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What does a Shop Foreman do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A shop foreman is a lead supervisor at an automobile or industrial equipment repair garage. He or she oversees the work of mechanics and technicians, contracts with customers, and handles various administrative duties involved with operating a business. Most foremen are responsible for hiring and training new workers and providing regular performance reviews to ensure customers receive quality repair work. A shop foreman may own a small garage and provide services to the general public or work in a large commercial repair shop that specializes in maintaining heavy equipment and trucks.

In order to provide clear instructions to workers and effectively deal with customers, a shop foreman must possess excellent communication skills. He or she usually works alongside technicians to make sure they are performing quality repair jobs. When a difficult problem arises, workers typically contact the foreman to find out what to do. In addition, the shop foreman is responsible for enforcing safety procedures at all times to avoid accidental injuries and damage to automobiles.

It is common for customers to deal directly with the shop foreman to get quotes on repairs and understand what types of work are needed on their automobiles. Most shops have a large variety of replacement parts, tools, and paint on hand, though the foreman may need to place a custom order with a manufacturer if a part is out of stock. The foreman helps customers understand their options, so they can make informed decisions about what work they want performed and how much they should spend.

Shop foremen usually have offices at their garages to have a place to perform important administrative duties. Most professionals keep computerized and written records of customer accounts, inventory sheets, sales data, tax forms, and other important business information. Foremen also advertise job openings, hire new workers, and provide them with appropriate training. They conduct regular performance reviews to help workers improve their techniques and make ultimate decisions to fire employees who are unfit for the job.

There are no set educational or training requirements to become a shop foreman, though some people pursue two-year degrees at technical schools to learn the fundamentals of repair work. Most professionals begin careers as automotive technicians and assistant mechanics, eventually advancing to the position after gaining several years of detailed experience. Obtaining voluntary certification from a respected organization, such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence in the United States, can be very helpful in securing work as a shop foreman.

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Discussion Comments
By anon935523 — On Feb 25, 2014

As the shop foreman for a high volume dealer in New Jersey, it seems to be a task and one that is difficult. My service manager is responsible for the service department. The shop foreman is responsible for the technicians and the work that comes out of the shop.

By ElizaBennett — On Jun 04, 2011

@ robbie21- God bless you! I don't think I could be a teacher for anything.

I think the main difference is that a shop foreman's duties include actually getting his hands dirty (blue collar) while the manager does only administrative tasks (white collar). My father is a mechanic, and that's the impression I've always gotten from him. So if you're talking about a car repair shop, the foreman would be the head mechanic, while the manager might never have spun a wrench in his/her life. (That's changed. Years ago, you didn't have to have a college degree to be a service manager.)

Another example is actually from the movie Gone With the Wind. The overseer was a white guy (obviously of lower class than the planter), while the foreman was one of the slaves.

By robbie21 — On Jun 03, 2011

How is the job of a shop foreman different from that of a store manager? Wouldn't the manager hire and fire, etc.? I'm actually asking because a short story I'm doing with my students (I'm a teacher) has a character who's a foreman and I'm not sure how to explain to them exactly what that means.

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