Why is Paintless Dent Repair hard to learn?
This is a tough question to answer completely and can get a little technical but here goes. PDR is hard to learn because it involves seeing, interpreting, and doing things that you have never done before. In fact, many skills learned in PDR are exactly opposite of everything you've probably ever done. The first difficulty is just finding your tool tip underneath a panel. Since you can't see through the panel, you must depend on "reading" a reflection that shines on the panel to tell you where the tip of your tool is. This is generally a difficult accomplishment for many students using standard training methods, and can take anywhere from hours to several days to master. The reason it takes so long to find your tip is that the problem isn't with your eyes or hand-eye coordination as most people would assume. It is because your left and right brain hemispheres don't want to communicate with each other because this task is so foreign to everything the brain has learned up to now. In other words your brain simply says "FORGET IT"! Fortunately this first problem has been largely solved with the TopGun process thanks to the Brain Gym methods developed by Dr. Denninson. (See www.braingym.org for more information). This method involves using different exercises to get both hemispheres of the brain to almost instantly communicate with each other. There are almost a hundred brain Gym exercises that can help any student with this, but most students need only a few of these exercises. Since using this method, every TopGun student has found their tip very ACCURATELY ( This means pin-point precision ) within 30 minutes or less once the exercises are done. (Note: There are some other training companies that have started claiming to be able to get you to see your tool tip accurately in 30 minutes. Let them know that you will expect to be placing your tool tip under a pin point on a hood in under 30 minutes and if they do not deliver you will want your money back.)
Interpreting what you see in the reflection board is the next step. This is where things get a bit tricky. There is so much information delivered to the students' eyes and brain from the reflection board, that it can be overwhelming. This is also where most students go wrong and start developing bad habits if they have not received proper training. Much of this visual information is easy to ignore and often is ignored by many students. This information overload can be managed one step at a time by giving the student the right theory and classroom instruction along with the correct exercises to help him read his reflection board correctly. The Brain Gym exercises help with this problem also.
The next difficulty is developing hand-eye coordination along with fine motor skills. Paintless Dent Repair requires patience and the ability to focus on small changes seen while working the dent. This skill requires practice of specific exercises, and repairing many types of dents and creases to master.
Practicing correctly can also be difficult. Most everyone has heard the saying "practice makes perfect". We couldn't disagree more with that saying. If you practice incorrectly, all you are doing is developing more bad habits. Perfect Practice makes perfect! Most techs go home after training and start practicing tool tip location exercises and taking out small dents like they saw the trainer do. This is a major reason why the learning curve is so long while learning this art. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! No two techs ever learn the same. A practice program that works for one tech will cause another tech to give up in frustration after a few months. TopGun PDR Training has developed over 100 different exercises to help with skills such as hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, focusing problems, reflection reading, tool control, etc.
Using the wrong reflection method to see and fix the dent is another reason many techs have such a long learning curve. Again, EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. A reflection board that works for one tech will leave another tech working almost blind. Most trainers unfortunately push a trainee to use the reflection system they use, instead of what's best for the student. Most trainers believe the reflection system they personally use is the best because it works for them and is the only system they know. Most trainers also believe everyone sees and interprets visual information about the same. THIS IS NOT TRUE. TopGun uses many different reflection types. Most of these are some type of fog reflection, because most (but not all) beginning students learn the best with some type of fog reflection. We also use fluorescent, line, natural reflection, and combinations of all of the above. Usually by the second or third hour of training each trainee has been "dialed in" to the perfect reflection system for their individual needs.
Another reason Paintless Dent Removal can take so long to learn is that the technicians eyes may have slight problems that can interfere with the visual cues they need to see. Just having vision correctable to 20 / 20 is not good enough. Many people have eye problems such as astigmatism, UV damage, glaucoma (especially closed angle glaucoma) etc, and don't even know it. Some of these problems can be worked around or corrected with glasses, contacts, or medication. Some problems can also be worked with by different reflection sources and training methods. However some problems can not be corrected to an acceptable level to learn PDR. This is one of the reasons TopGun insists on students getting a QUALITY eye exam less than one year old from a quality optometrist. An eye exam from WalMart for example is not good enough to spot some problems that could hinder you from learning PDR. We also ask that if you need corrective lenses or contacts, that you get re-examined wearing them. We ask for this because a large percentage of all corrective lenses are not fitted correctly and the only way to spot that is with another exam. This may seem like a lot of trouble, but if your eyes are not working properly, your learning curve will be greatly increased.
