Training Talk: Part Three
By Mel Villalon
Some shop owners choose a trainer— whether independent or with a film brand— to come out to their locations to help train staff. This has its pros and cons, but can be a good option for several reasons.
Having a professional train your installers keeps you in your own home environment gives you the chance to keep business flowing since you’re not physically away from the shop. They can also provide training in the evening or on weekends, depending on the trainer.
Trainers provided by film suppliers will be a little less flexible but can come to your shop as part of a new dealer buy-in agreement. With this, the brand basically invests in your future and hopes for a return over the long run in exchange for your initial investment.
This works great if you want multiple employees trained or see a good, connection-based opportunity to secure a certain account. Maybe they currently service a bunch of Teslas or Porsches and your point-of-contact keeps saying, “Man, I wish you guys did PPF. We could make a ton of money.” A trainer can come in and dial them in to master specific dealership models or car makes. The repetitiveness that comes from doing the same vehicles over and over will greatly accelerate the learning curve. There’s nothing wrong with picking battles and chasing the gravy—even if it’s only, say, Toyotas. Leave the glory and Instagram posts of exotic cars all tinted up for someone else.
Another strategy I’ve seen work well for high-end detailers/ceramic coatings and tint shops is to involve customers who absolutely trust them with their beloved cars and don’t care about the price. These customers just give them the keys, and say, “Do your thing, and call me whenever you’re done.”
Scheduling one or a few of these high-dollar jobs can literally fund a trainer to come and work side-by-side with you, it can cover costs in the comfort of your own environment. Working side-by-side with a trainer is something you won’t find at a regular trade school.
A good trainer can help assess your business situation, advise you on shop set-up, tools and also handle trainees with varying skill levels or learning needs. He or she should also be able to perform onsite to prepare you at home or in a dealership environment. Installing in climate-controlled environments with hexagon lights isn’t always a reality, so a trainer should be willing to accompany you to off-site installations.
As the first of what is now three generations of film slayers in my family, I’ve trained my family and pretty much stuck with training my installers in-house for more than 40 years. I’ve learned that trainees learn faster in groups because it’s all about the mindset. Trainers can absolutely advance the group by training four at a time (two minimum) at part-time intervals with rotating partners. This breaks the traditional norm. If you do this, you won’t be in fear of investing in “the one,” because you’ve got three more. You know that and so do they. The competitive instinct will cause trainees to rise to the occasion. If they succeed you can have multiple employees trained and hit the ground running. You can train four for the price of one.
And, onsite training will be what you make of it in terms of car variety and the amount of practice film you’re willing to burn through. Software is often a sticking point in decision-making, but don’t sweat it. A well-connected trainer will show you options or have the ability to have patterns cut for you.
I want to wrap up by saying this: spend the money. Yes, hiring trainers comes at a cost, but any skill worth paying for is probably something that is difficult to do.
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