Showing posts with label Hiring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hiring. Show all posts

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Finding the Right Technicians
Finding Technicians

Last time I gave a list of ideas for finding that "right Technician". My definition of "the right Technician" is one who can consistently produce profit for the company with a minimum amount of drama. I mentioned several ways to do this and I would like to expand on one in this article.

The ability to find a profit producing Technician is difficult at best and probably impossible in your service area. The old ways of a newspaper ad for a Technician with 5 years of field experience in the service business are no longer productive. It's finally time you groom your own. This can be a long and arduous task and sometimes the results are poor. Here is a tip you can use to have greater success and cut the time for that new Technician to be a profit producer for the company.

Go to School

The tip is simple. Get involved! Yes, get involved with every college or trade school that has a program for young people to get into the trade. Be sure to include local high school programs. All of these schools are desperate for company owners and managers to advise on improving their programs so their graduates will be successful in find high paying jobs in your trades. This normally is a morning or afternoon each quarter so the time commitment is really minimal. By being involved, you will know the instructors and other staff. What does that do for you? That's simple. You can have access to the best students, those with the best attitude, skills and desire to improve themselves. With a basic instruction and knowledge of the trade, they are more prepared to start fast. They may be willing to intern at your business which will give you an even better picture of their attitude and skills. You may be able to hire them on a part-time basis if necessary to assist during busy seasons. This could be in the field or as support in your office or warehouse.
Bergstrom - Elder Consulting Group, BEC Group

At Graduation

When they are ready to graduate, you will be able to cherry pick the graduates and as an added bonus train them in your culture and systems. This avoids that baggage problem you can have when you hire a Technician "with experience". Remember companies don't let go of profitable Technician without baggage. Those looking for a job often have issues that will cause trouble or divert your focus of serving the customer. 
How to Start

Start with one school or college and give it a try. Meet with your management team and explain why you're doing this, the benefits, the challenges, and the overall reward. Put together a plan for this new Technician so you can measure the progress and make a quick decision if it is or isn't working with that individual. If necessary, fire him or her, wish them well, and move on to someone who has all the characteristics to quickly become a profitable Technician.

Stay Tuned

Stand tuned for the next article on some additional ideas to overcome some of the issues listed above.

Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to grow and prosper. Contact him at

Also check out these Posts:

Minor Leaguers

Spring Training

If People are Sleeping...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Why can't I find young Technicians?

As I meet with clients I am hearing how hard it is to find young Technicians in plumbing, HVAC, or electrical service companies. Their advertising for new Technicians goes without much in the way of success. With unemployment high, especially for young adults, you would think there would be a significant number of applicants for entry level or helper type positions. It just does not seem to be. Let’s look at some of the reasons this is the case.

High School Counselors
Hiring Young Technicians for Plumbing, HVAC, and electrical
Without a lot of exposure to the opportunities for highly skilled service technicians, the long-term career opportunities, and the monetary rewards, many counselors are not showing students the careers available with firms that provide service in our fields. Successful students are pushed toward four year (or more) college degrees and jobs that relate to those degrees. Students often end up with a degree, no job, and tens of thousands of dollars of debt in their early twenties. Those students with little motivation or poor grades are directed to a whole variety of various trades and jobs. With the complexities in our industry today, we need successful students with great educational backgrounds.

Those Leaving the Military
Many younger Americans join the military when they graduate from high school. They mature
Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Electrical Service Companies
and gain training in the military that could be applicable to our businesses. They learn how to use tools, computers, understand technical manuals, and many other skills. They leave the military with their
GI education benefits but we have few opportunities for them to use them in our service industry. Instead, they are actively recruited into other skilled labor industries such as aircraft maintenance, automobile repair, and computer repair. There are schools specifically setup and operating to train young veterans in these fields. These fields also have a lot of pizazz which we lack or we lack conveying it to veterans.

Drugs, Driving Records, and Records
Bergstrom - Elder Consulting Group
My experience has been that a third to a half of those who apply for an entry level position cannot pass a pre-employment drug test.  Many young applicants have serious driving violations which are not acceptable to insurance companies. Since we work in customer’s homes or place of business and employees must be able to drive our vehicles, the legal liability is too great to for a business to take the risk and hire them. Lastly, some come in with criminal records. This can present business risk that most of us are unwilling to take on.

Weekends and Nights
Many young job candidates are not willing to do whatever it takes to continue in our field. They
want evening and weekends free for their own pursuits and not burdened with on call during these times. They will pursue jobs that don’t require interruption of their personal life.

Instant Gratification
Many young prospects are not willing to put in the years and the energy to gain the knowledge necessary to service the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or electrical in  homes and businesses. They can conquer the skills needed to flip burgers in a few hours. They can learn to do a lot of less skilled jobs in a few days or weeks.

