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SuperiorPower
12-12-2009, 02:15 PM
I found this article and thought you guys may be interested in the contents.

Read the article here: http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/11-sources-of-free-or-low-cost-training-julie-rains

swstout
12-12-2009, 04:24 PM
I am a big proponent learning from your employees. A while back (about 35 years), I worked for the Overhead Door Company as Quality Supervisor. We had many complaints of our steel commercial doors with porthole windows leaking. After about 2 months of researching the processes, we found that not one door manufactured on the night shift leaked.
 
So for the next week we (myself and the head engineer) were going to work the 3rd shift. The man assembling the doors on that shift was Bob Dumond (some people you never forget). The engineer after watching him for about 30 minutes stopped him from working and scolded him for not following the written procedure. He looked at the engineer (who's name I can't remember) and said, "If I follower those instructions, the doors would leak like sieves!" That engineer was the one who wrote the procedure!
 
While still in high school, I worked at a Tupperware plant my 10th and 11 years. My next door neighbors were Art and Alice Herrington (91 and 86 respectively) The both worked at Tupperware every Friday. Tupperware hired many older people like that and I wondered why. All they did was walk around and tested the various products. When I asked my supervisor why, he said the company wants to see how older people who invariably have arthritis and other "disabilities" to see how to better make products to be used by people like them". It's not learning from their employees but it was suggested by one.
These and other similar events shaped my outlook and gave me a different perspective of where improvements can be developed.

Steve

SuperiorPower
12-12-2009, 06:19 PM
While still in high school, I worked at a Tupperware plant my 10th and 11 years. My next door neighbors were Art and Alice Herrington (91 and 86 respectively) The both worked at Tupperware every Friday. Tupperware hired many older people like that and I wondered why. All they did was walk around and tested the various products. When I asked my supervisor why, he said the company wants to see how older people who invariably have arthritis and other "disabilities" to see how to better make products to be used by people like them". It's not learning from their employees but it was suggested by one.
These and other similar events shaped my outlook and gave me a different perspective of where improvements can be developed.

Steve
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This reminds me of something that I have always told people, and that is, we need to learn from others' mistakes since we do not have time enough in our lives to make all these mistakes ourselves......

Steve
12-12-2009, 09:16 PM
The article talks about
1. Vendor-sponsored training.

Do any of the equipment manufacturers offer training on how to repair their equipment, especially if you want to start a repair shop one day? Or do you have to learn it all on your own?

SuperiorPower
12-12-2009, 10:18 PM
The article talks about


Do any of the equipment manufacturers offer training on how to repair their equipment, especially if you want to start a repair shop one day? Or do you have to learn it all on your own?

Yes, most manufacturers provide training. Some of it is free (matter of fact, I am attending some free training on Monday or Tuesday (I have to check my calender). But then other manufacturers charge liek crazy for their certification training. I know for example, with Briggs, you can spend THOUSANDS of $$$ just getting trained and certified and this has nothing to do with your knowledge level about the product. So needless to say, the brand I work on the most, will be one of the last ones for me to get my certification on...

Steve
12-13-2009, 09:37 PM
But then other manufacturers charge liek crazy for their certification training. I know for example, with Briggs, you can spend THOUSANDS of $$$ just getting trained and certified and this has nothing to do with your knowledge level about the product. So needless to say, the brand I work on the most, will be one of the last ones for me to get my certification on...

Isn't that freakin amazing??? They charge people to learn how to fix their product and get 'certified.'

Wouldn't you figure, make the training free and more would want to sell the product and more would want to fix it? Does everything have to be a profit center?

SuperiorPower
12-14-2009, 08:35 AM
Isn't that freakin amazing??? They charge people to learn how to fix their product and get 'certified.'

Wouldn't you figure, make the training free and more would want to sell the product and more would want to fix it? Does everything have to be a profit center?

Apparently so. Part of the cost comes with the parts stock that is required but also, the school is like a week long just for initially becoming warranty certified. Then to become a Master Technician... I don't even wanna know...

Like said, tomorrow (12-15-09) I will be attending a Honda update school that is free (with free lunch included!). I have been certified as a Warranty Tech with Honda for about 2 years now I think. Their requirements are much more dealer friendly. I will try to get Kohler and possibly Kawasaki certified this summer if I can.

Steve
12-14-2009, 10:23 PM
Part of the cost comes with the parts stock that is required but also, the school is like a week long just for initially becoming warranty certified.

I can see why manufacturers want you to stock as many parts as possible. But wouldn't it be cheaper to just have a loaner on standby and then order parts as needed?

SuperiorPower
12-14-2009, 10:54 PM
I can see why manufacturers want you to stock as many parts as possible. But wouldn't it be cheaper to just have a loaner on standby and then order parts as needed?

