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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Business is too Slow for Training?

Business is too Slow for Training?

by Mike Olson, WORLDPAC Director of Business Management Training

Today, customers tell us that business is fairly unpredictable. Contributing factors include escalating fuel prices, faltering housing loans, speculation on the elections and the weak dollar. We have heard most of it before and will most likely here it again. The fact is, that’s business. The world is not perfect and your business will never be perfect. There is always going to be something to challenge you in your day to day business. So, the question is, “do I train my staff when it is slow, or do I train my staff when I am busy?” The real question you have to ask yourself is how well have you managed your business?

One of the early lessons I learned in running my own business was cash flow. Let’s face it; our stress level depends quite a bit on the check book balance. Successful businesses that manage their financial position usually see slow times as opportunities. It’s often a good time for the technicians to get training on the latest vehicles. It’s an opportune time for service consultants to get trained on time management and hours sold per repair order. This is also a very good time for the owner and accountant to take a day or two to attend management training. The average business spends in training about $1,300 a year per employee. This should always be an integral part of your yearly budget.

The number one failure in any training experience is implementation. You have to take a few key areas away from a training session that will make your business stronger. It’s critical to take notes, review them and then build an implementation plan. The most important thing that you can do is to take action on that plan and make the improvements in your business. Well intentioned, too many people attend training and return to the same stress and never get to the plan.

In the case of technician training, we hear many stories of, ”I can’t find a good tech anywhere.” “I need a good diagnosis tech.” I always ask the same question back -“What are you doing about it?” There is terrific training out there; you just need to find it and commit to it. I had one shop owner tell me he does not waste a lot of money to train techs because they just end up leaving! Let’s think about that statement; I won’t train them, so they will stay ‘mediocre’ and won’t leave me?

My suggestion to owners is to take a leadership or employee management class to create the correct environment. You can then train your staff with an actionable plan and make your business more productive and less stressful! As Vince Lombardi once said in his speech ‘What it Takes to be Number One’, “There’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give everything. I do, and I demand that my players do.”

- Mike Olson

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