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Ropes to Skip & Ropes to Know: So you can fix it the first time

26 Feb, 2008 By: John Mueller, Parts Now! imageSource

Ropes to Skip & Ropes to Know: So you can fix it the first time

In a past life, I was a field service tech for commercial restaurant
equipment. Essentially, I repaired pizza ovens. Today, I’m the Refurbished
Product Manager at Parts Now! What do these two very different positions share
in common? The answer is that regardless of what you set out to repair – whether
it’s pizza ovens or laser printers – all customers expect you to follow the same
basic rule: “fix it the first time.” The following are some tips to help you do
just that. If you follow these tips, not only do you have the potential to make
each and every service call more profitable for you and your company, but you
just might make the return trip obsolete.

Stocking Up

The first and most important tip a service technician must heed is that a
well-stocked service vehicle prevents a return trip. As anyone who has ever gone
out on a service call knows, you will see some fairly interesting situations.
Expect the worst. For example, I once rode with a tech on an HP 4+ call for a 50
service error. The tech looked at the service ticket, grabbed one of my
company’s HP 4+ fusers from his stock and threw it on the truck. Done. So I
asked him, “Do think we should grab anything else?” The tech replied, “Nope,
this one is a slam dunk, an in-and-out.” Not wanting to tell him how to do his
job I said, “OK, let’s roll.”

We got to the site and found the printer in a machine shop that was quite
dirty. The printer display read “50 service” so we set out to replace the fuser.
In doing so, I noticed that the back of the printer and the exhaust slots for
the fan were covered with dirt and dust. I removed the top cover and found the
fan almost completely blocked, yet still able to spin, if only barely. This
would have been the perfect time to show the customer the condition of his fan
and offer a replacement while we were there. Spare fans are relatively
inexpensive to stock and very easy to carry on a service truck. We cleaned up
the fan as best we could with what was available (because the tech didn’t have a
toner vacuum on his service truck). After installing the fuser, the printer was
up and running. Sure, we met the customer service expectations at a very basic
level, but we could have exceeded expectations if all of the tools and a few
extra parts were on the truck. So stock your truck well in order to be 100%
ready for the next call.

Always Look Inside the Box.

I still hear the old complaint, “Your part was broken when I took it out of the
box and I’m now an hour away from my shop.” I won’t suggest you stock two of
everything on your truck; that is not profitable in the long run. But it is a
wise decision to open the box and check the product prior to driving short or
long distances out to a service call. In some cases, the box itself appears to
be in perfect condition on the outside; meanwhile, the product on the inside of
the box is damaged. A simple check of the product before throwing it on the
truck can save a lot of frustration down the road.

Handle with Care.

Speaking of throwing it on the truck, do you recall the story about the tech who
grabbed the 4+ fuser and threw it into the back of his truck? He literally threw
the fuser into his truck from about 15 yards away! I was disappointed that it
wasn’t a spiral pass, but it was a nice toss nonetheless. At Parts Now!, we are
always looking for better ways to pack our products and we routinely test new
packaging by shipping parts cross-country. But we don’t typically launch the
boxes long-distances nor plummet them from high places. Product packaging
innovations have come a long way. But they are not fail-safe. So don’t put your
boxes through any torture tests just yet.

The Sharpest Tool in the Shed.

As a laser printer service tech you have the opportunity to impress your
customers on every call. When you show up with your tool bag and replacement
parts, you are viewed as the pro on the scene who can fix anything, and
hopefully on the first trip. So there are a few “must haves” that should
accompany you on every trip.

First, you wouldn’t think of going out on a call without a Phillips
screwdriver would you? So why wouldn’t you carry service manuals with you? At
Parts Now!, our training and technical support crew can’t stress enough how
important service manuals are. They can save you hours of time and guesswork.

A multi-meter is another item that seems to be missing from a lot of tool
bags. The days of circuit board measurements may be over, but these meters can
be used to check everything from a lamp circuit in a fuser to the line voltage
supplied to a printer. Have you ever tried to work on a dead printer only to
find out that it is plugged into the same outlet as a 1500 watt portable heater
(insert fan or A/C for those service techs from the South) that blew a breaker
in an office?

Rubber bands are also a service tech’s best friend. Don’t underestimate the
potential uses for these. They come in handy for holding down latches and flags
so you can run tests with covers removed. Super glue is another item that can be
used to get you out of a sticky situation. It can temporarily repair the small
plastic items for which you did not bring replacements. A magnet is always handy
to keep on hand to magnetize your screwdriver for easy screw retrieval from a
dark crevice inside the printer; which reminds me, you should also have a good
flashlight with you at all times. Some fine grit sandpaper can come in handy to
rough up a pick up roller to get you by in a jam or even buff out a small
scratch in a cover or tray. A small padded quilt can also come in handy if you
need to set up shop in a nice board room or executive office. You can lay your
parts out and set the printer down on a nice table without fear of scratching
the surface. I once had to repair an espresso machine in a corporate board room
that was surrounded by crystal awards that the company had on display, and I was
able to use the quilt to cover things up and lower the stress level on that
call. Parts Now! used to sell bags of screws a long time ago, and luckily, we
still have these on hand. These bags contain hundreds of all different types of
screws, the ones that you typically find in printers. Avoid the hands and knees
search. You’re covered when you accidentally lose a screw in the shag carpeting
because you will have spares. Power cords, which work on just about everything,
are always nice to have with you. Having a couple extra on hand also makes
moving a printer to another location more convenient – especially if that
printer happens to be plugged in under a cubical or any other hard-to-get-to

Long story short, from my past experience in the service industry it’s easy
to see how a few simple tips can prevent the return trip and make your customers
happy by getting their equipment back in service. I am sure you have your own
stories about tools and tricks that you carry in your bags, ranging from wire
ties to jumper clips, and everything else in between. Who knows, with all these
ropes to skip and ropes to know, that next service call on an MFP printer in a
pizza restaurant just might get us all a free lunch.

Refurbished Product Manager Jon Mueller maintains the quality level on the
thousands of remanufactured parts produced each month at Parts Now!. With over
eleven years of experience in the laser printer industry, Jon looks for ways to
improve the quality of remanufactured assemblies and their raw materials,
performing warranty analysis and monitoring strict ISO 9000:2001 standards.

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