Not necessarily. Because then you would have to have one of each engine, with each option there. This way, I can stock one part that may fit several different engines. One good example is spark plugs, oil filters, etc. These are obviously fast moving parts. I stock 5-10 oil filters at all times and anywhere up to 100-150 spark plugs for a variety of engines (perhaps up to 40-50 of one part # of plug).

I tell people I have several Thousand invested in parts but I could fit them all in the trunk of my car..... Its crazy....

Steve
12-15-2009, 02:29 AM
Not necessarily. Because then you would have to have one of each engine, with each option there.

Well what I mean is, initially when you are getting all it started and money is tight, would it make more financial sense to have a loaner and buy yourself some time with that to order the part and get it repaired?

Say for instance, someone comes in with a mower that has an issue. If it's a 21" push mower, what would it take to have a used push mower loaner they could take with them while you work on the mower for them?

I can understand stocking some high volume items but I bet there are a ton of items you don't use regularly that might be easier to order than to stock?

SuperiorPower
12-15-2009, 07:51 PM
Well what I mean is, initially when you are getting all it started and money is tight, would it make more financial sense to have a loaner and buy yourself some time with that to order the part and get it repaired?

Say for instance, someone comes in with a mower that has an issue. If it's a 21" push mower, what would it take to have a used push mower loaner they could take with them while you work on the mower for them?

I can understand stocking some high volume items but I bet there are a ton of items you don't use regularly that might be easier to order than to stock?

Yes, very true. Sorry for the misunderstanding there. But the big companies are not looking at what makes the most sense to me and other small dealers. They want dealers with the big bucks to shell out to start a business. They want someone who will stock everything that way the customer will not go elsewhere. That is understandable but do they remember where they started from? Someone gave them their big break sometime or another...

Ok, so about today... They were telling us about all the new parts that are coming out because of all this EPA stuff. For example, Honda redesigned most of their engines just to be able to meet EPA standards that take affect 01-01-2011. This EPA stuff is throwing a big monkey wrench into everything.

I know this is sidetracking from the original topic but lets go down this rabbit trail for a bit....

EPA says we need to do blah, blah to slow down global warming (that is not occurring to begin with). Now I have no problem with my engine using less fuel and saving me money, and there being less gas fumes for me to breath, but it is coming at a VERY untimely point in our economy. Here is why.....

Example: Honda had to redesign almost every single engine in their lineup and with so doing, they have to manufacture a LOT of new parts. Most parts will not interchange (because the old parts will not fit the new EPA design). So because of that, I believe it will hurt the economy or at least slow it down on this basis. Redesigning a new engine costs lots of money. Who pays for that? The end user, via the distributor and dealer.

Next step down the line. Now the distributor still has to stock the parts for all the old engines PLUS the new engines. This means a much bigger investment and therefore they have to add more MARGIN to still make the same amount of profit. Plus they will now sell less of each because there are still essentially the same number of engines on the market, but just different models (split up between pre-EPA and post-EPA). That makes sense so far?

Next step. Just like the distributor, now the dealer has to stock all of these new parts (basically doubling their inventory for each given manufacturer). If they had $100,000 inventory before, now they have to come up with another $100,000 to invest in parts. Plus, most times this also means new special tools to invest in. So tell me, who pays for this investment? The end user HAS TO. The dealer has to be able to make enough profit to basically be paid "interest" or a return on his extra $100,000 investment. Plus this normally requires the techs (on company time and now they are not at the shop to EARN income...)go to an update school and new software, blah, blah, blah.... More expenses.

To top it off, higher parts prices means customers won't be able to afford them and will buy less parts. This only compounds the problem...:mad:

Ok, I'll get off my soap box.... (stepping down for now) :D

Eli

Steve
12-16-2009, 03:21 AM
I would think there are a bunch of different niches in the outdoor power equipment repair business.

I have seen some shops that look top of the line and are authorized dealers of certain equipment.

Then I have seen 2nd tier looking shops that provide good service at a reasonable fee.

Lastly, I have seen crappy shops that offer crappy service.

It seems to me, to get into this with a limited financial backing, one would have to focus on friendly service.

Most people want to have a local spot to get their equipment repaired and not feel they are being raked over the coals when it comes to repair fees and part costs.

I would try and limit any unneeded costs. If my focus was going to be on repairs, I would focus on repairs and not try to become a dealer in any equipment until I felt I had a large enough customer base to do so.

From what I have heard, these dealership agreements want you to sell X amount of product each year. Committing to such an agreement early on could sink a new business. Even stocking too many parts could sink a business as well.

Maybe you could sell used equipment that has been refurbished? Or something like that to bring people in. This equipment could potentially also be used as loaners?

