Dealing with Challenging Technicians

Ever had a day when you wish felt like the technicians in the shop were a necessary evil? Maybe a day when you wondered why they had to be so grumpy, irritable, and such a pain in the a#%? Sometimes technicians seem to be the cause of all things wrong with your day. Keep in mind that I write this as someone who spent many years as a technician. I’m not picking on them, yet I do understand that even I could be a significant challenge to my service adviser.

My being a challenge to my service adviser can from not having a full understanding of the business. It also stemmed from feeling like my advisor didn’t understand what I was up against in my bay. Often times the challenges with technicians are fueled by a lack of communications on both sides. Solve these communication challenges and you’ll have taken a major step towards working with less challenging technicians.

Learning to deal with challenging technicians will be a major asset for any service adviser. You will need to begin to understand how they think in order to better interface with them however. Most technicians (although not all) are a different breed.  They think differently than most service advisers. Many technicians are very black and white. Things are broken or they are not. Repairs need to be done, or they don’t. You’ve sold a particular job or you haven’t.

There really is not in between with technicians. Long ago technicians learned that they make money by fixing things. Not by being nice to people, not by talking to people, but by fixing things. Therefore most technicians see their job as fixing things. The challenge is that technicians in your shop also need to communicate important items to you in an appropriate manner. So how do you get that communication going?

Technicians have learned to fix things by first understanding how systems and components work, and the recognizing what is missing. You can use this to improve technician communication in the shop. They don’t know everything you do each day. They don’t understand the challenges you face at the counter any more than you may understand the challenges they face in taking something apart to replace it. Therefore you need to start with explaining why you’re asking something, or why you’ve asked them to perform a certain task.

For instance, when performing a multipoint inspection, it’s not enough to say “do this inspection” but instead explain to them why you need it done. It could be “this customer is going on a long trip and wants to know everything this vehicle might need before they leave”. By doing so you are giving the technician information on why they are being asked to do something. I know it sounds like babysitting! Remember though, you and he or she have a very different understanding of the business. You both need to educate each other on why you need certain information or tasks performed.

Another example might be when you need to understand something about a repair so that you can pass that understanding along to a customer. Technicians often operate under the false assumption that you should be able to sell just from their word that the vehicle needs something. When talking to the technician say to them “so that I can better explain to the customer what this vehicle needs, can you show me?”

When you take this approach to talking to technicians you are doing two things: 1) you are subtly teaching them how to interact with you by showing them what information you need to do a superb job selling and 2) you are building a working relationship built on understanding the needs and jobs of each other. This is your primary tool in dealing with challenging technicians.

Technicians are primarily a challenge due to communication issues that feed every other interaction. By Reducing communication challenges you will reduce the grumpiness, the “not fixing what the customer wanted fixed”, and the “I told him not to do that” scenarios.