Terry Nicholson

Many years ago I had an outstanding technician, who we’ll call Ted, who generated above and beyond results every week. He brought in high average invoices and provided top notch customer service to homeowners.

There was just one problem - Ted’s paperwork skills were horrible. It might seem like a simple and routine part of the job, but when it’s not done correctly it can cause a lot of problems.

The main problem was Ted’s handwriting. His invoices came back to the shop looking like they’d been completed in some new language no one had ever seen. Ted’s handwriting made it hard to record the parts that he used on a call so that we could keep accurate inventory and get him the parts he needed. Every invoice he submitted meant that my office staff had to spend 20 minutes on the phone with him deciphering what he’d written.

It was inefficient for the business and frustrating for the office staff. But Ted was an excellent technician. In fact, in the time that his paperwork problems hit their peak, he became my team’s technical go-to guy. If another technician had a problem on a call that they couldn’t solve, it was Ted that they called.

In other words, his value to the team and the company went beyond those high dollar invoices, so as the manager, I needed a happy team and I needed Ted. That meant I needed to confront Ted about his writing and see how we could improve it.

During our coaching session, I laid out the problem to him and why we needed to figure out a way to improve his writing. As he heard the reason for our coaching session, he slumped in his chair and hung his head. On the verge of tears, he confessed to me that the reason his writing was so bad was that he couldn’t read or write. He’d never learned and, as a result, he didn’t know how to spell.

He’d learned how to become a great technician through experience and working with his hands. He was a classic experiential learner.


Everyone learns in different ways, and researchers have categorized the variety of learning styles into three main categories: listening learners; seeing learners; touch and experience learners.

To illustrate the difference, think about one of life’s earliest lessons - “The stove is hot. Don’t touch it!” Listening learners heard their mother, believed the information, and never touched a stove. Seeing learners watched as their brother touched the stove and never touched it themselves. Experience learners touched the stove; but only once!

The reason this is important is that you may be providing training sessions where you know the individual is smart but they just don’t seem to get it. Perhaps, they learn in a different manner than you are training them.

Do you know the learning styles of each member of your team and how it impacts the type of training that you should provide them?

In today’s world, it’s unlikely that you’ll find someone like Ted who can’t read and write, but there are huge advantages to knowing how each member of your team learns so you can provide the training that matches their style. When you match each team member’s learning style to the training you provide, you’ll see these benefits:

Increased enjoyment:Since the training will be tailored to their style, your technicians will actually enjoy learning, and when they enjoy it, they’ll be engaged.

Training requests:Since they are engaged and actively involved, your technicians will welcome training and will look for ways to improve.

Increased performance:All of that tailored training will affect your results, and it doesn’t take much to have a big impact. Just a $25 increase in your technician’s average invoice over 1,000 calls can produce an extra $25,000 of revenue. And that’s per truck so think of the extra revenue your entire team would produce.

Improved customer service and fewer call backs:Your technicians will not only be better trained, but they’ll be more confident in their abilities. That will translate to better service in the home and fewer call backs to fix problems.

Improved retention:As your team gets more confidence and enjoys training and working at your company, they’ll be less likely to leave for a competitor.

Tailoring your training to specific learning styles can be tricky, so if you’d like more information on how to train your technicians for maximum performance, e-mail me at tnicholson@yoursgi.com with “Help Me Maximize Performance” in the subject line.

Publication date:05/24/2010