2022 HME Business Handbook: Repair Service

Certification and Training For Your Service Technicians

Repair ServicesThere are some major misconceptions within the complex rehab and home medical equipment industries when it comes to service and repair. The industry has long seen service and repair as time-consuming, expensive, labor-intensive, and offering minimal financial return. Rather, service and repair are vital aspects of a provider, and the industry must change its perspective and focus on repair services and technicians.

There is an absence of universal best-practice training available for technicians. Such a program would increase the number of service technicians entering the industry and provide a formal training system that has access to state support and a national acceptance of standards.

Such a program also creates a standard of practice for service and repair, a code of ethics, and competency testing for skill levels, while providing pathways for career growth. This curriculum could guide individuals from pre-employment to certfication as a Level 1 technician and further to certification as a Level 2 (Rehab) technician. The third level (Level 3a) allows for the Testing of Auditors to create a sustainable infrastructure. Also, a Level 3i designation would certify individuals to teach technicians via an educational organization or manufacturer.

This should be made up of experienced manufacturing partners with standards and education relating to DME/CRT/CRT, and have knowledge of the provider’s perspective, all of which aid the direction of this much-needed entity.

Partnering with RESNA would add value to The DME/CRT/CRTRT Group. This would include modified career paths, whereby individuals can move through an “apprenticeship” type program that will help them transition from Level 2 technicians to an ATP role. This pathway will allow credit for the certification they have already received as a technician.

These advances in the service technician industry are not only to provide pathways from one position to another, but to grow the depth and appreciation within these positions. The aim is to allow potential candidates the ability to view becoming a technician as a viable career, and not just a stepping stone to becoming an ATP.

How do DME/CRT/CRT companies make money on repairs?

This largely unanswered question has impacted our industry greatly, slowing the movement toward training and investment in technicians. Concerns of service and repair not being profitable for a company have led to a lack of appropriate pay increases to ensure the retention of quality technicians. This is both a huge issue and a great opportunity for the industry to improve.

Poorly trained technicians or inefficient systems in a service department can create multiple costly problems:

  • Multiple callouts for the same service repairs — Inexperienced technicians/poor intake/inefficient systems.
  • Delayed equipment repairs when brought in — Inefficient systems.
  • Wrong parts ordered — Inexperienced technicians/inefficient systems

This can result in:

  • Lower revenue on expenses to complete call-outs.
  • Lower revenue on repairs when equipment is sitting in the shop.
  • Lower revenue when parts have to be returned and equipment is delayed.
  • Customers complaining to staff about delays — Intake time on phone.
  • Customers complaining to referral sources — loss of potential new sales.
  • Customers choose a different company for new equipment.

If a provider combines the education, training, and advancement model outlined in this article the following outcomes can be anticipated:

  • More revenue from faster repair times.
  • Increased revenue from an efficient service department and utilization of staff and equipment.
  • Increased sales through customer retention — Individuals replacing existing DME/CRT/CRT equipment have a choice to stay with the current DME/CRT/CRT provider or choose a new one.
  • Increase sales through customer development — Repairing equipment sold to a customer by another company can provide an opportunity to gain that customer for future new DME/CRT/CRT purchases.
  • More sales via service programs. When referral sources are referring a new patient to a DME/CRT/CRT provider, there is usually a request from the customer to direct them to a company with good service, who will take care of their needs even after purchase.

There are numerous opportunities available in the Repair and Service industry.

POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • Too often, repair and service are looked at as cost centers.
  • Run correctly, they can help cut costs and increase revenue.
  • However, there needs to be a multi-tiered training infrastructure to ensure proper training.
  • This creates not only standards of practice but creates career paths.

This article originally appeared in the May/Jun 2022 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Matthew Macpherson is the Executive Director of the DME/CRT/CRTRT Group and Co-Founder/CEO of ATLAS-FIOS (atlasfios.com). With more than 20 years of experience in the CRT/DME/CRT/CRT industry in positions ranging from service technician, ATP, and as a college instructor for DME/CRT/CRT/CRT repair service training, he has seen how successful service and repair systems can impact a company’s profitability.

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