The Clouded Future of Training: A glimpse into in-shop training in the post-pandemic era, from products to certifications

By Stefano Liessi

Let’s face it, many of us just don’t know what we don’t know. At times this can be a very scary reality in our collision world. We probably are tired of hearing the preaching of OEM procedures and ADAS calibrations etc. Fact is, it is new to us and not going away anytime soon.

So, what can we do about it? Well, if you cannot beat it … join it! Learn it and be the Master of It.

Okay, master may be a stretch, how about we learn to understand it. There has been an onslaught of new technology, some that even affect standard repair methods such as welding and refinish procedures, not to mention management and process advancements. A lot to choose from, with many avenues to get the training from, I-CAR, suppliers, banner representation, and (of course) consulting firms.

“When will I ever find the time?!” you ask. Well, I hope as you read this, by the grace of medical science, that things will be back to normal and this will be a more applicable question, however, I am guessing that due to human nature this will not be the reality and reality will be; we are living on “COVID” time, to paraphrase the great Eric Clapton.

Now the fact is you may be saying that everything is slow or lacking, such as work, finances, and staff. What if I were to suggest that this is the optimum time to implement some training and development into your business—somewhat the approach of a snake oil salesman.

Take a moment and think about this rationally before you scream at the delivery person. Some of the greatest detractors—nicer way of saying excuses—of implementing training is the cost, the time, and the time to implement the said training. We have already addressed the “time” aspect as we have been graced this rare commodity due to COVID, but what about the cost? Well, due to the availability of time, and the human instinct to help each other from finding we on the ledge of a 14-storey building, many opportunities have opened with offerings at reduced and (at times) free courses.

We know this will not last forever—however, let’s look at the possibility you will be faced with the burden of full cost courses. At this moment you have most likely weeded your staff down to a skeletal framework, keeping who you feel are your top players on board as much as you are able to. Ergo a lesser outlay of funding.

This scenario would suggest that these key players are worthy of your sacred training dollars, and if be said, are also worthy of sharing the newfound information with others upon return. It should be acknowledged that good training or education is invaluable to your business, this is a slow, but much needed return on your investment. With the situation being what it is, a focus to the training and learning from your staff should be very achievable, to the point of being virtually uninterrupted, not to mention the ability, sad as it may be, to accomplish this mighty task during work hours on a Monday to Friday availability.

Implementing the newfound knowledge, you have invested in your staff is also one of the detractors I see often when I hold sessions. How on earth am I going to implement this with so much to do in the day? Well once again, now you are reading this there is a good chance that things are not back to normal, and you will still be on COVID time. This is really a bonus in a less than favourable way.

The art of implementing training to get the best return on investment requires three key fundamentals that rely on one sacred ingredient: commitment + dedication + implementation by trial = time. With this time you can roll out new ideas and tweak them to perfection with minimal interference in your day to day business. In doing this, you can ensure your training dollars are not in vain. In retrospect, you should see a return on your investment in one form or another. This would be a win-win for all involved.

I realize that much of this training or upgrading is online and has its limitations, but this is where you need to tweak and tune the material, utilizing the available time. Once you see the effects of your efforts, you will understand the benefits of training.

What about when things turn to normal? I believe we will take something from this less than pleasant experience. We will develop a new appreciation for time and effort. We will develop a stronger appreciation for new knowledge and the art implementing it into our business. We will see that patience is a virtue, and well worth waiting it out. We will also get back to live training and realize the benefits of human interaction versus the virtual world. Webinars are nice and have a place, however, they are limited and have been abused to the point of lacking significance for many. It really is far more productive to learn in a room filled with peers experiencing live interaction and engagement.

In my opinion, and you are entitled to my opinion, things will get back to an even better than normal pace filled with wiser individuals with a new level of appreciation for knowledge.

As a Red Seal technician and the founder of Canadian Collision Specialist, Stefano Liessi enhances his experience with 12 years of I-CAR instructing coupled with high school teaching to bring you training that encompasses all learning types. Having experienced the corporate side of the industry, along with management and ownership, Stefano’s focus is, getting it right the first time with proper repairs, equitably, for all the people involved in the collision industry.

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