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Archive for June, 2022

7 Tips for a Successful Mentoring Program

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June 20, 2022, Overland Park, Kansas – Ninety-five percent of automotive service, heavy-duty/diesel and collision repair businesses agree: the technician shortage is here, and it is severe. 

There are precisely ZERO skilled technicians wandering the streets asking themselves, “Where will I possibly find a job?” You can poach from your competitors – which you’re probably doing already, while your competition is simultaneously poaching from you. This does not add a single new person to the technician workforce.

In the heavy-duty/diesel industry, there is an expected need of at least 32,831 new technicians for 2023 alone. Poaching technicians is nothing more than musical chairs and cannot fill the need. 

Alternatively, you can actively recruit and convince career tech students that you are the right first employer to launch their career. 

But what happens when those students enter the industry? According to research from the ASE Education Foundation, 42% of career tech graduates will leave the industry altogether within their first two years. 

The one sustainable competitive advantage is to implement a systematic and repeatable technical mentoring and apprenticeship program. Want to prove to young techs that your business is the right one for them? Being able to tell an entry-level technician (and their instructors) that you have a written mentoring program and career path sets you apart from everyone else.

“Vehicle technology is growing exponentially. Entry-level technicians need an employer who is ready, willing, and able to train and prepare them for the industry,” says Lirel Holt, CEO of Mentor Mentee. “Creating your own pipeline of technicians will differentiate the good shops from those that are going to be left behind as experienced technicians retire at an ever-increasing pace.” 

Here are 7 tips to give you the best chance of implementing a successful mentoring program:

1. Prove to your local CTE instructors that you are for real. Anyone can tell an instructor they have a mentoring program. Invite them out to your shop and show them how you will continue to enhance a young technician’s understanding, further the instructor’s training efforts, and how you develop a plan specific to each student. The rest of your competition will call up the instructor begging for their ‘best student,’ while you’re showing the instructor how you are committed to launching their students’ careers. Now who’s getting the best students?!

2. Get buy-in and understanding from staff and ownership before implementing a technical mentoring or apprentice program. Seventy percent of workplace initiatives fail due to lack of leadership commitment. If you are going to build an on-the-job training program, communicate with all stakeholders early on, get all staff to understand that there is a plan and why they should be on board. Without buy-in, staff can undermine the goal. Show them how mentoring programs create upward momentum for the business, which benefits all staff.

3. Have two plans for each mentee: long-term (what you can become) and short-term (what you’ll do daily to get there). Sell a career vision to a mentee and set realistic expectations along the way. Show – in writing – to the entry-level technician where they can go and how you will help them get there. Everyone wants to know, “What’s the plan?” Don’t forget: A plan is not a plan unless it is in writing!

4. Use a task list. This is the best way to put your day-to-day plan in writing. Many programs will start without direction or standard duties. The program’s manager and mentors should identify 30 to 50 tasks for a mentee to focus on from the beginning. Be sure to include often-overlooked items like safety, vehicle placement in bays and soft skills. Do you still have to work with what is coming in the door each day? Of course! But with a task list, both the Mentor and Mentee are looking for opportunities to work on the core, foundational tasks in front of them.

5. Track training progress against the task list. Whether you use paper, Excel, or a total software solution, it is essential to track task progress to understand what task areas mentees are winning, losing, and needing more exposure. Mentors and Mentees should work together to track the number of repetitions a Mentee has on each task, as well as their quantitative and qualitative improvement in time and quality of each task performed.

6. Use the mentee’s progress data to celebrate wins and offer incentives. You can’t do #6 if you don’t do #5! When a mentee develops a new skill, publicly point it out and celebrate. Provide incentives for Mentors and Mentees to reach their goals. These can be monetary or non-monetary incentives. Small efforts to recognize their success as a team, and to celebrate those with the whole staff builds positive feedback loops, and keeps your whole staff engaged in the success of your program.

7. Do not allow bullying. Celebrate successes, but when a Mentee makes a mistake, provide constructive feedback in private. The same goes for Mentors. And do not allow anyone in the shop to bully a young tech. The days of hazing a young technician when they make a mistake are gone. As a society, we have made bullying an unacceptable practice in school. Why would you allow it in your shop? Bullying only makes it look like management doesn’t really care about the success of their own trainees or program.

The shortage is real and will continue. But while the rest of the industry faces staff shortages, a successful mentoring program can dramatically increase your odds of success. 

Mentoring and apprenticeships have worked for thousands of years, and there are new ways to implement these programs without having to reinvent the wheel. If you can implement these seven tips, you can give new life to your business’ technician recruiting and retention efforts! 


Mentor Mentee (mentormentee.com) provides a systematic mentoring toolset that shops can tailor to their specific needs. Marc Brune serves as Business Development Manager for Mentor Mentee and helps auto service, collision, and heavy-truck businesses implement mentoring and apprenticeship programs to grow their own technicians.
marc.brune@mentormentee.com

Volvo Trucks Academy Opens New Illinois Facility to Better Serve Electric Truck Training

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This article was originally published in CollisionWeek on May 25, 2022 and has given the HD Repair Forum permission to repost. 

