The Training Effect
For operators of any car care business, it all starts with management. After all, many say that it’s mostly a “people business.”
Management is a key component in the industry, but the more management positions that are opening up, the more demand there is for training in that area. Tom Staker, the international director of training and new services at FullSpeed Automotive, has helped to offer training courses to new or future managers looking for help.
“I’ve been a franchisee for years, I’ve been a corporate executive for years,” Staker says. “Now, all I want to do is pass along things I know to the young folks in the industry.”
Future managers can seek out training opportunities to further their careers and learn more about the industry as a whole, including these courses from Staker. In this article, learn how a professional trainer grows excellent managers.
Not Enough Focus?
Staker came up with the idea for an advanced management training course six years ago, with the idea of helping newer managers learn the industry. Through one of FullSpeed Automotive’s brands, Grease Monkey International, Staker puts on classes for those types of managers.
Staker is also involved with the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA) and after serving as vice president of the board of directors, he will soon take the role as president.
“I began to realize that our young managers in these quick lube centers, very few have ever had any formal or even informal type of management experience or training,” Staker says. “They learned their management techniques from the manager that probably preceded them.”
Staker saw an issue with the direction of management years ago and felt his expertise could help mitigate some of those problems. With many new managers, they are a trusted employee that elevates to a role they’ve never done before following their company’s new vacancy in the manager role.
The lack of formal training for many managers at quick lubes across the country has become an issue and courses like the one Staker teaches are working to fix that. While some may not come for fear of costs, the training course is free, meaning travel costs are the biggest barriers.
“There was a concern before of ‘will the franchisees pay the expense to have their manager or assistant manager or an up-and-comer who aspires to be a manager come to this course,” Staker says.
Staker says the turnout has been high and the demand for courses like these are high. Being able to train a potential future manager within your business is seen as a goal of many owners and current managers.
Through his experience in management, Staker has noticed a change in what’s important for both employees and managers in the quick lube industry. Younger employees respond differently to different types of management.
“I developed this management course to bring these young folks in who are eager to learn, they’re wonderful young people,” Staker says. “We have a two-day training course where we not only go through all of the basics of the franchise processes, but then we also get into management of people—which has changed today.”
Staker says the change starts with attitude and expectations. Staker says that young people respond more to recognition and are more productive if they know what their contributions are to the business.
The idea is that young people want to help and learn how to do everything themselves, while also learning what they can improve on. Staker says that it’s important that young people are involved in the direction of the company and that they’re aware of their own impact.
“One of the biggest things that we’ve had to recognize is that the needs and the things that motivate the employees that we’re seeing today are more slanted towards the idea of creating a culture of recognition,” Staker says.
Staker believes there are positives and negatives, but the most important thing is for managers to learn how to understand their employees. It’s a lack of training that can lead to old business practices—something Staker says would not work with the younger generations of today.
Thanks partially to a global pandemic that led to severe job loss, the ability to get and keep employees in the quick lube business is another issue that can be tackled through management training.
Many young managers that Staker has talked to have told him that one of their biggest problems is getting and keeping employees. Staker believes this isn’t just a quick lube industry problem.
“It’s not just us, this is I believe universal,” Staker says. “Even in the food industry, it’s getting the folks and then keeping them.”
This goes in tandem with the shift in culture throughout the industry as younger people are moving around more often and the lack of understanding between different age groups is widening.
The different ways that management has changed is something Staker has been able to keep up with himself thanks to his decades of experience. He now wants to make sure the skills he has learned get passed down to the next generation of new managers.
Putting it Together
The lack of manager expertise is something that may always be part of the quick lube industry. Many managers start off in different roles and with the ever-changing landscape of the workforce, practices will come and go.
But there are still some things that need to be learned, and people like Staker are keeping up with the changes to best teach management training. Keeping employees and learning new practices while adapting to the landscape is essential for managers who have no experience.
“I oftentimes get young folks who, I know the owner’s got aspirations for that person and he’s not the manager yet, but he’s probably preparing him,” Staker says. “We got the classes going and had success stories. We had people go back excited, motivated.”
Travel costs and administrative costs can be a barrier to management training courses, but the payoff to investments like training can go a long way.