Magic Toyota's in-house school was growing and developing but might have stayed a part-time thing were it not for the COVID-19 outbreak last year. When schools closed, "Matt had no place to teach," Chung recalled. So he asked Stroud to come teach full time at the dealership, hiring him at a wage that was less than he would have made as a master technician in his shop but nearly matching what he was making as a professor at the nearby trade school.
In a typical year, Chung said Magic Toyota retails about 2,400 new and 1,500 used vehicles, though business was impacted in 2020 by COVID-19.
Stroud said his job as an "in-house professor" is extremely rewarding from a personal standpoint.
Not only is he helping bring new technicians into the business, his skills as an instructor and his role as a master technician allow him to help all of Magic's techs increase their certification levels and thus earn higher pay. And, he says, his experience is infinitely repeatable at any franchised dealership, where senior techs with a wealth of experience and knowledge have to leave the business when the physical demands of the job grow too daunting.
"I think this is the only way we have a future now," Stroud said. "The benefits are rewarded to all of us — technicians get what they need, and the business gets what it needs to go on to the next generation."
He said other dealers should scour their own senior technician ranks for those who have communication skills, then train them to teach, mentor and be staff development coaches among their fellow techs.
"Every single dealer should have an in-house instructor to bring their techs up, otherwise, they're going to fail" and either grow bored or leave for greener pastures, Stroud said. "Really, my main and only goal is to improve the business from the inside and build the legacy."