Monthly Archives: February 2012

In this troubleshooting situation we have a residential customer who has called for service, and their explanation of the problem is that their six-year-old gas furnace “won’t run.” They also tell the dispatcher that they have already replaced the thermostat, but it didn’t solve the problem.

When you arrive, you find the furnace sitting idle, and the customer explains that since they were able to determine that there was power to the furnace receptacle by plugging in a desk lamp, they assumed that the problem was with the thermostat.

Upon removing the access panels, and manually initiating the Interlock Switch, you locate the pictorial wiring diagram shown in Figure One, and get the following results with your voltmeter:

…0-Volts at COM and 24VAC on the Furnace Control

…115-Volts at L1 and N at the black and white transformer primary connections

Figure One


Here is your two-part troubleshooting question: Which component needs to be replaced in order to get this furnace operating again, and what steps do you take to ensure its proper operation?

Until next week…

Learn from yesterday…..Live for today…..Look forward to tomorrow


Note….this weeks’ blog segment was prompted by a phone call from someone who was trying to find out if our HVACR training DVD’s would work for him.

“Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” For those of you who are old enough to remember the Disney TV series, or if you have visited Tennessee and studied some of the history there, you may recall that this quote was from Davy Crockett, who was known as “The Frontier Statesman” historically, and “King of the Wild Frontier”  according to Disney. Either way, the point of his statement was that, in any situation in which you’re trying to accomplish something or decide about something, what it always boils down to it that it is really just as simple as, well, being sure you’re right, then going ahead.

Personally, I rather like that philosophy, and Davy Crockett’s quote.

And, in the event we get one of the above-mentioned phone calls, it’s the philosophy I explain to someone who has been on our site, read about (and viewed a sample of) our DVD’s on refrigeration and electrical system troubleshooting and servicing, and they’re still not sure whether or not out stuff is what they need in order to either learn how to enter the field as an HVACR technician, or improve on their skills if they are already working in the heating and air conditioning industry.

It’s a good question…..and a fair one. And, like I said, employing the Davy Crockett philosophy is the best way to arrive at a decision.  And the best way to answer that question is to consider 10 other questions….the questions I ask someone who is trying to find out if our stuff is what they need. Here they are:

1. Have you read, and do you understand the title or titles of the program(s) you’re considering purchasing?

2. Have you read, and do you understand the description(s) and the content of the title or titles of the program(s) you are considering purchasing?

3. Did you view the video sample from one of our programs, and do you understand that what this sample does is show and explain our overall philosophy of presenting information in all of our productions, and demonstrates the quality of all of our productions relative to lighting, digital filming and audio? (Perhaps the real question here is  ‘do you trust us enough to accept that this is a fair question in the first place?’….but, I”m getting off track with that thought)

4. Have you noted what the run time is of the program or programs you’re considering purchasing? (I have to admit I’m always curious about this question. From my perspective, if I can explain something to you in 20 minutes, I don’t see why I should stretch it out into 40 minutes in order to make it look like the informaition is more valuable by extending the time frame of the program. It’s not how long a program is that determines its value to you, it’s the information you get out of it.)

5. Have you looked closely at the pictures of the DVD’s themselves and noted the copyright date so you know how ‘old’ our stuff is? (This is another question that I’m curious about. If you read about our training videos, you understand that there’s a lot of information there that we could have done a production on 20 years ago, and it wouldn’t be much different than it is today. Fundamentals are fundamentals, and will always be fundamentals. And, since the fundamentals, along with general troubleshooting procedures, are what we teach, the copyright date doesn’t, or, to put it more precisely, shouldn’t matter.)

6. Are you aware of the price of each individual program, and/or the price of any package or bundle you are considering purchasing? (I can’t resist commenting on this…..I think the way one should look at the price spent on education is not to be as concerned with the dollar amount as much as what kind of return there will be on the investment in the education…..for example, while you may spend $30 on a particular DVD program, the real question to consider is how many times are you going to get that $30 back because you learned the correct way to troubleshoot or test a particular component, and can replace it quickly and correctly, and get paid for doing so without having to take an inordinate amount of time or have the job result in a callback?)

