Learn about the high cost of failing to train your people which remains largely invisible to most heavy-duty companies.
Episode 303: In the heavy-duty industry, employees need specific skills, knowledge and safety practices to operate efficiently. So, whenever we hear businesses say they are too busy to send their employees for training, it’s a bad thing!
Without proper training, the entire company will face operational challenges, reduced employee morale, and even lose out on profit. Strategically investing in your employees correlates to investing in your business. This effort will boost employee morale, competence, and contribute to producing bigger profits. Join the discussion on how providing the proper training for heavy-duty employees is the best course of action.
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Transcript of Episode
You are listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the place where we have conversations that empower heavy-duty people.
In this episode, we are going to talk about the cost of not training your people. We’re going to have our featured guest is Dan Nynas from Diesel Laptops. He’s going to talk to us about new training programs that are available for technicians, and we’re going to talk about in our final segment, That’s Not Heavy Duty, what not to do when servicing air disc brakes.
This episode is brought to you by FindItParts. We could not do it without our sponsors, so thank you to FindItParts. Whenever you’re listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report and you hear us talk about a part, make sure you go over to finditparts.com. That’s where you can buy any part we talk about. So let’s get started. Let’s talk a little bit about the cost of not trading your people.
Now, we have heard people recently that are working in the industry that are running repair shops, that are running parts companies say this, we are too busy to send any of our employees on training, meaning they can’t take the time to get that employee to go and upgrade their skills and get training because they’re so busy in day-to-day operations.
This is something we’ve heard repeatedly and it really is something that is quite concerning when you think of this way of thinking. It’s kind of like saying, you can imagine someone walking in the desert and the sun’s beating down on them.
They’ve got water with them, and they say something like, it’s too hot to take a drink of water. That’s dangerous, right? You’ve got the water available to you, you need to drink it because otherwise you’re going to get dehydrated and eventually you could even die.
So I think that’s a good illustration to explain how dangerous this way of thinking is. If you don’t train your people, you’re going to have issues with retention. You’re going to have issues with recruiting, and you’re not going to be getting the same level of performance that you could be, which could be detrimental to your business. So what is the cost of not training your employees?
Well, in last quarter’s edition of the Heavy Duty Executive, this is a quarterly publication that is put out by the Heavy Duty Consulting Corporation. We included a report from one of our consultants, Mike Parnitzke entitled The Invisible Cost of Not Training. Now, here are the three things that you need to think about from this report. Number one, lost productivity and increased labor costs.
The National Center for Educational Quality for the Workplace or EQW reports that a 10% increase in educational development will produce an 8.6% gain in production capacity. The second thing you need to know from this report is degraded employee morale and higher turnover costs.
Younger generations expect to be invested in by their employer and they want training opportunities and they want career development opportunities. So a recent survey done by PWC was rank ordering the things that employees value the most and training ranked very highly at 35% among the characteristics of an organization that become attractive to prospective employees.
The only other two items that ranked higher than training were competitive wages at 44% and career progression at 55%. So if you’ve got good wages, career progression and training, you are going to attract more people.
Third thing you need to know, training leads to higher profit. A study of 2,500 businesses conducted by ATD found that companies that offer thorough training doubled the amount of profit per employee over companies that didn’t offer training. So there is a strong case here. It’s not just for the employees.
There’s a business case here to incentivize business owners in heavy-duty parts and service to train their people. If you’re not training your people, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to make your business more profitable. Now we provide sales, marketing, e-commerce and people and organization training at our organization. If you’re interested in that, let’s talk about it.
Head over to heavydutyconsulting.com/meet-with-us. Links will be in the show notes. Okay, it’s time now for our featured guest and we’re going to talk to Dan Nynas from Diesel Laptops about their training programs for technicians. My guest today is Dan Nynas. He is the Chief Operating Officer of Diesel Laptops.
