CHRIS MENCHACA’S WORK REDEFINES THE ROLE OF AUTO TECHNICIANS
BY GIDEON SCANLON
As the senior manager of training and development at the remote diagnostic repair giant asTech, Chris Menchaca is responsible for overseeing the training of asTech’s small army of remote service technicians. It is no easy task.
For one thing: just a few years ago, remote service technicians did not exist at all, so Menchaca’s role is as much about defining the position as it is about ensuring his team is able to handle repairing new technologies. For another, asTech is renowned for its work in taking diagnostic repairs from science fiction to reality—something that has enabled it to build-up clients across the continents. For Menchaca, that means his training needs to cover vehicles not sold in the United States.
Menchaca sat down with Bodyworx Professional in asTech’s Dallas offices to discuss his approach to training, the emergence of diagnostic repairing as a profession within the broader collision industry and the importance of training to all repairers—whether they work remotely or in bodyshops.
How does your training change based on the experience of the technician?
Our training is adaptable and capable of providing instruction for technicians from a wide array of backgrounds and experience levels. Whether a technician has 20 years experience across many different brands or three years experience with one manufacturer, we take the time to understand the unique needs of these individuals so that we can best serve the customer. In the end, our technicians are taught how to identify issues faster, and how to become more efficient, which directly results in more capable and confident employees.
What should a technician be focused on today to stay ahead in the business?
When it comes to training, the approach has stayed the same. Whether it was 20 years ago or now, it’s all about understanding the fundamentals—the automotive basics. If you don’t have the basic foundation, then everything else you try to build on top of that is going to crumble. Just because you’ve done your own brakes, your own alternator, or you’ve cooked up your own aftermarket radio, doesn’t make you a professional.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing technicians using these new technologies?
Technicians who do this job for a living never stop learning. They are constantly combing new information and skills. You don’t ever learn anything by reading it once, and must work diligently to stay on top of things in order to be successful.
What separates diagnostics from other tasks within a bodyshop?
Technicians, good technicians need to always be looking at the manufacturer’s information and doing their research. Doing brake jobs, oil changes, service, those are mindless movements. But when you are diagnosing, that’s when you’re drawing on your abilities and you’re starting to field those diagnostic skills. The benefit during training is they do it every day and become sharper as a result of it.
Where is the industry headed with all of the changes in technology and robotics?
There’s always going to be a need for someone to fix a car. The skill set of that person is going to change, the training is going to change, and all those things are going to change. Despite this, technicians will adapt, we’re going to adapt, just like we are adapting now.
What advice would you give to a young tech that has aspirations about moving up through the ranks?
The one thing that managers always ask is ‘Does this person care about their job?’ Generally, if they care about the job they care about the customer. Being school-smart and good with your hands is important but if the technician doesn’t care about the job, then you can’t trust them. In other words, do they care to learn? Do they want to take care of your customer? Do they care to follow instructions? To me, it’s all about caring. If they do, then you can train them to do anything. The worst mistake you can make is getting into something you hate. I would say for anybody, it doesn’t matter if they are going to eventually be a technician or a doctor or lawyer, whatever it is if you have a passion for something you should follow it.