It's my firm conviction that everything boils down to a matter of perception. Case in point: a half a glass of water. An optimist thinks the glass is half full. A pessimist thinks the glass is half empty. A pragmatist thinks he's halfway to the next drink. A defeatist thinks if he sticks around, he'll have to wash the glass. In their efforts to recruit and retain the best qualified technicians, more and more maintenance and service shops are treating them as true professionals, like part of the family, as valued members of the team and so on and so forth. And this is a good thing. One area that I have found neglected is the "facilities" the technicians have to use? What message does the appearance, cleanliness and amenities of bathrooms, locker rooms and break rooms send to technicians? I attended the recent TMC SuperTech competition in Raleigh, NC. It was my first, and I was very impressed. When it came to commercial vehicle technicians, I saw professionalism every where. Following that event, I had the occasion to visit some maintenance and repair shops and found a lack of professionalism when it came to the upkeep of bathrooms, locker rooms and break rooms. A particular instance stands. Upon entering one bathroom, I immediately saw that it was no comfort station. It obviously hadn't been cleaned in recent history, and there was no toilet paper. I did an about face. How do you think this makes your technicians feel? Last week I got to visit the Richard Childress Racing organization - a championship NASCAR racing team - and had the opportunity to visit its affiliated Earnhardt-Childress Racing (ECR) Engines. While it's an old cliché, it fits: The ECR's shop was so clean you could eat off the floor. The bathrooms were cleaner than those in my house, and my wife excels at keeping our home neat and clean. How do you think ECR's technicians feel about their workplace? Competition for technicians being what it is nowadays, it's those little things make the big difference. One huge differentiator is the technician's perception of your operation. And you can control that. Looking at things from a technician's point of view can go a long way to making them more valuable members of your team.