In the US, the elite collision repairers may have a huge deficit between how much their staff trains and how much OEMs think they should be training, based on prior surveys by the Collision Industry Conference Education Committee. The committee is continuing to survey the industry for more comprehensive data. Detailers, estimators, painters, auto body technicians and those in front-office customer service roles are urged to fill out a short, anonymous online survey for the CIC’s Education Committee.
In January, the committee reported results from a survey of 159 shops, thought to represent some of the most elite shops in the industry. (The CIC audience agreed with that assumption.) Respondents, the majority of which were owners, estimated that technicians had about 11.7 hours of training a year and estimators drew 10.6 hours. “Administration” racked up 7.4 hours, and owners/managers posted about 12.6 hours. A poll of the CIC audience showed an overwhelming belief that the rest of the industry trained less than the initial survey participants, which raises the question of just how few hours a typical technician is training.
As Education Committee Co-Chair Jeff Peevy (Automotive Management Institute) said in April, the question then becomes: “How much training is really needed?” The committee asked OEMs how much training a technician would need to keep up on their brands. Nineteen automakers responded, according to Peevy. Some “struggled” with the answer and seemed “uncomfortable,” he said at the April Collision Industry Conference at which he presented the results.
Asian manufacturers felt technicians needed 20 hours of training annually to perform steel structural work on their respective brands, while US OEMs felt 27.5 hours would be necessary. European automakers, however, wanted technicians to have a whopping 76 hours of structural steel training. The Europeans also demanded more training for steel cosmetic work than the other two continents’ OEMs – 23 hours compared to 19 for those in the US and 16 for the Asian manufacturers.
BMW insurance manager Joshua Fahlbush said recently that BMW certified shops’ body technicians need 31 days of instructor-led training in addition to online courses. “It’s a heavy load,” but an important one, he said, earlier calling training “the foundation” of the BMW certified collision repair program. BMW wholesale, body and paint, insurance and R3 manager Marcos Ehmann agreed that the three most important parts of the program were “training, training and training.”
Interestingly, all three continents demanded fewer hours of training for cosmetic and structural aluminium work. Perhaps this reflects more replace-only aluminium parts, or perhaps it assumes a technician already has all those hours of steel training as a foundation. European OEMs felt 50 hours was appropriate for aluminium structural work and 20 hours for non-structural aluminium, while US brands required 21 hours for structural and 11 hours for cosmetic aluminium. Surprisingly, Asian manufacturers wanted 18 hours for non-structural aluminium and only 6 hours to repair structural aluminium. This might reflect an absence of structural aluminium among Asian automakers’ vehicles, at least based on the past couple of model years.
Asian OEMs did demand the most training out of estimators compared to their rivals across the globe, viewing 23 hours as appropriate compared to the Europeans’ 22 hours and the Americans’ 13.5 hours. The Education Committee data suggests that there’s a large gap between what the best shops do in training and what OEMs want them to have. (Or look at it another way: The National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s sample independent insurance adjuster licensing law demands 24 hours of continuing education per renewal term. If a license is two years, such as in California, then the best shops are training about as much as the worst adjuster.)
“That is an issue,” Peevy said. He gave the hypothetical of a shop focusing solely on one domestic brand and one Asian brand. Based on the survey results, a technician able to work on the steel structures predominant in either type of vehicle would need a combined 47.5 hours of training. But they’re only averaging 11.7 hours of training. “Our industry has a training issue,” he said, noting that such discrepancies might mean shop specialisation “may be in our future.”
This article courtesy of John Huetter of Repairer Driven Education (RDE). Check out their website at http://www.repairerdrivennews.com/ for this and many other informative and educational articles on the collision repair industry.