There’s still time for a shop to squeak in before I-CAR dumps the old Gold Class rules in favor of a stricter threshold, and one way to accomplish this might be an “In-Shop Knowledge Assessment” from the organization.
However, demand is high, I-CAR said last week following its July 31 announcement of a new free white paper on the program.
“Currently, In-Shop Knowledge Assessments are in high demand and are first-come, first-served. I-CAR opened In-Shop Knowledge Assessments to current Gold Class shops as they prepare for the new requirements launching soon,” I-CAR said in a statement provided Aug. 1. “I-CAR is continuing to meet the demand and will work with the shop to schedule a time that works for their team based on availability in their region.”
The program involves I-CAR visiting a collision repairer and interviewing staff to find out how much employees know. If technicians and others demonstrate enough proficiency in a given subject during the interviews, I-CAR will give them credit for relevant courses on the topic.
I-CAR called the response to the assessments “very positive, from both shop managers and staff.”
“It was a great opportunity for us,” Butler’s Collision owner Roy Schnepper said, according to I-CAR. “It saved techs in the business a lot of time. They didn’t have to go through training in what they already know, so it was a great benefit.”
The process also generates a report for shop management for a shop to identify gaps in staff training.
“More than anything, it was eye opening to really see where the technical staff was knowledge-wise,” Dingman’s Collision Center general manager Andy Dingman said, according to I-CAR. “The assessments pinpointed weak spots we were able to correct, and identified where the gaps were, and we were able to fill them with relevant training.”
I-CAR will also create a “formal training plan” to address these areas, according to the white paper.
I-CAR reported that shops who engage in the assessment process achieve Gold Class “more than twice as fast” — 85.7 days compared to an average of 187.7 days. The assessments can be applied to the ProLevel 1 stage of I-CAR’s professional development program, which under the outgoing Gold Class and Platinum rules is a major part of the work to get a shop to Gold Class. (Role representatives can become Platinum at ProLevel 1 under the outgoing rules.)
I-CAR has delayed the rollout of the new Gold Class and Platinum thresholds while it addresses some information technology issues. It said in July it expects to launch the new criteria sometime this quarter.
Even if a repair facility or technician doesn’t make Gold Class or Platinum, respectively, by the deadline, the assessments ought to still provide an advantage under the new rules by speeding everyone through the ProLevel 1 stage.
I-CAR’s new system will require new Gold Class shops to have 100 percent of structural technicians reaching ProLevel 2 and half of all other role representatives meeting ProLevel 2 criteria to qualify. No one person can hold more than two roles anymore. Welding recertification would be every three years instead of five, and technicians wouldn’t be “Platinum” until they reached ProLevel 3.
Existing Gold Class shops will be grandfathered in and given time to train up their staff to required ProLevels. They must have 100 percent of structural technicians at ProLevel 1 status and 50 percent of other roles (Estimator, Non-Structural Technician, Steel Structural Technician, Refinish Technician) ProLevel 1 by a point in 2020. So the assessments could help them out as well.
According to I-CAR, the assessments take about two days for what the organization finds to be a nine-technician average shop, but “varies based on how many assessments are needed at the shop.”
The interviews typically happen during business hours “as a benefit to shop staff,” but I-CAR says they’re “planned in a way to minimize disruption to shop production.”
The white paper describes the process as follows:
An In-Shop Knowledge Assessment involves a trained I-CAR assessor visiting a shop to execute a face-to-face, conversational knowledge assessment process with each technician. By working through the step-by-step process, the assessor will be able to identify the existing skills and training throughout the shop.
Before the one-on-one assessments, the assessor sits down with the shop owner or manager to walk through the program. Through this conversation, the assessor gains a sense of the technicians’ current skills, personalities, challenges and other information that helps the assessor relate to a technician during the assessment.
After talking with the owner or manager, the assessor provides an overview to prepare shop staff. He/she may describe the assessment, what topics will be covered and any questions.
Technicians won’t be assessed on training already completed on their I-CAR record. Technicians know how they performed on each assessment with real-time feedback from the assessor.
“The assessment process pushed the techs to really grasp that I-CAR is doing something different than what they had in the past,” Dorn’s Body and Paint owner Barry Dorn said, according to I-CAR. “Now, our techs want to train more and ask more questions, and are more involved in what they do.”
The program cost is similar to what a shop or tech would pay to take all of those courses, according to I-CAR.
“Shops have the option to pay in full or spread the payments out over 12 months,” the organization said in a statement Aug. 1. “Pricing is comparable to the purchase of the needed training, plus an incremental amount to cover additional costs. Also, all Estimators, Non-Structural Technicians, Structural Technicians, and Refinishers will have access to all ProLevel 1 courses in their myI-CAR account to complete (if needed) and reference to them at any time.”
To sign up for the assessments, contact I-CAR at 844-505-9557 or Face2Face@I-CAR.com.
I-CAR, July 31, 2019
Featured image: The I-CAR In-Shop Knowledge Assessment logo is shown. (Provided by I-CAR)