• 2017

Raise the Bar


Empower your employees with the proper training.

There are more than 35,000 auto body shops and 100,000 auto repair businesses in North America. That means that the auto service industry has never been bigger or more competitive. It also means that each shop will be facing an incredible amount of competition. So, in the face of that level of competition, just how do you differentiate your business?

There are several ways to make your business better. But creating an atmosphere that inspires employees to believe in your business is a priority no small shop can afford to ignore. The key is to motivate your employees. By doing so, your shop can provide a superior level of service and you can increase those employees’ loyalty. This all works toward your ultimate goal, bringing customers back for repeat business. Training is essential to ensuring your employees have the knowledge and the dedication to keep your business running at full throttle.

As the old adage goes, “The first impression is a lasting impression.” That’s especially true with a business like yours. Ask yourself, what’s the first thing a customer sees when he or she walks through your shop’s door? Is the front desk a mess? Are your repair guys and/or gals donning dirty uniforms? Or is the front of your shop clean and brightly lit? Are your employees
friendly and courteous?

It may seem obvious but it’s surprising how many businesses ignore common sense. Appearances can make a big difference in determining whether a customer gives you one shot at a repair or comes back for repeat business. Treat your customers right and show them you mean business, and they’ll spread the word that your shop is the go-to place to have a vehicle repaired.
Providing uniforms for employees allows them to feel like they’re playing for the same team. While it’s a no-brainer, a simple act like dressing the part can have a big impact on your team.

Perhaps the most important factor in retaining customers is the quality repairs you provide. Hiring a staff of highly skilled and highly trained employees is the key. Customers expect to have their vehicles repaired in a timely manner. They also expect it to be done right the first time. No one likes bringing their car or truck back to have a repair done over again because attention to detail was a foreign principle to your shop.

One way to ensure you’re employing the best technicians is to makes sure they participate in the Mopar® Career Automotive Program (MCAP). It’s a program established and maintained by FCA US LLC for the purpose of developing the most highly skilled repair technicians in the automotive industry. It provides advanced technical training from OEM-certified instructors
so that students are learning from the pros. And it was intended to change the way vehicles are repaired, not leaving anything to chance.dreamstime_xxl_2725504-2

In the 1970s, automobiles became more complex thanks, in part, to the ever-expanding use of electronic devices. Chrysler Corporation realized that the new technology made it especially more challenging to work on these vehicles. To help technicians and mechanics develop the skills they needed to make repairs, the company launched the Chrysler Apprenticeship Program (CAP) in 1984. The program was introduced at five community colleges and universities nationwide.  As students began to graduate, demand for additional CAP colleges became apparent. This resulted in the creation of even more CAP colleges all across the country.

The program became so big that CAP became an extremely recognizable brand of the corporation. CAP sponsored its first National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Top Alcohol Funny Car Race Team in 1995. With Bobby Martin’s solid racing record, his promotional skills and his outstanding rapport with his fans, he was the perfect candidate to spread the word to potential CAP students. Since then, the Bobby Martin/CAP Dodge Avenger has made hundreds of appearances, both on and off the track. Bobby has spoken to thousands of young people about career choices and what the automobile industry has to offer and has
become an integral recruitment device for bringing recognition to the program.

As the demand for technicians has continued to grow, so has the number of MCAP graduates nationwide. “Today, there are 79 schools offering the program,” according to Jeff Kuester, Mopar® CAP Program Manager. “And 50 percent of dealers are now within 50 miles of a school. The number of students has also grown. At last count, there were well over 4,000 students
enrolled in the program.” Over the past decade and a half, the program has gone through several name changes. Most recently, it became Mopar Career Automotive Program.

“In 2015, the company launched the Mopar Local Program,” said Kuester. “It is focused on web-based training and is designed to increase the number of shops that have access to our schools.”

With technology becoming more sophisticated and the technical skill requirements increasing as well, the need for technically proficient technicians continues to grow. MCAP is an excellent way for students to receive the knowledge and skills required to repair today’s advanced vehicles.OldAdage

Here’s our philosophy: We believe in producing the best-trained and most highly skilled technicians in the automotive industry to work on today’s cars and light trucks.

MCAP includes valuable internship experience along with classroom instruction. This program offers on-site training at sponsoring dealerships under the direction of a master (mentor) technician. Students rotate between class time and internship time as they fulfill the requirements of an associate’s degree in Automotive Service Technology or a one- or two-year automotive certificate option.

Many MCAP schools are also offering two optional educational paths. The first is a two-year certificate program that does not include the general course requirements. The second is a one-year certificate program that focuses on specific skill areas.
We believe that the key to being competitive in this industry lies in the ability to service the technologies in our products correctly the first time and every time thereafter. Our commitment to train the next generation of service technicians
through the Mopar® Career Automotive Program is an imperative part of our philosophy.

“The program has been very well received,” said Kuester. “There has been a real shortage of technicians because many parents discourage their children from becoming mechanics and technicians. They have this image of mechanics with greasy hands and uniforms. But that’s changed quite a bit over the years. We’ve gotten great feedback on the program.”

In addition to the Mopar Career Automotive Program, there are several other options for training opportunities and educational programs. These include the National Coalition of Certifi cation Centers (www.nc3.net), Automotive Youth
Educational Systems (www.ayes.org), SkillUSA (www.skillusa.org), National Automotive Technicians Educational Foundation (www.natef.org) and National Institute for Automotive Excellence (www.ase.org). All these groups can provide you and your employees valuable information.

As it’s been pointed out, one of the critical ways you can differentiate your shop from the competition is by assembling a crew of the most highly skilled technicians available. Okay, let’s assume you’ve already done this. The next question is how do you keep your dream team together?

The first and most obvious way is to make sure they’re well compensated. With the demand for top-notch automotive technicians being what it is, they can easily jump ship for a better salary. However, sometimes it’s the little things that can make a difference. For example, thanking an employee or a team for a job well done is always appreciated.

Another way to thank them is by giving them a small, inexpensive gift. Or with little tokens of appreciation like simply recognizing them on their birthday with a card and a birthday cake. Of course, the most rewarding gift is monetary. This can come in the form of a modest quarterly bonus, or a more substantial end-of-the-year bonus. The possibilities are simply endless in making your shop the kind of place where your workers want to stay a part of the family for the long haul.

In this business, little things mean a lot. And a little thing like consistency gets customers to put their trust in you. Simply put, the appearance of your employees and the education of your staff proves to customers that you’re committed to servicing them in the best possible ways. Of course, great service truly has to be paid off in the bays, but the perception can be made or broken by those delivering a sense of trust, honesty and integrity to every customer who drives through the garage door.


For more information on MCAP, visit www.moparcap.com.