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Gags730

?️ The Decline of Sears and A&E Technicians ?️

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Gags730
For almost 25 years I have been a technician in the Appliance repair industry.  In that time I have seen and witnessed many things that technicians have said or done in a home but there always seemed to be some sort of creed or code with techs that they wanted to learn and to repair the item in the home correctly.
My history was I went to Devry for Electronics and actually got into the business from a friend.  I never thought that I would end up doing this however being mechanically inclined, having common sense, and skills with an electrical meter, and also the ability to read wiring diagrams and timer schematics I soon found out that from helping a friend I enjoyed the freedom of being on the road in a van.
I always read books, articles, and pursued knowledge in this field.  My toolbox is not just tools, but an education in all things related to appliances at the time. I quickly learned in the field that there were 2 kinds of Appliance Repairmen… 1 you had the part changers, and 2 you had the actual technicians.  Number 1 the part changer I could not understand how they did not want to trace down the problem.  How the feeling of not knowing what was wrong with a unit drove me crazy, and made me learn and understand each unit I worked on.  I had notebooks with notes, and repair manuals from the manufacturer and would take the time to read them.  I would take the time if I was on a unit to learn something and not just slam in a part and leave, and say on to the next.
I found out that there were many other technicians like me, that we traded information, that we called each other a lot, that we talked about issues that we were seeing, and how to test, and check them.  We advised each other what to look out for.  The information was invaluable.
After a few years in the industry the place I was at was a little slow, what started as helping a friend to me became time to move on.  I wanted to see what a larger company was so I went to Sears and they welcomed me with arms wide open because I was a full line tech who worked on everything, and every brand in a time were they literally just started working on things not sold at Sears and what they called “off brand”, items not Whirlpool, or Kenmore labeled.
At the time when I started there I could say that most of the guys were technicians, truly skilled on Kenmore branded appliance and I learned many things from them.  Kenmore was all that they worked on so a few guys were true masters, and I would work hard and become one myself. I wanted to be a great technician, because I wanted to know my job.  I cant say that I am the best, but I could say I made it to the top, and they accepted me there and elevated me, it was a brotherhood.  
I helped Sears with truck stocks for off brands and became instrumental with the company in training technicians. Along with a few other techs we got a training program together and ran a course on basic electricity I & II to help technicians learn how to troubleshoot an appliance with a meter, with a live appliance.  This is what separated the men from the boys, and I could not believe how many techs in different divisions had no idea how to use a meter (other than continuity) and troubleshoot an appliance.  After many of these classes the area I worked improved with lower part usage and recalls.  This truly shows the best tool in the toolbox is an education.  I wondered tho, how the hell did some of these guys get by?  How can you guess at what is wrong?  
If it was not a mechanical break, but something electrical that failed how did they figure it out? The meter, it never lies to me, it tells me what side of the schematic I'm on, the hot side or the neutral, and I could trace down between 2 points.  What it told me was what was “good “ in the appliance and by elimination and method, led you to what was wrong in the appliance.  It was strange I was in my 20’s teaching guys who have been doing this for 30 years in their 50’s.  What I found was they were all trained by Sears, they were great at anything mechanical, and just lacked some knowledge, and now we gave them another tool.   They did learn from other techs, with conversations and issues and they remember all that, that is how they troubleshooted electrical from experience or pure continuity checks, and it got some of them pretty far.  For awhile we had an excellent overall group.


THEN IT ALL CHANGED…. Sears stopped training a tech for 6 months, and literally said enough on what they considered lost labor hours and trained them for 6  yes SIX weeks total.  Then they handed you a toolbox, keys, and a route.  Even in 1 division like laundry you cant even see all the appliances in 6 weeks, never mind see the issues... and this was a time where there were not a quarter as many models. How could this guy with 6 weeks training run 10 calls a day??
 Over time I just got fed up with many things there and left the company.  It scared the sh^t out of me that they would let a guy loose in only 6 weeks.  I had to train many of them, and I wouldn't let one go in a house if they weren't prepared, and I learned that the hard way after 5 weeks of training 1 guy.  They had dropped the amount of pay, and had a crappy benefits policy and it attracted a lower skillset of workers.  This new model of employee was trained for 6 weeks instead of 6 months and worked on all brands.  It never made sense to me, they would put part in after part into a unit that had a service plan not knowing what was wrong.  An Untrained, unskilled tech cost you thousands more than it does to train him.  Think about the parts used on IW and Service plans, and then the lost revenue from high estimates or incomplete calls because he don't know what is wrong, and by excessive recalls and trying to clean up the mess.
In the last few years Sears and A&E techs seem like a shell of what Sears use to be.  The unskilled, and untrained techs in a home.  The things they tell customers and the wrong advice and just mess they cause is crazy.  I see it now more than ever, and it keeps getting worse.  I cant believe the quality of technicians they had, and 20 years later what a mess of techs they have now.  Sure there are a few excellent ones, there are great workers anywhere, but overall I have never seen a company do what they have done, just destroy their own reputation by letting the workforce just go.  

