5 Tips for Mentoring Auto Body Technicians

5 Tips for Mentoring Auto Body Technicians

These tips will help you establish a successful mentoring program and secure workers before other industries do.

Mentoring is a human resource (HR) tool. It is increasingly considered for on-the-job training. Smart managers who learn to develop and apply a technical mentoring process have an HR advantage.

During this time of tech shortage, only 20% of all technical managers will be committed enough to properly use the tool of mentoring. Approximately 80% of managers want an easy fix and aren’t willing to learn or invest in what it takes.

When haphazardly implemented, mentoring fails will create internal conflict. However, to be able to grow your own technicians — in-house, over and over — is a worthy goal!

Here are five tips for successful technical mentoring:

1. BEFORE You Hire Mentees, Assess Your Business

Assess your business and staff to see if the environment lends itself to productive mentoring. Some managers are so desperate for help that they fling words around like “mentoring” to help hire without understanding what it is and what support structure is needed.

Do a simple self-assessment: draw a line down the middle of a blank page. On the right side, write: “Why we can win using mentoring.” On the left side, “Obstacles to mentoring.” Ask two or three staff to do the same. Compare and edit down to one page. Write down anything that comes to mind. Include generational differences, mentors, mentor compensation, relationships with local CTE programs and need for tools.

Expect to have someone point out that entry-level mentees are young, less stable, tend to stay out late and struggle to make good decisions. (Remember what you were like from age 18 to 25).

If you’re turning over a lot of techs, that is a predictor of poor success in mentoring. Check your churn! Stabilize staff before trying to implement a mentoring system.

2. Start Editing to a One-Page Plan

Once you compare thoughts, you almost have a simple written plan. Planning reveals whether a manager can understand and communicate the basics.

Write down the “W’s” … who, what, where, when and why. As your writing captures key ideas, offer the plan to someone you respect (your office manager, spouse, accountant, mentor). Invite honest feedback … and listen! Improve on the plan.

A one- to two-page written plan explains the basics of how your system might operate. Less yak, more act. Those who blah, blah, blah and yak, yak, yak seldom provide anything written. A plan at its simplest is a written checklist.

3. Identify the Mentor Manager BEFORE Mentors and Mentees

Mentoring needs a guide to manage the team(s). It is not a full-time job. So, if it is not you, then who?

A mentor manager must be available to answer questions, implement strategy and make quick decisions on behalf of the team. After a month or so, this is likely to be only one to two hours a week.

Success depends on the mentor manager. This person must care and buy in. The candidate for mentor manager may be working in-shop, but for some businesses the person works in the office and may have little or no technical experience but lots of people skills. Find someone who enjoys seeing others grow.

Mentor managers must have authority to do what is necessary on behalf of the team(s).

4. BEFORE The Mentee Arrives… Inform In-House Mentor Prospects

With the mentor manager aboard, inform all staff that you would like to identify and discuss technicians who may qualify to mentor.

Sometimes a lunch and learn is a great way to positively introduce how mentoring might work. Here are some things to share:

  • Explain how you see mentoring working
  • Invite techs to interview as mentors
  • Provide a simple job description for those interested
  • Explain benefits of mentoring and touch on compensation possibilities (discuss details privately and individually)
  • Answer mentor prospects questions and be open to suggestions

Be clear that not everyone has the experience or desire to be a mentor.

5. Be Prepared

Be prepared well ahead of time before the mentee arrives. Get a simple plan ready, get your team ready.

You’re in a HR competition for workers considering many industries. Sell them on your industry, your company and your plan for them. Show them you have a mentoring program in place that will help them grow faster than anywhere else.

You May Also Like

I-CAR Expanding Technical Expertise, Capacity and Capabilities

I-CAR recently announced plans to significantly expand its technical expertise, capacity and capabilities amid an era of extraordinary change in vehicle technology.

The explosive growth of technology and its direct connection to the accelerated pace of collision repair complexity cannot be understated in today’s industry. From coast to coast and from rural to urban communities, no matter where you work or which segment of the collision repair industry, we’re experiencing one of the most fascinating eras of our time.

How to Avoid a Fire at Your Auto Body Shop

Eight tips from GMG EnviroSafe to help you prevent fires in your auto repair facility.

CREF Helps Collision Student Clear Industry Hurdles

With the support of CREF, Destiny Potter is jumping every hurdle in her path – and gaining a lot of experience along the way.

Trade Schools: Getting with the Program

Body shops’ direction and guidance on what they need will help trade schools nationwide get with the program.

Scholarships, Industry Support Help Estimator Advance Career

Estimator Justin Furman is on the fast track to becoming a manager due to support from CREF and PPG.

Other Posts

ADAS: You Know the Old Saying About Assuming

The world of electronics is changing so fast that making assumptions can put a shop in a very dangerous place.

How to Determine the Value of Your Auto Body Shop

Whether you’re looking to sell, expand or transition your shop, understanding the value of your business is essential.

NABC Donates Recycled Rides to Seven Las Vegas Veterans

The presentation was held during SEMA week on the rooftop of the Renaissance Hotel parking facility overlooking the Las Vegas Convention Center.

What Constitutes Custom Color in Automotive Refinish?

It could be argued that any aftermarket coatings that are not represented by an OEM offering is custom … but that’s a moving target.