Once your business becomes an authorized Stihl chain saw and power equipment dealership, the next step is to get your employees certified by the company. Stihl's professional instruction program is only available to professional landscaping, tree service and public utility service groups. Because certification isn’t an option for nonprofessionals and homeowners and Stihl doesn’t sell its products online, having certified employees ready and qualified to help and educate customers is an invaluable marketing tool.
Stihl offers three certification levels: bronze, silver and gold. Students reaching the gold level also receive a MasterWrench service technician designation. The process is cumulative, so you must achieve certifications in a specific order. For example, you can’t take silver-level training until you have a bronze certification. In addition, you can’t receive a MasterWrench designation until you have all three underlying certifications. Develop a certification plan for your employees, as each progressive level requires an increasing commitment of time and money. For example, get all your employees certified up to the silver level and then designate specific employees or managers to receive higher-level certification training.
Stihl requires all dealership employees to achieve a bronze-level certification. Because this level is mandatory, Stihl provides free online training via the Stihl iCademy to all dealership employees. Once registered, employees can access the site and complete coursework 24 hours per day. The course provides basic training in areas such as warranties, products, parts and product liability, and it includes a certification exam.
The silver-level certification course consists of two days of instructor-led and participatory training. The curriculum builds on previous knowledge and moves forward with additional training on diagnosing and repairing malfunctioning equipment. Certification training culminates with a final hands-on exam. The silver-level course requires advance planning, as it's only available on certain dates -- which Stihl publishes annually -- at one of Stihl’s 12 regional distribution centers.
Gold-level certification training, which also requires travel to one of the company's distribution centers, consists of a three-day, intensive course in which students build on equipment troubleshooting and diagnostic and repair skills. Participants must pass both a written and hands-on exam before receiving a three-year gold-level, MasterWrench certification. After this, technicians can’t simply renew an existing certification. To keep pace with changing products, technologies and regulations, Stihl requires technicians to retake both the course and the final exam to remain certified at the MasterWrench level.