Continuing Education For Auto Parts Professionals

Continuing Education For Counter Pros

A wide array of content is available to anyone with an internet connection and the desire to learn.

The transportation industry is constantly evolving. Environmental and safety regulations are two of the main driving forces behind the changes we see each year as new models roll out of showrooms, but consumer preferences and an increased desire for technology and convenience also shape the future of the vehicles we service.

Changing consumer needs and buying habits also have altered our own business practices, affecting the kinds of parts we carry, how we market them and even how our customers acquire them. As the industry continually adapts, our personnel also need to continue their individual educations to keep themselves (and our stores) at the leading edge of the technologies.

The phrase “continuing education” usually refers to college or university programs, but also can include specialized training in business, industrial or other vocational occupations. In our case, “continuing” is more like “continuous” … each day behind the counter brings something new, and an opportunity to learn!

Aside from “on-the-job” training, in which we learn by doing and by observing and interacting with others, our structured professional development has largely consisted of manufacturer or program-group training modules. When I first became a counter professional, these trainings were often made up of correspondence courses, with a few live events hosted by vendors throughout the year. The booklets and paper tests then slowly evolved into online programs, which allowed better access to training materials at a reduced cost to the company, and often free to the individual. In today’s world of Zoom meetings and YouTube, it’s even easier to acquire training information on-demand. A wide array of content is available to anyone with an internet connection and the desire to learn, and most of it is 100% free!

While our employees have a responsibility to successfully utilize the catalog resources we supply to them, we also have a responsibility to provide as many of these resources as is practical to allow them to do their jobs efficiently. Investing in training is an investment in our employees, which is ultimately an investment in our businesses. Whenever I interview a potential counter person, I ask them what vehicle systems they feel they know the most about, and the system(s) that they don’t feel as comfortable with. Identifying these “weak points” isn’t just about weeding out under-qualified candidates; it’s about determining what we can do to help them succeed at our counters.

Aside from the catalog skills and technical knowledge required to be a successful parts professional, employee training also can include business and managerial topics. In terms of traditional “continuing education,” certificate programs (or even pursuing a degree) in business administration can help set your star employees on a future path to management, partnership or even ownership. Informal teaching or mentoring programs also can help build the next generation of leadership for your organization. Even if your business plan doesn’t include offering these growth opportunities as an employee benefit, encouraging your people to pursue them on their own can lead to future success.

Over the years, I’ve participated in many automotive training programs, as a student and occasionally as a co-host. From classrooms to manuals and video, here in the pages of Counterman, and even my first Zoom training series with ASE last winter, I’ve always believed that knowledge worth having is also worth sharing. I’m grateful to those who have shared their knowledge with me, and I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to pass that knowledge to others.

You May Also Like

Tool Intel – Understanding Air Tool Fittings and Couplers

Why don’t air tools come with fittings installed? Here’s why customers need to buy what they actually need.

Your customers may be using air tools in a variety of circumstances for an even wider variety of jobs. Here's how to help them understand why they need to buy the right fitting for the application.

View Full Diagram Here

There are multiple different sizes and styles, and what one shop uses may not be the same as another. The size and style affect the volume of air they can deliver, a critical point because air tools require a specific pressure and volume for proper operation, and restrictive fittings can limit their performance. Here’s a look at the most common sizes and styles found in most automotive shops, and how you can identify them.

Read the April Digital Edition of Counterman

The April issue contains article designed for technical training, management efficiency and store profitability.

ASE Education Foundation Seeking Outstanding Instructor

Nominations are being accepted for the 2024 Byrl Shoemaker/ASE Education Foundation Instructor of the Year award.

Why Does Engine Coolant Need Replacement?

Two specifications can be used to justify replacement — the condition of the additive package & the freezing point.

Gaskets vs. Seals

Whether your customer asks for a gasket or a seal, you know one thing: They’re trying to stop a leak.

Gaskets and Seals

Other Posts

High Performance Expo to Debut in Charlotte

The inaugural High Performance Expo (HPX) will be held from June 3-5, 2025, at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Advance Auto Parts, Worldpac Wrap Up STX 2024

Nearly 3,400 registrants attended STX in Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

ACC Provides Sneak Peek into Conference Speakers

Industry leaders will share their knowledge on trends, strategies and innovations in automotive communications.

Registration for AAPEX 2024 Now Open

AAPEX 2024 will combine demos and training; business education sessions; and in-person networking.