SuperiorPower
12-16-2009, 05:35 PM
I would think there are a bunch of different niches in the outdoor power equipment repair business.

I have seen some shops that look top of the line and are authorized dealers of certain equipment.

Then I have seen 2nd tier looking shops that provide good service at a reasonable fee.

Lastly, I have seen crappy shops that offer crappy service.

It seems to me, to get into this with a limited financial backing, one would have to focus on friendly service.

Most people want to have a local spot to get their equipment repaired and not feel they are being raked over the coals when it comes to repair fees and part costs.

I would try and limit any unneeded costs. If my focus was going to be on repairs, I would focus on repairs and not try to become a dealer in any equipment until I felt I had a large enough customer base to do so.

From what I have heard, these dealership agreements want you to sell X amount of product each year. Committing to such an agreement early on could sink a new business. Even stocking too many parts could sink a business as well.

Maybe you could sell used equipment that has been refurbished? Or something like that to bring people in. This equipment could potentially also be used as loaners?

Well either way I turn, there is a reason I named my shop what I did. I truly want to provide nothing but SUPERIOR service. But I believe I do so for a reasonable price. I have damaged something for customer and told him I would not charge him for the labor to fix it. I think that made a believer out of him.

When I get going full time I will most likely charge similar to other shops but will try to make sure I give them more for their money. One thing that I will do my best to avoid is cutting corners. I think I will be using more and more OEM parts versus aftermarket, at least on select parts. There are some aftermarket that are better and stronger (and less expensive) than OEM!! Go figure!

Whole goods are not that big of a money maker anyway, its just that it tends to bring in customers which brings the service customers. Service is where a shop will break even and make a little profit. Warranty is NOT a money maker. Typically they do not pay enough hours to get the product repaired. So either the shop has to eat the rest or than try to explain to the customer why they have to pay the rest of the bill (good luck with that).

Warranty difficulties is why many shops are now requiring payment up front even on warranty and then refund it to the customer when they get paid from the manufacturer.

I will see what happens when spring rolls around. In the mean time I may try to get to more service schools...

Steve
12-17-2009, 12:35 AM
Warranty is NOT a money maker.

Warranty difficulties is why many shops are now requiring payment up front even on warranty and then refund it to the customer when they get paid from the manufacturer.

That is fascinating! I wouldn't have guessed that. I'd figure this would be what would entice a shop to be an authorized warranty repair facility, but if it's not going to be a profit center, then forget it!

This industry seems really messed up but maybe it doesn't differ much from other industries where you have dealerships and dealership agreements. You should be able to simply order what ever product you want to sell at your store. Get some kind of commercial price break from the manufacturer and for go all this other stuff. But it seems they have it locked down.

I wonder if auto dealers run into the same problem with warranty jobs? I have yet to see an auto dealer charge in advance to service a warranty issue, but who knows, maybe a lot of them do!

SuperiorPower
12-18-2009, 05:20 PM
That is fascinating! I wouldn't have guessed that. I'd figure this would be what would entice a shop to be an authorized warranty repair facility, but if it's not going to be a profit center, then forget it!

This industry seems really messed up but maybe it doesn't differ much from other industries where you have dealerships and dealership agreements. You should be able to simply order what ever product you want to sell at your store. Get some kind of commercial price break from the manufacturer and for go all this other stuff. But it seems they have it locked down.

I wonder if auto dealers run into the same problem with warranty jobs? I have yet to see an auto dealer charge in advance to service a warranty issue, but who knows, maybe a lot of them do!

Being authorized to do warranty work is only one step. It brings in customers and at that point you can break the bad news to them that their machine is:
a) not worth repairing
b) The problem is not covered by warranty and then you can offer to repair it for whatever it will cost. This is an up sell, just like the lawn care industry does with their customers.

The auto dealers seem to have a bit more control over the auto makers. The power equipment dealers take a BEATING from the manufacturers and distributors. Many times it seems that warranty claims that by a common sense point of view should be covered by warranty, are denied by the manufacturer.

Here is why the dealers require prepayment:

The customer picks up the product, when everyone agrees that it should be under warranty, and the dealer sends it off to the distributor and then off to the manufacturer. The distributor or manufacturer denies the claim and now the dealer MAY have no luck tracking down the customer anymore. Guess who eats the repair cost? The customer needs to, but good luck finding them if they find out they owe the dealer money.....

Just a simple question, why should the dealer subsidize the warrant repair costs for the manufacturer where the manufacturer denies the warranty claim? This should be the customer's responsibility once the customer has purchased the product.

Steve
12-19-2009, 02:20 AM
I certainly hope all the would be small engine repair shop owners are paying attention to this conversation. There are a lot of issues a repair shop has to deal with.