If dealers expect improvements in their detailing departments they need to hire “trainable people” and provide them training.
In every department of a dealership, the personnel are given training before they can perform their jobs. A dealer would not allow a mechanic to work in their service department without proper training and education. And, they constantly send their techs to the auto manufacturer’s training schools to keep them updated on the newest innovations and technology.
But what about cosmetic car care? Don’t the new paint finishes, alloy wheels, and interior materials require some level of expertise if one is to maintain them?
Most dealers treat cosmetic reconditioning as though it was nothing more than “shining shoes”.
When they hire personnel to work in their detail department the only qualification seems to be that they have experience. No testing to see if they are qualified. Just put them to work. Not much screening for an employee who will work on a vehicle with a $5,000 to $10,000 paint finish.
Even those detailers with experience, even several years of experience, have obtained this experience with no formal training, having learned what they know by trial and error, or based on what someone else has told them. Many have been doing things wrong for years. Few have ever been through a comprehensive training program for cosmetic car care.
A dealer who allows their detailers to learn by experimenting on used vehicles is doing their customers a disservice because these detailers can severely damage paint finishes and interior material.
Not to say that prior experience is not important, actually quite the contrary. Experience is very important to learning and in many cases more powerful, but only if it is built upon a foundation of formal training. Another major disadvantage of learning detailing by experience only is that the vehicle will probably not be as properly reconditioned as it should be because things will be skipped or left out of the detail. This can have severe consequences on your dealership’s reputation. When the customer finds buffer swirls in the paint after the car has been washed a few times, or the dirt in the carpets “wicks” to the surface because they were improperly cleaned, a dealer never hears from these dissatisfied customers again, they just buy their next car from somewhere else.
The Benefit of Training
A formal training program for your detailers can replace months and years of day-to-day experience. The choice is yours; have properly trained detailing techs or “trial and error” hackers.
Another problem for dealers is that lack of knowledge on the part of poorly trained detailers creates a lack of confidence, which leads to poor attitude and work habits. Often an untrained detailer has poor self-esteem, which results in poor work habits and a general bad attitude.
Training for detail employees will help create a detailing department that is more efficient and effective. And, with increased efficiency, the vehicles are completed faster. Think about it, are details taking too long? Loosing sales because the vehicle is not on the lot? Lack of training might be the cause. With increased effectiveness, the jobs come out looking much better.
Think about it, do your customers comment on how the vehicles look? Are you personally satisfied with how the vehicles look? Or does everyone just shrug their shoulders and say, “you know how detailers are?”
Detailing, like any trade, can be a journey for the tech. The journey begins with preparation and planning. This is what we would call, for the detail tech, training. On the other hand, learning the detail trade by experience only is like taking off on a trip with no planning.
If you are serious about having a good detail department, you have to be certain that your people are “prepared for the trip” and have had formal training. If they have not it is your job to insure they get it.
Where to Look?
Seeking out a detailing training program is hard. There are not many! However, there are some. Such a program should provide an organized and systematic training program provided by experienced instructors who are recognized as leaders in the industry. The training program should follow a set schedule and be geared toward the fulfillment of specific learning objectives, which you should be able to ask for in advance of paying.
The best training experience for the detailing technician will have an appropriate balance of classroom, hands-on activities, and written resource materials. Classroom and discussion provides the student with the knowledge about paints, interior materials, chemicals, etc. and allows some question and answer exchanges. Hands-on training is performed on vehicles, as this offers actual detailing experience. Hands-on training allows the detailing trainee to experience, first-hand, the affect that every chemical and tool will have on the vehicle. The resource materials, manuals, and videos should follow what has been covered in the training so that the employee can have something to refer to and review.
The training program curriculum should include:
• Philosophy of Detailing
• Discussion of Chemicals
• Discussion of Paint Finishes
• Discussion of Paint Finish Problems and Solutions
• Discussion of Tools of the Trade
• Discussion on Interiors Materials – leathers, vinyls, plastic.
• How to Properly Clean these Materials
• Repair of Acid Rain Damage, Overspray & Rail Dust
• Removal of Paint Overspray
While this list is not intended to be conclusive it does help you to understand what your detailing techs should know, and probably do not know now.
If you really want to improve your detailing department, I recommend that you do whatever it takes to get your detail techs the formal education and training they need. This relatively small investment and effort will reap huge benefits I can assure you. Should the workload at the dealership preclude attendance at a formal training seminar, have a trainer come to your dealership to conduct a training session on a weekend. At the least, purchase some type of written or videotaped training, which does not replace “hands-on” training, but is still better than no training at all.
A word of caution, do not think a single training session will solve the problem. You know it will not. You need to insure your detail techs are kept abreast of new products and tools that may help in the operation of the department. Good sources of “continuing education” are the many trade publications and trade organization's annual conventions that cater to the detailing industry.
Additionally, you need to be open to the concept that continuing education also may include learning new automotive reconditioning services such as windshield repair, paint touch-up, paintless dent repair, etc. Having these services in house will not only allow you to provide more comprehensive service to your vehicles but will also speed up turn-around time and lower your costs.
Having your detail techs rely on day-to-day experience to learn detailing skills is limiting to not only the technician, but also negatively affecting your bottom line and quality of used vehicles. Formal training in automotive detailing is an essential foundation for any dealership.
If I can assist you in finding a training program for your detail department contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-284-0123 Ext. 4.