Training in cyberspace

How online continuing education courses can boost employee morale
By Jay Sampson
July 22, 2008

When I started in the windshield repair business more than a decade ago, there were three ways to get relevant, reliable information on how to properly perform a repair:
1. Contact the tool and supply manufacturers and providers
2. Talk to an experienced windshield repair technician
3. Figure it out yourself through trial and error.

All of these methods are still valid, unless of course you're practicing No. 3 on a customer's windshield. However, it's often impractical to have a technician take the day off to go to a training course, especially when you're running an active business that requires a full staff. Training can be a real burden for today's business owners, and as result, it often winds up at the bottom of the priority list.

Enter online technical school In early 2007, as chairman of the National Glass Association's National Windshield Repair Committee, I tasked the committee with developing content for the windshield repair modules on The NWRC immediately began developing a comprehensive overview that included the how, when and why of windshield repair. We wrote the content with the Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard as a backdrop, marking the first time such a comprehensive online training program was made available to the entire auto glass repair and replacement industry. Much of the content was adapted from Thom Inman's exceptional volume of work, with the permission of Glass Doctor in Waco, Texas.

Education in action
At my company, we generally have our technicians come in early at scheduled intervals and work on the modules prior to starting their routes for the day. Not only does the online training improve their professionalism, it boosts their morale and ultimately drives more business to the shop. It also offers a huge cost savings as it involves little to no technician downtime or travel expenses.

Since we began to utilize as a training tool, we have experienced a marked improvement in employee morale. We've shown our technicians that we encourage their continuing education efforts and appreciate how they contribute to the company's success. Today, all of our technicians want to be NGA certified. It has become a status symbol.

Our technicians used to see the certification process as a burden; today they see it as an opportunity to show that they are serious about their craft. They not only want to be the best in the business, they want to prove they are the best in the business ... and in the company. They actually compete with one another on scores! It is extremely gratifying to me as a business owner to see how this online training has inspired my employees to be the best they can be. They win; the company wins; and, most importantly, our customers win.

The author is president and CEO of Safety Glass Co., San Antonio, and chairman of the National Windshield Repair Committee. Write him at jay.sampson

  • The course load

    Designed from a technician's point of view, the windshield repair training courses cover a variety of topics, including: • Procedures and equipment • Industry terms • Repairable versus non-repairable damage • The effects of environmental conditions • Customer service • The physics behind windshield repair • Safety • When repair is an appropriate alternative to replacement and when it is not