Our industry has a similar mantra: For us, it’s training, training and more training. Without it, we can’t keep up with the latest trends, we won’t know about new products and technology, and we can’t guarantee our customers the quality workmanship that is their right to receive.
Training can come from many sources: your automotive suppliers, various trade associations, and from the Tire Industry Association (TIA), an international association that represents all segments of the tire industry. It has completed a number of world-class training programs, including safety manuals, automotive or commercial tire service, tire pressure monitoring systems, tire wear condition manuals, staff training and shop operations.
These affordable programs are available to any tire dealer, but ultimately, you have to take the initiative and time to commit your shop to training.
TIA is also in the process of formulating a “TIA Certified Store” program; it will set standards for work performed, a customer complaint resolution process, shop fitness policy, and expert training requirements necessary for TIA certification.
Training is essential for staff to keep on top of technology; currently, the big news is tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), which are already in general use and will be mandatory on all passenger vehicles by model year 2008. Just rotating TPMS-equipped tires takes training, and service can involve three different torque wrenches.
If your staff doesn’t comprehend the complexity of it, and if your technicians aren’t aware of how to mount or change tires equipped with TPMS, you and your customers will be at a disadvantage. Handle a TPMS-equipped wheel as you would a conventional one, and chances are good that you’ll break that very expensive sensor, at your shop’s expense.
And TPMS is only the beginning: new products like run-flat tires also require new and specialized techniques that may be foreign to your staff.
Even many established car dealers haven’t taken the time to learn about the pressure monitoring system, despite the fact that their technicians will be among the first to deal with it. And they have the backing and training programs of their respective auto manufacturers. Who are you going to depend on, when your staff needs to learn?
All of these techniques and practices are part of TIA’s Certified Automotive Tire Service (ATS) course, which combines in-depth classroom instruction with comprehensive hands-on education. Those who successfully complete the Instructor Program can return to their companies and train fellow employees by conducting in-house Certified ATS Technician or Instructor classes. Students can also take the TPMS course separately.
The Commercial Tire Service (CTS) programs are excellent for skill training, and are separated for experienced technicians and new hires. Since its inception in 1997, over 18,000 technicians and instructors across North America have taken the course. The CTS program combines classroom instruction with hands-on learning, and exceeds all government requirements.
It’s understandable that not everyone is a “joiner”. That’s why TIA makes its programs available to everyone (although members benefit from a discount). While TIA would naturally like to see every retailer join the association, it’s more important that all dealers have access to quality training courses. Programs can be purchased through your local tire dealer association, or from TIA at www.tireindustry.org.
It benefits all of us when every shop is up-to-date and delivers excellent workmanship and service.
By Paul Hyatt, incoming TIA President