Getting Started In Grocery Stores
“I have been in grocery store refrigeration for 18+ yrs and I have learned a few things along the way. First is that we as journeyman DO NOT expect you to know everything about refrigeration, but the general consensus among journeyman is this: you listen, ask questions, do not say you know how to do a job and then mess it up, and if you are not sure what/how to do a job, ASK QUESTIONS. Any journeyman worthwhile will answer your question completely.”
Expectations From a Tradesman
- PAY ATTENTION
- ASK QUESTIONS
- BE WILLING TO LEARN
- SHOW UP ON TIME
- WORK HARD
- DO NOT PLAY ON YOUR PHONE
- BE PRESENT
If you are a GO GETTER in this trade and learn quickly, I can assure you that you will never be unemployed. You can call any service manager in the USA and say, “Are you in need of journeyman talent?” But this will be after many years in the trade. As an apprentice you DO NOT have much bargaining power, but as time goes by you will.
Some other things to know in this trade. When starting out you may have cheap tools. As time goes by and you start earning more money and getting better, if you can’t spend BIG money to change out all your cheap tools, then buy one good tool a week. It is recommended that you DO NOT go cheap on a meter. FLUKE makes the best meters out there, invest the money in one. DISCLOSURE: I do not own stock in FLUKE. I am not associated with the company. I only use their products because they WORK. As time goes on you will quickly figure out what you need and don’t need for tools.
STORE PERSONNEL/MANAGERS:DO NOT get in an argument or get into it with a store manager. I can guarantee you WILL lose every time. All the manager has to do is email/call their corporate office, or the service manager, and say you ARE NOT to be sent to any of the stores or that particular store. Your time with that company will be short lived. Let them say what they’re going to say, and if what they ask is within reason, DO IT. If they disrespect you, just let it go. Report to your service manager what happened and let him deal with it. DO NOT under any circumstances DATE or ATTEMPT to pick up women in a store where you do work. That will backfire quickly. If something happens the woman can report SEXUAL HARASSMENT. Whether it’s true or not, does not matter, you will be GONE in A HEARTBEAT. I have seen it happen to good techs, more often than not. REMEMBER you are there for only ONE REASON, and that’s to fix any issues with the refrigeration. Remember STORE MANAGERS/DIRECTORS ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND. Keep conversations about business only and to the reason you are there. Go in, introduce yourself, say “I’m here to fix your issue.” Fix the problem, sign out and MOVE ON!
When you show up at a store and a case is empty, and it is indicated there was PRODUCT LOSS, it is EXTREMELY important to write it on your work order. ALWAYS put model and serial number of the case. If you don’t several things can happen, which we all know will happen. For example: you show up to fix a case, lets say, the ICE CREAM line up. The next day, another case somewhere in the store goes down that you were not made aware of, and there is product loss. The store will try to hang the product loss on the company you work for. When the service manager talks to the manager at the store, and says,”My service tech worked on the ICE CREAM case yesterday, but today your MEAT LINEUP went down,” he can show what case you worked on via the model and serial number. If they don’t match, the company is OFF the hook. Grocery store managers are NOTORIOUS for pointing fingers at the refrigeration contractor. In reality, alarms were going for HOURS/DAYS and someone chose to ignore it, until ultimately the product goes bad.
When writing up your work order DO NOT use “I” For example:Upon arrival on service call for Multi deck meat case, did in fact find case warm, at 48 degrees. The coil was iced up due to fan motor being bad. De-iced coil with hot water, replaced 9 watt fan motor (115 VAC). Turned hand valve back on and case came down to set point. Upon my departure case had 28-31 degree discharge air.”
ALWAYS fill out the work order COMPLETELY. Nothing frustrates or makes a service manager angrier, than a poorly, incomplete, or sloppy written work order. ALWAYS put time you arrived, time you left, date, model, serial numbers, and parts used. FILL IT OUT COMPLETELY! In addition, start with what you found, what you did to correct the problem, and how the case was running upon your departure. Do the above steps EXACTLY as outlined, and you will never have problems with your service manage.
- DO NOT DATE STORE PERSONNEL
- DO NOT ARGUE WITH MANAGERS
- THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND
- MODEL & SERIAL NUMBER OF CASE YOU WORKED ON WRITTEN ON EVERY WORK ORDER
- FIX THE ISSUE THE FIRST TIME
- BE ON TIME
- DO NOT WONDER AROUND
- BE ON TASK AT ALL TIMES
- ALWAYS SHOW UP IN THE STORE WITH HAND TOOLS AND GAUGES
- ALWAYS BE COURTEOUS
- ALWAYS DO WHAT THEY ASK EVEN IF YOU ARE THERE FOR SOMETHING ELSE
- FILL OUT THE WORK ORDER COMPLETELY WITHOUT USING “I”
This trade WILL take a toll on a marriage/relationship. It would be best to be with someone who understands 100% of what you do in the grocery store refrigeration business. The hours are long, possibly being on call quite frequently, travel time, etc. DO NOT be afraid to DECLINE a call out if you are NOT on call, or asked to volunteer. Spend time with family, kids, etc. You need to take “ME” time. Do not be afraid to say NO! It is very important to watch your finances. DO NOT get yourself into DEBT by buying toys, like a boat, fancy truck, a big house, etc. That’s all okay to do, but be reasonable, and live WITHIN your means/budget. It is easy to get into the debt trap when you’re working long hours and making big bucks in the summer time, but then winter comes and work slows down tremendously. You still have high payments for all the the things you bought. It is NOT the service manager’s fault if the hours are not there and you ask for a raise because your money is running short. The RESPONSIBILITY lies with you and you ONLY. LIVE within your FINANCIAL MEANS, and STAY OUT OF DEBT! Save your money when the hours are good. When the hours slow down you can take time off, or take the family on vacation. You will quickly figure out there are many ups and downs in this business. It is not unusual to change jobs many times throughout your career. Contracts come and go like the wind.
In closing, it is my sincerest hope and desire that I have been of great service to you.
May you have success and prosperity.”To your success I believe in you.”