If you run a shop, or you’re looking to get hired in one, what’s the best way to survive mechanic apprenticeship? Break it, then fix it.
Remember your first day in the garage? Right. Nobody takes the new kid seriously. Not the guys in the garage, and definitely not customers. Time and experience builds trust. But you’re running a shop, juggling the daily routine, and managing a mechanic apprenticeship is challenging—especially when so few applicants are coming in.
How does a newbie get old school cred in your shop?
School your customers. Nobody took Audra Fordin seriously. Despite her skills as a 4th generation mechanic, all they saw was female. Several times Audra had to stand there and smile while customers asked to speak to a “real mechanic.” No mechanic apprenticeship could prepare her for that. So she learned to work twice as hard as her male peers to earn trust by stepping out of the bay and teaching customers more about their car, the problem she was fixing, and car care.
Stand up for the newbie. Ralph Parente started working in the shop the same year he could legally drive a car. Nobody took the 16-year old seriously he says—despite growing up in his father’s auto shop. Many times his Dad had to step in convince customers to trust Ralph, who, decades later, now runs that family-owned shop: Soundview Service Center in Mamaroneck, New York.
Give it time. Fresh out of tech school, Charles Sanville said he still didn’t know how to fix cars when he showed up at his first dealership gig. Good management and great mentors stepped in early and taught him the rest. Now, Sanville answers some of the toughest questions about Volkswagen auto repair and shares what he knows in tutorials on YouTube. Speaking from the newbie perspective with some old school cred, Sanville said shop owners need to learn to trust the techs they hire to get the job done—even if they need a little extra help along the way.
Up next: Got newbies in your bay? Watch Shop Goals Episode 2 for tips on Training Johnny New Guy.
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