With vehicle technology and repair processes evolving at a breakneck pace, the importance of having up to date, relevant training information for collision repairers has never been more vital. The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) has taken up the charge of providing quality learning experiences to repairers, looking inward at redeveloping their very own curriculum from the ground up – using real-time information from current technicians – in order to provide rigorous, efficient role-based training that makes sense for today’s specialized repair professional.
“When we launched our Professional Development Program (PDP) in 2010, we worked directly with the industry and defined the structure of the different roles in each shop as well as the required knowledge areas for those roles,” explains Josh McFarlin, Director, Curriculum & Product Development for I-CAR. “We intentionally did this work in isolation from our existing curriculum so that it would not inform the end result. Our next step was to align the existing I-CAR curriculum with the knowledge areas of the PDP. There were instances where a particular knowledge area did not necessarily match up to its corresponding training course; there was some redundancy and some overlap. This was not the optimal experience for our learners, because there was some information in their then-current training that was not relevant to their role.”
Today, I-CAR’s continuous improvement of PDP has started in earnest, with the organization first working on clarifying training curriculum for three roles: Non-structural repair, steel structural repair and aluminum structural repair. In re-establishing the processes and procedures for each of these roles, I-CAR went straight to the source: The collision repair technicians themselves. “Our goal all the way through was to do a detailed curriculum analysis,” says McFarlin, “and so we recruited several repairers through our Inter-Industry Segment Advisory Council (ISAC) group to ask them to share with us exactly what they need to know and do to be great at their job, as well as what is not useful to their role. This helps us create duty areas within each role, as well as tasks and sub-tasks that correspond with them. We then take that information and create learning objectives, go back to our current curriculum and rebuild it to match each specific learning objective. The goal is that any tech in the industry will be able to take a course that’s specifically meeting a set of requirements and needs that are pertinent to them.
“In looking for technicians to provide us feedback and information, we turned to Lou DiLisio, Jr. (Automotive Industry Consulting, Inc.), who helps organize our ISAC groups,” McFarlin continues. “He has connected us to members of the industry who are willing to support I-CAR’s efforts, and who have something valuable to add to the industry.”
Two of the technicians involved in the initiative – Wheldon Gardner and Will Perry – come to I-CAR straight from the shops of SCRS Board members Gary Wano, Jr. (GW and Son Auto Body Shop, Oklahoma City, OK) and Barry Dorn (Dorn’s Body & Paint, Richmond, VA). In their eyes, the commitment of sending their star employees to assist I-CAR was a no-brainer in consideration of the huge impact their information could have on the industry at-large.
“When we were approached by I-CAR to be a part of this endeavor, we knew we weren’t going to go in and be yes men,” Wano says. “If we were dedicating this sort of commitment, we were going to tell it like it was. I-CAR was happy to work with us, and now, while the curriculum itself has not changed yet, we see a plan in motion. The whole process has been incredibly encouraging.”
“After being a part of several different advisory councils over the years and being involved in the industry to the extent we are, we had come to believe that I-CAR was broken,” explains Dorn. “However, you can definitely see a culture shift; there’s a difference today in how I-CAR does things. They’re attentive; they listen to our needs and we are seeing activity from our discussions. The end result has not yet come to fruition, but the fact that they’re committed to an ultimate goal and are working so hard to achieve it has us very optimistic. ”
“The main complaint we have heard over the years from our colleagues has been, ‘I-CAR training is not relevant to me,'” Wano adds. “Well, this initiative is redefining the shop roles with actual, real-time 2015 knowledge from superior technicians hand-picked by I-CAR. They are creating a knowledge base that may not have been there before, applicable to today’s vehicles, processes and methods.”
Gardner, who has worked for GW & Sons for nine years, is a Tier 2 Mercedes-Benz aluminum trained and Tesla technician for the shop. He is currently working on training for Jaguar and Land Rover as well. Perry has been with Dorn’s Body & Paint for eight years, and is the company’s Tesla, Jaguar and Land Rover technician. “Both of these guys take tremendous pride in their industry and their training, and they realize they’ll be students of the industry for the rest of their lives,” Dorn notes. “And their valuable input, along with that of their colleagues, will help turn out an end-product of a better understood, more viable I-CAR program, a better-prepared industry and better resulting repairs for our customers.”
About SEMA and the SEMA Show: The SEMA Show is a trade show produced by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), a nonprofit trade association founded in 1963. Since the first SEMA Show debuted in 1967, the annual event has served as the leading venue bringing together manufacturers and buyers within the automotive specialty equipment industry. Products featured at the SEMA Show include those that enhance the styling, functionality, comfort, convenience and safety of cars and trucks. Additional details available at www.semashow.com or www.sema.org or contact Customer Service at (909) 396-0289.
About SCRS’ RDE Series: REPAIRER DRIVEN EDUCATION (RDE) series will feature 4 days of seminar offerings, many of which are uniquely designed and being offered only at the 2014 SEMA Show. Each of the courses has been individually selected or crafted by SCRS because the content specifically focuses on information that is relevant to the diverse array of marketplace perspectives within the collision repair industry. Register atwww.semashow.com/scrs or contact Customer Service at (866) 229-3687.
About SCRS: Through its direct members and 44 affiliate associations, SCRS is comprised of 6,000 collision repair businesses and 58,500 specialized professionals who work with consumers and insurance companies to repair collision-damaged vehicles. Additional information about SCRS including other news releases is available at the SCRS website: www.scrs.com. You can e-mail SCRS at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.