Posts By: Susan Brown

Free MST Student Premium Membership at Appliantology

Posted on April 19, 2019 by - Academy Talk, Career Talk

We know techs: you are trying to get your skills polished and get your troubleshooting mojo amped up ASAP so you can bring home that bacon.

Step 1 of that process is taking the courses here at the Master Samurai Tech Academy.

Step 2 is using the resources at our sister site, Appliantology.org, to help put your training into practice.

We've made that second step even more attainable by giving MST students a FREE 6-month premium membership.

Appliance repair is a trade, which means you are in a constant cycle of learning then doing.

First you learn the basic principles here at Master Samurai Tech, then you master those skills as you apply them in the field.

Appliantology offers several unique ways to help you rise to the top of the trade.

  • Tech-only forums where you exchange tips, tricks, and know-how with other professionals who share your desire to be the best
  • Webinar recordings covering both fundamental and advanced topics
  • Download and request schematics and service manuals
  • and much more, all in a private, ad-free, collegial environment (in other words - not Facebook!)

Details of the MST Student Membership
Who: any student currently enrolled in one of our technical courses
What: full, premium access to everything at Appliantology
How long: 6 months
Cost: free!
How: the sign-up form is in the Appliantology 101 course, which all students have access to. Go through Units 1, 2, and 3, then you'll be good to go.

You'll find Appliantology 101 in your course listing on the Members Area page. That's the page you land on when you log in. Or, if you're already logged in, click "My Courses" in the upper right on a computer, or at the bottom of the "hamburger" menu on a device.

Expert troubleshooting mojo on a Maytag refrigerator evaporator fan problem

Posted on April 18, 2019 by - Tech Talk

This video demonstrates how the powerful skills and techniques that we teach at the Master Samurai Tech Academy will make your diagnostic work not only more accurate, but easier and faster.

We went to work on a Maytag jazz board style refrigerator with a warm fresh-food compartment. The evaporator fan seemed to be getting voltage but wasn't running. Change the fan? Not so fast.

Watch how we zeroed in on the faulty component with a few easy measurements from the control panel.

No tearing the freezer apart to reach the fan! (We are all about minimizing the hassle and liability of disassembling the appliance unless absolutely necessary.)

So much of what we teach in our online appliance repair training comes into play in this service call:

  • reading the schematic,
  • using EEPs (electrically equivalent points) to avoid unnecessary disassembly,
  • voltage vs. voltage drop,
  • proper meter settings, and more.

The most important and valuable work we do as appliance techs happens between our ears. Being able to read a schematic, devise smart electrical testing, and interpret the results is what leads to a slam-dunk diagnosis. This is how you avoid call-backs and improve profitability and customer satisfaction.

 
If you can't quite follow or understand the troubleshooting in the video, fear not: You can learn how to troubleshoot like this, too! We love teaching electric circuit troubleshooting to people who want to learn these skills. If you want to earn more money and have greater job satisfaction, enroll now in Fundamentals of Appliance Repair.

 

Business Tips from ASTI – a glimpse into Mrs. Samurai’s notebook

Posted on April 8, 2019 by - Business Talk

Most of Team Samurai was in Nashville last month for the Annual Service Training Institute put on by United Servicers Association. We had a booth at the trade show and enjoyed chatting with many of our students and business owners. It’s great to be able to meet folks face-to-face!

I always attend as many of the Business track courses as I can while I’m at ASTI, as they are always filled with interesting and useful information.

Here are some highlights from my ASTI notebook for you:

Be friendly!

“Friendliness” is very highly ranked as an influence on how a customer rates their experience. Many business owners report that their most popular tech is not necessarily the most technically proficient.

So - take those friendly techs and give them more appliance repair training at Master Samurai Tech to make them a powerhouse!

Friendliness is also critically important for the Customer Service Representative who answers the phone.

Google continues to keep everyone on their toes

So there’s Google My Business, which is a free listing, and Google Ads (pay-per-click), and now a new feature that Google is rolling out called Local Services. It will show up at the top of a Google search results listing, and is meant to be like Home Advisor. You can be “Google Guaranteed” - for a price. You’ll pay a fixed price for leads, and you only pay if they actually contact you.

I acquired the slides from 3 presentations given by a Google trainer on many aspects of using Google to market your business. You can download them here:

Reach Customers Online with Google

Get Found on Google Search and Maps

Using Data to Drive Growth

Algorithm, Shmalgorithm

Like it or not, the vast majority of people (over 80%) use Google for search. So, when they release an algorithm change (that is, when Google changes up the secret way they determine who will rank highly on search results pages), if it negatively impacts your website’s search results it can be a big hit on your business.