We’re so happy to have Diesel Laptops back on the show. Before joining the team at Diesel Laptops, Dan spent over 20 years working in OEM truck dealerships, primarily in the service department in a leadership role. Dan, welcome to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.
Hey, Jamie, glad to be here.
So today we’re going to talk about training and we’re going to talk about it from a perspective of industry need. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation, really trying to get people into the industry has been a focus of the heavy duty parts report for some time. We just recently announced that we’re doing a scholarship at Wyotech. Two students will get an HDPR scholarship this year and we’re hoping to grow that.
So we’re trying to put our money where our mouth is to help more people enter the field as diesel technicians. Dan, when we look at industry-wide, maybe you could explain to us kind of what you are seeing as a trend when it comes to the training of technicians. Why is there a lack of training for technicians and mechanics?
It goes back to if you’re working at an OEM dealership, you’ve got required training. They have mandatory courses that every technician has to take, and as you trickle on down into the aftermarket, there is no mandatory standard.
So you’ve got people that have just got some basic diagnostic skills, are able to hold wrenches that are only getting instruction from their peers or from maybe the shop manager who’s been doing it for a long time. So not really having a standard is part of the issue, but the other part of it is who’s going to sponsor and pay for the training that people would actually have access to?
So I’ve seen over 20 years, a lot of different training type environments come and go. Different instructors that have tried to go out on their own and struggle to make it, but I think a lot of the shop owners now have realized that training’s going to be vital to their operation and now they’re coming back and they’re starving for opportunities to get their employees in.
So outside of OEM dealership, it’s always been tough. It’s been a challenge, but now I think there’s a lot of demand for it, and there’s people like us that are trying to answer that call.
And even here in Canada where we have a Red Seal program for technicians, I remember when I was getting ready to launch The Heavy Duty Parts Report now almost five years ago, and I went and talked to a lot of the independent service shops and both at fleet level and at repair center level, and these independently owned aftermarket or independent service shops, they all said the same thing.
There was that people who worked for the dealerships had all of the tools, all of the training and people who worked on the independent service side really needed these resources. So from your perspective, how is this lack of training in the marketplace, both in the US and Canada impacting our ability to recruit people into the industry?
It’s twofold. It’s given us troubles recruiting, but it’s also given us troubles in retention. So the recruiting piece is someone who might be interested in the field isn’t going to feel confident coming in without an opportunity and to be able to see a career path laid out in front of them. So even at the OEM levels, training can be hard to get into.
Just for classes are full, there might be a wait list, and as you move down into the rest of it, you wind up looking at a situation where if I’m new to the field, I’m a technician and I say I want to be at this level of income or this tier of technician within five years, the pathway to get there is very hard to follow. You wind up looking for different courses or looking for opportunities, then you got to take time off from work to be able to do it.
So unless your employer is actively engaged in your career advancement, it’s kind of a double-edged sword. You wind up losing time on shop floor and you’re paying out of your own pocket. So in order for existing employers to retain these guys, they really have to not only sponsor and help them with the cost of the training, they also got to give ’em the time off and the opportunity to do it.
Right. Okay. So let’s pull on a couple threads here. So first of all, let’s talk about recruitment. What I’m hearing you say is, is that the shops on the independent side that actually show prospective technicians, people they’re trying to recruit into the industry, a pathway for their career is going to have a leg up over someone who fails to do that?
Absolutely. And they need to be able to show that they’ve got existing employees that are actually living that life. Talk is cheap, action is where it’s at. So if I could walk someone into a shop and say, here’s Joe. He’s been here for six years and started out with two screwdrivers in a bucket and now here he is and he’s got all this knowledge and skill, and here’s someone who’s been here for three years and here’s someone who’s been here for a year and show where they’re at in their progression.
Someone who’s interested in the field can actually look at that and say, yeah, that’s the path I want to be on. It’s not like the apprentice program that some of the trades have where they spend a certain amount of time at certain tiers.
