Automotive care can be a costly business when vehicle owners don't keep up with routine maintenance services. Grease Monkey is a well-known national franchise of automotive service centers. With hundreds of locations across the country, the franchise provides oil changes, preventative vehicle maintenance, and other car care services.
Grease Monkey is the largest major brand that offers full-service oil changes and isn't owned by an oil company. Their franchises are independently owned and operated. Grease Monkey is a member of the FullSpeed Automotive family, alongside brands that include SpeeDee, LubePro, Monkey Shine, and Havoline Xpress Lube. We recently spoke with Tom Staker, the Director of Training and New Services for Grease Monkey, to learn more about their effective training practices.
Taking A Multi-Tool Approach To Training
One of the tools that Grease Monkey utilizes is a robust online training system that's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is a custom curriculum set up for the various brands belonging to FullSpeed Automotive, and when a learner logs into the system, they are taken directly to their own learning path for their brand. Grease Monkey also uses the CARQUEST Training and Certification system, a learning management system specifically designed for technicians who want to advance in the automotive service industry.
Grease Monkey recently added about 25 courses to its online curriculum, with plans to add more for self-improvement, management, leadership, and problem solving, among other skills. Their online training is paramount to the success of Grease Monkey franchises. "Last year, we closed the year with just under 24,000 course completions from our online training," Staker told us. "We’re pretty proud of that." He expects to exceed that number in 2018, as the franchisor has moved to a new version of online training with greater capabilities.
Staker feels that instructor-led training is still a vital piece of the puzzle. That said, because the logistics can be difficult when it comes to pulling people out of the workplace for training, online learning has become increasingly beneficial.
Staker drives the development of training courses, including powerpoint presentations with voiceovers and professionally-filmed training modules. They offer about 68 custom Grease Monkey courses online, covering everything from new employee orientation, customer service, and performing automotive services.
Steady Certification Wins The Race
Grease Monkey's high standard of car and customer service is driven in large part by its Pit Crew certification program. For a franchise to receive this certification, everyone in the franchise location must be certified, right down to the person working the counter. The program is comprised of about 19 courses that employees must pass every two years to keep their Pit Crew certification. New employees have to complete their certification within their first 60 days of training. Once a franchise qualifies for its Pit Crew certification, every employee receives a red shirt that says "Pit Crew Certified," a uniform that makes the staff look like a pit crew racing team. All of Grease Monkey's centers are Pit Crew certified.
"The customers want certified people working on their cars," Staker noted. While customers might not understand exactly what that certification entails, the word "certified" implies thorough education and knowledge, both of which are vital to earning customer trust.
Instructor-Led Training Is Required Before Franchisees Can Get Their Hands Dirty
Staker offers formal training classes, which include a course for new franchisees, on a quarterly basis. There is a one-week required course that takes place at Grease Monkey's headquarters in Denver, Colorado. While franchisees may bring their spouses or managers, anyone listed on the actual franchise agreement must attend this course before they can open their franchise.
The training course for new franchisees covers everything they need to know about operating a Grease Monkey franchise. The curriculum is intense; 10-hour days are full of extensive coursework and role playing.
When a franchise opens, Grease Monkey sends store opening specialists who train in the field. They stay on site for a number of days, or even weeks, to help train the franchise location's staff on every process. These specialists mentor employees, help with oil changes, and assist with vendors, along with anything else the employees or franchisee may need. "It gets them off to a great start," Staker observed.
After recognizing the need for more advanced training for store managers and assistant managers, Staker created a monthly two-day advanced manager course that he offers in Denver. Occasionally, he takes the show on the road to regions where a group of local managers can attend, which alleviates their need for arranging travel and mitigates costly expenses.
There are also monthly company-wide webcasts that cover specific services. The one-hour webcasts educate franchises on a number of subjects including air conditioning, the elements of a great oil change, customer service, and more.
As the franchisor, Grease Monkey can remotely monitor every location not just on its number of services and customers, but its training. They know who's taking a course, who finished a course, and what their scores are. This enables the franchisor to assess things directly, make assignments, and monitor further training.
Training Is Vital For Franchises To Run Like Well-Oiled Machines
"Training is one of the most important things you can do," Staker said. It improves the overall performance of a brand because a customer will receive the same quality service in any franchise location.
Still, there is always room for improvement and expansion when it comes to training. "I think we have a good solid approach," Staker noted, but he intends to further augment the online courses; three more are currently in development. "I see adding a lot more courses to our curriculum, and expanding our instructor-led courses to get more into the field."
With Grease Monkey's attention to training and certification, the brand has earned a solid reputation for superior quality automotive and customer care.
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