Opinion: The importance of upskilling the entire garage in the age of the EV

Bob Wiffen, director of workshop solutions at LKQ Euro Car Parts, explains why it's important to spread the love

Opinion: The importance of upskilling the entire garage in the age of the EV
Photo: Bigstock

The government’s recent decision to extend the ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles until 2035 has given garage owners more breathing space to ensure their workforce is properly trained.

But with registrations of EVs and hybrids continuing to increase, garages that put off getting EV-ready risk missing out on a significant revenue stream – at a time when every customer counts.

That’s why our advice is for garage owners to seize the opportunity to invest in training now – and this doesn’t just apply to their technicians; it applies to front of house staff too.

Investing in knowledge across the board

EVs are relatively expensive, and we’re still in the ‘early adoption’ phase, meaning EVs are new to many drivers, who might well be in the first plug-in vehicle they’ve ever had.

This means the average EV driver is likely to be more engaged – actively researching where to send their vehicle for servicing, maintenance and repairs, to make sure their chosen garage knows what it’s doing.

While the aftermarket will still be ICE-dominated into 2025, more and more EVs are coming out of warranty and heading into the independent sector.

And when you consider that one in two drivers have changed repairer since getting an EV, and one in four would prefer to use an EV specialist, the need for garage owners to embed technical knowledge throughout the whole customer journey – not just on the garage floor – becomes clear.

As their first point of contact, front-of-house staff play a key role in shaping customers’ perceptions of a garage.

Competition in the independent aftermarket is fierce, so it’s vital that team members taking inbound customer calls can effectively discuss all vehicles’ requirements and book in jobs accurately and efficiently. Otherwise customers might lose confidence and take their business elsewhere.

And the same applies when it’s time to hand the vehicle back – explaining the work that’s been carried out and why, so that the customer can drive away with confidence.

Preparing for change

According to the IMI’s latest EV Technician Forecast Report, the total number of technicians trained to work safely on EVs halfway through this year has reached 45,300. That’s about a fifth of all technicians in the UK.

But what about the rest of the team in a garage?

Pete Anning runs MBS Exeter, a family-owned garage in Marsh Barton that specialises in dealing with Mercedes, BMW and MINI vehicles. As an LKQ Academy customer, Pete is a big advocate for ensuring that everyone in the workshop is given the chance to broaden their skills wherever possible.

“Technical knowledge is just as important from a front-of-house perspective as it is on the workshop floor,” says Pete. “It gives our staff the confidence to discuss customers’ needs and allocate jobs in the workshop, guaranteeing a seamless experience from start to finish.”

Through the LKQ Academy, we’ve recently added to the range of EV and hybrid training courses we offer, including the launch of a new ‘Becoming an EV Garage’ course, which covers how to make hybrid and EV servicing and maintenance a profitable workstream, and how to ensure everyone in the workshop is pulling in the same direction.

If front-of-house staff are confident discussing and booking in jobs, and technicians are confident in their ability to work to a high standard, customers can rest assured that their money has been well spent, and will be inclined to recommend and return to the garage in future.

For more information on the LKQ Academy’s training offering, speak to your local account manager, or click here for more information.

Bob Wiffen is director of workshop solutions at LKQ Euro Car Parts.

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