Keeping touch with technicians through meetings
October 1, 2007
Almost every company holds regular meetings with technicians. However, you should remember that such meetings are not the same as training sessions.
Technical training sessions should be held separately. If you combine a “business meeting” with a technical meeting, make sure there is a break between the business and technical sessions.
The meetings should be held away from the noise and confusion of warehouses and sheet metal shops. I’ve seen some companies try to hold meetings in the middle of the warehouse. Don’t. There are too many distractions and too much noise. Everyone will be looking around rather than paying attention to what is being said in the meeting.
Instead, consider holding meetings in workplace “gathering” spots. This could be an area where workers have parts bins and customer feedback letters or productivity goals are posted. Positive comments often motivate technicians.
If you have meetings in a closed-off area and don’t allow cellular phones or pagers, then you have the best chance of everyone paying attention and remembering what was discussed.
Assign someone to take notes and write a summary to be distributed to everyone in the department. In addition to ensuring everyone knows what took place, it can be referred to if someone says, “No one told me that.”
ComfortAttendees should be comfortable - but not too comfortable. You want them paying attention to what is being said, not thinking about being too hot, too cold or too cramped.
The meetings should be no longer than 30 minutes. Many people lose interest after half an hour and stop paying attention.
Prepare for the meeting. This way you can control them and keep them on track. Distribute the meeting agenda or post it prior to starting the meeting.
You must control the gatherings. If they get off track, put them back on. Stop irrelevant conversations. Say “We can discuss that individually later” or “Would you like to share your discussion with all of us?”
Watch for negative information that feeds on itself. You don’t want the service technicians turning into a negative mob - that’s not good for productivity. Discuss negative situations with each of them individually.
Have meetings at least once per month during the busy season and a few times per month in slower times. During slow times, you might consider holding technical discussions for most of the meeting and use only a few minutes for business topics.
Call-backsReview call-backs at meetings. They are a teaching opportunity. Don’t single out the technician whose customer called. Just explain that a call-back occurred and ask the technicians how they would handle the situation. What should they look for or do next time so that it doesn’t occur again?
Review progress towards equipment sales or maintenance-agreement goals. Distribute bonuses at the meeting. This should be toward the end of the meeting.
Always thank the technicians for their hard work. Tell them that you appreciate what they have done.
Finally, each of the technicians should know their first call of the day prior to the start of the meeting. Remind them to be in their trucks and on their way within five to 10 minutes of the meeting’s end.
Then end with a positive, even if you have had to discuss negative things.
This is a good time to mention how you should be evaluating your staff. Technicians should be ranked according to many things, including their abilities. You must know your technicians’ strengths and weaknesses so that you can match the right technicians with the right jobs.
Service technicians must be neat, clean, able to communicate with customers, productive and in many cases, sell when it’s in customers’ best interest to buy a new system or service contract.
The ability to diagnose and fix heating and air-conditioning equipment is obvious. However, remember that your best service technicians may cost you customers because they’re rude, sloppy or make a poor impression. You must help them change behavior or find another job.
Copyright 2007, Ruth King. All rights reserved. Write to Ruth King, 1650 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 405, Norcross, GA 30093. Call (800) 511-6844; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.