It’s more if you’re driven and motivated, you can pick up some of this training and some of this skill and you can advance very rapidly. So for the right person that’s motivated to do that, they just need the opportunity and that’s what’s been lacking.
So in order to accomplish that, you’re going to need a system. That’s something that at our consulting company, the Heavy Duty Consulting Corporation, we work with our clients all the time on creating operational systems to be able to accomplish specific objectives. So in order to, you got to have the training program in place. You have to have the systems to bring people in and show them that pathway and to actually have employees take that journey. Now what about this lack of continuing education? Once you recruit someone, retention is an issue.
So let me tell you a quick story. I remember when I was selling parts, one of the guys I was selling parts to, he was very frustrated because it seemed like he would get a couple guys in, he would do the work of recruiting them, he would start the training process, and then all of a sudden after a couple of years when that person got experienced, boom, they’re off to somewhere else where there was better opportunities.
Maybe it was an OEM dealership or they got hired on at a mine and there was a lot of support and it was just he had a hard time competing and holding onto his people. So how can people in the independent service side position themselves to retain the people that they do recruit?
I think it’s couple fold with training as one, wage is another, environment is another. There’s a lot more to retention than just keeping somebody with a paycheck. There has to be some level of advancement in that career. So the ongoing education, whether it be just learning about industry changes that have happened in the previous year, some new models have come out, EPA changes, things that actually drive a need for new knowledge.
It’s vital, but at the same time, going from someone who maybe has a basic understanding of electronic components and getting a deeper understanding to where they actually say, okay, now I’m more capable and more confident what I’m doing. But with the shortage that we’ve been experiencing, the higher wage is going to prevail in just about every instance, right? You’ll hear it from a lot of technicians and from guys on the tool truck.
They put wheels on a toolbox for a reason. They kind of have adopted a mentality in a lot of these cases where if they’re not changing employers every couple of years that they’re leaving a lot of money on the table. Some cases that’s true, but with the employers that are actively engaged in trying to retain these guys, they’ve got to be willing to pay what the market is.
But without that and being able to pass that expense onto the customer, they’re not going to be able to retain these guys. So it’s a dog eat dog world. We have to be able to pay the technicians what the going rate is, and we have to be able to support that with our door rate. So the customers are definitely experiencing that as well.
Okay. Well, this has been a great overview of the situation. I agree with your perspective on this. It is something we need to continue to make improvements on to improve retention, to improve recruitment rates. We’re going to talk more about what Diesel Laptops is doing to put their money where their mouth is and try to help solve this problem. After our break, we’ll be right back.
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We’re back from our break, before the break. I think you did a really good job of giving us an overview of the situation when it comes to training technicians, and I think that the things that you talked about are very consistent both in the US and in Canada, despite the educational structure being slightly different, seems like it’s the same end result. We really haven’t solved this problem.
So Diesel Laptops is now offering several training programs under the Diesel Training banner. Could you tell us a little bit about the in-person training that you offer?
Yeah, so we currently have three different training centers in the United States. We’re working with one here in Columbia, South Carolina. We’ve got another one up in the Chicago area and one in the Dallas Texas area.
So we’re trying to address it in the brick and mortar mindset where we can bring people to us. They can actually sit through a lecture, do hands-on with trucks and equipment that we’ve got in our shops, trying to make sure that we’re giving them an opportunity to work with us on a timeline that works for them so they can come in and take a class one time.
They can come in and sit for a week during classes, but it isn’t a intensive nine month program that requires them to move into a dormitory or anything like that. So we are hopefully going to expand that over time at another location or two to continue to offer and try to make it easier for people to get to.
We’ve definitely learned over the years that some of this stuff has got to be brought to them, so if we get closer to them, it’s better for them if they can sleep in their own bed and drive in the morning or if they’ve got to get a hotel room, at least it’s maybe in a city they’re familiar with. So trying to make sure we can accommodate people with our instructor-led training, which also we take on the road and do field training as well.
