- We're back from our bidness trip last week but Mrs. Samurai has a cold so this episode is mostly Tech Talk. - Visit to American Appliance in Golden, CO, one of Sub-Zero's premiere partners. - Recap of Dacor training in their Android-controlled ranges - GFCIs and AFCIs. What they are, what they do, how they're different, and current NEC requirements. - Voltage and current in series and parallel circuits.
- Samurai and Son of Samurai are off to Dacor training. - Manufacturers focusing on producing higher-profit upscale major appliances and what this means for your service business - Sub-Zero doing a huge expansion in Wisconsin to crank out upscale dishwashers and ranges. What are these manufacturers seeing that you should also be seeing as an appliance repair company? - A recent Samsung warranty debacle shows how there’s a greater need for skilled appliance technicians but the trade is still “ate-up” with parts changing monkeys. - Voltage sag re-visited. - 120/240 VAC, three-wire, single-phase electric service vs. 120/208 VAC, four-wire, three-phase electric service. Samurai explains the difference between these two common types of electric service and gives some examples of how some appliances are equipped and labelled to work with either service. Link to a Samurai video that explains 120/240 VAC split-phase household service: https://youtu.be/zs4HjHhf0x8 - Customer selection: Do you pick and choose your customers? Why or why not? We talk about a recent topic at the tech-only forums at Appliantology where this subject came up. [Link to forum topic, must be logged in and a tech member at Appliantology to read it: http://appliantology.org/topic/55055-general-question-for-stovetop-wiring/]
Industry News: an interesting twist in the legal drama surrounding the GE-Electrolux merger. GE’s biggest laundry product launch in 20 years: yet another top-loader? Future tech: are ultrasonic dryers on the horizon?
Appliantology News: Traipsing through the various incarnations of the Samurai’s online appliance repair forums and groups (first one on the internet in 1997!) right up through the present incarnation as Appliantology.org. Discussion of the various membership groups at Appliantology. Link to blog post that explains the recent change in focus at Appliantology from DIYers to supporting the tech community and the current membership groups: http://appliantology.org/blog/1/entry-831-appliantology-is-changing-with-the-times/
Samurai Live! Have you checked out Periscope? It’s a cool way of doing live, spontaneous videos on your smartphone that anyone else and drop in and watch. Your followers get notified when you start shooting and can watch, too. We talk about our plans to use it for sharing live videos from interesting service call situations. https://www.periscope.tv
Linear compressors: The Samurai gives a quick rundown of the three types of compressor motors used today in home appliances: split phase, BLDC, and linear, then explains how linear compressor motors work and how to test them.
Phishing alert: We expose an authentic-looking phishing scam we recently received in our email claiming to be from Samsung. We detail this and also explain phishing in general-- what it is and how to spot it.
Hotel reservation scammer alert: We describe a recent hotel reservation scam where a company calls and wants to book your hotel reservations at a conference you're planning on attending, like an appliance repair training conference. In our case, it was for the upcoming ASTI in Miami.
In this special episode of MST Radio, the tables are turned and instead of being the host, Samurai Appliance Repair Man is a guest on another radio show, the Scott Horton Show. We discuss the changes going on in the appliance repair trade today and the opportunities this creates for skilled appliance techs. Whether you’re contemplating a new career in appliance repair or are a seasoned veteran in the trade, the Samurai explains how the Samurai Tech Academy can teach you the technical and business skills you need to succeed as a technician and/or service company owner-operator.
Let’s say you have just hired a bright, energetic, and enthusiastic person who shows a lot of promise but lacks seasoning as an appliance repair tech. What’s the best way to bring this new hire up to speed in the ever more complex field of appliance repair?
Obviously, training is paramount. We’re assuming this person has gained some familiarity in a trade — perhaps welding, electrical, or plumbing, for example. Those occupations have less to do with technical troubleshooting and repair and are more about installation, fabrication, or simply replacing an obviously bad component such as a faucet, outlet, or switch. However, the skills and work ethics your new tech learned in other shops demonstrate an ability to learn and adapt — valuable traits in an appliance repair tech. What the new hire needs now is specialized training in appliance service repair.
1. Enroll your new tech in the online, self-paced Tech Bundle (Fundamentals, Refrigeration, Advanced Schematics, and Professional Development) at Samurai Tech Academy. This formal training should start in the first week of employment, if possible.
The courses in the tech bundle will not only lay a solid foundation for the essential skills and technologies your new technician will encounter, they will also expose the rookie to the modern, advanced computer-controlled appliances with multiple electronic control boards. By demystifying the inner workings of those appliances, the tech can avoid the all-too-common “Hail Mary pass” — replacing the control board and hoping they're right — a desperate strategy too many so-called technicians fall back on today.
2. Assign a mentor (maybe the owner). It’s imperative that the rookie have a seasoned technician (who ideally has also taken the Samurai Tech Academy courses) to show him or her the ropes — not just where the break room is, but the ins and outs of your business, technical and otherwise. An interested and supportive mentor will greatly improve chances for career success as an appliance repair tech. In a smaller multi-truck operation, this mentor may be the owner himself.
3. Start running calls as an assistant. A critical component of learning any skilled trade is actually doing it. It is vital that any book learning be accompanied by time spent as an assistant to an experienced tech on actual service calls. That way, the rookie can learn the hows that accompany the whys presented in the online training. Plus, putting course lessons into actual practice really speeds up the mastery of a topic or skill.
4. Review and correct. The mentor or senior tech observes, comments on, and corrects not only the rookie’s performance on real-life service calls, but also reviews the trainee’s progress in online training. It's actually very motivating for a tech student to know that a mentor, manager, or owner is available to help with questions that arise in coursework or on the job and periodically checks on the trainee’s progress in both. Nothing says “get to work” like your boss asking “how's it going on ___?”
5. Expect mistakes. Even the most experienced of us make mistakes, hopefully fewer and fewer as we gain knowhow. But remember back to your own fledgling days and expect your new tech to inevitably screw up something. When that happens, keep in mind that we humans often learn more through failure than through success, and losing your cool in the face of a trainee’s (or employee’s) mistake never makes anything better. Explain the error matter-of-factly and patiently, demonstrate the correct way to perform the task, and move on. Trainees who know you won’t blow your stack at every little flub will learn better and faster, to the benefit of your business in the long run.
Finally, how can you be sure you won’t lose your new tech once you’ve invested in all that training? This is rarely an issue if your business provides a positive workplace and has a competitive compensation plan — and providing training as part of the compensation package is a good way to instill loyalty to you and your company. However, if you’re worried your new tech will jump ship, you can have the technician pay for some portion of the training, to be reimbursed in the form of a bonus or other compensation at some time in the future.