Troubleshooting protocols

As the old saying goes, if I had a nickel for every time I got a call to tell me that something is not working at the shop, I could have retired long ago.

More often than not these calls end up being unnecessary. And they invariably come at the most awkward moment, right in the middle of trying to close a sale, for example, or just when you are trying to merge onto a busy freeway. So I have established a basic protocol for troubleshooting that circumvents 90 percent of these calls.

When an employee flips the switch on a machine and nothing happens, he should make the following checks before calling me:

Is it plugged in? No? OK, plug it in.

Is it turned on? No? OK, turn it on.

Is it working now? No? OK, now you can call me.

I can promise that if you adopt this protocol, you will find that the aggregate number of phone calls you get from your shop will be dramatically reduced. Of course, this protocol only applies to tools that are plugged in. For cordless tools, the protocol is a bit different.

Is there a battery in it? No? OK, put a battery in it.

Is the battery charged? No? OK, try a charged battery.

Is it working now? No? OK, now you can call me.



  • Dave Sochar says:

    The protocols are good to have, but some folks actually know what they are doing. My wife once quit a job because she had her protocols right, and the boss did not. She informed her boss that the lights in another room did not work, and she needed to call an electrician.

    The boss went into the other room and flipped the switch 2-3 times and came out and said ‘You are right’. Well, that was enough to make my wife walk. Sure, there were other problems, but as my wife said, she is a mature, intelligent, capable woman that has worked many jobs, raised kids, ran committees, taught school, and could do all sorts of things, and she certainly was capable of determining whether lights worked or not. She had also checked the breakers, something her boss did not do or even know about.

    I have tried to be careful on my attitude on protocols, for I have seen it happen both ways. Usually, if it is something easy – not plugged in for instance, I will tell the employee that they are now fair game for public ridicule from the co-workers. That is often enough to make them think twice before announcing some problem.

    But then, I gave up the cell phone 5 yrs ago in a bid to simplify my life and work, so I don’t get those stupid calls anymore.

  • Donald Estes says:

    It all boils down to the same old problem, Having employees is an awful lot like BABY SITING.

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