22 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

The importance of being up-to-date

There’s no denying that the future of the automotive aftermarket is changing. As the government’s net zero target draws closer, cleaner road transport will mean replacing around 32 million internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles on UK roads with low-carbon alternatives. Of these replacements, many will be hybrid or EV.    
    
This means technicians will need to be well-versed in new technologies – and this need is happening at pace. The good news is that training is more easily and readily available to aftermarket professionals, through organisations such as the IMI to ensure we futureproof the industry.

Good business sense
As margins for modern garages and workshops are tight, having staff off-site training is a day lost in the workshop. But, with the regular technological advancements, it is becoming more and more important for technicians to ensure they are staying up-to-date with the latest training. It makes good business sense for garages and workshops to invest time and money in training and education to replenish the talent pool and build up its staff for the future of mobility for achieving quality and effectiveness in the workshop.
    
A recent report by the Social Market Foundation found there is currently a surplus of well-trained technicians to service and repair EVs for existing and near-future demand. While this is a welcome finding for existing and prospective EV drivers of today, this progress should not be taken for granted. Particularly as the same report explains how by 2030 the industry is set to face a shortfall of 25,100 EV-trained TechSafe technicians, which raises concerns for the safety and mobility of the UK and achieving net zero targets.
    
This points to just how important it is to ensure technicians are always keeping up to date with training in the latest technologies. It’s not just the electric vehicle revolution that has forced the need to upskill technicians; Training has always been key. An untrained technician can be detrimental to a garage as they may not understand how to diagnose or repair jobs. This could lead to unhappy customers, loss of business – or even injuries to employees by carrying out work the wrong way.
    
On the flip side, by having well-trained staff on the latest technology can help increase the reputation of the garage, lead to more bookings and even unlock new business opportunities. Whether that’s a specialist garage in EVs, fleets or future mobility such as hydrogen fuel or self-driving cars!
    
Arguably, on-the-job training is key, and nothing can replace practical experience, but having background knowledge learnt in a classroom can be beneficial in helping technicians understand not just how to repair a problem but understand why it happened. This means there is less chance of motorists coming back to the garage with repeat problems on their vehicle – enhancing the customer experience and garage reputation.

Challenges and demands
As garages become busier, good communication with customers is more important than ever. Particularly when it comes to effectively communicating complex repair jobs, in a timely and efficient manner. Good communication means happy customers and repeat business, so ensuring staff are trained on effective communication is key, as well as using tools such as garage management systems to keep in touch with customers when their vehicle is in for repairs.
    
By keeping up with the latest training and upskilling, technicians will always be trained to complete work to industry standards, contributing to the overall success of the garage. As the automotive aftermarket is evolving rapidly, introducing new technologies, standards and systems, new challenges and demands are placed on workshops and garages. So, it’s essential for businesses to gain, train and retain talent in the industry, constantly, to remain competitive.