The Value of Adding a Director of Training
SHOP STATS: Pride Auto Care Location: Centennial, Littleton & Parker, Colo. Operator: Al, Dwight, and Vince Pridemore Average Monthly Car Count: 400 Staff Size: 32 Shop Size: 4,000-5,000 sq. ft. Annual Revenue: $6.8 million
Tye Ragsdale was the solution to Al, Vince and Dwight Pridemore's problem.
The problem? With four businesses to run, the Pridemores’ began noticing processes weren’t always being followed as they should be, and employee turnover told them that their employees may not be happy with how things were being run.
So, who exactly is Ragsdale? He’s the first-ever director of training for Pride Auto Care in Colorado. Here’s how creating the position and finding the right person for the job helped the Pridemores’ with the issues that come along with running multiple locations and create a well-oiled machine.
Al, Vince, and Dwight Pridemore started their careers off with Amoco and Exxon service stations, later joining the Great American Tire & Auto team at two of their eight properties just south of Denver. The brothers worked through the ranks, eventually becoming minority owners of the shop’s two locations. Finally, the brothers decided to take over full ownership of the original two Great American shops in 2005, creating a new brand later that year: Pride Auto Care.
Since then, they have added on to the shop’s portfolio, establishing another general service shop location in Parker, Colo., and a Mr. Transmission right next door. And while the brothers had a great operation going, it became difficult to monitor if the shop’s operations were consistent throughout all of its locations. They had all of the tools to train their staff, but when running more than one shop, consistency between all of the locations became difficult to cultivate.
The Pridemore brothers started to become concerned when there was some personnel turnover and overall inconsistencies started popping up amongst the locations.
“Leadership tactics of good store management were not being trained—it wasn’t consistent,” Al says. “It wasn’t regimented enough to get a chance for everyone to get trained to the best of their ability.”
And while one of the brothers could have been put up to the task to fix the issues, they knew they weren’t the best choice for the job.
“Being the foundational members of this ownership group, we have a ton of experience and knowledge to offer across the business needs of this company, but not in terms of hands-on training this newer generation of workers and learners,” Al says. “Adding to our workload right now was a no-go, quite frankly, given the other ‘15 ballcaps’ we all wear daily.”
The Pridemore brothers place high value on training, growth, and overall culture, and their multiple locations made it difficult to oversee this on the level that they wanted. Their solution? To add a director of training and development.
The shop officially added the position in December 2018, promoting Ragsdale to the job. The shop’s goal when creating this position was to place value on their people and their development, and support continual growth.
“These people will help us not only for current business but we are preparing them for our future as well,” Al says. “The human capital side of the automotive service business may not be in dire straits at this juncture, but at times it seems we get real close. Building and developing people in our mind is the only smart choice to make—in terms of adding this new position—for us to stay viable now and to entertain growth in the future.”
So, how did they come up with Ragsdale as their ideal candidate?
“Tye is not just management,” Al says. “He came out of the technician ranks, maintained his ratings as a tech, service director and store manager side of things before becoming the director of training.”
Ragsdale has been with the repair shop since he was 15, sweeping floors at the shop’s Broadway location. He ran through the ranks working up from a technician to a service advisor, to a manager, and finally his current position, director of training.
Al says it’s all about being able to relate to people at a conversational level, being respected in the shop, and being a servant leader—all of the qualities Ragsdale possesses.
Instead of the typical interview process to find the right person, Ragsdale says it was more of an organic, 20-year progression into the mentor role that naturally spoke to him.
In his role, Ragsdale is constantly training in every aspect and role—technical, customer service, work processes—to polish his staff’s skill set. He doesn’t set a hard line for how much training exactly; on average, he sets up at least 80 hours of onsite training throughout the year—including online training—but he says most of the staff does more than that because they want to get to that next level and progress.
But Ragsdale's job doesn’t revolve solely around training. Many of Pride Auto Care’s employees are a part of the millennial generation. Ragsdale had to learn the best ways to speak to a generation that differed from his own, finding his job more closely relating to mentoring and coaching. And, as a mentor, his role differs greatly from a manager. Rather than sitting in an office as a typical shop manager would, he’s right in the action for anything they may need. In essence, he’s a support system and resource for his staff to count on.
“It’s having an emotional bank account with them,” Ragsdale says. “If they aren’t having someone drive and help them progress in the right direction, they’ll fail.”
To prove his point, Ragsdale refers back to a study: The Deloitte Millennial Survey. The study concludes that those intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not having one (32 percent). To sum this up, millennials are looking for mentorship and coaching, professional development, collaboration, and respect. If they can’t find it at their current place of work, they’ll move somewhere else that will.
“We really need to move away from just focusing on the operations and numbers, redirect it and move the focus to the people that drive our operations,” Ragsdale says. “[It’s] amazing what actively engaged teams bring to the performance of operations, and overall great cultures we all strive for.”
“Every business is just like a machine that’s up and running, so I can go in and we’ve actually been able to fine-tune and smooth some of our sales processes of our operations, just to make us all run cleaner and better,” Ragsdale says.
Not only has Pride Auto Care perfected its processes and increased its engagement between the shops and its staff, but the numbers showed it’s paid off. Since implementing a director of training, the business has grown its gross sales by 7.2 percent, and training certifications have gone up too. The business increased its ASE certifications by about 28 percent—currently at 94 certifications company-wide—with Ragsdale not even having to get on his guys about taking classes whatsoever—they voluntarily go.
“I’m just trying to get everyone to that next level,” Ragsdale says. “There’s that culture of everyone’s trying to become more, to try to do better. Everyone wants to be at that next level, they don’t like to stagnate, they want to progress.”
So, why haven’t shops jumped on the opportunity to have a director of training of their own?
“Every time you add a position to a company, you are taking money away and no one is sitting down and running the numbers,” Ragsdale said. “People don’t want to invest.”
But even if a shop thinks the training it currently has is enough, Al says the role was much needed and has helped the shop grow to its full potential.
“[It’s about] getting the right people in the right jobs doing the right things, and the director of training helped us do that,” Al says.