Accessing the dent is generally the last obstacle to overcome. Many prospective techs don't have experience with the inside of vehicle panels, and this can seem like a whole new world to some. Most of the time basic access knowledge will be enough to get you to the dent. Access can be learned from many different sources, including TopGun which covers this subject extensively. There is also a forum on TopGun where alumni can help each other, and the trainer is always available for questions. This is another reason why it is important to network with other techs that have "been there and done that". One of the best places to network is www.doording.com Techs from all over the world gather on this forum and discuss access and many other iPDR related sues.
What does it take to learn PDR?
The first requirement is DRIVE. You must be self motivated and goal oriented to learn PDR successfully. An entrepreneur spirit is ideal. As mentioned above, good or correctable eyesight is a must. Above average hand eye coordination is also important. If you are comfortable working with tools and like doing detailed work, PDR may be a good fit for you. Patience is a plus when learning this art. There will be times during practice when you will feel like throwing your dent tools at any thing that moves! A patient person will ride out these temporary set backs and advance quickly. A perfectionist personality is also very helpful. If you are the type of person who lives by the motto "Close enough is good enough" Paintless Dent Repair is probably not for you.
Also, the ability to "Think out of the box" is important. If you enjoy problem solving and creative thinking, This could be an excellent career choice for you. If you have a "drone" type personality or prefer being told how to do something "by the book" then PDR will probably not be a good career choice.
Being flexible and in good physical condition is another requirement. If you have serious back or joint problems, PDR may not be a good career choice for you.
It is also very important to be committed, and stick to the specific practice exercises and schedule set up by the trainer.
How long does training last for the average beginner?
Most beginning techs can learn this process well enough in two weeks to practice effectively at home. The practice program at home will generally last two months.
Why don’t you have a one month or longer class, why only two weeks? Some trainers say it’s not possible to get everything in two weeks.
Great question. I used to believe that also and offered month long classes. I found this was just too hard for most people, as the time away from their present jobs or families was just too hard to manage. So I started doing two week classes with an advanced class after six months. This worked very well and I still do this today when needed, although it hardly ever is.
I realized many years ago that doing extensive interviews with my potential students by phone was necessary, as I was getting some who just did not have enough drive or fine motor skills to do this to a retail level. These interview questions are geared to get more motivated students with better fine motor skills / hand eye coordination who didn’t need to train as long. I also started insisting on a good quality eye exam for every student. I always strive to eliminate any possibility of failure BEFORE a student trains with me.
I also realized early on that I wasn’t training as efficiently as wanted to. Learning how to customize a reflection for each student from a retired optical engineer was a real turning point for me. This helped my students to progress much faster than they used to because they saw about as much detail in the reflection by the end of the first day, than they used to see by the end of the first week.
Then I realized that by giving my students certain exercises, they did not have to practice as long in front of me. This was the next step in my understanding. As long as the students had the basic skills they needed I found that they could practice many of the things at home just as effectively, and this really freed up a lot of time.
Long story short I now can give my students a lot of the advanced techniques I used to teach in the advanced course in the beginning course, and still do it in 2 weeks AS LONG as the students has the basic skill sets we’ve talked about. I also find that in about 2/3rds of my students they never have to come back after a year for the advanced class. Unless they want to specialize in doing large dent repairs. We try and show them the basics of that in the beginning class also.
Sure it would be nice to have a trainer watch you while you practice but it isn’t really necessary with my approach. Each student gets a customized practice program to do at home. The practice program is done by the student in front of me until I am sure they know how to practice correctly. Remember, Practice does NOT make perfect…PERFECT PRACTICE makes perfect. If you practice incorrectly, all your doing is developing bad habits.
Does a beginning tech need to practice after learning the process?
The answer is always YES. Usually about two months of diligent practice for at least three hours a day and five days a week will be necessary before working on real world dents and creases on customer cars. Practice consists of various dents, creases and very specific exercises tailored to the students' individual needs. With the TopGun method the student progresses at a much faster rate because they know EXACTLY how to practice.
Can anyone who does PDR teach it effectively?
No. This aspect is EXTREMELY important. Most PDR training schools rely on the instructor being skilled in Paintless Dent Repair, and nothing more. This often results in a very frustrating experience for the student. Being a great teacher is even more important than being a great technician when it comes to training someone in this art. Patience, and the ability to "get inside" the students head and see things the way the student sees them, are both necessary skills for any trainer of this art. Many students pick a trainer by simply finding a good tech to train them. This usually results in a long learning curve for the student, because performing PDR and teaching it are two VERY DIFFERENT skills. You must be a great teacher and a great tech to teach this art effectively.
