Improving a technician's efficiency may be as easy as utilizing larger display screens and larger typeface on printed repair information.
These tips may seem so obvious to some readers that they consider them a foregone conclusion among hard-working techs.
However, my field experience suggests that these steps are not necessarily second nature to any employee — including ones who turn wrenches.
Making homework easier to read and absorb may be instinctive for savvy students, but the cold reality is that many people do not and cannot read as well as "bookwise" students do.
The potentially bitter truth is that these folks work with their hands instead of their heads because they did not read very well back in school.
Meanwhile, burgeoning technology has compelled some workers in the skilled trades to learn more about topics such as hydraulics, electricity and electronics.
Within the skilled arena of automotive repair, workers encounter sophisticated systems that are commonplace on modern vehicles. Modern technologies, coupled with a staggering array of makes and models, have forced techs to read substantially more than their predecessors did.
To give you some additional perspective, today's tech often invests as much time researching a vehicle's ailment as he or she actually spends repairing that problem.
Thorough homework before a job often spells the difference between a botched repair and a successful, profitable one.
So, like it or not, today's techs must develop skills similar to those associated with earnest, bookworm students.
An essential element of "book-smart" is honing one's ability to read and comprehend pages upon pages of technical information and repair procedures.
Some service managers and shop foremen I work with share this assessment: A modern tech's career requires reading — perhaps much more reading than an aspiring tech or his high-school guidance counselor expected.
Repeatedly, these bosses have emphasized that a tech who possesses tons of natural wrench-turning talent may struggle completing the research required to fix a problem on a busted vehicle.
Embracing tricks such as larger screens and larger type may minimize that struggle — reducing the effort expended on common auto repair homework.
Experience has shown that people usually respond more favorably to larger images — including larger print — than they do to smaller ones. Simply put, bigger is better because it's easier on the eyes.
Some readers have grown up in this era of the ubiquitous cellphones; there seems to be a headlong rush to run everyone's life with a cellphone.
Whereas the cellphone provides an incredible range of features and benefits, easy-to-read images and messages are not among them.
Let's return to workplace such as an automotive service department. Sometimes the service bays are well illuminated, but often the bays could be considerably brighter.
At any given time, in any given service bay, are large images and text more user-friendly or less user-friendly? I respectfully submit that bigger is overwhelming perceived as better.
If we are trying to coax workers to read more material more often, are we more likely to succeed with larger images and text or smaller ones? Once again, I propose that bigger is better for that purpose.
In some auto service facilities, the bays have plenty of personal computers (PCs) paired with large, easy-to read monitors. I urge tire dealers and service shop operators to follow suite if they have not done so already.
Furthermore, I urge all service personnel to hang up their cellphones. Cull all vital technical and repair information from a PC with a large monitor.
Do not be surprised if some techs tell you that making this switch minimized their headaches.
Next, maximize the effectiveness of printing out technical information by increasing the size of the font whenever and wherever possible on the material at hand.
Simply making the print larger may induce a tech to not only read the information, but also read it more thoroughly than expected.
Finally, encourage all techs to print out repair information whenever they feel that printed material is easier to read than on the PC monitor.
For one thing, the cost of printer paper is a small investment in the ultimate goal of fixing a vehicle correctly the first time.
For another, you can assign all used print outs to a particular waste basket or trash can. Then recycle the paper when that receptacle fills up.