Why You Should Really Connect with Your Service Technicians

Think about your favorite job. What made it great? Many people would say that relationships with coworkers and managers make a significant difference. Positive relationships have been proven through research to create a stronger connection to the company, get people more excited about coming in every day and collaborate more in general. Service technicians may work with machines all day, but they are people, not robots. Building those connections can have benefits to your business across the board.


Maintain a Positive Culture

Maintain a Positive CultureA personal connection can go a long way. Retail automotive and RV expert David Foco explained how throughout his career in dealerships, he would park his car strategically to encourage more communication in the workplace.

Back in the day, it didn’t matter whether I was a service manager, a salesperson, sales manager or even GM. When I pulled into the dealership each and every day, I didn’t normally park in my designated up-front parking spot. I specifically parked behind the dealership shop to do one thing every single day – walk through the shop every morning. Gauging where my technicians are, where their heads are at and what the enthusiasm is has a huge impact. I can also see if there is any negativity going on in the shop, perhaps stemming from yesterday’s events.”

The term “management by wandering around” (or MBWA) was originally coined by William Hewlett and David Packard and popularized by Tom Peter’s book In Search of Excellence. Foco builds personal relationships in his MBWAs as well.

I like to go from tech to tech to see how their weekend was and how their previous night was, for example,” he said. “Hopefully we know a bit about our technicians, including about their family and we have a vested interest in the things that are important to them.”


Focus on Continuous Improvement

Focus on Continuous ImprovementWorking as a team to make things better in a service shop, day to day, will eventually make your fixed operations stronger. But, for it to be successful, you must have a genuine focus on continuous improvement.

Don’t, for example, do MBWA just because you feel obliged to – this probably won’t work very well,” warned Mindtools, a Management and Leadership Training resource.  “You must truly want to get to know your staff and operations, and you have to commit to following up on people’s concerns and to seeking continuous improvement.”

If you don’t act on the feedback, technicians will just clam up said Foco. “The technicians will think: ‘I’m never bringing anything to the table, they never listen to us, why would I waste by breath,’” cautioned Foco.


Get Feedback Before It is Too Late

Get Feedback Before It is Too LateYour technicians are the ones that are in the trenches. They are the ones who experience some of these day-to-day activities, thinking, “If I could just change one or two things, things would run much more smoothly than they do now.” They can catch issues with a customer’s vehicle before it becomes a disaster.

Encourage technicians to bring challenges to the table with a constructive mentality, including:

  • How would they fix it?
  • When would they fix it?
  • Who would be involved?
  • Where do we need to do this?

Accountability matters in any team environment, so make sure the person making the suggestion has some skin in the game, and not just standing on the sidelines, making comments.


How Can a Dealership Make Time?

How Can a Dealership Make TimeHave you ever had a manager who was a great starter, but never saw projects through until the end? It can be pretty discouraging. One reason for this is that people are inspired to make change, but they simply don’t have the time to make it happen. As it gets harder and harder to find good technicians and we try to squeeze more into their days, making time becomes a priority.

Forward-thinking dealers are including multimedia in their dealership management software. Chad Citte from Ray Citte RV in Northern Utah said,

We provide each of our technicians with a tablet so that they can work off of that. For example, they can go into a job, take pictures of whatever they’re doing, and send that information into IDS. So, it’s been really efficient as far as helping our technicians get their jobs done.”

For Shaap’s RV Traveland of Northwest Iowa, they found a way to reduce the amount of time technicians spend (or waste) on transcribing notes, and instead use a “talk-to-text” feature.

Our technicians recently got tablets,” said Rachel Shaap of Shaap’s Traveland. “Before that, they used to punch tickets – they would punch in and out and rely on handwritten notes. Now they ‘talk-to-text’ their job notes, so they don’t have to write anything down, or type, for that matter – it’s amazing and they really appreciate it.”


Connecting It Together

Guide-to-Evaluating-Your-PeopleKeeping the shop positive and enthusiastic typically leads to enhanced communication throughout the organization,” advised Foco.

If you want to work more on employee relations, take a look at our Guide to Evaluating People.

Download Guide to Evaluating People Now

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