June 28, 2022 – Volvo Trucks North America announced today that the Volvo Trucks Academy opened a new facility in Tinley Park, Illinois, to expand access to battery-electric truck training in the central U.S. The new 14,865-square-foot facility is larger and more modern than the previous Illinois training facility, enabling Volvo Trucks to provide more robust, hands-on learning opportunities for customers and dealers interested in electromobility solutions, including the Volvo VNR Electric model.

Volvo Trucks North America’s new training facility in Tinley Park, Illinois was opened to better support battery-electric vehicle training and provides both classroom and hands-on learning space for technicians.

“The programs at Tinley Park will help provide our dealership partners with the robust sales and service training required to become Volvo Trucks Certified Electric Vehicle (EV) Dealers and to support customers with their zero-emission transportation goals,” said Leanne Fitzpatrick, strategic programs manager, Volvo Trucks Academy. “As interest in the Volvo VNR Electric model continues to build across North America, the Tinley Park facility will serve an important role servicing dealers and customers in the Central U.S., as it is easily accessible from both O’Hare and Midway airports.”

Course work at Tinley Park will provide technicians with the proper training and understanding of all safety procedures when servicing high-voltage electric drivetrains and components. Other courses will focus on Volvo VNR Electric sales and operations support, in addition to offering continued guidance for diesel trucks, such as engine overhaul, transmission design and function, and parts sales and warranty fundamentals. The Tinley Park facility has two full-time instructors who provide two technical courses per day, plus a third course (sales, parts, warranty, or leadership). Most courses are a full day, and instructors teach up to five days a week depending on the schedule. The site also features meeting spaces, so those classes are not disrupted by technician training.

These courses are available in one of eight Volvo Trucks Academy Learning Centers across North America. In addition to the new Tinley Park facility, Volvo Trucks’ other U.S. locations include Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; Greensboro, North Carolina; Hagerstown, Maryland; and Hayward, California, as well as two in Canada in Woodbridge, Ontario, and Quebec City, Quebec.

The Volvo VNR Electric is designed for local and regional distribution ranges, including food and beverage, drayage, and pick-up and delivery routes. In January 2022, Volvo Trucks announced enhancements to its Volvo VNR Electric model, including an optional six-battery package option with an increased energy storage of up to 565 kWh and an operational range of up to 275 miles. The next-
generation Volvo VNR Electric, which entered production in Q2 2022, is available in multiple configurations, including a 6×4 straight truck, 6×4 tractor, 6×2 tractor, 4×2 tractor, and single-axle straight truck.

The rigorous Volvo Trucks Certified EV Dealer program was designed to ensure that sales representatives are fully trained to consult with customers that are considering deploying Volvo VNR Electric to ensure they are selecting a model configuration that is technically viable based on their operating requirements. On the aftermarket side, the dealership certification ensures technicians have
the necessary vehicle diagnostics tools and technical training required to maintain electric drivetrains and components. Volvo Trucks currently has certified dealers in the U.S. in California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia, as well as in Quebec, Canada, with dealerships in several additional states finalizing their certifications throughout 2022.

To learn more about the Volvo Trucks Academy, visit the company website.

Commercial Collision Claim Trends – Q1 2022

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The following data provides benchmarking insights and trends compiled from the PPG ADJUSTRITE® Commercial Estimating system for the 1st quarter of 2022. This data reflects information compiled from both insurance and shop estimates from the United States and Canada. For all metrics, this information excludes known total losses, estimates with only one line item, and estimates <$100. Severity for Q1 2022 averaged $12,499—a 31.4% increase over Q1 2021.

 

The Sales Mix Percent for Q1 2022, shown in Table 1, reflects percentage increases for Parts and Sublet, compared to the same quarter last year.

Table 1.  Sales Mix Percent for Q1 2019 – 2022

 

Referring to the Labor Mix Percent in Table 2 for Q1, you’ll notice there were increases in  Mechanicial and Frame Labor compared to Q1 2021.
Table 2.  Labor Mix Percent for Q1 2019 – 2022

Average Labor Dollar categories, reflected in Table 3, all experienced increases in Q1, relative to 2021—with the exception of Miscellaneous.  Body and Paint had the largest increases.
Table 3.  Average Labor Dollars for Q1 2019 – 2022

The chart for Average Dollars by Quarter shows year over year increases  for Sublet, Paint Materials and Shop Supplies. Shop Supplies had the highest percentage increase, compared to Q1 2021.   

Thank you for your continued interest in following the latest trends for commercial collision claims.

About PPG ADJUSTRITE®:
The PPG AdjustRite Commercial Estimating system is an industry-leading platform in the medium-to-heavy-duty equipment repair and claims industry. This system is a web-based, fully mobile application, driven by a comprehensive database of commercial vehicles and equipment including: tractors, trailers, trucks, boxes, motor coaches, RVs, and buses. To learn more about the PPG AdjustRite Commercial Estimating System, visit www.adjustrite.com .

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