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.
Here’s what we recommend:
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.