000, is it being used every day. The ROI comes quicker if the tool is being used frequently. A business can invest tens of thousands of dollars every year to update their equipment to ensure efficiencies are built into a repair process.

    So why is it that the most important part of any business, its employees, receives very little investment? Imagine spending $12,000 - $15,000 on training and upskilling employees in one year. What will this deliver to a business with 8 employees?

    Ultimately every employee will have a better understanding of the scope of repair required. From the estimator, the production manager, body repair and refinish technicians, through to everyone involved in the repair process. With training comes knowledge and there will be an improvement in cycle times as each and every person involved in the repair process will understand what is required.

    I-CAR has conducted an ROI analysis on the benefits of training and we have consistently recorded average improvements of 14% cycle time improvement. Imagine having just a 10% improvement in cycle times, so if you are doing 20 repairs per week, what would an extra 2 cars per week add to your bottom line?

    For some unknown reason this industry still sees training a s a cost, an inconvenience and a disruption to their work. With this thought process it will be impossible to move forward. Every organisation involved in collision repair in Australia, whether it be AMBRA, OEMs or Insurers are, or will be looking for training and accreditation for any business looking to repair damaged vehicles in the future. This is an international trend and as an industry we have a responsibility to ourselves and our customers to ensure we meet their safety needs.

    In May this year, Sydney will be hosting Autocare 2018, a first for the collision industry in Australia. I-CAR will be hosting information sessions and will be involved in many of the discussion panels being presented. We will also have Jason Bartanen, Director - Industry Technical Relations I-CAR USA, here as a key note speaker. The two-day event in Sydney will be an ideal opportunity to learn and ask questions regarding the future of our industry.

    I look forward to seeing many Capricorn Members there.