If a Paintless Dent Repair Training School is State Certified does that mean the state guarantees it is a quality school?
No it does not. Actually there is no such thing as a state certified school for PDR, just state approved schools. Many states including California requires that any school that charges over $2500 for teaching any class must be approved by the state. The state bureau does NOT certify, or have the responsibility or resources for overseeing the quality of the education received by students. The state establishes a minimum standard for instructional quality and school stability only. In some cases the state may also respond to student complaints and oversee a fund designed to help reimburse a student's tuition if a school closes unexpectedly.
Sadly, most state certified schools offer the poorest quality training available. These schools have learned how to "work the system" and avoid or nullify complaints being registered by unsatisfied students wiith the state. These state agencies are so poorly staffed that it is very easy for schools to get around the rules.
Paintless Dent Repair is a relatively new and unregulated trade. There are NO established standards for teaching, or performing it. Some Paintless Dent Repair training schools will tell you that state approval is your guarantee of a quality education in PDR. This is NOT true. No state including California approves such a claim. You must do your own research to determine if you will get quality training from any school. When looking for PDR training, the best advice is "Let the buyer beware". It's your money so DO YOUR RESEARCH!
As required by California state law, TopGun PDR Training is fully approved to operate by the State of California. See https://app.dca.ca.gov/bppe/view-school.asp?schlcode=57064492
What about training by videos?
This is one of the worst ways to approach learning Paintless Dent Repair. Many companies are offering this method because it is a quick way to make money from unsuspecting people. Just seeing what needs to be done is a very small part of learning this art. Bad habits and many other negative issues start right away unless addressed by a competent trainer. As mentioned above, getting inside the students head and seeing things the way the student sees them is essential to success for a student. This of course can't be done by video. If you read the first question on this FAQ page about why PDR is so hard to learn, you will notice that hardly any of the problems listed can be addresses by video. In fact, almost any competent trainer will tell you that students that "learn" from ANY video can be the hardest students to train properly. There are some advanced videos that are helpful, and are produced for the seasoned PDR tech. These professional videos also contain warnings about NOT trying to learn Paintless Dent Repair from them or any other video.
Is it possible to teach yourself Paintless Dent Repair?
This is the worst possible way to learn. You are virtually guaranteed to develop many bad habits that will be tough to break. Self taught techs tend to have a learning curve that last for years, and usually perform poorer quality work. They also tend to be limited to simple dents. Generally speaking, retraining techs that have learned by themselves or by video are by far the hardest to train correctly because they have bad habits and perceptions that are so deeply ingrained.
How can you tell if a Paintless Dent Removal Training School offers poor quality training?
Unfortunately, most of the time there is no way to know you have received poor PDR training until about three months AFTER you train. Sometimes it is possible to tell after the first day of training that a school is poorly run. If the staff looks overwhelmed by too many students or just bored, you may want to leave quickly to get as much of your money back as possible. Here are several things to look for in spotting poor quality schools. Please read the "Should I learn PDR section of this site for more information.
- Insist on one-on-one training from a qualified trainer. This means eight hours a day, every day with the trainer, working with you alone! Many schools define one-on-one training as spending an hour each day with each student. Other schools may give you eight hours a day with a person that is a poor PDR tech and has little training experience. Before paying any deposit ask for a WRITTEN guarantee, including a FULL REFUND INCLUDING YOUR DEPOSIT, that you will receive CONSTANT one on one training with the head trainer only and NOT an assistant. If you arrive at a training school and see that you will not get constant one-on-one training, demand ALL your money back including the deposit before the first day of training is complete. Many schools train at least four or more students at a time per instructor. To learn Paintless Dent Repair properly, quality one on one training is a must. In certain situations a maximum of two trainees can be trained simultaneously, but this situation needs to be carefully evaluated by the trainer before any training is done.
Does the school require, not just recommend a good quality eye exam before they will train you? This is very important as vision problems are one of the prime reasons people have difficulty with learning PDR. Any competent trainer will require this.
BTW A bad trainer in order to pose as competent, may also ask but NOT require that you get an eye exam. He of course will not have a clue what to do with it, and if there are any problems, will tell you he has dealt with this before and you’ll be just fine.
