Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Hire the Right Technician for Your Shop

Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.Simon Sinek

When it comes to automotive education, “Bill” has more degrees than a thermometer! He’s a master certified ASE technician. He also has certifications from Ford and Subaru.

If you were to survey the tool truck drivers and ask them to name the most productive technician in town, they wouldn’t have to phone a friend or use a lifeline! They would name Bill.

His white toolbox is bigger than a Buick, and if he ever got a scratch on it, he would replace the entire drawer!

What if Bill knocked on your door today, with the goal of becoming your next “A” technician? Would you hire him?

Well, of course, you would! “That’s a dumb question!” Who wouldn’t right? Well, “Brad” decided to pass!

Brad, a seasoned shop owner, interviewed Bill and decided not to hire him because character is critical to his culture. Speaking with Bill left Brad with several reasons to question his character.

For example, during the interview, Bill described courtesy checks as “such a waste of my time.” When Brad asked Bill about his reasons for leaving his previous shops, he responded by badmouthing the service writers at each location.

When asked about comebacks, Bill said, “I don’t make mistakes! I never have any comebacks!” And to make matters worse, Bill smelled like an ashtray and looked like he bathed in grease!

Brad uses the following words to describe his shop culture: “fun, family, friendly, and taking care of each other.” Based on this description, it was easy for him to determine that Bill wasn’t a fit.

How would you describe your shop culture? Answering this question will make it easier to hire the right technician for your shop!   

What is Culture?

Culture is the combination of customs, rituals, and values, shared by an organization that must be accepted by new members.

As the author and consulting legend Peter Drucker put it, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!”

There are two types of cultures: The desired, and the default. The desired culture is one the leader can instantly describe because he or she has a proactive focus on it.

For example, I can call one of the Top 12 Shop owners right now, and ask them to describe their shop culture. Without hesitating, they would have an answer. In this instance, the owner has taken the time to create and reinforce the desired shop culture.

The default culture is what you end up with when you don’t have a vision for what the desired culture would look like.

As a result, your team members develop their own customs, rituals, and values. For example, you train your technician to do courtesy checks, but the default culture says, “We don’t do courtesy checks here!”

You send your service advisor to their ATI class, and Randy Somers trains her to make a quality visit to the car with the customer. She returns to a default culture that says, “We don’t have time to do that here!”

You have a good technician hired, but he doesn’t come back from his lunch break because your default culture says, “the employee is always wrong!”

Here’s the bottom line: Your shop has a culture even if you don’t know what it is! 

So how do you create an environment that attracts the right people? You must be fundamentally different.

Establish Your Fundamentals

In his book Fundamentally Different, David Friedman demonstrates the connection between shared values and business success.

He teaches business leaders to create a specific number of “fundamentals” that communicate the core values that each employee will align with. During weekly team meetings, employees are asked to name the fundamental of the week and to describe what it means to them.

The fact that you make decisions based on what you value, makes establishing your fundamentals a powerful exercise. The fundamentals then become the building blocks of your shop culture.

For example, one of ATI’s Fundamentals is to “Practice Blameless Problem-Solving.” If this is was one of your values, and the applicant in front of you was blaming everyone for his problems, (everyone except himself, of course!) you would decide not to hire him!

Another ATI fundamental is to “Be Punctual.” If your technician applicant arrives at 3:15pm sharp for his 3:00pm interview, your hiring decision just got easier!

One of Brad’s fundamentals is, “Appearance counts.” Since Bill looked like he just took a grease bath, he was not a fit for Brad’s culture!

Reading Friedman’s book and working with your coach can help you to establish your fundamentals!


So, there you have it. Since Brad established his fundamentals, he’s opened two additional locations, and has more qualified applicants who want to work for him, than he does openings!

Establishing your fundamentals will help you to hire the right technician for your shop as well.

P.S. Email to receive my 7 Steps to Designing Your Desired Culture!
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Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.