The HVAC industry, like most all other industries, needs more workers. I’ve traveled extensively for decades and still do and no matter where I go I continually hear the same comments such as these: “I need two more service technicians, how can I find them?”, “Doesn’t anybody work hard anymore?”, “Why don’t the young people work like we used to?”, “Is there an on-line site where I can find installers and techs?”, “My workers are not loyal, they sometimes leave me for another 25 cents an hour”, “What must I do in order to staff up for the work I’m now doing and/or could do?”
For several years I’ve maintained and often said that everyone is waiting on someone else to fix the staffing problem. Clearly that approach does not work. You, as the owner or general manager of your company must accept the responsibility of developing and managing a serious coworker staffing program for your own company by committing to this three step solution.
1 – You accept that you alone are responsible to correct the staffing challenge in your company, whatever it takes to do so. That’s a strong but critical decision. And, it’s an ongoing commitment.
2 – You develop and begin implementing the strategy that will result in your company being the “employer of choice” in your community and market area. Said differently you create an environment where people actually enjoy coming to work.
3 – You continually observe and monitor the program as it is being developed and implemented. You should have lots of presence in the program as it moves forward. All coworkers should see and realize that the program is very important to you, that you are open to suggestions and that you fully expect it to be quite successful.
Form a relationship with the leaders of your community’s high schools and ask if you can speak to the students in group sessions. Then, explain the heating and air conditioning industry to the students and the opportunities it presents as a future employment choice. Be sure to tell them that they can contact you if they have questions or want more information. Provide them with the contact information.
Contact your local civic clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions and other clubs and volunteer to be a speaker at one of their meetings. Civic clubs are always looking for speakers. The clubs have influential members who once they understand the employment opportunities presented by heating and air conditioning contractors can be of significant help in your recruiting efforts.
Both of the above two recommendations properly executed will assist in future staffing solutions which is very important. They do not provide a critical “quick fix” to a present job opening.
Methods of recruiting for today’s needs:
- Coworker rewards: Offer a financial reward to your coworkers who recommend possible candidates. Make the reward whatever you wish it to be. As an example only: Suppose a coworker recommends a capable service technician who is very talented and seldom changes jobs. The coworker reward might be $1500 upon employment and another $500 after six months of employment.
- Online recruiting sites. There are many of these type sites and it seems like there are more every day. Ask your contractor friends which ones they use and what seems to work best for them. If you belong to an association or alliance ask those members. I’ve found that a lot of contractors like www.indeed.com, some like www.craigslist.com and you should consider www.ziprecruiter.com who basically searches all of the sites for you.
- Of course you should be recruiting on your company’s website.
- Company job fairs. Some companies conduct their own job fairs. I have consulting clients who do this successfully.
- Other trades. I have been successful in my own contracting companies in hiring electricians and then teaching them the required HVAC skills in order to be high performing installers and service technicians.
- Military. The military always has some type of program but the particulars change frequently. Research this idea and see what’s available presently.
- Out of town newspapers. Look for economically depressed areas of the country (those areas change from time to time). I’ve personally done this with mixed results, twice in Charleston WV and once each in Toledo, OH and Syracuse, NY.
- Truck signs. This is basically a guerrilla marketing tactic used for recruiting. Often, it’s a small sign on the back of your trucks simply stating OPENINGS FOR EXPERIENCED TECHS.
Phone (contact person, phone number)
- Radio and television. I’ve personally had some positive results with radio and never used TV in recruiting.
- Supply houses. Personally, I kept my service technicians and installers out of supply houses as there are contractors who recruit from supply houses. I did not recruit there.
- Vocational schools. Establish a relationship with any local vocational schools and their instructors in your area. You can donate used equipment and you can volunteer to speak to the students about the opportunities they’ll find in the HVAC industry. With your occasional presence in the school students hopefully will think of you and your company when they graduate from the program.
- Newspaper display ads. The classified ads just don’t work well anymore as many of us know. However, I’ve had success with nice clean newspaper display ads not only in our market area but also with out of town newspaper ads. I preferred to run the ad on Saturdays and Mondays.
Remember that whatever methods of recruiting you are using to always mention that you provide on-going company paid training. Many years ago I realized that the better technicians are the ones who have an appreciation for training and your training program could very well be what attracts them to join your company.
Bottom line: Step up and take the responsibility for your company’s coworker staffing.