- Ask if the trainer does any dent work or other activities while training. This is a VERY important issue, because many techs are now supplementing their dent or hail business with what they call "PDR training." Lets be perfectly clear here. A trainers attention should be focused on the student, not other activities ... period! Many trainers have the student "observe" them for much of the day while the trainer makes money at his route or retail location. Then the trainer has the student practice exercises for a few hours at a shop. While this is very profitable for the trainer, it is a very poor learning environment for the trainee. Many "trainers" will justify this practice by calling it "real world experience". This is just not true. A student MUST learn the basics thoroughly first, by constant one-on-one work with the trainer. There are many ways a trainer can give a student real world experience, including some observation of the trainer working. But if this exceeds about 2 or 3 hours TOTAL during 2 weeks of training, beware...you are almost certainly being scammed.
- Does the training school offer advanced training in addition to beginning training, and are techs going there for advanced training? Many working technicians are always seeking to improve their skills. A quality trainer can and will offer this training in addition to basic training, and should have an excellent reputation for doing both. A school that only offers beginning training may do so because no experienced working technician would ever consider that school to advance their skill level. If the school offers advanced training, ask for a referral list of working techs that have gone through their advanced training program and call them. Also www.doording.com the worlds largest independent paintless dent repair forum is an excellent source for researching what working techs are saying about quality beginning and advanced training.
- Does the school make their own tools, or have them made by one company? Most all experienced techs will tell you there is no tool company that makes every type of PDR tool well. If you want a true quality set of tools, you should choose from the five or six tool manufacturers that make quality tools. You should ONLY choose your tools from these quality manufacturers during your training, not before. A good trainer will always guide you in the proper selection of your tool set, and will teach you how to recognize the MANY differences between a good quality and poor quality PDR tool. ALWAYS ask to see and keep a copy of the ORIGINAL manufacturers tool invoices at any Paintless Dent Removal Training school that sells tools at the school. Many schools make the tools themselves, or have their tools made in China or Taiwan with a HUGE mark up to the student. See the Beginning training curriculum page and FAQ page for more information.
- Beware of any Paintless Dent Repair school that tells you learning PDR is easy, or that anyone can learn PDR. This is simply not true. PDR is an art that requires a lot of drive, patience, and proper training to learn. Most standard ways of teaching this art require about a six month learning curve of very diligent practice before starting to repair real world dents. The methods used by TopGun can cut the length of this curve by about half, but the same diligent practice is still needed.
- Question any company that tells you they can train you from the start in one week to do real world Dents. There is no way this can be done. A bare minimum of 2 weeks of very intensive over-the-shoulder training is needed. Three weeks is ideal when it can be done.
- You contact a Paintless Dent Repair training school and are barraged by phone calls shortly afterwards. This indicate the school is far more interested in selling you training, than actually training you. Another warning sign may be a salesperson that keeps lowering prices with each follow up contact they make with you, until you agree to train with them. Many of these schools employ trainers that can't make a living at PDR for one reason or another, and are not gifted teachers. A school that seems to do anything to make the sale should be avoided at all cost.
- Ask for references from WORKING techs who have attended the school. Some companies employ people who will give them a glowing referral, but have never attended the school, and can't fix a dent. Beware of testimonials that list names and states only after them. Anyone can make up a testimonial and put it on a website. Testimonials should have the cities and names of businesses after them so they can be verified and checked out.
- Visit Paintless Dent Repair forums where techs from all over the world gather to discuss PDR related issues. Do searches on these forums about the training school you are interested in and see what techs are saying about them. As mentioned above, the best forum is at www.doording.com
- Before signing any contract, ask to speak to the person who will be training you. Get any questions answered directly. If you can not communicate well with the trainer by phone, or your questions are not answered well, chances are you will have the same experience while training.
- Beware of individual trainers that contact or solicit you. Some people train because they can not find work as PDR techs, especially during a slow hail season. These techs will sometimes hold "fire sales" on training to get people to train with them. This training is almost always inferior, and the student usually doesn't realize it until months after the training is over
Does the training school offer videos to “get you started” in PDR? If so they’re doing an immense disservice to you. Learning PDR correctly from a video just isn’t possible because the video can’t correct you when your doing something wrong or developing bad habits. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen students using decent quality videos, try to learn this trade. They always develop literally dozens of bad habits that I have to get them past. This only prolongs the learning curve because valuable training time has to be taken to get them to the point where they would be if they had not watched these videos in the first place.
This is one of the reasons you will NEVER see me make a training video even though I have had several people offer to help me make a video training set. If I did I would only be adding to the problem. No matter how good the videos are, the student will develop bad habits and misconceptions because everyone learns so differently from everyone else, and there’s just no way to correct these things through learning from a video.