In a presentation on digital marketing, Christina Kraker of Servicer’s Web talked about how to “algorithm change-proof” your site

  • Get online reviews (should have 50+ Google reviews) and keep them as positive as possible.
  • Have a diverse online profile - claim all those directory listings out there!
  • Have an active blog (at least one post per month)
  • Make sure your search-engine-optimized pages are good quality and diverse. (For example, if you create different pages for different towns, they actually have to have different content.)

Email Marketing

Email services like MailChimp are an easy way to communicate with your customers, especially if you set up “work flows” where pre-written emails are automatically sent when you add their email to the mailing list. Initially you can thank your customer for their recent service call and ask them to leave a review (with link(s) to make that easy). Then, send out a monthly newsletter (can mostly be the monthly blog post that you are going to write at your website blog.)

Entice visitors to your website to sign up for your newsletter by offering a coupon in exchange for their email address.

Expect the Unexpected

I sat in on an interesting panel discussion where several business owners described a sudden, devastating event and how they dealt with it.

  • Technician death while on the job. First takeaway: OSHA requires that you notify them of a work-related injury or death. There are fines if you fail to do so within a certain time period. In the case of a death, that time period is 8 hours. Second takeaway: while these types of events are very rare (this was the result of improper electrical installation by someone else), train your techs on basic safety precautions and how to spot warning signs.
  • Ransomware. Several companies have fallen prey to this, and lost valuable time and income while recovering from the data loss. Takeaway: BACKUP YOUR DATA and keep one copy off-site (or in the cloud). If you don’t know much about cybersecurity, hire someone to help assess your vulnerability.
  • Natural disaster. Similar warning as above in terms of your data. If your computer equipment got destroyed, do you have a backup somewhere else? Also, having enough cash on hand to help you and your employees to survive until work can resume can increase the odds of getting back to normal more quickly.

Inventory Management for Fun and Profit

1. Having the part you need when you go on a job can increase your First Call Complete rate

2. On the other hand, minimizing your parts inventory can prevent wasting money on parts that sit on the shelf for years.

The trick is balancing those two realities by effectively managing your parts inventory. Eventually this will help you to cut costs, save time, and effectively budget and forecast.

The typical way companies have dealt with parts was to have storage in the shop in order to replenish the vehicle as needed.

Michael Noe of Mr. Appliance said that increasingly their franchisees are going to a zero shop inventory model. This means there is only truck stock of the most commonly needed parts - those that you tend to use 3-4 times per year. All other parts are ordered as needed. This generally results in about 100-200 parts on the truck worth about $2500-3000. No more needing storage space for parts in the shop or ending up with money tied up in parts that don’t move on a regular basis.

Consider drop-shipping special order parts. This takes away the handling on your end, and if the part takes awhile to arrive (or the wrong part is sent), the customer will not blame you, but will see that it was the fault of the supplier.

The fastest way to keep up with your inventory is to scan the codes with a laser scanner. Note: the bar codes on Bosch and Miele parts will not give you a proper part number, so you’ll need to create labels for those. There is inexpensive software and label printers that allow you to do this.

Inventory should be scanned on a regular basis (quarterly, at a minimum) to determine what should stay on the truck, what should come off, and any restocking that’s needed.
———
Did these suggestions give you any ideas for your business?
---
UPDATE: Our friends at Fred's Academy posted the slides from their two dynamic business presentations at ASTI. You can check them out here: https://fluid.services/asti/

A Halloween Tale that will chill you to the bone…

Posted on October 31, 2018 by - Academy Talk

Jim (not his real name) was an ordinary appliance technician going out on an ordinary service call. Or so he thought.

He pulled up to the house, got his tools together, and walked up the driveway. The house was a ramshackle in desperate need of a paint job. But that was all right, Jim told himself, he’d be in and out in a jiffy. He was here to fix a fridge, how hard could it be? “I’ve seen worse,” he thought.

The moment he knocked on the door, blood-chilling shrieks came from inside. Jim winced. The door opened and two tiny dogs, like miniature, fat hounds from Hell, came waddling out. From the dank depths of the house, the customer emerged preceded by a sulfurous cloud of smoke. A cigarette with a bright orange tip was pinched in between her lips. She pulled the cigarette out and puffed a stream of acrid smoke in Jim’s face.

