Service managers have a great deal of responsibility. Not only are they sometimes out in the field, but they are in charge of the business. This means taking charge of the gross profit, burden, vehicle costs, labor distributions, and the technician productivity.

But that is not all. Service managers need to review service reports, purchase orders, control the inventory, plan a head count, and dispatch technicians. And if that wasn’t enough, they still need to take care of customers and handle them professionally.

So it’s almost surprising that there is no major training available for these employees. When we think of educating the industry, the first notion is to train them to be more technically qualified. But to be successful, service managers and the like need to have a bit of business savvy.

Learning The Business

National Training Seminars (NTS), based in Lake Mary, FL, has been conducting service manager training for the last year. The training was started by Jim Peters, who also instructs each seminar. Although the company is based in Florida, Peters has been traveling to different cities across the country to reach the people who need the training.

And Peters has the experience. He has been involved with the industry for over 30 years and has been a service manager as well as an instructor. According to Peters, the role of the service manager has changed. Their responsibility was to be out in the field making sure the job got done. But today, the service manager now oversees the management of gross profits. This can be unfamiliar territory for those who have been trained primarily in the technical aspects of the industry.

“They may be the greatest tech in the world,” said Peters, “but they don’t understand the business.”

Peters also says that this training is not just for service managers, but for anyone who is looking to improve the way they do business. Owners, lead technicians, and general managers have also attended Peters’ course to better increase their profitability.

In fact, the Florida Air Conditioning Contractors of America (FACCA) held one of Peters’ service manager training seminars for 20 of its contractors. Executive director of FACCA, Janice Figerato, says that the contractors had a great deal of positive feedback from the seminar.

“No one has actually devised a training for service managers,” said Figerato.

She also explains that it is a very important training seminar. “A lot of contractors don’t understand gross profit,” she said. “They are always amazed at the actual numbers that go into gross profit.”

Figerato explains that the course is valuable because it takes the service manager through the costs of the business. For example, they learn how to price the needs of the business and still end up with a decent profit.

And although this course is for service managers, she says many people in the industry can benefit. “All they can do is become better employees of your company,” she said about taking the course. “Most of these guys are only service techs. They have no business knowledge. You take a very good tech and put him in a business course and all we can do is drastically raise the contractor level.”

Jerry Sharr is the owner of Advanced Mechanical Services of Central Florida in Orlando and he is looking into sending a couple of his employees to the NTS course in the future. Even though Sharr owns his own business, he has attended the course and has found it helpful.

“I took the course just to try and sharpen my skills,” said Sharr. “It gave me some good ideas on how to approach problems.”

Sharr also agrees that many in the industry do not have a great financial background. He also explains that the service manager training covers a great deal of information that individuals in the field need to know. This includes profitability and customer service. But most important, he says the course talks about how to handle burdens and true cost.

Step-By-Step Course

The NTS service manager training is a three-day course and focuses on a set of different topics each day.

Peters explains that on the first day of the seminar, time is taken to describe the job of a service manager. Peters also covers customer relations, customer surveys, dispatching duties, hiring, and coaching.

The second day of the course is purely financial. Peters explains what gross profit is and how it works. He also goes through business costs. This includes vehicle costs and labor distribution. On the third day, the focus is on parts and inventory, including truck and warehouse inventory.

Peters also takes a look at credit and collecting policies, as well as several other topics.

“We spend a lot of time on maintaining the department financially,” said Peters about the course. “What I get from a lot of guys is they have a weakness understanding the financial aspect.”

The seminar instructs the service manager on how to manage cost. For example, Peters says that many service managers are not correctly calculating their expenses.

Overall, Peters says that the course is designed to provide service managers with everything they will need to know on the job.

For more information on National Training Seminars, go to (website).

Publication date: 03/26/2001