Tips to Embrace New Technology

June 1, 2017

A decorated young technician provides strategies for embracing and learning new technology.

Greg Pheasant attended his first NAPA Autotech training session when he was just 13 years old, with his shop owner father. A little more than a decade later, the young technician had already earned 16 individual ASE certifications.

That doesn’t necessarily mean all forms of shop technology come easily to Pheasant, however. The 25-year-old simply knows that studying up on shop innovations can make his work more efficient. That’s why he’s even willing to help veteran techs embrace new software. 

“We all like things that make our lives easier,” explains Pheasant, a technician at A Master Mechanic in Reno, Nev. 

In that spirit, Pheasant rallied the troops at the shop in 2016, when the facility had been slow to adapt to Bolt On Technology’s tablet software, due in part to a few shop veterans who lacked technical savvy. The young technician studied the product thoroughly, and became the point person at his shop for teaching co-workers about it. 

“Before I even presented it to anyone, I had to educate myself so I was very familiar with the program, so I could answer questions,” says Pheasant, who was nominated for a 2016 Ratchet+Wrench All-Star Award. “There has to be a leader in the situation, of that technology that you’re going to implement.” 

Pheasant, whose workplace now has some technicians with a productivity percentage as high as 94 percent, has plenty more tips for getting a shop crew to embrace and learn new technology. He shared them with Ratchet+Wrench.

Illustrate All Functionalities

Pheasant works with a few veteran technicians, who, not long ago, were used to writing tickets by hand. Those experienced employees weren’t eager to embrace tablet technology. Until, that is, Pheasant showed them how tablets can make their lives exponentially easier.

Now, after some hands-on training, those veteran techs have become fans of the tablets’ voice command functions, and the fact they can look up wiring diagrams instantly. 

“I think a key with everyone was once they realized the communication gap that that bridges,” Pheasant says. 

Collaborate with Competitors

When A Master Mechanic was in the implementation stage with new tablet software, Pheasant reached out to other shops in his area, and those phone conversations soon revealed that several nearby peers had similar questions about the technology and how to use it as efficiently as possible. So, Pheasant helped set up a group training session. Now he has a network of colleagues he can reach out to when technological questions arise. 

The technician says staying connected to colleagues and former co-workers in his area has helped him view the tablet software from different angles, which has strengthened his knowledge.

Converse with Software Companies

By forging an open line of dialogue with software companies, Pheasant has inspired no less than five recent program changes. He has found software companies to be fairly receptive to making program changes that improve shop workflow. 

“A lot of these programs will adapt to make work easier for you,” Pheasant says. “I’ve made changes in some of the programs in Bolt On individually, just by calling and asking a few questions.” 

Train Consistently

The tide of technology has made for scenarios in which manufacturers like Chrysler and GM frequently update their scan tools. As a result, it’s imperative for shops to train regularly, Pheasant says. 

At A Master Mechanic, employees attend 12 training sessions per year—one per month, usually for four hours at a time. Pheasant says that has helped him and his co-workers keep pace with new vehicle information.

Be Persistent

Once shop operators have found a new form of technology that fits their point-of-sale systems—and that has been proven to be efficient at other shops—they need to demand adoption of it from employees, Pheasant says.

Because Pheasant envisions an industry in which oils and antifreezes vanish in the not-too-distant future, giving way to shops replete with computer technology, techs need to be armed with as much information as possible to keep pace with competitors.

“These vehicles aren’t under warranty for very long before we see them,” he notes. “And it’s nice to be able to know what’s going on, to have a heads-up for what’s coming your way.”

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