Super Cars, Broken TVs and Service Excellence

Oct 14, 2020 • FeaturesDave Hartfield serviceLeadership and Strategy

Dave Hart is a hugely respected and incredibly well-known figure in the global field service community, in his debut article for Field Service News he offers an excellent moment of reflection field service managers would be wise to consider... 

Not being an avid blogger, I did what my two kids say to me with every question I pose to them these days. ‘Hey kids my internet is down any ideas?’ ‘Google it’ comes the reply. ‘Hey kids how do you change the background colour on a PowerPoint slide?’ ‘Err have you Googled it’ comes the now all too often response.

Ahh the joys of the internet and thinking for oneself, anyway back to my blogging prowess (or lack of it). I googled ‘how to make a blog interesting’ and one suggestion was put a picture of a supercar on your blog as that will draw the attention of men, but also women. Really, who could have guessed that?

Siri is not much better, ask Siri ‘what’s the height of the Eiffel tower’ and it will respond 324 metres to the top. Ask it a more open question such as ‘why is there social unrest in Belarus’ and you get the stock answer ‘OK, here are some websites you may find useful’. Really, I might find useful??

Thus my point here, information is literally everywhere, yet its nowhere. Searching for information can take you hours and get you nowhere.

Knowing what information is trustworthy is an art form and in life it could be argued that the more experience you have the more valuable that experience would become to any potential employer. A recent HBR article suggested that by 2025 a quarter of all employees in the US and UK would be over 55 years old and this demographic is the fastest growing in almost every country. 25% of all your employees over 55 with a wealth of experience that are contributing in ways we have little understanding of, as more often than not as they get older, we honour tradition by buying them a gold clock and wish them on their way to a long and happy retirement.



After I finished college, I worked in a TV repair shop (yes in the days where TV’s were repaired and not thrown away) and a customer brought in a TV he had for 12 years. It was a Sony portable that was quite expensive when he bought it, when he returned it to the shop, he had bought it from for repair, they had kept the TV for 2 weeks and told him it was irreparable. As a last resort he had brought it into our little TV repair shop. Jim (who ran the shop) had 40 years electronics experience asked him to wait, walked into the back of the shop and started to troubleshoot the issue; it was magical watching him. He instinctively knew where to look and within 10 minutes he had soldered a new transistor into the circuit board and the TV sprung into life. He turned to me and said, “now do I charge for the 10 minutes it took me to repair this TV or should I charge for the 40 that allowed me to fix it in 10 minutes.” That day has stuck in my memory as if it were yesterday - It was nearly 40 years ago.

In the field service industry these trends are increasingly worrying as we watch valuable resources with 30,40 years of experience with skills in abundance leave companies and with it their abundance of knowledge just walking out of the door with them.

I suggest four approaches:

  1. Ask them to consider a part time role working from home and ask them to work the triage desk or indeed on technical support. This flexible approach means they can still keep their grey matter working, they can help customers and other engineers (which all engineers love to do)
  2. Offer part time mentoring roles where older employees can take new engineers and show them the ropes thus increasing the rate of their learning curve exponentially
  3. Consider a learning enablement platform where you can capture their experience in blogs, videos, articles and sketches so you capture all that goodness in one place. Searchable content that’s enriched with real life ‘how ’ can be a much richer experience than just knowledge articles.
  4. Try and convince them that the next President of the United States will either be 74 or 77 years old and they are still working, why don’t they consider staying (not sure this will be a compelling argument but hey you have to try right?)

A few years ago, Mark Zuckerberg stated that ‘younger people are smarter’ but the science shows that this is just not the case. For most people, raw mental horsepower declines after the age of 30, but knowledge and expertise — the main predictors of job performance — keep increasing even beyond the age of 80.

Employers will do well to remember that fact and act now to save all of that experience goodness whilst they still can…

(PS if you read this far, the picture of the supercar worked!)

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