So both in class and field training. Yeah, you’re absolutely right about that. When it comes to even taking people just out of the shop, a lot of times the shops are so busy they feel like they can’t afford to let anybody go, but in my opinion, that’s like walking in the desert with water on your hip and saying, it’s too hot, I can’t drink water.
It’s like if you don’t eventually drink some water, you’re going to be in trouble. So if you don’t eventually train your people, you’re going to be losing them and you’re not going to be competitive. So not everybody can do in-person. So tell me a little bit about your new online training platform called Diesel Laptops University.
Yeah, Diesel Laptops University is an online learning system that we launched back in the July timeframe. So it’s been around for about six months now. We are steadily updating and launching new courses on there.
We’re trying to do two premium courses a month, and when I say premium, I mean it’s going to take you a little while to go through it. You’re going to have some quizzes along the way. There’s going to be a test at the end, and basically we’re very much focused on the stuff that we were already teaching at the training centers.
So kind of a companion course was the mindset to start out with, give people access to that level of training in their home, and then if they want to follow that up with the instructor-led in class, they’d come in and be able to put their hands on a vehicle and actually do some work.
That’s branched out already. We’re doing some other topics. We’re working on some industry stuff. We also are working on some product specific things. So it’s not designed to be a platform that just sells our tools. It’s actually, hey, you bought this. We’re going to support it.
We want to make sure you know the best way to utilize it and be the most efficient with it. So it’s multiple facets of training, but it can be done self-paced in your home, in your hotel room or wherever you’re at. It works on PC, it works on tablet, it works cell phones.
So the idea is make it very highly accessible, good quality training and totally self-paced so people can actually do this in their lifestyle and not have it be a commitment where they’re missing out on things.
Paint me a picture of the ideal technician profile that would really benefit from this the most.
So today, this is not so basic that I would call it entry level. So right now, the platform is really designed more for people that are already in the industry looking for training to hone their skills, get some diagnostic understanding, learn about electricity, amps, ohms, things that seem to be a mystery for a lot of folks, and get ’em up to speed as time goes on.
We’re going to go back and focus a lot on that entry-level technician and try to be able to offer those courses as well so that we’ve got a little bit more of a pipeline to try to lead people into this industry. But it’s a big task. So we had to start somewhere.
We had to focus on things and we decided to use material that we already had that we were already very comfortable and familiar with. And we’ve got a couple of course authors that are doing this steady. They’re absolutely killing it and we love the work they’re putting out.
Okay, great. So this will really help the independent service channel to retain people with continuing education opportunities. That’s fantastic. Describe for me the economic impact having some of your technicians go to Diesel Laptops University and take these courses, these premium courses. What would be the economic impact on the shop owner? Right. He’s looking at it or she’s looking at it from a business perspective and as an investment. Talk to me about the return on investment.
Sure. So that starts with the price of entry. It’s very low. This is not a huge expense in comparison to most of the other options that are out there. And the feedback we’re getting from the shop owners and the leadership within these shops is that they’re getting their technicians back more capable than they sent them to us, which is exactly what we’re looking for.
Whether it be efficiency that they can pick up because they’re able to do something a little faster or just a better understanding of the tool that they’re using, whatever it is. If they can get from one vehicle to the next a little bit faster, that’s money because time is money in a shop, they’re losing minutes doing things maybe incorrectly or just because they don’t understand there might be a project sitting out by the fence that nobody there has really been comfortable tackling because they weren’t familiar with it.
And a lot of this stuff is trucks have just gotten so complex, equipment has gotten so complex with all the computers and the modules and the miles of wiring that until someone has a good understanding, a little bit of training behind them, they tend to be hands off.
So it’s better customer service, it’s better workflow through the shop, cuts down on some of that stuff that’s sitting around, and that’s money to the shop owner. Absolutely.
