Cross-training your employees (and yourself) can provide a significant impact on your business productivity and overall stability.
How many times have you heard the blue-collar folks cussing the white-collar folks? I know I can count quite a few, especially in the automotive world. There are very few technicians that are fond of engineers!
Let’s use a small automotive repair shop as an example. You have your Office Staff, who do the paperwork, communicate with customers, and collect money. There is typically an estimator or service advisor who receives vehicles on drop off, documents concerns, and maintains communication with insurance companies and/or customers through the repair process. Once the vehicle enters the shop, we have porters, technicians, the parts department, and painters/preppers if we’re in a body shop.
Not a single one of these people can do their job, without the others. So how do you turn this shop into a well-oiled machine? You cross-train. Now I’m not saying Brenda the Office Manager needs to learn how to rebuild a motor, but she certainly should be able to understand and relay the steps of the repair process so she can effectively communicate with customers when they call with basic questions on what to expect. Intake, diagnosis, parts ordering, repair, clean-up, delivery. Or whatever your system may be.
One of the biggest complaints I heard in dealerships was the Service Advisor/Estimator not providing a detailed description of the customer’s concerns. “Customer States there is a clicking noise” (noise complaints are the best!) Where should the technician start? Radio off, HVAC off, goes for a test drive – nothing. Advisor reports to customer that technician was unable to duplicate. Now we’ve wasted the customers time, the service advisor’s time, and the technician’s time. Not to mention your customer has lost faith in your shops ability to properly diagnose and repair a vehicle. What if the customers complaint read “Customer states there is a clicking noise coming from the dash area when heat is on high” – now the technician has the proper information to discover, diagnose and repair the concern. The best way for a Service Advisor to learn to effectively write, is to shadow a technician during diagnosis.
It’s not a Service Advisor’s job to know how to replace a part, but they should be able to effectively communicate what the problem was, what parts need to be replaced, and why. Are you more likely to invest in a $600 repair if your Advisor says “It needs a blower motor” or “Upon diagnosis Mr. Technician discovered the Blower Motor bearings are the source of your noise. Use and dust/debris over time are often the cause of this, and replacement is necessary to remedy the noise. In time, the bearings will continue to get worse, become louder, and eventually cease up preventing your fan from distributing heat throughout your vehicle. It will take 2 days for the parts to arrive and 1 day to perform the repair. You can pick your vehicle up while we wait for parts or leave it with us – whichever you prefer.” I think the answer is pretty clear! But wait – where does the Advisor get this information if the tech just relays that “it needs a blower motor”?? Cross-training! Your parts department and technician need to understand what information to provide your Advisor’s to close the sale.
We could go on and on, all day about how each job role affects the next – but I think you’re catching my drift. Not only are you encouraging a positive team environment, you’re building trust with your customers & respect amongst employees for each role, training reliable staff members to step in and help in other departments when needed, and more. The benefits of cross-training are endless, and will always improve your bottom line while building morale with your team.