Topic: Business Talk

Is Online Appliance Repair Training Right For You?

Posted on March 10, 2016 by - Academy Talk, Business Talk, Career Talk, Tech Talk

Online appliance repair training at Master Samurai TechOnline learning may seem like the new kid on the block, but it is really just a new and improved delivery format of the old “correspondence course school” model for training that has been around for over 100 years.

Online appliance repair training is a proven and effective way to improve technical skills for the right kind of student. How do you know what the right kind of student is? That's exactly what I'm going to explain in this post!

The strengths of the online training model are many:

  • on-demand
  • self-paced
  • affordable (few if any hard copies of material to produce)
  • easily updatable
  • interactive
  • multimedia

However, there is one component that is critical to the success of online learning that cannot be provided by the online school: student motivation.

Of course, student motivation is a necessary ingredient for any type of education to be effective, but at a traditional brick-and-mortar school there is a regular face-to-face interaction with the instructor that can help to keep the student accountable.

At the Master Samurai Tech Academy, we do everything we can to encourage our students, to provide accountability via quizzes and exams, and to give them help when they need it. However, we are not there with the student day in and day out.

To achieve a successful outcome with the MST Academy, a student must have one of these two characteristics:

  1. Self-motivation with a strong desire to learn (gets help when needed, works to improve test scores), or
  2. A supervisor who is keeping a close eye on the student’s progress (more on how to do that here).

When one of these two factors are in place, then the results of learning appliance repair in an MST Academy online training course can be spectacular! When neither are in place, then the results are something less than that.

So, before investing in any online training, evaluate your situation honestly. If you are signing yourself up, evaluate your commitment and motivation to doing what it takes to achieve the results you want. If you are signing up techs who are under your supervision, set up a system where you will monitor their progress closely and intervene when necessary.

Team Samurai is dedicated to excellence in appliance repair training. Our online training courses are a comprehensive and cost-effective way to improve technical skills. And we offer several powerful interactive teaching resources to help you understand the material:

  1. Interactive question and answer help in the Student Forums where students post questions about their coursework and we reply with additional instructional explanations. This can go back and forth quickly as many times as it takes until the student grasps the concepts they’re trying to understand. But it requires the student to have the initiative to ask a question. If the student doesn’t ask, we can’t help!
  2. Weekly, live webinar meetings with the Samurai. We call these weekly meetings Office Hours. Think of the webinars like Office Hours at a regular school where students can drop by for extra instruction and ask questions about their course work, live and in real-time.
  3. Manually-graded open answer questions on the Midterm and Final Exams in the Fundamentals course. These open-answer questions allow us to see inside the student’s head so-to-speak and identify more clearly how a student is misunderstanding a particular concept. We can then work with the student to resolve this misunderstanding.

If you bring your effort, energies, and motivations to the table, we have the tools in place to ensure that you WILL learn how to be a better technician!

“Where can I hire good appliance repair techs?”

Posted on February 29, 2016 by - Academy Talk, Business Talk

I talk to lots of appliance service company managers and many of them are asking, "Where can I hire good techs?" This is the wrong question! You won't find any good techs in the appliance repair trade because there are so few of them. And techs you do find with experience generally still do not have sufficient technical skills or they may have attitude/people skill problems.

The right question is, "How can I cost-effectively train someone to be a great appliance tech?"

You're going to have much better results by hiring someone based based on character: Do they have a good work ethic? Will they show up for work on time (or at all) and sober? Do they seem to have good people skills? Do they have a willingness and ability to learn, in other words, are they trainable? Once you've found someone with good character, then add the technical skills with training.

Here's the bottom line: You can't change character with training. But you CAN change technical skills inexpensively and effectively with the online tech training here at the Master Samurai Tech Academy.

 

Why We Attend the Annual Service Training Institute

Posted on January 19, 2016 by - Academy Talk, Business Talk, Tech Talk

ASTI 2016Managing schedules (and time, in general) is a common problem, especially for people in service businesses, like ours. Everything tends to be emergency driven, and we feel pressure from the demands of customers and all the other aspects of running a business. The result of constant fire-fighting is burnout.

When we stop learning and creating, we stop growing and life becomes routine, tedious, and boring. We need to deliberately set aside time to do things that that help us grow. Recreation (literally, re-creation) is one form of this. But another equally important form is training and honing our craft, and experiencing those "Ah-hah!" moments when we gain a deeper understanding of the technology we work with every day.

It is vital that we MAKE the time for some big-picture work on our business. This is why annual training events, like ASTI, are so beneficial. Not only are you in a different physical location-- taken out of your regular work space-- but you're reuniting with old friends, meeting new Brethren in the Craft, and learning tons of cool new stuff, both business and technical.

With the Master Samurai Tech Academy, we have an additional reason for attending ASTI: to get the word out on the comprehensive, cost-effective appliance tech training that we offer online! We'll have a booth again and will be running an ASTI special, but also raffling off a free enrollment in our Fundamentals of Appliance Repair training course to anyone who stops by our booth for a visit.

Speaking of the MST Academy, a recent benefit we’ve added for our students is weekly Office Hours live technical training webinars. I’ll usually have a special presentation on technical topics of particular interest to appliance techs. Some of the past topics we’ve talked about are:

  • Troubleshooting Strategies for Computer-Controlled Appliances
  • Digital Communications in Appliance Repair
  • Reading Tech Sheets and Schematics
  • Diodes and Rectification
  • Split-phase motors: theory of operation, types, and applications in appliances
  • Voltage and Voltage Drops in Electric Circuits
  • Techniques for Measuring Voltage without Getting Head-Faked by Open Neutrals and Ghost Voltages
  • Series and Parallel Circuits
  • Open Q&A on Student Coursework

I conduct these webinars using Join.me, the best service of its kind out there on the web today. I can pull up schematics and tech sheets for us to talk about and use the whiteboard app to whip out some sketches and talk through circuits.

Another big benefit of doing these weekly, live training webinars has been that we've gotten a real-time look into how, specifically, students are struggling to understand basic electricity, circuits, and schematics, and we’ll add additional videos and instructional material to the courses to address these trip points. This month alone (January 2016) we’ve added three new videos to the Fundamentals of Appliance Repair training course as a direct result of the Office Hours webinars! Here’s a 2-minute excerpt from a video we recently added to the Fundamentals course:

 

Do you know the answer?

We posted this clip on our Facebook page and got all kinds of different answers which confirms what we already knew: there’s lots of learnin’ to be done out there in the appliance tech community on basic circuits! And if you don’t know basic circuits, there’s just no way you can effectively use schematics to troubleshoot modern appliances.

What to do with a new tech who has more enthusiasm than experience

Posted on September 9, 2015 by - Business Talk

Ready4TrainingLet’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.

 

7 Tips for Becoming an Excellent Public Speaker

Posted on September 4, 2015 by - Business Talk, Career Talk

As an appliance tech you may not have to stand at a podium and speak very often, but every day you are dealing with customers, and that is also a form of public speaking.

Check out this cool infographic and think how these tips can help improve your customer interactions. Each one of these corresponds in some way to your communications during a service call, such as knowing what you need to say about your company's way of doing business, being calm, pacing yourself appropriately, being confident (even if you don't always feel it!), and judging your "audience."

The "soft skills" of customer relations require study and attention just like the "hard skills" of technical training! We cover these skills in both the Professional Development for Appliance Repair Technicians training course and Operating a Profitable Appliance Repair Business course. If you enroll in a course bundle, you'll receive one of these courses at a deeply discounted rate!

 

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