An indefatigable Paul MacDonald conducted the 10-hour ISM trainings solo.

BrandSource’s inaugural ISM class earns its credentials

By YSN Staff

Beginning with Summit 2023, AVB’s ServiceSource further ratcheted up its efforts on behalf of self-servicing BrandSource members with the launch of the Institute of Service Management (ISM). Designed specifically for service department managers, ISM is an intensive, ten-hour training program that can lead to BrandSource accreditation for both the manager and his or her company.

“Service managers are often employees who have been with a company for some time in another capacity,” said service industry veteran and ServiceSource Lead Paul MacDonald. “But who teaches them how to run a service department? Seldom is there a written job description, and there are no schools or online training courses in appliance service management.”

Enter ISM. Supported by Electrolux, GE, LG, Samsung and Whirlpool, along with multiple BrandSource service partners, the program encompasses ten practical and information-packed educational sessions on topics including:

  • Service financials
  • Department efficiency
  • Setting service rates
  • Parts inventory
  • Warranty claims
  • Customer service training
  • Marketing and online reviews
  • Recruitment, training and retention

By all measures, ISM’s debut at Summit 2023 was a smashing success. MacDonald — who stoically led all 10 hours of trainings — reported that 80% of the 67 participants passed the final certification exam with grades of 80 or better.

Top honors went to Anthony Wallick of Lapp Gas Appliance, who scored a 96.9, and Julie Beechnau of Bekins with a 96.2, followed by Steven Soulis of Gilberts Hardware & Appliance who scored a 95.4.

Beechnau, 24, who has been a Bekins service manager for one year and leads a team of 11 experienced servicers, found the training “extremely valuable. There are so many things on my to-do list now.”

Similarly, David Oliver, who heads store support at Carmona’s Appliance & Mattress Center, said 80% of the ISM course material “was all new to me. The entire couple days I was texting the service manager at the store: ‘Are we doing this yet?’ I have a meeting with him and the owner when I get back.”

Even industry veteran Scott Pearse of Appliance Connection picked up a few new tricks. “I’ve done it for 40 years but I did learn a bit,” he said. But beyond the classroom instruction, participation itself sends a message to colleagues and the community.

“It legitimizes who are you are,” Pearse continued. “It says you’re willing invest in continuing education. I can put [the certificate] up on my wall and show my guys I care; that I’m trying to improve our company and make more money for all of you.”

To MacDonald, himself a 40-year service industry veteran who ran his own 38-tech shop, served as president of the UASA, and currently operates The Expert Service Program, the inaugural ISM couldn’t come soon enough for BrandSource’s self-servicing members.

“A different approach is needed to keep the market share that the pandemic delivered to independent retailers,” he said, “and BrandSource dealers must change how they go to market. [AVB’s CEO] Jim Ristow said it best when he encouraged members to ‘plug in’ and embrace technology to change how they do business to meet the needs of today’s consumers.”

Encouraged by the ISM’s reception, MacDonald is already thinking ahead to next year’s installment and is brainstorming further training opportunities for BrandSource’s service techs. 

“This is a win for BrandSource and its members,” he said. “This is going to create change from the bottom up instead of the top down.”

YSN publisher AVB BrandSource is the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.

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