WARNING….WARNING….WARNING

STRONG OPINIONS AHEAD

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 Amazon.com 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.

Jim

 

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