In these uncertain times, we know techs out there are concerned for the current situation and the future. We at Team Samurai have been crafting ways for techs to adapt to the pandemic economy as well as prepare for the "new normal" after the pandemic.
In case you missed it, the Samurai put on a webinar a few weeks ago where he went over a few concrete ways to adapt to the changing times and keep your business humming along. You can watch the recording below.
This includes implementing sanitation procedures as well as virtual service calls—you'll learn more in the video.
Things are undoubtably going to be different after the pandemic passes. Flexibility and adaptability will be key to keeping our businesses thriving! Watch the video below to learn more.
Making mistakes is part of learning, but making mistakes on the job is also expensive. An appliance tech can only afford to make so many before they are out of business or looking for a new job.
We want to help you avoid this! Here are 3 common rookie mistakes that you should watch out for.
Not a rookie? Then it’s even that much more painful when you catch yourself acting like one. Be honest - have you made one of these mistakes?
Wanna know which ones the Samurai himself has made? Keep reading...
1. Not verifying the customer’s complaint
This is a classic mistake. Even seasoned veterans sometimes get ahead of themselves and dive into their troubleshooting without first verifying the complaint. This usually means getting the customer to show you how they were using the appliance so you can see/hear/measure what is really happening.
There are few things that will make you smack your head and say “D’oh!” like spending an hour taking things apart and making electrical measurements only to realize you missed something obvious to start with - or you didn’t have the data you needed to draw a proper conclusion.
A common blunder is not taking temperature readings in both compartments of a refrigerator before doing anything else regardless of the original customer complaint! A customer report of “warm” can mean many things. Compartment temperatures tell the story that a technician needs to know. Freezers should be right around 0℉. If you see a freezer compartment at 10℉ or higher when you first shoot the temperatures, you need to find out why before you do anything else.
Pro tip: when scheduling a “warm” refrigerator call, ask the customer to leave the refrigerator plugged in and running, and to refrain from opening the doors within an hour of your expected arrival.
2. Making diagnostic conclusions based on a “good” ohm’s test
One of the worst feelings in an appliance tech’s world is to order a part for a customer, go back to install it, but the appliance still doesn’t work. You increase your risk of this mistake when you don’t know which electrical measurements will give you the slam-dunk answer for the situation you’re facing.
“Ohms testing” has fooled many a rookie (and even those who should have learned better).
If a component tests “bad” (open, or ohms much higher than specifications) on a resistance test, then you know it has failed. But if something tests “good” on ohms, more testing needs to be done before you can make a conclusion.
Why is that? Resistance (or continuity) measurements are done without energizing the circuit. Many loads and switches can start failing in a way that they pass a continuity test, but will fail open when electrons start blasting through it.
Pro tip: Remember the expression “ohms lie”. Resistance tests can be useful and appropriate, but you’ve got to understand their limitations.
3. Going on a job without prediagnosing the appliance
A job that should go “bip-bap-boom” often grinds to a halt when a tech realizes that the tech sheet is not on the appliance, or the tech sheet he downloaded ahead of time was for the wrong model, and he has to try to find a copy online, but he doesn’t have good signal and the customer can’t remember the password to their WiFi, and so on. Then he finally gets the right tech sheet, only to have to scratch his head for awhile figuring out his plan of attack for troubleshooting, and how to do that complicated key-dance to get the dang thing into service mode.
Meanwhile, the customer is not impressed.
What a rookie move! All of that downloading and head scratching should be done at the office, NOT in front of the customer.
Master Samurai Tech's Ten-Step Tango troubleshooting procedure is taking the appliance repair world by storm, helping to organize the thoughts of many a tech so they can zero in on the failed component with speed and assurance.
In most scenarios, the first 7 steps of the Tango can be done ahead of time - a technique we call “prediagnosis.” You’ll know what tests you want to make, and you’ll know which parts are likely to be needed. You will wow your customer with your competence and efficiency, while increasing your First Call Complete rate and profitability.
Pro tip: Make sure you get a model number from the customer when you book the call. Check it right away with one of the parts retailers online (RepairClinic, AppliancePartsPros, for example) to make sure it’s valid. Then use Appliantology to get the documents you need for the job, and proceed with your prediagnosis using the Ten-Step Tango. You will be ready to rock that service call!
What do you think of our list? Are there other rookie mistakes that you think we should warn others about?
The Master Samurai Tech Academy specializes in teaching rookies and veterans alike how appliance technology works and how to troubleshoot, so that you can kick butt on any appliance - even those you haven’t worked on before. Knowledge is power!
So, which rookie mistakes do you think the Samurai has made? All 3, of course. Back in the day, when we started our appliance repair business, he had a firm foundation in electricity and electronics from his Navy training, but was learning appliance repair on the fly. He quickly realized that our fledgling business wouldn't survive many of these rookie mistakes, so he began creating a system for troubleshooting and running service calls efficiently and profitably. Fast-forward to today - that system is perfected and you can learn it in the Master Samurai Tech appliance repair courses rather than learning by trial and error!
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:
“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:
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 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/
Special guest, Justin Duby, with Just-in Time Appliance Repair in Grantspass, OR, joins us to talk about his experience selling new appliances and offer tips and advice for anyone thinking of adding this to their appliance service business.
Also, at the end of the show, we give an update on the developing Facebook data-selling debacle that's unfolding. More info on this in my blog post at Appliantology.
You can listen to just the audio portion of the vodcast in the player below: