4 essential traits shops are looking for in new techs

April 6, 2022
Find out what qualities Bogi Lateiner and other industry expert want in their apprentices.

PTEN recently hosted a panel discussion about how young and new technicians can succeed on the job. The panelists included Bogi Lateiner of Girl Gang Garage, Jay Goninen of WrenchWay, Mike Pressendo of the TechForce Foundation, and Anthony Williams of the Carquest Technical Institute. They all provided some great advice for young techs as part of the PTEN and Motor Age Best Young Tech Award program. This article is the first in a series from the discussion.

First, the panelists discussed what shops are looking for in a new hire. Four significant traits came out on top. 

1. Attitude 

Attitude, not aptitude, is one of the first things auto repair shops look for when hiring new technicians.

“It’s that really good attitude," said Goninen. "It's that person that shows up to work on time, listens to direction, maybe has a base set of skills but not necessarily fully trained. A lot of shops like to grow their own; they like to put them through their own training and set the tone for what their career is going to look like at that shop."

When Lateiner is looking for apprentices, she wants to see passion, the ability to work with others, and honesty.

“If you don’t know a heck of a lot, don’t tell me that you do. I would rather know you know nothing, but you are willing to get in there and get dirty and learn as you go,” she said. “I can teach you how to turn a wrench, I cannot teach you how to care.”

2. Work ethic 

There’s no such thing as downtime, the panelists note. If you do find yourself in that moment where there’s nothing obvious to do, Williams suggests grabbing a broom and helping another technician clean up.

“You’re creating a bond with your fellow colleagues inside the garage, so that they're like, ‘Hey you know what I really like this guy! He was helpful. I didn't even ask him to do it, and he was able to help me out. They may be a lot more likely when you're down, and they see that you've got nothing to do but to say, 'Hey come here real quick! You can give me a hand, and that opens the door for you,'” he said.

3. Learn from your mistakes  

Being new on the job, you’re going to make mistakes, but it’s how you handle those mistake that matters.

“When you make a mistake, first of all, raise your hand that you've made a mistake, but if you come to me and say, 'I made a mistake. What I learned was…’  I have no problem paying for a mistake as long as there was learning involved,” Lateiner said. “If you didn't take anything away from that, that's a problem.”

She also urges shop owners and experienced technicians to create an environment where it’s ok to make a mistake. 

“Don’t beat them up for this. They’re kids, they’re new,” Lateiner advised.

4. Soft skills

It’s vitally important in this day and age to hone those soft skills. You need to know how to speak to people, and how to be patient with customers.

“I hear a lot of techs complain about these ‘stupid customers’, but of course, they don’t know — they’re not technicians!" Lateiner said. "If they knew, you wouldn’t have a job. When people don't know things, it's an opportunity for us to be their hero. It's an opportunity for us to educate them and help them understand this crazy spaceship that they drive around every day.”

To view the whole discussion, see the video below.

Sponsored Recommendations

Access Carside OEM Repair Data with MOTOR TruSpeed

Now available on all Autel MaxiSYS Ultra Series tools, MOTOR TruSpeed Repair delivers expanded OEM service and repair data within days of being published by

ADAS Case Study: From 10 Calibrations a Month to Over 10 A Day

Originally published by Vehicle Service Pros, March 26, 2024

Autel MaxiTPMS TS900: 3-in-1 TPMS Tablet

Originally published by Tire Review, April 4, 2024

Ask The Expert: The Basics & Benefits of Bringing ADAS Calibrations In-house

Originally published by Vehicle Service Pros, March 26, 2024

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Vehicle Service Pros, create an account today!