Just one quick example of what I’m talking about here, How can a video watch you practice, and then dial you into the right reflection for you? This is the first thing I do with a student and if this is not done, it’s like taking MY glasses, putting them on the student, and telling them to fix dents. If your using the wrong reflection for you, you will have a long and frustrating time learning because its like seeing the world through someone else’s glasses. There are dozens of bad habits or misconceptions like this example that can harm a student unless someone that knows what they’re doing can guide them to the correct way they need to go. Everyone’s different and cookie cutter training by video or even a by good trainer will not get you where you need to be in 2 weeks.
The only thing worse than teaching yourself PDR is learning from a video no matter how good the video or well intentioned the producer of the video.
How can you tell if a PDR Training School offers good quality training?
There are several things to look for in searching for a quality trainer.
- The most important point to look for is, does the teacher take responsibility for the student learning the art? Many trainers who teach this art feel that most of the responsibility lies with the student to learn and acquire basic skills. We totally disagree with this. Learning this art takes a partnership between student and trainer, but the bulk of the respobsibility lies with the trainer NOT the student. It is of course the students' responsibility to do everything they can to learn. But we find that most of the time a student fails to learn, it is because of poor or "cookie cutter" training. No two students ever learn the same.
A good trainer will never try and pass the responsibility for learning on to the student. If the trainer has done his job he will pre-qualify each student to determine if they have the necessary skills and drive to learn PDR. At TopGun PDR training schools we take the responsibility for our students learning this art as long as they meet the basic requirements listed above on this page. Your education and skill development is OUR responsibility! Of course, what you do with those skills after training is your responsibility. TopGun strongly believes that old saying. "If a student fails to learn.examine the teacher first, not the student".
- Most working techs agree that small and personal schools offer much better training than mega schools because of the constant and personal one-on-one involvement with the student. Mega training schools tend to loose their students in the crowd.
- Most quality Paintless Dent Repair schools will select tools from many different manufacturers because no PDR tool company makes all types of tools well. Most quality tool companies specialize in a few types of tools. A good training school will not recommend a set from one manufacturer, and will always wait until you have trained a while before building your tool set that is customized for you.
- How honest does their advertising appear? Any honest training school will tell you that the PDR market is saturated with techs in most areas of the country. See the Should I Learn PDR page.
- A good quality school will not keep lowering its price until you sign up. In fact almost any good quality school will stick to their price because they have to in order to provide quality training from a quality instructor who can make good money doing dents.
- As mentioned above, search the only remaining and oldest Paintless Dent Repair forum www.doording.com concerning the training school you are interested in and see what working techs are saying about them.
- Ask for references from WORKING techs who have attended the school. Testimonials should have the cities and names of businesses after them so they can be verified and checked out.
- Look for a Paintless Dent Repair training school that guarantees they will NOT run a PDR business while training you. To shorten your learning curve as much as possible proper training needs to be constant, and one-on-one with NO distractions.
- Talk to the trainer of the school directly and not a sales person, and ask questions. If you don't get HONEST and satisfactory answers, or do not click with the trainer, keep looking.
- The trainers credentials and experience should be clearly posted on the website, and VERIFIABLE! Remember anyone can say anything on the internet. It's your money so check the trainer out thoroughly.
OK Marty if your such a great tech, why are you training? Couldn't you make more money doing dents?
Great question! This is the first thing you should be asking any trainer. Yes there is more money in doing dents. I train for two reasons. The first is because I do only large dent repairs (LDPDR). Smaller door dings are hard to find in my area because there are a lot of bad techs here who will only do those. They are also pretty boring. I am over 64 years old, and doing large dents full time can be tough on anyone my age. I also had a heart attack 11 years ago which slowed me down to the point where doing these type of repairs full time was starting to be too difficult for me.
The second reason I train is because I really do enjoy it. I have been a professional trainer by choice for most of my life in various automotive sheetmetal and frame repair trades. Teaching has always challenged me. I used to train about 10% of the time and repair large dents about 90% as the money was much better. After my health scare, I decided to go from teaching 10% of the time, to teaching 90% of the time and repair large dents only on Saturdays. My students are always welcome to watch me do repairs if they wish instead of getting some recreation time on the weekend.
I am fortunate to be one of those people who really enjoys what they do, especially when I am teaching. I guess you could say it's in my blood since many in my family teach professionally also. I find that mixing some retail dents and training is a good way to relax and pace myself. When I am training, I always devote FULL TIME to my students. I never run my dent business or do dents while I am training.
