Lots of Wires and Frustration

A Cable Technician’s Guide to Success

In The Cable Technicians Guide by Fred Arnold

You throw a knight and horse stamped polo on every day. You step outside; polo tucked in, boots laced up to perfection and your blue jeans freshly washed from last night’s laundry. You think to yourself, “Well this won’t last long.”  It is Florida after all, and working as a cable technician is no walk in the park. You push through, however. Maybe it is because you enjoy the company of customers who require your assistance, and you take pride in solving a problem for them, or maybe you enjoy the freedom of working on installation projects yourself. It could be the money as well as the comradery between you and your fellow technicians. There are many reasons a cable technician performs this unique and demanding job, but this post focuses on Knight Enterprises’ mentoring. Here we will explain how you, a new technician, can succeed. We will jump into tips on becoming successful in Knight’s overall career path, what problems may lay before you during installations and how some of our most experienced lead technicians have survived and thrived in the job.

Shaun Powell, Installation Manager for Knight SE in Columbia, SC:

Again, it goes back to attitude: you must think positive, and again if you need help then we always stress all techs to call…we move work around to make time for the tech and give a hand if needed.

What should a new technician expect when starting the job? 

  • “Whenever a new employee technician is starting cable they need to be ready to work in all kinds of elements like crawling under houses, working in attics and working in the rain, snow, and heat. Ladders are used consistently in the field as well as a number of hand tools so learning the proper operation and safety guidelines for each is a must. Our new technicians ride along with an experienced technician before they are on their own.
  • As an employee technician the first week isn’t right into the field. It consists of a safety class (day 1), and then 4 days of classroom training with an experienced tech. They will learn everything from the equipment to the materials, and they will learn how to use them. The employee tech will also learn all of our daily operations.”

What avenues do new employee technicians have to obtain help at the shop and in the field? When a new employee technician asks you for help, what are some of your go to responses, and how do you handle escalated situations?

Shaun Powell dressed for success and ready to work!

Shaun Powell dressed for success and ready to work!

  • “Whenever a new employee tech starts, they are watched over very closely by the Install Supervisors and myself. If a new employee tech has issues in the field then we ask them to first reach out to their area supervisor, if they don’t hear back in a timely manner we then ask them to send out a group message to all Install Supervisors and myself advising us what they need. All new employee techs must also call a supervisor before they code or close any jobs throughout the day to ensure they are being coded correctly and to ensure that they are meeting all of our metrics (OTA,OVERLAP,WHC,FJTA).
  • Whenever a new employee tech asks me for help, if it is a tech question, I refer them to an Install Supervisor. In most cases, with any other issues or escalations, my assistant or myself will deal with it to ensure they are handled correctly. All of our new and seasoned techs know that if they call we are here to help.  We remind them in every meeting we have with them, and we tell the new guys every morning if you need something call. We also remind them that we were new at once too which seems to help them realize they aren’t bothering us when they call us 20 times a day.”

How did you excel in the job to grow your career as an Install Supervisor and to obtain success? What type of outlook should new techs strive for?

  • “When I was a tech for a small number of other companies, I simply never left a job unless it was working correctly. No matter how hard or tough the job was, I always figured out a way to get the customer’s service working. I also came to work everyday and showed the company that I wanted to work and that I am reliable. On top of all that, I always wanted to be the best in everything that I do, and I always enjoyed helping others achieve greatness as well.
  • If new employee techs come in with a positive attitude that they have a great opportunity to make a lot of money and better their lifestyle then they will be successful. Attitude is a BIG part of this job.”

The main 2 issues in the field we see are bad drops and bad fittings. If you replace EVERY fitting at a job  and you check your signal at the tap and then end of the drop on the install then it will eliminate a lot of issues out in the field.

What are some best practices when dealing with difficult and stressful installations? What about best practices when dealing with a customer’s problems?

  • “This is a good question! When you are dealing with a stressful situation or install the best thing to do is focus on the task at hand and try to complete it to the best of your ability. Always remember every customer you install is the reason you have a job so get their install done like you would any other and know that the next one probably won’t be that bad. Again, it goes back to attitude: you must think positive, and again if you need help then we always stress all employee techs to call…we move work around to make time for the tech and give a hand if needed.
  • Whenever you are dealing with a customer, you never want to raise your voice with them but you must be confident in yourself and show them that you are confident when you are talking with them. Respect them and their home under any and all conditions. Try to figure out the solution to their problems, you need to be the solution. After all, they are only upset because of the issues they are having (you should be like Super Man with a cape to a customer).”

 

What are some of the issues new employee technicians often run into that have simple fixes?

  • “When a new employee tech enters the field, they seem to have the most issues with I&R and the metrics that go along with it. They also have issues troubleshooting jobs. They can install them fine but when they have an issue and something doesn’t work, they sometimes go into panic mode. When you are troubleshooting you want to work your way from the tap to the house. Check the tap, drop, ground block, splitter… work your way down the line to eliminate possible issues. The main 2 issues in the field we see are bad drops and bad fittings. If you replace EVERY fitting at every job and you check your signal at the tap and then end of the drop on every install then it will eliminate a lot of issues out in the field.”

If new techs come in with a positive attitude that they have a great opportunity to make a lot of money and better their lifestyle then they will be successful. Attitude is a BIG part of this job.

What type of mentorship do you provide new employee technicians?

  • “I always try to let all of my employee techs know that I am here for them no matter what they might need. I always tell people that I appreciate them, and I thank them to let them know we (Knight) care and appreciate what they do for us. I do this on any memo, email, or mass text I send out. I also post metrics up all around the office and praise those that do well in our weekly meetings and tell techs that may be struggling that they might want to talk to these guys as they are showing they are successful. We also make sure every new employee works with an Install Supervisor every day to ensure they are meeting our customer’s expectations before they do just about anything while in the field, until the Install Supervisor feels they are ready to go on their own after testing them daily.. It all goes back to attitude like I said earlier and you have to try to keep them positive so you always want to build the person up!”

 

*** This article refers to full time employee technician daily operations ***