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How Do Automotive Technicians Measure Up?
How would you describe the ideal automotive service technician? What sort of qualities would he (or she) have to meet to earn your respect? That question was asked in a nationwide survey of technicians, service writers and shop owners by the Image Enhancement Sub-Committee of the Motorist Assurance Program (MAP) several years ago. You can visit the MAP website at www.motorist.org
An essential element of the MAP program is to enhance and upgrade the image of professional automotive technicians and service writers. The goal of the survey was to identify what it takes to be a top notch technician or service writer today. Using this information MAP hopes to develop programs that will (1) upgrade the image and appreciation of professional technicians in the eyes of the public, (2) upgrade the skill level of technicians and service writers (particularly the skill of dealing with customers), and (3) to recognize outstanding individuals who live up to the "ideal" standards with prizes and awards.
The survey was based on 5,347 responses received, of which 84% were from aftermarket technicians, 5.9% were shop owners, 2.3% were dealer technicians, and 4.8% were service writers. Three out of four persons responding to the survey were ASE certified in one or more repair areas, and one out of two were licensed by either state or local government agencies.
The most important criteria, they said, were as follows:
- Work ethic (21.4%). The number one qualification for being a successful technician today is a solid work ethic. This was described as being honest, dependable and resourceful. Other important aspects of the work ethic include loyalty and being a "team player."
- Job knowledge (18.4%). The working professionals who responded to the survey said you cannot be a top notch professional if you do not know your job. Experience is what counts, and the more you have of it the better.
- Communication skills (15.5%). The ability to explain in plain English (and with proper grammar, too) why a certain repair is necessary or why it is being recommended is an essential skill today for dealing with the public. Also important is the ability to accurately complete job tickets, and where applicable enter customer and vehicle data into a computer.
- Technical skills & training (14.6%). Though it might be argued that this item should have been ranked number one, apparently most professionals consider the previous three criteria to be more important today. Even so, technical knowledge (including an understanding of basic mechanics, electricity, electronics, diagnostics, etc.) is a "must."
- Career path (13.6%). How you came to be a technician is also an important criteria. This includes the formal training and experience you have had, ASE certification, etc.
- Coping skills (8.7%). The ability to handle stress is absolutely essential to survive in today's fast paced, high pressure work environment (59% of the respondents mentioned this!). But so too is the ability to deal with customer complaints and other frustrations that are part of the job.
- Appearance (7.8%). Though ranked last on the list, appearance is by no means less important than any of the previous criteria for success. Included here are such things as wearing a clean uniform to work, neat appearance, etc. And if you are a service writer or advisor, you had better wear a tie.
If you are a professional automotive technician, how do you measure up? Maybe your list of criteria is different from the one MAP found with its survey, or maybe it is not. Either way, you should listen to what your peers are saying. After all, if we are going to change the public perception of auto repair we need to start with upgrading our own image.
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