How can I tell if my area is saturated with PDR techs?
In some countries such as Canada, Australia, Japan, China, and others, Paintless Dent Repair may still be wide open in wholesale, hail, and retail markets. But in most major areas of the USA, both the wholesale and hail markets are already saturated with technicians. The only market that is left in most areas is retail. There are many ways to tell if your area is saturated with techs. Some people start with a search of the Yellow Pages to see how many PDR techs are in their area. This will tell you nothing, because most wholesale or hail techs don't advertise. The Yellow Pages can sometimes give you a good indication of the retail saturation of an area but not always. A good way to gauge the wholesale saturation in your area is to call a few car Dealerships, Body Shops, or Detailers in your area and ask them if they need the services of a PDR tech. Also doing a Google search for local dent companies can give you a good idea of the market. But keep in mind again that most techs don't advertise. The ones that do not advertise are usually the tech that are struggling to make a living, and don't have the necessary marketing skills to succeed at any business including PDR.
What is needed to be able to make a living in retail Paintless Dent Repair?
TopGun feels that the future for PDR lies in retail, especially mobile and specialty retail. In most areas of the country, retail is still in its infancy. But the road to success is not easy. After doing research to find out if they can make a living at PDR, many people think the next step is to get some kind of training. This is a big mistake! The next thing a person should do who is considering making a living at this art is to have a realistic marketing and sales plan in place. Once you have researched you market area and have reason to believe you can make a good living from retail PDR, you will need to do research on where you want to get trained.
After quality training and sufficient practice, the technician should be confident in his abilities to handle real world dents. He then needs to have the marketing and sales plan he will use maximized. This is where many aspiring retail PDR technicians fail! Most Paintless Dent Repair training schools say they have a marketing plan that works wonders. Before you take their word for it, ask for a list of graduates that have used their marketing plan, and call them. Most of these "marketing plans" are just a couple sheets of paper. Don't be fooled by some training companies that offer marketing assistance, ask to speak with people that have been helped by their programs. And if they give you a reference to call make sure you are speaking with a legitimate company trained by them. Many training companies hire people to pose as successful PDR businesses trained by these mill schools to give a glowing testimonial when in reality they are paid by the school to give these false testimonials. A successful marketing program is almost as important as being a skilled technician to succeed in retail PDR.
Speciality PDR markets include: Mobile PDR, Motorcycle tank and fender repair, Appliance repair, Airplane fuselage repair, Speciality Aluminum panel repair, Large Dent PDR repair, (LDPDR) Speciality sheet metal repair, and many other markets.
TopGun has many specific, and proven programs to help with retail marketing and sales. These programs have proven themselves many times with many different technicians throughout this country and overseas. This marketing help is included with all training from TopGun. References are available on our marketing programs if needed. In addition, all TopGun alumni have access to a closed and private marketing area on the TopGun site. This site contains a wealth of information on subjects related to retail marketing of PDR. This area also has many members who are successful working retail techs, along with those that are learning. This site can help you with any questions you may have about this subject after you train.
Why should I choose TopGun Paintless Dent Repair Training Schools??
- You will always be treated with honesty in any dealings with us. You have probably noticed by now that this isn't a typical training website. We will not lie, exaggerate, or look past the truth. All our testimonials and referrals are from verifiable, working techs. If we feel after talking to you that PDR is a poor choice for you in your area we will tell you this straight out. Roughly 3 out of every four techs that call TopGun decide not to pursue this art after reading this site and talking with us, and discovering the truth about what is involved in making a living in this trade.
The people that do train with us have a very high success rate because we don't train any one who has not researched the market in their area first. We also make sure they have a thorough eye exam, and the necessary hand eye coordination before training. This may seem too harsh or controlling, and does upset some people. But we have seen far too many techs plunge right into some kind of training without doing their homework first, and be surprised to discover that they can't make a living at PDR in their area or have a physical problem that makes doing PDR difficult or impossible. TopGun believes in eliminating every possible obstacle to success BEFORE you train.
You may also have noticed TopGun includes ALL information including the price for our training on our website instead of having you call us so we can "close the sale". Most Paintless Dent Repair training schools depends on their skills to close the deal, instead of telling you the complete truth and letting you make the decision on where to train with no pressure from them. If you decide to call TopGun you will talk to the trainer only, and never a sales person. We also promise you will NEVER be bothered by a sales person or closer after contacting us for information.