7. Do you understand that some of our programs come with self-print CD’s that allow you to print a copy of the wiring diagrams and other resource material we use in the production so you can follow along and do what we do, and that’s the extent of our ‘interactive’ approach, and that some of our programs don’t have self-print CD’s along with the DVD’s because we don’t think it’s necessary to have them for every topic that we teach?

8. Have you taken the time to read all the information on our Frequently Asked Questions page, and do you understand all the answers to the questions?

9. Have you read the comments we’ve received from customers our Testimonials page?

10. Do you believe we didn’t make up the stuff on our Testimonials page?

If the answer to the above ten questions is yes, then a person who is considering buying our stuff has all the information that is available regarding our DVD’s. That’s it. As they say, that’s all there is, ’cause there ain’t no more. There’s nothing else to know. There just isn’t.

And, if a person has all the information that is available to them, then they are in one of two situations…..either they’re sure our stuff is for them, or they aren’t.

If they aren’t sure, perhaps it’s because they’re not really sure what they want. Maybe they know they need something, but they don’t know what it is. Or maybe what they’re really looking for is specific troubleshooting procedures regarding certain pieces of equipment, and they don’t realize that the information they need is only available from the manufacturer of the equipment. Whatever the reason for the uncertainty, it’s there. And if there’s any uncertainty there, then my recommendation would be to keep looking.

However, if the answer to all of the above questions is yes, and a person is sure that they can benefit from our stuff, then my recommendation is to do as Davy Crockett said, and go ahead.

Until next week…

Learn from yesterday…..Live for today……Look forward to tomorrow.





Appliance and HVACR service company owners and service managers all want their technicians to provide good customer service while they are accomplishing the troubleshooting/repair/maintenance tasks that are the technical side of their job. Here’s one approach you can take to create a culture of customer service in your business…

At your next regularly scheduled techncian…staff….associate, or however you refer to it meeting, hand out 3 x 5 index cards and explain that your entire customer service “policy” is going to be written on the cards.

Then, instruct everyone to write the following on one side of the card: Part One, Provide Outstanding Customer Service.

Next, instruct everyone to turn the card over and write the following on the other side of the card: Use Your Own Best Judgment In Any Situation.

Then….wait. And, yes, the silence will be deafening, but wait. What you’re waiting for is a ‘yabut’.

What’s a ‘yabut’? It’s a question that begins with a ….”yeah, but what if the customer says…..? or, “yeah, but what if what happens is….?

And, once the first ‘yabut’ comes up, all you have to do is say, “I want you to refer to Part One of our customer service policy.” And, when the second ‘yabut’ comes up, all you have to do is say, “Turn the card over.”

And, when the third ‘yabut’ comes up, say, “Turn the card over,” again.

And, when the fourth, or fifth, or however many ‘yabuts’ come up, you….well, you get the idea. After a while, the concept will sink in. What you want to convey about your customer service philosophy is that, while it might not be easy to accompish, it is, in fact, simple.

(Note….during a workshop where I recently presented this idea to a group of approximately 40 service company owners, service managers, and soon-to-be service managers, I was roundly (and a bit loudly) criticized by one of the attendees because, in his opinion, this idea was “so vague.” And, as always happens during a workshop attended by a group of people who are in management and supervision, I personally didn’t have to explain why this idea is effective. Another attendee spoke up and said, “If you can’t trust your employees to handle this, then you shouldn’t have hired them.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.)

Another benefit of going through this exercise is that it will help you identify where there may be any negative influences in your organization. The first technician who says something along the line of “I don’t get paid to make those kinds of decisions,” or “Are you saying you want us to do your job for you?” is in need of some coaching from you.

No, you’re not asking some one to do your job for you. You’re explaining to them that you want them to keep part one of your “policy” (Provide Outstanding Customer Service) in their mind at all times when they delivering the services that your company provides, and, that in some cases, part two of your “policy” (Use Your Own Best Judgement In Any Situation) will be something they can, more often than not, handle on their own, while sometimes, implementing part two will mean that their judgment will be that they need to call you for direction on what specific action to take…..that is, after they’ve explained the details of the situation to you and offered their opinion on what they think is the right thing to do.

