Becoming a True Rockstar Mechanic takes years of experience, training and hard work. There is no shortcut to experience but there are several things that you can start doing today that will make you a better mechanic and will lead you down the path to becoming a Rockstar Mechanic. These can be done regardless of your skill and experience level and will help open up different career opportunities for you.
1. Safety Matters
We start with the most obvious but also the area that most techs need to work on, safety. This includes wearing your PPE at all times and following safety protocols. It is so easy to work around the rules but it is also very easy to have a workplace incident. I have heard from so many techs that just needed to do something quickly and tried to save time by not going back for their PPE and ended up in the hospital. Or a mechanic who had something real minor to do and decided to skip a lock out procedure and ended up causing a big accident.
Even if you do not agree with all of the safety rules I promise there is a reason for each of them. For every safety protocol, there were technicians that injured themselves first before a new rule was adopted. Benefit from this and just follow the rules even if you don’t agree with them.
Any reputable shop will prioritize safety over efficiency and if you get fired for violating a safety policy you are going to have a very hard time finding your next job. Getting the job done quickly is important but only if it is done right.
2. Show up on Time
This couldn’t be more easier and goes a long way. Your Service Manager notices when you show up late. You may not think it is a big deal but I promise it is frustrating to your Manager and they will consciously or sub consciously hold this against you. All Service Managers have their favourite techs, these are usually the techs that give them the least amount of grief and get the job done. These are the techs that they give the gravy jobs to, give the new service truck, recommend for promotion, authorize OT for etc. Showing up on time is so easy and it goes a long way in showing you take your job serious.
3. Ask For Help
No one knows everything. If you are stuck don’t let your pride get in the way, ask another tech for help. Even if they have less experience than you they may have different experience. You are rarely in this alone. The key to asking for help is that you are asking them to show you how to do it or to explain why something is not working. You are not asking them to do the job for you.
Asking for help is an opportunity to learn, not an opportunity to get someone else to do a job for you.
4. Offer Help
If someone is stuck, offer to help. Much like the above, your help is not just doing the job for them but teaching how it is done. This is easier said than done, anyone that has kids know exactly what I am talking about. It would be so much faster and easier to just jump in and do it for them but that does not help them learn. Your goal is to help other techs get to the next level.
Share your tips and tricks, you are all in this together and the better that everyone is in the shop the better the shop will be.
5. Follow Proper Tool Borrowing Etiquette
This is a big one. Borrowing tools is fine but there are some rule:
- If you have to borrow a tool 3 times, it is time to buy one
- Return the tool as soon as you are done with it, never wait for them to ask you for it back
- If you break or damage the tool you are buying them a new one
If you can’t follow proper tool borrowing etiquette, do not expect others to continue sharing their tools. Borrowing is a privilege not a right.
6. Be Professional
Telling jokes on the shop floor is fine, being a clown is not ok. No pranks, especially ones that could be a safety issue. Also keep in mind who is in your shop. If you have a closed fleet shop with just techs and drivers then you can relax a bit. If you are in a dealership and customers regularly come in to the shop or can see you from the shop windows you need to be professional. No complaining to your service advisors about customers, no inappropriate jokes. You are representing your company and if you lose the shop customers you can expect to lose your job.
7. Take Training That is Offered
If training is ever offered, take it. Volunteer training even if it is on your off time is always valuable. The more training programs, certifications etc. that you can collect only make you better. You would be amazed how often a tech is chosen over another due to the training they have completed, even if it is not essential to your job it shows that you care about the job.
A lot of techs feel that ASE or other certifications are not required and in most cases they are not required but they always help. A piece of paper does not automatically make you a better tech but if you pay attention during training you will always be able to learn and will have some documentation backing you up.
8. Work Hard
The biggest difference between an average tech and a Rockstar is their work ethic. Anyone can go into the shop and put in 8-12 hours but what you do with that time makes all the difference. Work smartly, efficiently and while you are there try to get as much work done as possible.
There are some techs that are experts and turning a 4 hour job into 8, don’t be that guy it only makes the day go longer.
9. No Shortcuts or Patch Jobs!
In certain situations you may need to patch something just to get it back to the shop but in general do the job right. Keep in mind, the cars and trucks you fix are driving on the same roads as you and your family, make sure they are up to standards. Do not sign off on a safety if you wouldn’t be comfortable letting your mother drive it.
The above 9 points are all easy to do and everyone is capable of doing them. Getting to the next level in your career and becoming a true Rockstar Mechanic is not about being born with some innate special ability, it is about doing the little things right, paying attention, working hard and keeping a positive attitude. Share your own tips in the comments below.