Yeah, no, that makes total sense to me. Not to mention fixing things the right way the first time, so there isn’t callbacks or there isn’t additional downtime passed on to the customer, or if you’re working at a fleet and working on your own equipment, you want to be able to minimize that downtime and get these things fixed right the first time. So that sounds good to me. Tell me a story of a technician who went through one of the programs and was able to succeed.
There’s a lot of that. It’s hard to pick one individual, but I would say even in just groups of people where we have gone in, been hired into a company that needed training for their people, say it’s five, five technicians that were able to produce $30,000 a month in gross based on the work they were doing, and now it’s 40 or it’s 45 or it’s 50.
And what’s really interesting about it is how competitive it becomes when these guys start to learn more and they can take on a new project. Well now they want a new project and all of a sudden they’re reinvigorated to go. Those are the success stories that I love to hear back from the shop owners and the fleet customers when they say the training was part of it, but also seeing the benefits on just morale, things like that.
It’s impressive. So I know that the feedback that we’ve received is leading us toward this is working, it’s going the right direction. Anything that isn’t we’re going to adjust and try to account for. But we’ve got success stories all over the country and not just the US also in Canada, we’re online there and we’re sending our field trainers out there as well.
So it definitely is working and I haven’t really heard from any technicians specifically coming back and saying, hey, this is what happened with my pay, but I’m waiting for that.
I’m excited to be able to have that when somebody says, I was making this many dollars per hour before and because of this training, now I’m making this. I know it’s happening. I’m just waiting for it to come back to me in a testimonial.
You’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvin, and we’ve been speaking with Dan Nynas, the COO of Diesel Laptops. To learn more about Diesel Laptops and these training programs, go over to diesellaptops.com. Links are in the show notes. Dan, thank you so much for being on The Heavy Duty Parts Report. It was really great to talk to you today.
Thank you, Jamie. Glad to be here.
Okay, don’t go anywhere, up next, we have our segment. That’s Not Heavy Duty. Alright, this is a segment that I’m excited about this that’s not heavy duty. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to look at some of the challenges in the industry to look at some of the things people do that they shouldn’t be doing, and to talk about what it means to be heavy-duty In this week’s segment that’s not heavy duty.
We’re going to provide you with some training on servicing air disc brakes. Now, the important thing you need to know in this video is the one thing that he says where he says, don’t buy a socket off Amazon to fix air disc brakes. That’s Not Heavy Duty. Why? Well dartmech1 on TikTok shows us exactly why. Let’s watch the video.
A lot of people get frustrated with these disc brakes here. Bendix, ADB 22X, I don’t like the sheer adapter. Why do I need to use this? Can I just buy the socket off Amazon and I don’t have to do this? No, because these ADB 22X brakes are chain driven. Look at that. So when you turn the shear adapter, it rotates the other piston through the use of the chain.
Without the shear adapter, it could break this blinds on the end. It could break this blind on the inside with little gears where it could break the chain. So always make sure you’re using the sheer adapter. That’s what it’s for. If you keep breaking them, you’re either doing something wrong or there is something wrong. Here’s the part number if you want it.
Thank you dartmech1 for being heavy-duty and teaching us how to service air disc brakes the right way using the right tools. We recently attended the Heavy Duty Aftermarket week in Grapevine, Texas, and we will be publishing those interviews very soon. We did a number of interviews from the show floor. It was another amazing show. I believe it was record breaking again this year.
And so we’re really excited. So if you haven’t already, make sure you follow The Heavy Duty Parts report by going over to heavydutypartsreport.com and hit that follow button. You’ll sign up to our weekly email. You get one email a week, gives you access to all of our content so you never miss out.
Make sure you do that today, and if you’re listening on your podcast player of choice or following us along and watching the videos on YouTube, just make sure you follow or subscribe to us and go over and check out FindItParts.com. Our main sponsor, we’re so happy to have them as our sponsor and it gives you the opportunity to buy heavy-duty parts through their platform and get them very, very quickly. It’s an amazing platform.
If you haven’t checked it out, make sure you go over and do so. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode and as always, Be Heavy Duty.