- We take responsibility for your training. As mentioned above, this is the most important point to look for in choosing a trainer Learning this art takes a partnership between student and trainer. It is of course the students' responsibility to do everything they can to learn. But we will never try and pass the responsibility for learning on to our students. Again, TopGun strongly believes that old saying. "If a student fails to learn.examine the teacher first, not the student".
- State-of-the-art training. TopGun offers the most intensive, and complete training available anywhere. Thanks to recent advances in learning and teaching techniques, we have eliminated much of the standard exercises, and time consuming practicing necessary with other training methods. Read entire FAQ page for more info.
- State-of-the-art Tools. TopGun offers the best quality tools from the best quality manufacturers at no markup to the student. We ALWAYS base our recommendations on what is right for each student after careful evaluation of your needs. You can have your tools shipped to you while you train or you can get them after you train. Read the entire FAQ page for more information.
- Learning curve cut by 40-60%. Because of the unique methods used by TopGun, almost all our students learn approximately twice as fast as compared to standard teaching methods. This is no exaggeration, but a solid fact that is easily verified by many of our students that have trained with other methods before coming to TopGun.
- Quality One-on one and personalized training. Training is usually done one person at a time for eight hours a day, with the trainer only. The TopGun method is so focused, that constant attention is needed by the trainer with the student. Read entire FAQ page for more information. Note: In certain circumstances two students can be trained at once, but this is only done when circumstances are beneficial to the student. This results in substantial savings for the student. See PDR Training tab under Beginning Training for cost break down.
- Real world customized marketing and sales plans. TopGuns approach to marketing and sales is much different than any other Paintless Dent Repair training schools. While we offer many programs for wholesale marketing, we focus on retail marketing unless the student wants to focus elsewhere. Our retail programs are based on thinking out of the box, and servicing customers that most PDR techs have not thought of yet. These programs are very customized and flexible, and are adapted the students geographical area. See FAQ page on retail marketing for more information.
- Quality assistance after training. TopGun continues to offer real world assistance after you train. We are always available to offer real answers to your questions. Our forum is available to anyone, but TopGun alumni have access to areas that are closed to the general public. This forum is one of a kind in the industry, and gives you access to many working technicians who will help you also.
TopGun PDR Training believes that a good trainer makes himself progressively useless to the student. We strive to get you quickly to the point where you will teach yourself when something new or unexpected comes up so you will become your own trainer. One of the finest compliments a trainer can get is for the student to tell him that he doesn't need him any more. This means the trainer has taught the student well.
- TopGun PDR Training offers both beginning and advanced training. As mentioned above, many working technicians are always seeking to improve their skills. We offer quality advanced training in addition to basic training, and we have an excellent reputation for doing both. Remember, a school that only offers beginning training may do so because no experienced working technician would ever consider that school to advance their skill level. If the school offers advanced training, ask for a referral list of working techs that have gone through their advanced training program and call them. Topgun has referrals available from many working techs who have taken both beginning and advanced training from us.
Isn't it important to find a school close to me for training?
One common mistake many people make is basing their decision on where to train on how close the school is to them. They feel that all training is about the same. Quality Paintless Dent Repair training is by far the single largest factor in a students' success. The decision on where to train should always be based on finding the best quality training, and not the location of the school. Quality training can literally cut your learning curve in half and get you a return on your investment much sooner. You will have to spend roughly $9,000 for quality training, tools, travel, and motel. You will also have to invest months of your time in practicing after training. Considering that kind of investment, it is wise to make any decision about where to train solely on finding the best quality training available, not on how close a school is to save money on travel and motel bills.
I trained before at another PDR training company and after months of practice, I still can't fix a real world dent. What's wrong with me?
This is by far the most common question we hear. Approximately 30% of the training we do is for people who have had a bad first experience with another Paintless Dent Repair school. If your vision is not a problem and you have better than average hand eye coordination, there is probably nothing wrong with you. The problems you are having are almost certainly due to the training you received. In almost all cases you can be re-trained and learn PDR once your bad habits and visual perceptions are corrected.
Is the training any different for someone who has trained before and still has a lot of problems with dents?
Yes it is. The problems you are having now are due to many issues. You probably still can't see your tool tip very well, it takes you forever to fix each dent, and your finished dents don't look like you know they should. You have almost certainly developed many bad habits, and perceptions that you may not even be aware of that are keeping you from progressing further. As mentioned above this is not your fault, but is almost always the result of poor training. The good news is all this can be easily changed. We have developed methods and exercises to quickly stop these bad habits, and get you to the place where you can start progressing again. After these bad habits and perceptions are corrected, the training is the same as it would be for most other students. Correcting these bad habits can take anywhere between three and five days.
