Best of the Best: Bogi Lateiner’s Dedication to the Industry
You’re likely familiar with the name Bogi Lateiner. She’s been the host of All Girls Garage since 2012, owner of 180 Degrees Automotive, heads up the all-female Chevy Montage build project at SEMA, hosts under-the-hood car care classes, is a professional speaker, industry consultant and so much more!
When I look at all that Bogi does, you will see no lack of amazing and astonishing feats. In fact, there are way too many to cover adequately in one article because I would really want to give you the details and show you examples of how she does each thing. In fact, the only way I could grasp it all was to experience it firsthand by going to Bogi’s shop and garage for some time with her and all the teams!
The 180 Degrees Automotive Way
My first stop on the trip was getting to spend some time hanging at the shop with Bogi and her team. Our first few hours together, Bogi and I just got to hang out and talk about our favorite things: shop, cars, automotive repair, the industry ... all the fun stuff! What’s working, what’s not working, what’s changing, who’s doing what.
What we had during those hours together was an overflowing of passion, determination and excitement about our industry, which you can see in everything that she does. I can see it in the innovative marketing tools (referral cards that give customers a free pizza from a local restaurant, wheel lock holder bags attached to a note for the customer), the wrench jewelry, local artist paintings, fire-singed signs with matches, community board hung up with ropes and clips to help area business owners grow their business. It’s just so much that you don’t know where to start. That is, until you see the first customer walk in, watch the process and talk to the team.
When a customer comes in they see their name written on the back wall and a smiling face that welcomes them immediately. Next, the service advisors are genuinely happy to be there, talk to their customers, build a relationship with them and their cars. The team says the reason for this is because of the environment that Bogi has created. Her first goal is to help shop owners be better, to educate everyone on the truth about our industry, to empower people who want to enter this industry on how to do it and why.
Addressing the Technician Shortage
As we all know, we are experiencing a declining workforce in the industry. Young adults don’t grow up working on cars today like they used to. It somehow became a less-than-respected profession. Today, most millennials are college educated with credentials to do many “white-collar” jobs and very few have the desire or ability to perform “blue-collar” jobs or enter the automotive industry.
Bogi believes that it’s because they don’t know what the opportunities are and how great this industry really is. If we can educate them, provide them with the training and ethics to be a top automotive technician who understands mechanics, electronics and diagnostics, they won’t be able to keep the job offers away.
That is the message Bogi wants the world to hear and she’s doing something about it. First, through her show, All Girls Garage, where she helps make it cool to learn about and work on cars. Second, she teaches classes for WORLDPAC Institute on mastering marketing and the customer experience.
Third, she has an innovative approach to acquiring new talent in her shops. The process is different, just like everything that Bogi does.
She publishes an ad for an apprenticeship technician for people with the right attitude, passion for cars and no experience necessary. If they enjoy working in teams and like solving problem, they can apply to interview. Next, Bogi will host a phone interview with candidates that fit her criteria before holding an in-person interview. Finally, the last three candidates come in for a day-long interview with the team where they get to work alongside each team member for the day. The team then sits down and decides together who they want to bring in and who wants to be the primary trainer for the newest member. The apprentice will start their training and work right alongside the training technician until they can flag 30 hours by themselves.
Bridging the Gender Gap
After getting to spend the day at the shop, we went over to Bogi’s Garage, where the 1957 short-bed Chevy truck is being built with a BMW S62 engine. The truck has been touched by many hands, all of them female! That’s right, this is a training garage for women across the country to come together and learn body, mechanical and electrical work. This shop has a kitchen and living space so there’s a place to stay for those who come cross country. As of today, more than 50 women have come to work on the truck and learn.
In addition to being a learning facility, there are women volunteering their time and automotive expertise to come out and help in the work/training process. This has been life changing for many of these women, who come for a variety of reasons. Some are coming to learn about how to work on cars, some are coming because they felt it would provide a non-intimidating environment to learn, some come for the camaraderie it brings, and others come just for the fun of it.
Take Raine from Seattle, who, at 18 years old, came out to the garage for a long stay so she could learn how to do body work and then work in a body shop back home. I also met Michelle, who is out for 10 weeks to grow her confidence in the shop and work alongside her husband, whose passion and hobby is working on vehicles.
This project is creating a huge network of future technicians and confident women, and creating new opportunities for support, mentorship and growth. The Chevy truck will be rolled out at SEMA on Oct. 31 morning in the BASF booth, if you want to meet some of the crew.
As you can see, there’s so much more to Bogi than being a female shop owner, television personality, or speaker. Her goal is to educate everyone on how to treat your staff with respect, have a team mentality in the shop that will flow to the customer and, most importantly, bring a shift in the perception of our industry. I can tell you that everything she has done so far has impacted more people’s lives in less than one year than many of us will ever have the chance to do in our entire careers.