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In the movies, every hero undergoes a training montage. You know how it goes—they learn from the best, test themselves and endure until they evolve into something greater, something faster and better and stronger than they ever thought possible. It’s an integral part of the origin story.

The same opportunity lies within the repair industry; the same chance to evolve your team (and yourself) lies at your fingertips. Look no further than the Network Academy (NA). 


Part 1: Evolve Your Training

Katie Malone is operations manager at the NA, and last year she helped launch a new outlet of training solutions for shop owners, technicians and service advisors.

“The goal is to help increase efficiency,” she says. The NA training helps technicians assess and repair cars quicker, while the service advisors and owners have access to training for the daily challenges of shop and customer management. 

“One of the nice aspects of the NA is that it pulls in training for all facets of the shop,” she says. During the COVID era, many owners desire a cutting-edge outlet for their teams, and Malone notes that adapting to the current market is part of what’s made the NA so successful. 

“Training subscription services are increasing. We use independent, ASE master-tech instructors who excel within their specific niches.” In particular, Malone is excited about new opportunities for service advisor training. The NA has partnered with sw Service Solutions to offer the most cutting-edge and approachable online training solutions on the market.

“SW has a program called The First Step, which covers introductory sales/communication skills to build loyalty with customers. It also covers basic service writing, and new webinars have been popular to help meet the unique demands of the COVID era.”

A new technician training program debuted November 1. Live interaction with instructors is needed now more than ever, and the NA is addressing this head-on with a three-month course of biweekly classes that cap at 20 students, similar to shop owner coaching with 20 Groups. “It will help take a C tech to a B or a B tech to an A,” Malone notes, “and any technician who wants to augment their skill set will benefit from the program.”


Part 2: Evolve Your Thinking

Bill Hill has been a Network member shop for over twenty years. 

“Their technician training is by far the most unexpected benefit; it’s outstanding, and I could not afford the quality of that training on my own,” he says. 

“They’ve done a great job increasing the available training and have re-imagined how training works in the COVID era; technicians are physical learners who like to feel it, touch it, grab it, move it around, drop it on the floor—well, they’ve done a great job adapting to how technicians learn.”

Hill owns Mighty Auto Pro (Medina, Ohio), a AAA Top Shop award winner as well as a Wix Driving Performance award winner. Some of that excellence, he notes, comes from his dedication to training for all his staff—not just the technicians.

“It’s an efficiency building tool, absolutely,” he says, “in which my team learns how to communicate with each other and with customers. We’re able to recognize and account for problems and concerns much sooner, and the training has given us the critical thinking skills to solve problems faster.” Hill notes the NA training has even contributed to his shop’s overall culture, helping his staff remind themselves why they chose this field in the first place. 

“The Network Academy training has been invaluable to my team’s success,” he says. “I’d absolutely recommend it for any shop who wants to learn more, do better and thrive through the pandemic.”


Part 3: Take the First Step

“The Network Academy chose us because our training is unique,” laughs Sally Whitesell, founder of sw Service Solutions training programs.

“We do online training and our videos aren’t lecture-based; they’re often animated and use a lot of whiteboards. They’re entertaining, informing and interesting, and they offer a better way to capture advisors’ attention.”

Whitesell notes that many service advisors are tired of people lecturing them about how to do their jobs, so her company gets creative about it—many of their videos are animated, feature cutting-edge graphics and a more intellectual, interactive approach to teaching advanced concepts about customer retention, upselling and more.

“Customer service training is crucial right now,” she says, noting that the COVID era has made some shops wary as budgets tighten and some customers buckle down their car expenditures.

“If people like you, they’ll buy from you,” she says, “so we focus on addressing the customer’s experience of the business.” Retention remains a problem to be solved, but if people trust you, the relationship moves from transactional to something more personal and necessary. Whitesell notes that services advisors play just as important if not more crucial a role than the often unseen technicians wrenching wrenches or busting bolts.

No matter where you find yourself in that hero’s journey—the mentor or the apprentice—the opportunity to grow is closer than you think. Check out to learn more.

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