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Jack Crawley, owner of Fisk Automotive in Fullerton, Calif., started an interesting discussion in the Ratchet+Wrench LinkedIn group last month.

Crawley shared some concerns about the new G1 automotive maintenance and light repair certification offered through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

For those who are not familiar with the certification, it was developed in response to the large amount of maintenance work shops are doing across the country. To get the certification, a tech must have a year of hands-on maintenance and light repair experience, and must pass an assessment with 55 scored questions. Certified individuals receive a certificate, wallet card, and a shoulder insignia that is different from the standard ASE sprocket. The certification is valid for five years.

Regardless of what you think about the new ASE offering (and there are certainly mixed reviews of it), there’s one issue that shops will still need to address: Showing customers why it matters. A couple of our LinkedIn group members brought up the point of customer awareness in response to Crawley’s post.

Simply put, most consumers have no idea what ASE is and they definitely won’t know what G1 is. Regardless of what certifications your shop might have, they don’t mean a thing in the way of landing business if customers can’t easily understand their significance.

There’s something shops can do about this, though. Most service and repair centers proudly display their certifications in marketing materials, on websites, and in shop windows­—which they should—but they don’t take the extra step to explain to customers what the certifications mean. The ASE blue sprocket, for example, is so well known in the industry that repairers seem to forget its relative obscurity outside the shop.

Including a brief sentence or two in marketing materials and initial customer interactions explaining that your shop meets the industry’s standards for automotive excellence can go a long way. Share that your technicians are up to date on the latest training required to repair today’s vehicles; don’t rely on a certification logo alone to tell them that.

Customers want to know that the people working on their vehicles are properly trained. They want to hand the keys off with confidence, knowing that a skilled professional is going to get the job done right without ripping them off. Certifications, when utilized correctly, should be just as much of a marketing tool as they are a way to make sure your staff is properly trained.  

We have several stories in this issue dedicated to education and training. The first, “Joining a School Advisory Board,” highlights the benefits of getting involved with a local technical program. The second, “Clearing the Path,” offers insight from three shop owners on what needs to be done to strengthen the industry’s workforce. And third is “Field Trip,” a story about what shop owners can learn from touring other facilities.

Jake Weyer

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