No in house training or career plan
Bergstrom - Elder Consulting Group
Few contractors have developed any type of in house training program for the future of their business. They look for Technicians who already possess the technical and customer service skills necessary to meet customer needs. There is no career plan so a young prospect can see where they can advance and have a career not just an entry level job. All the young prospect can see is 20+ years doing exactly the same thing day in and day out. The old adage, "What's in it for me" still rings true in young people. 

We think of competition, we think of other businesses in our fields. Sure
they are some of your competitors for young workers but businesses outside of our field are much bigger competition. Young people with skills are being hired by school systems, maintenance companies, chain stores, building owners, manufacturing companies, and even unrelated services and products industries.

Stay Tuned

Stand tuned for the next article on some ideas to overcome some of the issues listed above.

Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to grow and prosper. Contact him at

Also check out these Posts:

Minor Leaguers

Spring Training

If People are Sleeping...

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Only People that Lose Baggage are Airline Employees

With 30 plus years in the plumbing and HVAC business, I think I made just about every mistake one could make in hiring new employees. I hired family members, I hired people back after they left for a small raise, I hired without checking references, I hired without the new hire having a drug test and physical, I hired without checking driving records, I hired applicants with poor skills and training. These were some of the most obvious and repeated mistakes I made. There were others, I just erase them from memory to feel better about my hiring skills back then. I have coached dozens of owners through the years who have made the same mistakes and often for the same reasons. Let’s look at some of those reasons.
“I really need someone right now!” How often I have heard this and how often I said this. Without planning and continual recruiting, a contractor puts himself (or herself) in a difficult situation when the season rolls around, the big job comes in, the economy improves, the weather, Joe just injured himself and will be out for several weeks or months, or Tom just quit. Without an immediate list of potential qualified, baggage free candidates, we have little choice, at least that’s what we think, than to place an ad and select from the first few who apply. Occasionally we even get lucky and stumble across a qualified baggage free applicant to hire. More often, we hired someone with baggage, but we selected the one with just two carry-on pieces. The other thing we do is hire someone who keeps calling looking for a job without investigating the entire market of available people. We do this because it’s easy. We probably know the person from somewhere and even know the baggage the carry but it’s quick and easy just to hire them. Here comes two carry-ons, two large suitcases, and two steamer trunks with them.
“He (she) will change once he (she) is working for our company.” Sure they will change or you will change them. A large portion of the fifty percent of marriages that fail are because one thought the other would change or they could change them. That usually does not happen. Most people can’t stop smoking without help from a doctor, a hypnotist, or a drug. Yet we, as contractors, think we are going to change a habit that a person has had for years or maybe their entire life because we are so smart. Face the fact, it is very unlikely that this will happen. Your energy is better placed on taking care of your customers and your business.
We make the mistake of not recognizing or acknowledging the baggage. Baggage can come in many forms. It could be job hopping. It could be anger. It could be drugs or alcohol. It could be a sense of entitlement. It could be sloppiness. It could be poor work habits or lack of skill. Of course there are others, but the point I want to make is that it is so very important to carefully and skillfully hire the very best candidates you can find with careful searching. Evaluate the baggage that a candidate is bringing to your company and how that could affect your company. Remember, “Airline employees are the only ones that lose baggage.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Less Calls = More Revenue Part 1

We recently completed 7 weeks of technician customer service training. It consisted of 6 two hour classroom sessions with homework each week and a video taping of the technicians practicing their interaction with a customer. The customer in this case was another technician. As I reviewed the results of the class evaluation from each of the technicians and the owners, who were required to attend the training, the comments varied widely. Some really enjoyed the training and videotaping and others did not like the classroom sessions at all. This is where it gets interesting.
When I met with the company owners two weeks after the sessions ended, and ask if there is any change in the performance of their technicians, I got some interesting answers. Those that did not like the training were performing about the same as they had done prior to the training. Those that liked the training were selling more on fewer calls! It seems that there was a direct correlation between the attitude of the technician and the change in their performance.
Should this surprise us? I don’t think so. With today’s customer, the old attitude of you should just be happy I showed up to fix your plumbing (furnace or electrical issue) just does not work. The importance of exceed the customer’s expectations is what is necessary to develop the long term “love affair” with your company and therefore spend more with your company.
The long held thought in our industries was that we hire a new technician on his or her technical abilities alone. We need to get the job done therefore hire someone who has at least xx number of years experience, and worked for another company we respect. Today we might even do a drug test, a physical and a criminal background check. But we ignore the personality and attitude of the potential new hire. I’m not saying these things are not important, but we need to look further. We need to be testing for attitude and personality prior to hiring. An individual with an open mind to change and growth, and reasonable technical skills is much more of an asset to your company than the super technical technician without the ability to grow and change. Rethink your hiring and advancement criteria and look at adding personality and attitude testing before you hire another mediocre technician and hire a potential asset. Less calls can equal more revenue.