Back when I was starting out as a new service manager, there was one thing I consistently dreaded. Our regular tech meeting couldn’t have been more of a headache. Not just for myself, but my techs as well. I always came prepared with a list of topics. My list usually looked something like this:
1. Tech work stalls look unprofessional. Techs must clean up before clocking out.
2. Safety training: “Why We Wear Safety Glasses”
3. Review latest technical service bulletins
4. Inquire about shop equipment issues
5. HR reminder for mandatory insurance meeting next Tuesday
TECH MEETING FORMAT
At least half of the techs would arrive late. And at least a couple wouldn’t show due to a waiter. Pizza was served a form of bait if you will. It’s ill-advised to list out grievances to a group of hungry men. Even if I bought forty pizzas, there was never enough. Story of life, right? We’d take thirty minutes to chow down. The conversations during the chow down usually focused on the toppings they wish they had and who forgot the paper plates again. Once they were full and a little sleepy, then the tech meeting would begin.
I’d make it through my list and, inevitably, a tech would pull out his list of grievances. Of course, it wasn’t really his list, it was the techs list. Prior to the meeting, the techs would decide what needed to be brought up and appoint the bravest tech to present it to me. The complaints usually focused on what happened in the last 2 or 3 days prior to the meeting. All valid points though. To make matters worse, our owner would sit in on the meetings. Most things were usually tabled.
Let me defend that decision. The matters that were tabled were outside grievances that I had little, to no control over. For example, factory warranty time constraints and why are techs across town allegedly making more money. This torture continued like this for a while. It wasn’t until a tech asked me before a meeting if I was nervous because I was sweating profusely. It was then I made the executive decision to stop this nonsense.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
I decided we needed more structure to the meetings to end the chaos. First things first, I lost the “tech meeting”. From then we’d have “tech parties” limited to thirty minutes. It’d include a game with cash and prizes. And no more tech gripe lists. If anyone tried to slip one in, I’d invite him to my office to discuss it afterward. I’d also invite some other people from the dealership to join in on the fun.
I wasn’t messing around when I said it was a tech party. We’d dress up with ridiculous hats and Bette Midler-esque feather boas. Loud music or an action movie would be playing in the background. Depending on my mood, we’d have Wii games, limbo, casino games, or putt-putt golf set up to entertain the techs. I also nixed the pizza. It was too costly, took too long, and made everyone sleepy. But in light of all the new changes to the meetings, no one missed it. Techs even started showing up early for the meetings. Sometimes the techs would get so competitive, the joy could be heard in the waiting lounge. Now that’s what I call a successful tech meeting.
Some of our finest moments of growth come out of the times when we felt unformattable, unfulfilled, and unhappy. Now, stay with me for a second. These negative emotions can really pay off in the future. They’re the exact motivation we need to get up and change our circumstances. These emotions motivate us. For some reason, when you’re dissatisfied to the point of frustration, you become hyper-aware of changes that need to be made. That’s exactly the point I reached with my tech meetings. And I couldn’t have been happier with the resulting new tech parties. Neither could my techs, for that matter. Try shifting the tone of your tech meetings to a party. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. For more helpful techniques, check The Irreplaceable Service Manager to help you transform your department, today!