Technicians require Kaizen

Technicians require Kaizen

By Kathryn van der Pol

Last month I wrote how we enjoy looking at classic cars, but not necessarily driving them. Modern cars are far more comfortable, especially when it comes to air conditioning, and they actually stop pretty quick compared to cars of the past. You don’t feel like you’re driving a boat going down the road or operating a tank when you’re trying to turn right.  Most importantly, a modern car won’t kill you if you crash, at least most of the time.

So basically, I was writing about how much cars have improved. For a great example of this, watch this two-minute video showing what happens when a 1959 Chevy Belair crashes into a 2009 Malibu. 1959 Belair 2009 Malibu Crash Test.htm.

Whether you are driving a ’53 Buick Special or a 2017 Buick Enclave, when the machine breaks down, you need someone you can trust to fix it. So, how can we possibly know everything on the ’53 Buick Special and the 2017 Buick Enclave?


Training! The Japanese have a great word for this called Kaizen which translates as continuous improvement.

In the past 30 days our staff completed over a 100 hours of training.

Two Service Advisors attended six hours of training on BG products, which are lubricating fluids that clean, preserve, and enhance performance in seven major systems in your vehicle.

Two ASE Master L-1 technicians attended four hours of training on Chrysler / Jeep products.

Lastly, to ‘top it off’ Garage Gurus, a company owned by Federal Mogul Parts, brought two trainers from Kansas to our shop to teach a class on diagnosing modern steering-suspension concerns.


Garage Gurus brought a van to our shop equipped with a wide-screen TV and their instructor discussed diagnosing modern steering and suspension concerns.


Several of our technicians attended classes on brake diagnostics, engine performance, and diagnosing electrical issues three consecutive nights from 6:00 t0 10:00 p.m.



One of our three of our ASE Master Certified L-1 technicians, Michael Nowlin is servicing a Ford truck.


One of my service advisors attended a four-hour class on diesel maintenance for vehicles and trucks.


I took one of our service advisors to VISION, our industry ‘s premier training program in Kansas City for technical and shop training. It lasted four days and attended classroom sessions on such things as improving communication with customers and technicians, creating more efficient shop operations, and using technology.


Over 2000 technicians, service advisors, and shop owners attended Vision in Kansas City this year.

Sybren went to Washington state for three days of management -training and visited shops in the Seattle-Bremerton area.

And that’s not all.

In addition to the outside training, we have weekly employee meetings.  Recently, we did a demonstration with our service advisors and showed them how carbon builds up on valves of all gasoline direct injected engines.  There is a new treatment available for that and virtually every car with gasoline direct injection (GDI) will develop problems and there are over 4,000 models with GDI engines. Seeing is believing.  Now our service team can truly advise our customers with confidence if their GDI engine develops issues.

That, of course, does not include all the training that our technicians do for one another. After all, no one is teaching classes on how to rebuild carburetors these days. But our technicians help each other and coach each other, especially when it comes to something challenging, something built before they were born, or something truly unusual.

Continuous learning and Kaizen is absolutely essential as cars and the world changes.  For us in the automotive industry, we really like to see how things work.  We like to take things apart and put them back together.  We think with our hands, and our hands are our best tools. We like to make things go.  We like to help people have reliable transportation and we want to understand the newest technologies that do that.  Bottom line?  We like to fix stuff. We can fix anything. We just happen to fix cars. Why?

Because we believe that cars are key to our independence.