Especially early in your career as an appliance repair technician, you will have gaps in your knowledge and encounter repair situations you’ve never seen before.
All I wanted during this phase of startup was to do a “mind meld” with Uncle Harry and dump his entire 40 years of experience directly into my brain so I could be an instant expert.
Actually, Uncle Harry has done a spectacular job of packaging what he knows, but there really is no shortcut to becoming an expert, so I figured out three ways to give myself the confidence I needed to run service calls in the meantime.
1. TRAINING AND SUPPORT
Train, train, train. When a call comes in I’m not familiar with, for example, an off-brand, a difficult problem, or a specialized type of appliance, I use the opportunity to learn about it. This way, I constantly increase my knowledge base.
A great resource for me in this area is Uncle Harry’s training library and ongoing support through his Nephew Club, expert list, troubleshooting repair wizard and every imaginable service manual.
I don’t take every unfamiliar service call, because some are way beyond my comfort zone at the time, but if I then study it, I’m more prepared to take a similar call next time one comes in.
I currently take all calls that I am comfortable with without thinking, calls that are one step out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, and a couple a week that are two steps out of my comfort zone, so I can keep advancing my technical skills. After all, that’s how I came to know the ones I’m comfortable with now in the first place!
(If you’re not sure how to back off of calls you aren’t comfortable with, read, “Cherry Pick Till You Make It.”)
2. HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE
Actually, I have gained my hands-on experience basically by running service calls. At the very beginning, I had to study EVERYTHING before I went out. I would schedule my calls for the next day and study hard until I had a pretty good idea of what was causing the problem and a plan for a couple of likely things to try in order to fix it.
If I got out there and tried my plan and it didn’t work, I would hit Uncle Harry’s reference materials on my laptop, or call him personally to get his input until I could fix the machine.
It wasn’t long before I started seeing similar problems and similar machines, and could start to diagnose the basic issues myself on the fly.
3. TRUST YOUR STUFF
The worst thing about not being an expert is not feeling like one. It seems like if you were an expert, repairs would practically solve themselves before you ever touched a machine. Wouldn’t that be great?
But I realize if I didn’t love fixing things, I wouldn’t be in this business, to begin with. After studying operating theory and seeing a few machines, I can’t do anything better than to just go out there and trust my stuff.
I tell myself, “I know this, I can do this!” and go through my troubleshooting routine, working my way through the problem step by step.
If it’s an electrical problem, I test with my multimeter to try to eliminate each of the suspect components one by one until I find the culprit. But if I don’t find it right away, I follow my instincts.
If it’s a mechanical problem, I open the machine up, get in there and take a look to see what’s going on with the most likely components responsible and check them first. But if it’s not one of those, I follow my instincts.
When you feel that panic that you are not an expert yet, step back and remember your natural ability to solve problems that led you to choose the appliance repair business in the first place.