Are other techs seeing this as well is the industry in bad shape overall with training???
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J5*

That’s a great read and it’s something I have seen myself and talking to guys that have been in the industry for 25-30 years they have seen the merry go round come and go 

i really think a lot of the problem is with who they employ and their previous skills

if you employ a tech that was a tech you can train them in 6 weeks and in no time they will be doing 10 calls a day , I know as that was me 

I started working at 16 and did all diffferent types of home and office equipment , tv , vcr , photocopiers , audio gear , computers , fax , etc etc 

from there I’ve done work on surface mount electronics manufacturing equipment and robots 

I went through the coffee and vending industry 

later I got into commercial laundry equipment which then lead me into domestic appliance repairs where I was trained for iirc about 4 weeks. I did a few weeks in the workshop and then was on the road and in no time I was running 10 calls a day and heading home by 1-2pm

i later went into F&P and it didn’t take me long at all running 14 calls a day easily and then some 

although when you run the same brands day in day out you do miss that variety and to a degree start to indentify parts replacement as youve seen it before 

talking to guys now that train the newbies , their heads often spin at how dumb some of these new guys are  they just don’t have the tech mindset , even some guys that have been around for 5+ years and you shake your head a to how they have made it so long 

Management makes the decisions and they aren’t always the best decisions 

 

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TurtleRock

The amazing things is customers I ‘ve talked to say it will take sears 2 weeks to get to them. So that tells me not enough tech or a lot of return visits.

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Gags730

I think it was like March of this year I got a call thru word of mouth, so when I called the customer up they said that Sears/A&E wouldn't even make an appointment for them.  She had a Kenmore washer, and thought she had a service plan but didn't... Anyway I really didn't even believe her, I never heard of Sears/A&E do this on any laundry item ever.  So for sh^ts and giggles I called the 800 repair number and the woman on the phone told me they had no appointments available for weeks.  I questioned this, she said it was 3 to 4 weeks out and she couldn't even make an appointment in the system, and then she wanted to refer me to an outside company!!!   I was shocked, I never heard of this or even witnessed this in my life.  This was in NJ. 

Over the years there were times when they did sub just a few things out in the area, like boilers in NY and NJ and at one time they were backed up in Lawn and Garden and had no Tractor techs for weeks.  It was hard to keep those guys because it was seasonal and they transferred all the small gas equipment to a central location instead of to the local units, so that meant there were only few Full time guys. 

Also about 3 or 4 years ago they sent me a letter signed from the HR guy personally, and wanted to know if I was interested in working.  Every time I see a truck I see a different guy, the turnover was great at one time and very few guys left.  After the whole Kmart buying Sears you couldn't get anyone, and if you did, you couldn't keep them.  I worked there the first time for  years, then left... then they wanted me back and talked me into it, and then  years later they just kept changing stuff and it was a mess after Kmart and Eddie Lampert..  They kept changing the routing department, so that was local at one time, your lead tech routed you, then that changed and it was at the local stores, then it when to the District you were in, then it went to Georgia I think, then a had a Computer that  was supposed to do it fully.  Every day got insane for a long time.  Imagine in such a large company that one day I had 5 counties in NJ and 1 call at the top of Staten Island, so basically 1/2 of NJ and a call almost in Brooklyn  NY.   I didn't get mad that day, I worked at a nice pace, and banged them for Overtime. 

You would normally have a route so tight years ago, the customers actually knew me.  You worked the same area over and over... It was great.    When we got  a good guy who wanted to go, man I would try hard to keep them, down to telling manager you need to throw money at them , whatever..  Because, I also didn't want to have a crap attitude or get biased and not train a guy right, But when training is over and the reality hits them, they are alone with the customer, they are scared of the PC, some never drove a van, they still haven't seen half the appliances nor the issues, and they truly are not trained long enough it overwhelms them.  

The crazy thing about training a guy, is it hurts your numbers and productivity, it wont back out time for you, or give you extra time so some guys in certain divisions stop training guys, they were not going to hurt their raise or bonus,  because some new guy who will probably quit anyway or get fired is riding along with you. At one time Sears didn't even give the new hires benefits for 1 year!  That time was the worst you had to see the mess walking thru the door.  So there were a lot of issues, that could be resolved easily.  I really cant blame the unit managers, that stuff ran down hill, it was what we started calling policy of the month!  It was like following an outlined plan on how to ruin a company, it was sad seeing what it once was and what it is now. 

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tcmeyer14

I too was a Sears/A&E service tech for 25 years and saw the exact same thing Gags 730 described, decline in product training and an over emphasis on add on sales particularly Home Warranties. The last year I worked for them was brutal, when the customer called the 800# they would try sell the home warranty, when the tech went out on the call, he would have to offer the home warranty and if the customer still declined, the tech would have to call customer service to close the call and have the customer speak to them so they could sell the warranty. We even had to try to have the customer "convert" their MPA policy to a home warranty. But it gets even worse our region manager required all techs to ask the customer 5 "magic" questions on our iPhone app. The last straw for me was sales quotas they were going to impose on us. Sears really did not care if the techs actually fixed anything, warranty sales and selling overpriced water filters were the priority. Funny thing is, I'm working as an Authorized contract servicer for Sears thru Service Live and doing better than when I was an employee with them! 

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tcmeyer14

The latest in the Sears bankruptcy saga is Ace Hardware is bidding for the repair services and parts business.  Lambert is still scheming to buy out the remaining 500 stores, the Kenmore and Die Hard brands as well as the parts and repair services. The creditors and suppliers want Sears to go chapter 7 and liquidate. Stay tuned!

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fillthebarman

Was christmas shopping tonight.  Sears was dark.   A quote I thought of before.  "I don't need your help!  I can drive this business into the ground myself!"

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