Parts for Profit Part Seven—Training

As I showed you in part six, the parts manager is the key motivator in the department. He also has the most complex job. He needs all the help he can get, and it needs to be good help.


Few employees will train themselves. Most of the time they rely on “on the job” training, and when they have learned enough to keep up with the everyday flow of business, they stop learning. The problem is “just enough” is not good enough. The parts manager must institute an ongoing training program until everyone is as qualified as possible. The more personnel know about the entire department, the better they will work with each other.


Most manufactures have a certification program of some kind. Set a goal that every employee will get the highest certificate possible. Set aside time for training. For individual employees, afternoon sessions are best. Training for a group is best done after work. Group training is difficult. None of your people are going to be enthusiastic about staying after work, but it is necessary. Let them decide together on which day they want, except for Friday, no one should have to stay late on that day. After the day is decided, have a firm goal for each meeting.


One manufacturer I worked for had short manuals, approximately thirty pages, with twenty questions at the end. Having a “classroom,” with each employee reading and answering by themselves would have been a boring and painful experience. Instead, I passed out that evening’s manual, and immediately assigned one of the questions to each person. I instructed everyone to look through the manual for their answer. When an employee found an answer, he would tell everyone on what page the information could be found, and read it aloud. That employee was then given his next question to work on. All persons were given the same amount of questions, creating a “team” effect. At the end of that session, everyone had all the answers, and all had contributed evenly. If one or two had not found answers by the end, they still contributed to the effort. Although it would seem on the surface that the employees would be skipping a lot of material, in reality they had to read the manual, cover to cover, over and over to find the answer to their own question. Reading the answer to another person’s question and writing the answer down gave them the knowledge without the “pain” of a structured class. All shared the work, the knowledge, and the reward.


Here is a general training outline:


  1. Training on parts system, number system, and group system


  2. Training on computer system-interface with accounting


  3. Training on posting, part number control, and dollar control


  4. Training on customer relations-wholesale and retail


  5. Training on accounting, expense and sales accounts


  6. Training on parts control-monthly obsolescence, parts


  1. ordered in error, part number changes, and credits


  2. Overall objective: have everyone know everything and why


  3. Create a team


Larry Williams is a former parts manager and consultant with national awards and over 40 years of experience in creating profitable departments. He can be reached at





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