Posted by Guest Blogger- Christopher Hughes on 1/1/2021 to Front Porch
Do you remember at the beginning of Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise had that moment of clarity as he composed his mission statement? As I sit here tonight, a young man, who has just been promoted within the company which I work.
Now, more than ever, it has become my task to feed the need for our technician gap. This has always been an issue, but now this is on my shoulders- to fill this void. I have nobody to blame if this void is not filled, nobody but myself. We have all used the excuse that trade schools do not teach…if I had a dollar for each time, I have heard this. This has been the excuse across generations, and one I have grown accustomed to saying.
Well fellas the buck must stop here! In my most humble opinions listed below, this is how we close the skills gap.
Step 1: Money!
Stop underbidding yourself. If you own or manage a company, and you are knowledgeable, then you need to pay attention to your competition who is charging premium fair pricing and follow pursuit. If you do not do this then let me be clear, you are part of the problem and aiding consumers to have us race to the bottom! Let me explain, we live in a society that wants quality, speed, and cheap. We know that no such thing should exist, but some crafty consumers bargain down pricing to unreasonable rates. How many times have you approached a job with a price that you knew was fair and you told yourself that you are not budging on the number, only to give in once the consumer starts pulling at the heartstrings. I mean, of course, they are going to win, because you came into this trade as a skilled professional to do HVAC work, not as someone who has a degree in business and sales. Speaking from experience, I have been in this situation many times and was once part of the problem.
I will give you two easy solutions that I have used to solve this battle of wits.
The first solution is to set your prices in a book and explain to the consumer that your set book prices is what everyone pays, this tends to move the conversation along and not have the consumer stuck on pricing debacle for any extended length of time.
The second solution would be to raise the price just a bit if you know that you are one that is going to cave in. A flooded market drives cheap work. With the difficulty of acquiring technicians, the market is nowhere near flooded. If you do not charge a premium fair price, then you are not making enough to invest in education. The consumer is part of the solution to this problem. If the consumer wants quality craftsmanship, then he must pay for it. We must stop devaluing ourselves and understand that education is a key component to our balance sheet of expenses.
Step 2: Realize the next generation today is not lazy.
They are just not motivated, and they need to be incentivized. It is just how the world works today. They are more intelligent than previous generations give them credit for. They are not looking 5 years down the road…they are looking 30 years down the road. Company owners must formulate a plan to show your employee a growth plan that is limitless. This generation wants to be challenged. They do not want it handed to them; they want to be challenged. If they are not challenged, then they are not happy. If they are not challenged, then they will lose their drive.
Step 3: Extreme Discipline of process and procedures…. for everything.
If you are going to set a limitless opportunity, you are going to have to be extremely strict with your process and procedures. You do not want to end up in a situation where your recruit blows through the benchmarks, and your plan has nowhere else for him to advance. If your plan is not prepared, you could end in a situation of conflicts involving inequality and favoritism amongst employees. This generation wants to know where they stand within the company structure, every single day.
Step 4: Education
Finally, we have reached a point where you have laid the foundation to offer education without suffering financially or structurally. Education should not be a burden, but rather your most valued investment. With any education it must be fun and entertaining; one resource that comes to mind that may help you in the endeavors discussed is the Service Business Mastery Podcast hosted by Tersh Blissett. Click the image below to listen.
Now that you have made it this far, it is exciting to know that this is the fun part of the career, a time where you and your team is involved in the next direction of the company. We all know that you must have a niche to be successful. I can not tell you from here what your niche needs to be, this is something you must choose for yourselves.
Happy niche hunting!
Chris Hughes of Madisonville, Louisiana is a mechanical contractor, writer, HVAC enthusiast, and founder of Hughes Mechanical Contractors and The HVAC Grapevine. He also writes and hosts The HVAC Grapevine Podcast. You can follow him by joining his Facebook group or by subscribing to The HVAC Grapevine Podcast. For any questions, he may be reached at [email protected]