From training to shop implementation, my team’s list of top takeaways from Vision

I recently wrote a “President’s Message” article for the ASA-Midwest “The Driving Force” eNewsletter ( explaining how we leverage our training dollars by picking out four or five highlights from the recent Vision Hi-Tech Training and sharing them within the shop.

The front counter people are looking for ways to give better service, increase communication, make more profit, etc. The technicians are highlighting new diagnostic procedures and equipment, and even theory of operation for certain systems.  When we share those ideas, everyone wins. The shop is more efficient, the customer satisfaction rises, and the shop makes more profit.

Rob Merwin, editor of Parts & People, asked me if I would share those ideas with their readers. Remembering that these are brainstorming and we listen to all ideas, but don’t necessarily adopt every one, here are the ideas that received a second look:


Management class takeaways

•    Videos are great ways to communicate and add new content to websites and social media. Some tips: be professional; if possible, get a Bluetooth audio setup — it’s inexpensive and much better sound quality; and keep videos short and concise. **

•    Texting is mandatory, not optional with many Millennials. Start using it. **

•    Shop meetings must be regular.

•    If you are going to spiff people for referrals, make it enough to make a difference ($40-$50). Apply credit to their account.

•    Remove expiration dates from website coupons. If they are outdated, customers may question shop quality.

•    Use seasonal counter signage: “Ask about our free A/C inspection, tune, etc.”

•    Practice saying, “To restore your vehicle to its original form, the investment is $***. How would you like to proceed?”

•    Acquire a charging station for the customer lounge to allow cell phone and tablet recharging.

•    Consider raising shop warranty to three years/36,000 miles. Seventy-five percent of the class was already there. **

•    Develop a lube package to sell: Locks, hood latch and hinges, doors, trunk, fuel door, spare tire retractor, clean the electric antenna.

• And, finally, evaluate whether it is time to raise the labor rate! **


Technical class takeaways

•    Instructor A says that if a MAF sensor does not change at least two volts from idle to WOT, it needs a new sensor. No matter if it is brand new, it needs another new sensor.

•    Thermal imaging cameras are many times the least invasive way to find battery draw.

•    Instructor B says you can have a bad BCM, or two, or three.  If you are absolutely positive of your diagnosis, don’t doubt yourself; you may actually get that many bad modules.

•    All four-wheel drive vehicles have the same basic design of a differential for power splitting front to rear. Nothing has changed in the basic design since the first 4X4 Jeep.

•    The type of misfire can be narrowed down to fuel or ignition by watching fuel trims. Fuel-related misfires will push trims leaner than ignition misfires.

•    ECM codes are important but should be treated as symptoms.

•    Negative voltage on an O2 pid can be an indicator of a cracked sensor.

And ding ding ding, the winner:

•    In-bay load tests (power braking) should be done in reverse – it creates more load and generally the technician’s tool box is directly in front of the car.


** Indicates items we will concentrate on. As you can see, the topics are varied, but useful.

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Jerry Holcom is the president of ASA Midwest and owner of S&S Service Center in Kansas City, Mo. Holcom and Doug Stoll founded the Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo 25 years ago.


Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.

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