More Basics

I would like to start off wishing everyone a HAPPY 2015!!!!

In keeping with my latest series of posts, It’s All About the Basics,  I want to take a look at how important training can be to customer relations and brand “reliability” attitudes.

Every year, consumer magazines come out and “rate” products.  These ratings are based on polls to the consumers. The consumer may or may not know how reliable the product is but base their response on 2 things,  (1) how often the service company has been to their home for service and (2) how many parts were changed during those visits.  But there is also a “hidden” factor that caries a lot of weight with the consumer and that is what the Tech TELLS the customer.

Because high-end products today can provide so much more efficiency and comfort, it requires training to be able to properly work on the product.  These units can have communicating controls, can be full modulating gas input, can have specific sequences of operation  and so on.  If a Tech has never been trained in this BRAND of product, and all of a sudden he arrives at a home and it has one of these high-end products, what do you think he is going to do?

In a lot of cases, the tech goes in , sees something he is not familiar with, and now, because the Tech doesn’t want to let the customer know he is not familiar with a specific product, as a result,  does not make a proper diagnosis.  Or, he starts to change parts hoping one of them will correct the problem.  Even doing basic checks, if he does not know the sequence of operation, or how the product SHOULD work, he could be the best tech in the world but it is hard to figure out something he has never seen. In the worse case scenario, after the company has had a tech back 2 or 3 times, now to save face for the company, they tell the consumer, “yeah, we have a lot of problems with that brand of product which is why we don’t sell them!” Of course, now what does the consumer think?

You may think this sounds “far-fetched”, but I can tell you, after working 23+ years as a manufacturer’s tech support person,  that this occurs more often than you think.

So what’s the solution? It is impossible to train every tech out there but, my personal opinion is that, manufacturer’s need to make training mandatory to anyone selling their high-end products and make sure the distribution channels follow this rule. Too often, in order to make sales numbers, the attitude is to sell to anyone and hope there are no problems.

They need to put in their literature that the consumer should only use trained personnel on these high-end products –educate the consumer also! If the consumer knows that only a “certified tech” should work on their high-end products, they might inquire of the service company they are calling if they are familiar with their unit before having them come out.

Will we ever get service tech to admit they don’t know a product — some actually do and call the manufacturer tech support line for help.  They may not know the product but are not afraid to tell the consumer this and then tell the consumer they are going to call for help. No Tech can know every manufacturer’s product but the good techs will try to get trained when training is available from a manufacturer.  Distributors need to publish training schedule so tech can come to training. Manufacturers need to provide quality training for the techs but, more so, they need to educate the consumer that “this is not you fathers furnace anymore”. Technology has changed — we all need to keep up with it.


(Comments or suggestions on this post are more than welcomed — It’s a new year — let’s make the most of it and become the best we can be!)


About yorkcentraltechtalk

I have been in the HVAC industry most of my life. I worked 25 years for contractors on anything from residential to large commercial boilers and power burners. For the past 23+ years I had been employed by York International UPG Division ( a division of Johnson Controls) as a Technical support/Service Manager but I am now retired. One of my goals has always been to "educate" dealers and contractors. The reason for starting this blog was to share some knowledge, thoughts, ideas, etc with anyone who takes the time to read it. The contents of this blog are my own opinions, thoughts, experiences and should not be construed as those of Johnson Controls York UPG in any way. I hope you find this a help. I always welcome comments and suggestions for postings and will do my best to address any thoughts, questions, or topics you may want to hear about. Thanks for taking the time to read my postings! Mike Bishop
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9 Responses to More Basics

  1. Bob Frank says:

    Well said!

  2. Whis Perry says:

    Amen…… Training, on a regular basis, is the best investment a service tech can make for his/her future. I always set a goal that I would attend a minimum of 2 training sessions a year. Over 20+ years later, I have over 80 certificates with NATE certification in 4 disciplines. All that means is that I have challenged myself to keep learning or my knowledge will become obsolete. Today’s equipment is changing at such a rapid pace that it takes continual training. I have been teaching for 12 years now and try and tell my student that if he isn’t willing to continue to read, go to as many classes as possible, and continually learn then he is in the wrong field. We have a choice, to work to become one of the best technicians (not parts changers), or be a Jake leg mechanic.

  3. I agree that training is essential, however I believe many manufacturers of hvac equipment fail in their electronics packaging and modularity. Seal the controls, make errors more comprehensible, and improve labeling on sensors and wiring.

    Automotive electronics and sensors made this leap decades ago, using sealed modules and connectors, standardized diagnostic ports, check engine lights and standard tools. High reliability results.

    Instead in hvac we see exposed pc boards with spade lugs, perhaps one or two LEDs for trained tech diagnostics. We see high voltages on the same board with logic power. Wiring is often laced over these boards, making access difficult. Worse is that every manufacture uses a different setup, even though the compressors and motors are standardized.

    The auto industry in the U.S. almost folded before adopting quality (although Ford was ahead of the U.S. curve by decades). Let’s see better packaging, sensor quality and wiring along with training. Add a dose of innovation like minisplit performance features in standard, retrofittable replacement units and the next Toyota/Tesla of the hvac industry will emerge.

    • while I agree with you — it will still come down to technician competence. Ev en in the automotive industry, if the tech does not know how to use the diagnostics, he will have issues solving the problem. Then we look at all the recalls in the automotive arena, why are these acceptable when they are not in other areas? It is because people have come to ACCEPT auto recalls.

  4. John says:

    Honeywell is doing a pretty good job with their weekly sessions and archives. I’m retired and still check them out,

  5. flstc08 says:

    I feel the need to comment on this one…
    I own a small family HVAC company, I have repeatedly said (for over 30yrs) that I will gladly service everything I sell. I usually stock more parts for those furnaces than some of the supply houses.
    I have also stated many times that I prefer not to work on other companies equipment, mainly because I have neither the training or the parts and I really dislike learning when someone is really wanting a working unit.
    I really is a simple philosophy……Master what I can and don’t fake it if I don’t know it. Customers will appreciate the honesty and remember it when the time comes for something else.

  6. steve says:

    The trend seems to be employers don’t send many people to classes unless they have to. Back in the 90’s you attended classes yearly , and in some cases to install equiptment you had to get RSES certification and maintain it. The idea of NATE is a good step, but unfortunately i just paid for a ice machine class out of pocket and 2 hours into was pulled out to run calls, even though i was off on unpaid time to attend it.

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