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Build Success by Changing How You Hire

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Your looking to hire an experienced technician, some one who can jump in a truck and start billing after a couple of days. You set your expectations high; they must have a clean driving record, be able pass a drug test/background screen, and have a personality that customers will love. Sorry to say finding an Unicorn maybe easier than the tech you envision, both maybe hiding behind that rainbow you see on the horizon next to the Leprechaun and his pot of gold. But you know this already. What are you doing to change?

As it is you are part the practice of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Searching out these guys who are working, knowing their companies (like yours) will do everything possible to retain them. Sometimes you are Paul, but you always remember the pain of being Peter. It is a viscous circle that drives up costs and more important instability. At times there are some techs that realize that the pain of staying the same has become great than the pain change and are looking for the greener pastures. In many cases, they have not had the best leadership, they will have to go through the 12 steps program to break them of their unpleasant habits. Most never get past the first couple of steps. But you know this already. What are you doing to change?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics ( states that the need for HVAC service techs will grow by 15% or 49,000 new roles to be filled during the 10 years from 2016 to 2026. What that fails to share with us is the trade is losing technicians faster than they are coming into the trade. The 49,000 is the net increase of number of jobs that will be required and fails to reflect that for every new person the trade brings in three people leave. That means that we must develop 196,000 new trades people (that’s almost 20,000 a year) to meet the growth and fill the void of those that are transitioning out. But you know this already. What are you doing to change?

Change is what you must do if you are to grow and prosper, it will be the company that has staff that can command higher prices and run the table with the sales. They will leave the undesirable sales for everyone else to fight over. Which are you?

Chasing an Unicorn.
When looking for an Unicorn you must always be looking, having your head up and on a swivel.

Catch the staff of a competitor doing an excellent job, praising them, and inviting them for a breakfast or coffee. Never offer them a job as it makes you look desperate and your praise insincere and you will shut out. Offer to be a problem solver, as open communications will eventually lead to one about employment.

Make it easy for them to apply for a job on your website and remove barriers that that repel them. An Applicant Tracking System is an inexpensive tool to screen candidates but also captures emails of candidates for you to reach out when the time is right. Build some TOMA, put them on your newsletter email list, let them know what happening with your business.

With the application process, less is more. You need to earn the right to have a conversation and build the relationship in small steps. A short application, a brief survey, an invite for a phone call, an informal conversation, then a phone interview. Each step builds the relationship and moves the applicant through the pipeline. You must always have ads running on the Internet job boards as you never know when a unicorn is seeking a change.

Are you Peter or are you Paul?
Most likely you are both. To avoid being Peter, you need to do a better job knowing when a tech is struggling, at work, home, or even with health. Your support can be the difference between them staying or seeking a change.
Are you a manager or a coach? A manger dictates the goals and performance to the techs, but in many cases, it is like pushing on a rope, it has little or no effect on the end results. However, a Coach will define the goal and then ask how are WE going to get there. He points out their strengths and how to use them to overcome any weaknesses they may have. When involved in solving a problem together as teams, techs seldom seek other opportunities. It would disappoint the team/company family they are part of. The Peter problem is solved and in turn you become Paul as winning teams attract top performers. In the end the coach is pulling success through the ranks with the assistance of the team supporting one another. Are you pushing or pulling?

Lastly how do you overcome the talent deficit?
You need to become a farmer and plant to grow your own. The graduates of most “For profit technical school” are lacking as their minimum qualification are so low;

Can you get a School loan? Can you fog a mirror? Will you show 8 out of 10 days?
When your seeds are inferior quality your plants grow up damaged. Let’s start by selecting the best seeds we can and set the odds in your favor with a practical approach and process for the development of new staff.

  1. Plant good seeds. Most companies get 30-60 applicants a month for a entry level role with a wide variety of skills and experience. You can pick 8-12 of the best people for phone interviews and narrow it down further. Be open to a diversified staff, the industry lack women and they can do anything a man can. This has tremendous potential.
  2. Show them the business. Do a ride-along with your tech who continues vetting them and in the relaxed environment. Many will wash out for assorted reasons as they tend to speak too freely.
  3. Perform Assessments on the finalist(s). Don’t look at specific skills, but look for foundational attributes to build upon.
    a. Personality;
    b. Cognitive and problem solving
    c. Mechanical aptitude;
    d. Employment stability assessment;
  4. Select the top Candidate(s) and immerse them with a training program that provides both theory, hands on experience, customer interaction, option presentation/sales training.

At any time if they fail to perform, you cut them lose. You take no prisoners.

In 4-6 weeks you should have a person who can effectively do maintenance calls and will start generating revenue. Your investment will be between 6-15K of which can be recouped after 3 months of him doing maintenance calls and often he will capable of basic trouble shooting and developing even more revenue.

There are many successful contractors of assorted sizes doing this and scaling their businesses. They have overcome the fear of loss that “they train someone, and they leave”, with the commitment of “giving them a reason to stay and be part of the team.”
What are you going change?

Matt Prazenka
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Posted In: Management

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