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<i>Service Performance=Profit</i>Performance Developing Your Service Technicians

19 Mar, 2004 By: Frank Masi imageSource

Service Performance=ProfitPerformance Developing Your Service Technicians

You are no doubt familiar with the “Service Performance = Profit Performance”
equation. But, there is another side to this formula that is not so evident in
its profit impact, but is probably the very underpinning of a service
department’s profitability—a service technician’s personal development.

In some way, shape or form, you probably have a policy for performance review
and, for all intents and purposes, it serves you well. Or does it? Can you truly
say it has stemmed turnover of technicians or improved productivity? Is it time
to update your personnel review policies with more current techniques and

There’s always room for improvement, especially as it relates to impacting
your profitability. For our purposes, we’ll call this area of operations your
Performance Appraisal and Review (PAR) policies. While this article is focused
on PAR policies for the technical department, it is also adaptable to the entire

At the outset, let’s establish a common understanding that most savvy dealers
and technical managers would agree on today—once-a-year personnel reviews are
not productive. In many cases, they are a trap for undermining the
manager/employee relationship. Hard feelings are more the product of those
meetings than performance improvement. Giving an hour or two to an employee to
cover an entire year’s worth of work and effort is showing little respect to the
technician whose job encompasses a myriad of activities which may include
troubleshooting, parts usage, contract sales, customer relations, product
competencies, peer relations, work habits, and whatever other responsibilities
you have assigned in your job description for service technicians.

Getting on PAR

A good PAR program is more than just a one hour meeting and has several steps.
It’s not complicated, but is thorough.

Step 1—Prepare a good job description. Update it annually and distribute to
all technicians. They must be informed about the requirements of their job.
Break the description down to seven or eight MAJOR responsibilities and four or
five MINOR responsibilities.

Step 2—Establish a six-month, non-salary related review, during which you
review the technician’s actual performance against expectations. An important
part of this review is to have the technician rate himself/herself prior to the
meeting in each of these areas on a scale of one to five, with five being the
best. You do likewise. At meeting time, compare the grades. If, in each area you
are rating, the grades are similar, that’s fine. However, if there is a wide
discrepancy in any area, then this is an issue that needs time to discuss. Here
is the chance to clear the air. Perhaps there are misunderstandings on both

A six-month, non-salary related review is very popular and effective because
it zeros in on productivity and service performance. If you’re still using a
once-a-year review program, you may be faced with a number of problems. One
being that if you don’t give a good salary increase, you’re technician might
quit or be de-moralized. You are therefore under pressure to give good scores
and a larger than-deserved raise just to keep him/her happy. This predicament
does not improve performance or productivity and, in fact, flies in the face of

A typical six-month non-salary related PAR meeting should include general and
specific areas of performance. It may include the following:








Office Relations


Calls per day


Parts Usage

Customer Relations


Tool Bag


At the conclusion of your meeting, come to a general agreement and form an
“Improvement Plan.” Announce that achieving the improvement targets will be a
critical factor in his/her annual salary review.

Step 3—Establish a one-year salary review session. Of course, your technician
will be looking to get the best raise available and with the Improvement Program
previously established, he will now have six months to work on achieving
acceptable new performance targets.

At this salary review session, you are now armed with the Six-Month Plan and
can rationally discuss and measure the improvement since then. No improvement
gets little to no increase. Good progress or full achievement of the improvement
targets gets a better increase. In both cases, your actions are justified and
the employee has been treated fairly.

Of course, raising your technician’s performance is a matter of how much
time, money and effort you wish to put into it. And you can get creative, too,
in the way you reward success including:

  • Service Technician of the
    Year Bonus or Award
  • Most Improved Technician
    Bonus or Award
  • Customer’s Favorite Bonus or
  • Promotion to Next Level
  • One Extra Vacation Day

Examples of Expertise

Al Marinucci, director of service for Copytronics Information Systems in
Jacksonville, Florida, runs a team of seventy technicians and eight service
managers throughout Northern Florida, and asks each service manager to spend at
least one-half day each month riding with a technician to provide in-field
coaching and training.

According to Al, “You can never provide too much coaching or training. Due to
the nature of our business, corrective measures need to be taken monthly, if not
weekly or daily. The technicians are better for it, and so is service
profitability. It promotes a higher standard of performance.”

Copytronics’ performance standards for technicians include various levels of
acceptability and it is an on-going effort to continue to improve each
technician in each area of their responsibility. Whether your technical staff
has two employees or twenty, personal development of each individual will have a
bearing on your level of profitability and should be addressed with serious
intent. Conducted in a meaningful, reasonable and open discussion way, a
three-step PAR program is appreciated by technicians given that it improves
their own self-satisfaction with their competencies.

Larry “Ace” Hudson, service manager for Goodremonts, Inc. of Toledo, Ohio,
directs a technical staff of ten employees and is just as insistent that their
PAR program play a key role in the personal development of each technician. “We
post a schedule with days and times for performance appraisal meetings for each
employee,” said Ace. “They must come prepared with self-appraisal forms,
questions and concerns they may have. However, we have interim meetings with
each technician as needed. We set corrective targets where necessary with an in
-depth discussion of these targets at the PAR meeting. At the conclusion of the
meeting, an improvement program is developed and both the employee and
supervisor must sign off on the plan."

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