“You the appliance guy?” the customer asked.

“I am,” Jim said, coughing as discreetly as possible.

“Well, come in. I’ll show you where the fridge is.”

The dogs raced around Jim’s feet, tripping him up as Jim crossed the threshold. He sighed and said, “Cute dogs, but do you mind calling them over to you?”

The customer screamed her dog’s names a dozen times then finally grabbed them and stuffed them into a room off of the hall. 

She led Jim down the dark hallway into a room at the end and flicked a switch. After a second, a single fluorescent bulb flickered on, then off, and back on. The greenish light showed off the impressive display of detritus covering every available surface in the kitchen.

A TV came to life and blared at full volume. It nearly blasted Jim back down the hallway. 

“Ma’am, can you turn that down?” Jim asked.

“What?” the customer yelled. 

“Please turn that down!” Jim yelled.

“Sheesh, why you gotta yell?!” she shuffled over to the TV and fiddled with the dial.

Jim shrugged to himself. “All in a day’s work”, he thought, “I can handle it.”

His customer rasped, “It’s making a funny noise. My husband is an engineer, and he’s sure it’s the fan.”

Jim inwardly rolled his eyes, but just said, “Okay, ma’am, I’m just going to check it out to make sure.”

He chuckled to himself and thought, “Old Jim, cool as a cucumber! I can handle this job. Easy money - just a little common sense and a few tricks of the trade is all that’s needed!”

He started feeling around for the tech sheet. Immediately, his fingers hit something fuzzy. He pulled out a dead mouse. Tossing it aside without so much as a grimace, Jim stuck his hand back in. His fingers slid past something slimy—he didn’t really want to know what that was. When Jim’s arm was in up to his shoulder, his fingertips felt the empty pouch where the tech sheet should have been.

A few drops of sweat beaded up on his forehead, but he took as deep a breath as he dared to in that hellhole and calmed himself. “That’s all right,” he thought, “I know what to do.” Jim had a backup plan.

He took his cellphone out. He pulled up the number for tech line. But nothing happened. Jim’s heart began to sink. He tried again. The same thing. He looked at his phone. There was no signal. Jim was really sweating now. He wiped his forehead with his sleeve. He was going to have to go in blind. 

He pulled out the control board in the hopes he could figure something out. But beneath the control board was a confused tangle of wires of different colors. Red, purple, green, brown, they all snaked around each other and knotted together. Jim licked his lips. He had no idea what to do. Suddenly the wires were getting longer and longer, reaching out towards him, winding around his neck and cutting off his air. All the while, the customer was lurching at him, croaking, “Why aren’t you fixing my fridge?! Fix my fridge!!!!”

Jim woke up in a cold sweat, screaming. With shaky hands, he grabbed his smartphone off the night table and opened up the Master Samurai Tech Academy site. There they were - the training courses he had enrolled in so that he could finally up his game and have the knowledge and troubleshooting skills he needed to never have that sinking feeling again. 

He took a deep breath, chuckled a bit at that awful nightmare, then fell back onto his pillow, comforted by the knowledge that he was soon going to be master of his trade.

 

Vacation Notice: July 6-16, 2018

Posted on June 4, 2018 by - Academy Talk

Team Samurai is taking a rare vacation together to celebrate Mother of Samurai's 80th birthday with the extended Samurai clan this July.

Our internet access will be limited and we'll be on the other side of the world from most of you, but we will check in every day to take care of student needs.

What This Means For You

The beauty of online training is that most of it happens between you and the course software, without needing us to move things along. So most of you will be unaffected by our vacation.

But there are times when it becomes interactive, such as:

  • Midterm or Final exam grading on the Fundamentals course
  • Ask the Teacher Forums questions
  • Quiz or Exam Reset Requests

We will continue to take care of those needs, but our response time will be slower than usual.

To minimize any disruption of your course progress during this vacation period of 7/6 thru 7/16, keep the following in mind:

  • Be extra careful with your second attempts on quizzes and exams, so that you are less likely to need a reset.
  • Communicate with your supervisor (if applicable) about any deadlines for your training. Let them know things might move a little more slowly that week, if you happen to need Forum questions answered or an exam graded.
  • If you are worried about your course access ending during that time or any other issues regarding keeping your progress going during that time period, contact us ahead of time and we'll help you out.

Any contact forms that are sent in will be read and responded to, it will just take longer than our usual prompt turnaround.

Thank you for your patience as we take the opportunity to celebrate a special event with our family!