The term has been talked about within the Aftermarket Industry for decades…….. “Professionalism” and “being a Professional”, who is professional and who is not? The question is confusing today.
Professionalism means several different things in the Heavy Duty shop owner’s mind-set. There is an ironic view in its traditional meaning. For decades a professional was exactly what a HD technician, shop owner or parts supplier was not. It has always been assumed that there was a higher purpose to professional activities than merely making a living. This put professional people on a higher social level than those “in trade”, who in turn were assumed to have only money in mind when doing their work. Our education systems are guilty of promoting this concept and each of us should seize the opportunity if we get a chance to interact with the local education system to get this fallacy corrected.
In the public’s eye, professionals are supposed to “know their stuff”, meaning they know exactly what they are doing at any given time, and they know their subject inside-out. Professional persons tend to present an air of capability for the very good reason that what they have to sell is trustworthiness. Professional self-confidence comes from having a sure grasp of the fundamentals of one’s subject. Where self-confidence goes wrong is when a long-term person in the field becomes too sure of what they know, and come to believe that they have completely mastered their subject. The fact is, when they conclude that they know all there is to know, they are no longer professionals, but hacks.
If there is one characteristic of an established professional which sets them apart from other employment, it is the continual renewal of knowledge and expertise through continuous reading, attending seminars, conferences and interacting regularly with industry people.
Consider a HD shop today constantly has to learn about new equipment, new technology advancements on all vehicles, business processes and methods required to move the shop forward in a forever changing marketplace and economy. Like all professionals worthy of a name, professional Technicians, Shop Owners and Parts suppliers will put their client’s welfare before any personal consideration. They will never stop renewing and improving their knowledge and skills. They will conduct themselves with due professional pride and integrity. They will not cut corners, whether in terms of ethics, performance, or quality. Never has there been more need than there is today for professional attitudes within our HD sector of the industry. A great HD Service Industry is one in which men and women within the industry think greatly of their functions. To think greatly of those functions is to regard doing them as a profession whether or not it is so called.
In essence, the professional man or woman is one who behaves professionally, not necessarily one who has been certified by a licensing body. Professionalism cannot be conferred on you by other people. It solely consists of what you expect from yourself. Take a look in the mirror; who do you want to be?