OK, you're talking about me. But I spent all my money at the last place I trained, and can't afford any more training right now. Should I just keep practicing until I can get proper training?
On the surface this would sound like a good idea, but it isn't. One of the worst things you can do is to keep practicing with bad habits and perceptions. Practicing the wrong way or using wrong methods for your learning style will usually only make things worse. We recommend that you stop practicing and just wait until you can afford the proper training you need. Read entire FAQ page for more information.
Does Top Gun train advanced or beginning students by having them follow the trainer on their route or retail location?
No. Your training will be intensive and over-the-shoulder with no distractions for the entire period of instruction. The only exceptions are in the case of advanced trainees who want to follow the trainer while he is working to observe how to handle real-world work.
Can you train anybody to learn PDR?
No. Many people can be trained to take out small "gravy" dents. However, it's hard to make a good living at PDR by doing only small dents. This is one of the reason we always interview a potential student over the phone after they have read this site. We know from experience the right questions to ask to determine if Paintless Dent Repair is a good fit for you.
As mentioned above he first requirement is for:
1. 20/20 eyesight. Or glasses or contacts to get to 20/20.
2. The next test is to take an average size sewing needle in one hand, then take a piece of thread and cut the end of square with scissors. Then run the thread through your mouth to make the end pointed. Then hold both needle and thread at arms length and see how easy it is to thread the eye of a needle. If you can not thread it after 5 or 6 tries you may not have the fine motor skills necessary to learn this trade to a retail quality level. People such as Muscians, model makers or anyone that has sone detailed work generally learn PDR much faster than the "close enough is good enough" person.
3. Patience. A naturally patient person will always learn PDR faster than someone that gets frustrated easily.
Read entire FAQ page for more information.
Do I need to do anything before training?
We ask you for a quality eye exam no more than one year old from a QUALITY optometrist. We will also need a copy of the exam faxed or sent to us. If necessary we may show the exam to our local doctor so we can fine tune your training. We realize that no other training facility asks for this and it may sound unnecessary, but experience has shown that even among those with 20/20 vision or better, undiagnosed eye problems exist in most techs. Many techs, who thought their vision was perfect have been surprised to find out they have slight astigmatism, glaucoma, UV damage, focusing issues, or other common problem. These problems need to be diagnosed before you train so you will have the time to correct them. These problems make a difference! That is why we do not train anyone who will not get this exam. We also like to conduct a short interview to discuss your needs, find out about any problem areas you want fixed, and answer any questions you may have.
What about tools for a beginner? How much do they cost?
We generally wait until the middle of your training to recommend tools for you. We DO NOT make or sell our own tools, nor do we have loyalties or ties to any one tool manufacturer. We also do not recommend tool sets from any one manufacturer, because most manufacturers make only certain types of PDR tool well. The tools we recommend come from six different companies. We pick and choose tools from these best-of-the-best companies. Our tool recommendations are based ONLY on what is best for you, as we "dial you in" during your training. You will also get plenty of time to work with a wide variety of tools. If you would like, we can order these tools for you while you train, or we will give you the list of tool recommendations and you can order them yourself when you choose. TopGun makes no profit from tool sales. In most cases, tools and accessory costs for a beginning student, will be around $1900-$2100 for a QUALITY basic set. This will include everything you will need to do most basic dent work. We also help you customize your tools.
Are the tools used by TopGun the same as conventional PDR?
For beginning technicians yes. For advanced technicians there are a wide variety of non traditional PDR tools that are used that greatly increase your speed and efficiency. There are some additional specialty tools that are needed for some types of dents and creases. Many of these tools can be easily made by the student in most cases.
What is the TopGun PDR training method like?
This method of Paintless Dent Repair training is accelerated, very over-the- shoulder, and focused on the students individual needs. A maximum of two students can be trained at a time, but usually the training is one-on-one. Some beginning students have described the training as intense, but most students feel challenged, and enjoy the experience. This method gives the trainer the ability to clearly and quickly show the student in great detail, the visual cues they need to see in order to learn PDR. In fact, most advanced students that train with us say after the first hour that they now see details they have never seen while working a dent. The comment we hear most often during advanced training is "I never saw that before!" This method breaks down most processes involved in PDR such as crown work, core release, pressure release, pushing sequence, pushing patterns, etc, and makes them easily observable and learnable. In effect it almost digitizes PDR. It also provides a very effective way of breaking bad habits, which cost a tech time and money.