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Solving the Key Shortage

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The dedication and determination of the athletes competing this summer in the Olympics in Rio was incredible! These athletes train for years for the honor to represent their country and have a chance to win a medal. Some of these superb athletes will now continue to train until the next Summer Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo.

Envision for a moment what your company will look like in four years. Will the summer of 2020 be record-breaking — or back-breaking — for your business?

Will you have the capacity to convert all of the demand calls? Will you break records in service revenue? Will your installation department have a breakthrough with new equipment jobs? Will you sign up hundreds of new maintenance agreement customers?

Or, will your company continue to be short of technicians? Will it continue to work technicians on 16-hour days and still lose existing customers, because you can’t get to them for same-day service? Will your business continue losing potential new customers due to lack of staffing?

Will you work the business or will it work you during harvest season?

We have a problem, and the entire industry knows it! Business is booming, and half of all HVAC service technicians are expected to retire in the next few years. Every industry has a key shortage of one thing — but if you can manage that one thing, you can dominate the market.

To build a great company, you must understand that the ultimate throttle on growth is not your market or competition. It’s the ability to find and retain enough of the right people.

If you want to explode your company’s growth, you must be able to increase your capacity to run more calls during the peak season. To accomplish this, you need to build an army of technicians!

I believe Peter Drucker said it most clearly: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Morris-Jenkins Heating and Air recognized that we couldn’t hire enough qualified technicians to scale up our business. Realizing that no one was coming to our rescue, we decided on a step-change. So, in 2012 we solved this problem by starting a Tech Builder Program.

In the last four years, we have graduated 15 classes of technicians. We have witnessed phenomenal success stories, and also experienced plenty of pitfalls.

We also nearly doubled our revenue! What would that look like for your company?

I offer, for your consideration, a few tips to focus on before beginning a training program:

  1. Culture
    Culture encompasses the personality, values, and practices shared by the members of a company; it’s simply “how we do things.” A strong culture gives you predictability and clarity. It also attracts employees who are like-minded and repels those who aren’t. The most important fact about having a strong company culture is that it allows your company to grow much faster because you don’t need to set up a lot of rules and regulations. Culture creates the future.
  2. Talent
    Essentially, you need to learn to increase your recruiting and interviewing skills by developing an “eye for talent.” Look for the potential in candidates. Don’t look at their skill level now; imagine what it could be with proper guidance and training. Be sure to ask the right questions to find common values that align with your company’s core values. Focus on their soft skills and manners. Walk around your facility during the interview and begin watching the candidate’s body language and notice how they meet and greet people. After all, your business relies on customers liking the technicians you send into their homes. Hire for character and train for skill.
    Some of our recent Tech Builder graduates were working at Sprint, BestBuy, and Outback before joining our company. Everyone in our company knows that we frequently say “we are always looking for great people.” Once you take on this mantra, you will be surprised just how many candidates your employees will find for you.
  3. Champion
    Identifying a technical trainer to teach the class is the keystone to the success of the program. Some companies let the service manager assume this role in order to begin the program before finding the right person. Finding a champion is critical! Remember, a “super” tech does not always make a “super”visor!
    Be sure to include service system training and personal development training to go along with the technical training.Creating your own technician training program allows you to develop your own team. It gives your new hires a career path that makes them feel that they are getting a high return on their effort and a sense of pride and accomplishment. It helps them relax, knowing they have a future with the company. You’ll attract millennials (they really value a career path) and you will retain your employees longer, which means fewer turnovers.

The shortage of technicians is a big problem that will take clarity and courage to solve.  Will your company overcome it and compete for the gold in 2020?

Jerry Rollins
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Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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