From The CEO - January/February - 2019

Keeping Up With a Changing Industry

The transmission industry, like so many other things, is constantly changing. And that change breeds differing opinions on how to operate a shop. If you put a group of shop owners together, you can be sure they won’t agree completely on the best practices for operating their businesses.

Sales, marketing, and how to deal with customers might be up for debate, but one thing is certain: The transmission has to work. The customer expects to be able to drive down the road and never come back again unless it’s for a new job.

And even how to fix a transmission so it stays out might be up for debate. But one thing is certain: achieving that once-simple goal is getting harder to accomplish with each passing day.

Transmission technology is growing at an alarming rate. 8- and 10-speed transmissions, CVTs, and dual-clutch units are fast becoming the norm. And then the builder who’s been with you for thirty years just gave notice that he’s retiring in six months.

This situation is becoming all too common and, if you gather that same group of shop owners, you probably won’t find a consensus on how to address it other than, “We need a rebuilder!”

We’ve delved into the matter over the past couple years. We’ve discovered there are still folks out there who want to work on cars. They’re smart and talented young people looking for career opportunities. The problem? There isn’t adequate training available that works for both the shop owner and the technician… until now.

There have been rumors and hints of a new platform for training through ATRA. We revealed some of it at the recent Powertrain Expo in Las Vegas. That new platform is VTS — Virtual Training Solutions, powered by ATRA. VTS is an advanced training solution that brings the training you need right to your business.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’ve seen new training programs before. New programs come and new programs go. And generally, they’re all pretty much the same, with a few new classes or articles added to cover the latest transmissions. The same old thing tied with a pretty new bow.

But VTS is different. Here’s what it isn’t: It isn’t just a new compilation of articles or classes that were written for GEARS or one of our past seminars. Every module is new, written and designed to work within the framework of the overall program.

And it isn’t just a series of recorded seminars or webinars, available at specific days and times. Each segment covers a specific subject, designed to be digested in bite-sized pieces. It’s available 24/7 and can be viewed from your desktop, tablet, or smartphone. And, with simple screen mirroring, you can watch it on your TV.

VTS includes rebuild procedures, diagnostics, chassis diagnosis and repair, and even management training. And each class comes with its own test, so participants can prove what they learned, or go back and retake the class until they can verify their newfound skills.

As a shop owner, you can help your shop grow by taking advantage of the classes available. Choose the areas that you want to improve on and assign those classes to your technicians. They’ll receive a notification that you assigned the class, and you’ll receive updates to review their progress.

Another thing VTS isn’t: It isn’t carved in stone. It’s a living, growing program that’s constantly evolving. Don’t see the class you want today? Stop back again in a few weeks: There’s a good chance it’ll be there. Or, if you’d like, give us a call or drop us an email and let us know what you’re looking for. If possible, we’ll move it to the top of the list.

How much does it cost to take advantage of the VTS program? It’s included as part of the ATRA membership services package. If you’d like to take advantage of VTS, consider becoming an ATRA Member.

So when will the VTS program become available? We’re currently in beta testing with a few shops and it’ll go live early 2019. Notices will go out to all members when it’s ready to roll.

ATRA’s VTS is the newest, most advanced training program available to our industry. I’m sure you’ll find it as exciting to use as we did to develop it.