Recently Phil Pugliese from Pugski.com was able to attend one of SIA’s Ski Mechanic Workshops and he graciously gave us the “thumbs up” to let you get an objective perspective. If you don’t know Pugski.com, give it a read. Thanks, Phil!
The Ski and Snowboard Mechanics Workshop was brought under the SIA umbrella a few years ago; hopefully this will lead to more attention and thus more shops coming to the clinic. After attending the recent seminar at Mt. Rose in Reno, it makes me realize how even the best and most attentive shops are not only exposing themselves to lawsuits but also costing themselves significant amounts of money in employee efficiency and customer relationships. These two points were the main areas stressed at the first day’s binding seminar; I will let the attorney types address the first one, but it is the latter where shops can create a much better experience for their employees as well as their customers.
First, how important is this seminar? Important enough that every binding manufacturer supports it, and the overseeing organization of our industry, SIA, is now backing it. For less than $200 per person, each attendee will get a level of education they can receive nowhere else. This education will include not only basic mounting and testing of bindings but even more important an education on how to properly fill out binding contracts — which is what they are, a contract between the shop and the skier. This includes learning how and what to put on the contracts (and its correct terminology) and how to explain the contracts properly. This process is not so much for the tech working on the binding but for whoever is interacting with the customer: is it the binding tech or is it a salesperson or even just a cashier? I say “just” a cashier because quite frankly they are usually some of the lowest paid, least trained, and least experienced employees but often have some of the most responsibility; owners who have them fill out liability contracts that could put every shop at risk.
This process is a win/win on many levels, because it gives the staff not only a great knowledge foundation but also the ability to evaluate customers’ needs and expectations. The ability to do the paperwork properly and ensure a skier’s needs are handled correctly could easily save a shop owner the tuition in the number of hours the technicians don’t have to run back and forth from their bench to either the phone or to find the salesperson/cashier who signed in the gear.
So how can a shop help the consumer and create sales at the same time? Nothing gives a customer more confidence in a shop than the ability to talk to a well-trained employee, and a confident customer tends to spend more money. Being in sales for most of my adult life, I have learned one thing: No one wants to be sold, but everyone wants to buy. By educating the sales force, shops empower them to educate the consumer, and at that point they can give the consumer the option to buy without feeling like they are being sold and forced into a new binding for no valid reason. It comes down to the balance of having your salesforce be technicians and your techs be salespeople. The professionals running this SIA-supported program will address these issues and many more.