“Trade to Profession” – The Great Transition

By Dean Landers, Landers Appliance 

Hey “old timers”, think about it. You know a LOT MORE today than you ever did in the past!Hey “youngins”, think about it. You know a LOT MORE than you think you do!

I’ve operated my own appliance service business for 32 years. I’ve been in the industry for over 40 years, not including two years of high school appliance repair Tech Ed training. What I am witnessing over the last 20 years or so is the transformation of an entire industry. On a phone call recently with Scott Brown, Master Samurai Tech Academy, Scott coined the phrase “Trade to Profession” while we were discussing the complexity of today’s appliances and the incredible amount of knowledge required to be even remotely proficient at repairing them. I agree!! Our industry has an insatiable need for technical training and data in order to perform basic repairs. And the need is growing!!

To make my point, think about cooking appliances from 30 years ago. Gas ranges had 4 burners all rated around 9000 BTU, not that we ever even considered or cared to know the specific BTU ratings back in the day BECAUSE they were all basically the same, regardless of brand, make or model.  Electric ranges had 8” and 6” burners. That was it. There were very few, if any exceptions. Induction was a method of thinking, not a way of cooking. Steam was something used to power old time locomotives and had nothing to do with cooking. Epicurean was something you thought you could buy for your wife for her birthday from a high end salon, and certainly had nothing to do with cooking! I didn’t even know what blast chilling and sous vide were in order to comment or compare (thanks to Moe Lastfogel at the Retail Observer for exposing my ignorance – see page 6, April 2016 edition). We didn’t need to measure amp draw at the oven igniter. There WERE NO IGNITERS! All we had to do was look to see if the pilot was lit and if the flame fully engulfed the safety valve bulb when the mechanical thermostat was turned on, calling for heat. Flame sensing re-ignition happened when you noticed the flame had gone out and you relit the pilot light and turned the burner valve on again. There wasn’t anything automatic about the process! Yes, I’m showing my age.  Things have changed. Dramatically!

What does all this mean for today’s technician? Your value has improved significantly in everyone’s eyes, especially the customer that has ventured to repair their own appliance and has taken the back off of a modern appliance and stared at all the electronic controls included in even the most basic product. Our companies have to be staffed by service personnel who can not only repair but communicate intelligently and professionally with customers, taking care of their $15,000 60” gas range nestled tightly in their $200,000 kitchen renovation, along with all the other household items one comes into contact while servicing their appliances. YES, the change has already occurred! We HAVE transitioned from a trade to a profession. Most customers recognize the transition. All the appliance manufacturers have known this for some time. Surprisingly, many appliance service personnel have not come to terms with this reality yet. I see it in how some companies price their repairs, barely covering their increasing costs and unable to sustain a profit. I see it in their lack of customer service deliverables that should be their established norm. I see it in their poor inventory management. I see it in their service fleet, which is poorly maintained and in need of replacement. Please look around at our industry and consider these things. Stop thinking of yourself as less than you are. YOU ARE A SERVICE PROFESSIONAL (whether you know it or not)! 

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