Would you like to know a secret?

John Batten explores what's required to create great technicians, and how to do this in your business

By John Batten | Published:  18 January, 2019

The focus of my article this month is how to swing the scales in your favour for 2019, turn good into great, great into brilliant, or brilliant into OMG technically this year we’ve nailed it!
    
Read on and I’ll share our secrets of the garages we work with, and how they reduce their diagnostic time whilst increasing their first-time fix.
    
Have you ever thought: “Is there a recipe for technical success?” Equally, have you also asked yourself, “Why is it that some garages can fix vehicles others can’t?”
    
These questions are worth pondering. In fact, they’re questions that if you’re serious about your first-time fix rate (in a timely manner) are worth getting to the bottom of. I’ve discovered the answers, and the great news is, that almost anyone with the will to achieve this, can. How come I’m so confident? Well, I’ve been guiding technicians through the maze that is career development for longer than I care to remember, and enjoyed watching hundreds of them achieve success.

Are you successful?
what makes a great technician and what is success? While I could produce an endless list of the specific attributes and skills that a super tech would possess that might be considered a prerequisite for success,
I think the answer is more straightforward and can be summarised in three points regardless of their technical level.

  •  They care about the quality of the work they produce.
  •  They’re lifelong learners.
  •  They’re searching for perfection but satisfied with constant progress.


So long as a technician possess these qualities then success is guaranteed. Well almost.

Ingredients for success
Those qualities, while necessary, aren’t enough to guarantee technical success and we’ll need to add one or two vital components to get the ball rolling.
    
What are these components? A training program for skills development, a work environment conducive to technician development, the necessary tooling, the necessary information, and lastly continuous personal development (CPD) for the technician.
    
Obviously the right tools, information, and a suitable training provider speak for themselves but let’s take a look at what a work environment conducive to technician development looks like. This is best done with real world examples, so here’s one I prepared earlier.

Cedar Garage – See the difference
Cedar Garage in Worthing was the winner of Top Garage 2018. The team at are currently working their way through our technical training program. Like many businesses they have a diverse workforce with a range of technical abilities, each of them displaying the three points required for success mentioned.
    
The technical team is lead by business co-owner Matthew Copp, and he implements the Auto iQ technician development program within the business. It’s a straightforward system that delivers great results consistently. Let’s take a look at the steps.

  •  Matthew attends each course in the Auto iQ program for his own development.
  •  He takes the learning back to the workplace and practices the techniques until perfected.
  •  He then runs his own regular technical sessions (an hour or two in length) for his team to raise awareness of the skills required and kickstart their development.
  •  Each team member then attends the Auto iQ training program.
  •  Each team member puts the new skills to use in the workshop assisted by Matthew with on the job training where required.


Like many of the hands-on business owners that train with us, Matthew started out in the workshop relishing the challenge of fixing the unfixable, and loving the learning that training and each successful diagnosis bought. The magic starts to happen though once that knowledge is spread throughout the business. Other technicians in the workshop become interested in the possibilities that this knowledge brings, as well as the positive outcomes this can have on their own careers, and so the momentum builds.

The self-fulfilling prophecy
OK, so we’ve started the ball rolling but where does this lead to? Quite simply, a VERY positive outcome.
    
As each team member develops their skill-set, the weight on Matthew’s shoulders to repair all those challenging jobs reduces. This in turn gives Matthew more time to increase his skill set and pass this onto the team. It becomes a virtuous cycle of success for everyone involved.
    
Quite simply it’s about opening a door, letting your techs walk through it and then helping them on a path to success. The great thing is though that this is one of those situation where everyone wins.
    
The customer benefits from a first time fix. The technician grows and enjoys their career. The business owner retains happy technicians and profits from their competency.What’s not to like about that? Not a lot!
    
Just in case you we’re wondering Matthew isn’t in this alone. Kevin, his business partner is working his way through our business development program making similar strides forward with his front-of-house team.

Related Articles

  • Would you like to diagnose more vehicles first time? 

    As we reach March, 2019 is well and truly underway. In fact by the time you read this one third of the year will have whizzed by never to be seen again. Now, I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions (they’re so last year), but I am the type of chap that likes constant progress when it comes to developing a technician’s career.
        
    There’s so much to be said for small steps taken everyday that on first look appear don’t appear to make a difference, but when gazed back upon over a 12 month period have a staggering affect on your capability to diagnose a vehicle first time, in a timely manner.

    Pitter-patter of tiny feet
    Small steps are all well and good but where do you start? After all, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you’d like to start your journey to diagnostic success off on the right foot. In this instance I’d start with the end in mind and reverse engineer the outcome you desire. It’s a logical process that works, and can be replicated time and time again in your diagnostic routine.
        
    Your ‘end in mind’ in this instance is a vehicle where the fault no longer exists, that won’t appear back across the threshold of your workshop anytime soon. But how do you guarantee that?

    One test to rule them all
    I love nothing more than when the delegates working through our training programs have a technical epiphany. This happens at many points on their path of learning, but none more than with bypass testing.
        
    Bypass testing is step nine in Johnny’s diagnostic circle of love (our 15 step routine), and often the key element in the first time fix. The good news for you is that it doesn’t require mythical creatures to forge their magical powers into an object that only one technician can possess. It’s something that every tech can learn, and become a diagnostic wizard.

    What is bypass testing?
    Quite simply it’s fixing the vehicle before you fix the vehicle. Let me explain.
        
    Wouldn’t it be great if you suspected that a Mass Air Flow sensor was at fault and you could prove that you were right before you fitted a new part, or spoke to the owner of the vehicle. If you could do that then the positive effect it would have on you and the business you work for would blow you away.
        
    Picture this: Your customer has reported that the vehicle is low on power. You’ve diligently questioned them, experienced the problem with them on a road test, and the bought the vehicle into the workshop.
        
    You’ve pulled codes and found none present, followed by taking a look through serial data to hunt for diagnostic clues. It doesn’t take you long to identify that the MAF sensor frequency looks a little low at 1.5 Khz and your fuel trim data is incorrect and making a positive corrections. You’ve seen a bunch of these before and know that 1.85 Khz is a suitable value for this vehicle.
        
    You’re keen to prove that the serial data is leading you in the right direction so confirm the sensor output with your oscilloscope. The oscilloscope frequency mirrors that of the serial tool and your starting to get that warm fuzzy feeling that an you’re onto something.

    Steady the buffs
    You’ve been close to success before though, only to be thwarted in the final moments so you’re keen not to be caught out twice. You know that documenting the reasons that the MAF output could be incorrect is the way to go, and duly make a list of tests required to confirm your theories.

  • TechMan helps In Town Automotive scoop ‘Technology Double’ 

    In Town Automotive – one of the largest independently owned vehicle servicing and repairs garages in Northampton – has rounded off 2018 in style, after taking home its second prestigious technology award of the year.

  • Ben Impact Report highlights 29% caseload increase  

    Industry charity Ben saw a 29% year-on-year increase in the number of cases managed by its support services team, according to the organisation’s annual Impact Report for 2018-19, which was published this week.

  • When the rain comes down: Record TRICO annual sales 

    Sales of TRICO wiper blades have surged year-on-year at Autoparts UK, with the brand’s Exact Fit and Flex range going up 65% during the period.

  • Top Garage 2019 finalists announced 

    The finalists for Top Garage have been named. The following businesses will compete to become winner within their own group, as well as for the overall championship for the year.  

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