Five Tips for New Techs
There are three words Amanda Asling uses to describe the workflow at her shop: “Boom, boom, boom.”
As a disassembly/reassembly technician at CARSTAR Fort Collins North in Fort Collins, Colo., Asling says there’s a constant flow of vehicles coming in and out of her bay, and her ability to get vehicles out in a timely fashion keeps the shop running efficiently.
“[She is] fearless—unafraid of trying and failing and dedicated to doing her job right,” estimator Mary Collins says. “She is bound for greatness.” As a rookie who came in with very little experience and just completed her first year in the collision industry, it wasn’t smooth from the get-go. Asling and the CARSTAR staff took several steps to integrate the newcomer into the repair process—steps, Asling says, to keep in mind with any new technician.
1. Establish a trustworthy mentor. Asling had the benefit of working alongside her father, who helped her identify a teardown process that clicked with her visual, hands-on learning style.
“Look at the big picture, then the small picture,” Asling says her father would preach. “If you’re taking the bumper off, you need to find each and every clip, bolt and screw that comes out, and then move on from there. Don’t force anything. Take your time and try to understand the car.”
2. Slowly work them into their own new stall. As Asling became more sure of herself as a technician, management discovered she could contribute more by having her own stall.
“I shared a stall with my dad for half a year,” she says. “It got to the point where I was taking off, moving cars in and out much quicker. I was in front of the stall waiting for him to get out, or he was waiting on me to get out, so they moved me over into my own stall, and now it’s boom, boom, boom.”
3. Provide detailed teardown SOPs. It was difficult for Asling to understand the finer components of the disassembly process at first, but by studying her SOPs, she was able to quickly assess the differences between various OEM teardowns.
“I would think, ‘Why does this fender not come off with this headlight in it?’” she says. “Oh, well there’s other parts that have to come off before. A lot of our field sheets display the order of how to take the car apart. You start with the bumper, go to the headlight, then to the fender.
“BMW, Ford, Chevy—everything is similar, but also different. Now when I get a Ford, I know they do it this way.”
4. Keep the shop organized. For Asling’s Type A personality, nothing would inhibit her growth more than an unorganized repair floor. She’s inspired to keep a carefully arranged toolbox and workspace when the shop around her is organized and allows her to find equipment she needs quickly.
“We hang our stands on the walls so they aren’t in the way. We sweep our stalls. We have all of the battery chargers on the walls,” she says. “Everything is super organized. It helps a ton.”
5. Provide easy-to-use systems. One of the more important tools that has helped incorporate Asling into the repair process is also one of the simplest: a long, plastic container with dividers and labels for bolts, nuts and screws coming off the vehicle.
“Our owner drilled holes in the pans so we could hang them on our racks without taking up too much room,” she says. “Every car is labeled with a number, and we write that number on the car with a keychain. It helps me keep track of repairs much better.”
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