To put it simply, what you want to convey to your people is that they are empowered to do their job, and that you are always there to provide direction… when necessary.

Until next week….

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look foward to tomorrow.





The 2012 Marcone Servicers Association convention, held last week in Las Vegas, was attended in record numbers by independent servicers…..mostly from the major appliance industry, along with some who also do HVACR. And, as it  always is with a trade association event such as this one, I have the opportunity to meet with people who either own and operate, or are employed by, a small or large company engaged in the business of either repairing major appliances and/or heating and air conditioning equipment. And one thing I never hear from anybody who has invested the time, energy and money to attend a trade association event is that they made a mistake in doing so.

So, here’s the first of those strong opinions….remember, I warned you.

If you’re running a one-person service operation, or if your company is considered “large”, or if you’re employed as a technician by a large or small company, it’s imperative that you belong to a trade association and, whenever possible, attend their convention or other events. I’ve had conversations with servicers who tell me that they “just can’t afford” to be a trade association member and participate in the events that are offered, but I’m convinced they’re wrong. One-Hundred and Eighty-Degrees wrong.

The reality is, when you consider that you can attend technical training sessions offererd by manufacturers, meet with your peers in your chosen business/craft/career to share information and learn from each other, attend sessions that give you an opportunity to get fresh ideas on customer service, business management, or supervisory skills, and find out what’s new and improved in the area of test instruments, equipment, and other tools to help you in your business, you “can’t afford” not to belong to a trade association and participate.

(On a side note regarding the major appliance service industry, I am often asked which trade association a servicer should join, either USA, PSA, or MSA, and my answer is always the same….yes.)

Moving on…..more strong opinions.

Since I’m in the training business and simply will not keep my opinions to myself, some of the conversations I often have at conventions are with employers about in-house training and what they provide in the regard to the technicians employed by their company. And (give ’em credit for honesty here), sometimes, the information I get from an employer is that they don’t have an ongoing, proactive program that allows them to contribute to the continued growth and development of employees. And, that’s another group of people who are wrong because they either don’t think they should do so, or are unable to do so.

In-house training sessions…..and, yes, it’s a meeting that is conducted during the day, meaning hourly people get paid to be there….that provide information on both the technical and soft skills side of the service business are the responsibility of the employer. If you’re the only one available to conduct such a training session, and you’re not sure how to proceed, go to and get a book on how to be an effective presenter, or attend a one-day seminar that’s offered by companies like Fred Pryor or Career Track on how to conduct effective meetings and be a presenter. And find a way to tap into the resources that are all around you, such as in the form of manufacturer’s service manuals, or getting in touch with a factory representative for help and information so a training session can be presented on electrical troubleshooting or other technical topic.

As the Nike people used to say….Just Do It.

Moving on….another strong opinion.

Again, on the subject of training and staying up-to-date in the service business; this time referring to technicians themselves. In addition to talking with employers at conventions, I also have conversations with technicians on this subject, and, believe it or not, some of them tell me that if they are paid hourly, and their employer wants them to attend a training session that may be offered on an evening, or other time that isn’t “on the clock” (or gets in the way of their earning time if they are paid on commission), then they should be paid for being there.

Oh, C”mon here! What kind of negative, scorekeeping, us-versus-them attitude is that!?

As I said above, a service company owner certainly has the obligation to contribute to the ongoing growth and development of the people they employ, but that doesn’t, for cryin’-out-loud, absolve a professional from their responsibility to invest in their career and also contribute to their ability to do their job as well as possible!

OK….OK…..I’ll calm down and wind this up. I’ve made my point on that sore subject.

The bottom line is that, in my opinion, an effectively run trade association, along with their conventions and other services and opportunities they offer to those of us who have chosen a career in the appliance or HVACR service  industry, are not an expense, they’re an investment. An investment that always pays off in more ways than one.

Until next week….

Learn from yesterday….Live for today…..Look forward to tomorrow.



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