Whew, this has been one tough winter, no? Reminds me of the good old days when I was young and didn’t mind being out all the time. I remember how those paychecks came in handy, too. Well, we certainly have done a lot of work since we started this winter, didn’t we? How are you holding up? Getting tired? I guess your tool bag got a workout this winter. How about your tools?
You read about repairing old steam systems and water systems in this magazine, as well as others, but you just can’t do the right job without the right tools. I know we have spoken about this before, but, now that winter is winding down, it might be a good time to take a serious look at your tools. Remember, without your tools, it would be hard to do the right job. Remember busting you knuckles on that pipe while using water pumps because your 14” pipe wrench “disappeared?” How about that “flat head” screwdriver that has a rounded blade from the many years of hard service! Are you ready for some new equipment? Probably!
Writing for this magazine, I get a lot of e-mails from technicians and owners, and there are some common problems both sides have. It seems that the owners feel that it’s the technician’s responsibility to provide all the tools necessary to do the job, while the technician feels it is the company’s responsibility. Boy, this puts me in the middle of a debate that has probably been raging since Henry Ford hired his first repairman!
The bottom line on this is that if the technician does not have the right tools, the one who suffers directly is the customer. An unhappy customer leads to an ex-customer, which definitely makes the company unhappy. What happens when the company is unhappy, it makes working there tough on the technician. Wow, we just went full circle. In the white collar world, it is said that the clothes make the man. Well, in our world, the truth is the tools make the technician! Proper use of them is vital to your safety and quality.
A mistake I made as a new service manager was to think that all technicians would see the need for tools the same as I did. WRONG! It took me a while, but I soon realized that there needed to be a way to get new tools into the hands of my “seasoned technicians.” I was tired of hearing the story “if the company thinks I need new tools, let the company buy them for me.” It seemed to me that it was the same “seasoned technicians” that said, if the company wants me to learn about the new stuff they should train me and pay me for it. Here we really have two different issues, but how do we solve the problem?
Some companies have a policy of checking the technician’s tools at the beginning of each season, others have a policy of providing “specialty” tools once and if lost or broken, the technician has the responsibility to replace it. Others have no policy at all! The way I attempted to solve both of these problems in our company was to create a “tool bank.” The time that my technicians spent in a training seminar, we would put that “pay” into the tool bank. The technicians could then buy tools wherever he wished and as long as it could be useful in our industry, he would get that money in his paycheck. It did create some extra bookkeeping for me, but it was well worth it. After a while, even those “seasoned men” were asking for more seminars. By the way, all tools are not created equal! Buy quality tools and they will give you many years of faithful service.
Reading this, you might be unsure which tools you or your technician should have. If that is the case, I can help. Drop me an e-mail and ask for my “recommended tool list” and with a few key strokes, it will be yours. FREE!
April is a good time to look at your tool bag because in the next few months there are some trade shows where you can see all the new products and the new tools needed to perform maintenance on them. Until then, e-mail me at email@example.com. Looking forward to summer!