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Time to get involved to improve quality

So, I am sitting having a coffee with an engineer who services the Sainsbury’s contract. Now the engineer in question has just come back from a training course in Germany, ran by Bitzer and partially funded by Sainsbury’s. Now, I have worked on Bitzer compressors for years, and never had any retailer feel the need to send any of its contractors on a training course.

However, it seems Sainsbury deserve credit were credit is due, they are prepared to work in partnership with their service provider and over the last few years and invest in training and tools to aid service engineers, who work on their contract day to day.

Sainsbury’s may not be the biggest retailer in the country, but they are making all the other retailers look like they don’t really care about what training their contractors have as long as the job is being done. A few of the engineers that work on other contracts are hoping that they can move across to the Sainsbury’s contract in order to receive more training and better themselves as an engineer.

I do appreciate that having the best tools and training does not make you a good engineer - that comes from within - but it certainly helps, and Sainsbury’s seems to have got their act together, becoming more proactive in looking for the breakdown before it happens, as with the the Asda/City partnership.

I think going forward, other retailers have to look at how they work with their own contractors and start training programmes with their own service providers. In the long term this will only benefit the retailer in less off-sales and increased profitability.

The training Sainsbury’s guys have received to date is due to the introduction of CO2, and rightly so, but I believe that all retailers should look at the bigger picture, and training should encompass all refrigeration controls and mechanical systems within their estates.

Ultimately, when engineers are looking to move companies the big draw will be not just the money and conditions, but which retailer is investing in that particular service provider, and that will determine the quality of the boots that turn up in your store to provide the level of service that you expect.

Furthermore, the service provider shouldn’t get away Scot free either. If you’re having a partnership, you also have to invest in the training of engineers and have the people from within to have the knowledge and experience to help others who do not have the natural aptitude that some have. And as I’ve raised in the past, there should be people from within companies to recognise this.

Anonymous Fridge Guy works full time as a supermarket refrigeration contractor

Readers' comments (2)

  • Anonymous

    yeah that training course in germany was mostly managers having a jolly and couldn't give a monkeys about the course. I'm best mates with someone that went to the course,however I'm an engineer on sainsbury and have little training like most engineers. you aint got a clue whats going on at the lower end of the scale,not a clue

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  • I guess it had to happen eventually. The RAC industry is becoming a nanny-industry where those outside it have to take care of it because those inside it can’t.

    End-users are having to step in because our contractors are failing in their responsibility to send suitably trained engineers to their sites. Of course there is a cost to pay for supplying trained engineers, but when the service providers negotiate the contracts they should include the necessary cost of upgrading their skills within their cost. If they don’t, they will not have the financial resources to pay for necessary training and will continue to send engineers who fall short in some way.

    When I go to the dentist, I don’t expect to have to send him on a training course before I see him next time. Same for a doctor, lawyer or any profession I can think of.

    Unfortunately we work in the real world and Sainsbury had to step in and do something. All credit to them. But what it says about the service provider side of the industry is shameful. When we lift the lid on what is really happening at the sharp-end of this industry, the comment from Anonymous about many not having a clue is absolutely right. While many bemoan the lack of University graduates entering the industry, they should be more concerned about what is going on at the ‘lower end of the scale’ and anonymous puts it. The lack of training and up-dating of skills at this less glamorous end of the industry is the one that no one wants to admit.

    Good blog.

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