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What Are You Doing to Build the Talent Pipeline?

By Bruce Wiseman, President of Business Development Resources

Across the home service industry, businesses are struggling to recruit technicians. HVAC companies are feeling the pinch along with plumbers, electricians and more.

The skilled labor shortage means that technicians are job-shopping, searching for better salaries and benefits, leading to costly turnover that busy HVAC businesses can’t afford. In fact, turnover cost in the home services industry is 50% of an employee’s annual salary, more than $26,000 per technician.

Bruce Wiseman
Bruce Wiseman

But even though labor is a struggle today, it’s important to think about tomorrow, too. What are you doing to build the industry’s talent pipeline? We all have a responsibility to grow the professionalism of our industry, leaving it better than we found it and making it a more attractive career path.

Here are some ways you can help.

Be a Better Employer

One reason behind the skilled labor shortage is the perception that these are dead-end jobs. We know that’s not accurate, and you can change that talk by becoming the best employer possible. Writing paychecks isn’t enough. Young people want fulfilling, rewarding employment.

Give people a job they can be proud of. Create a supportive work environment. Make sure your trucks, offices, uniforms and web presence look professional. Offer professional development and opportunities for advancement along with SPIFF and incentive programs that reward team members. Remember, if you’re not growing, your employees can’t gain promotions. Business growth creates new positions so young people can grow with you.

Work on Your Business

If retaining great talent is a struggle, look inside your business, not outside. Are there ways to improve your workplace and company culture, making it more than a short-term paycheck?

Putting workplace improvement programs in place isn’t easy when you’re running a business. But there are professionals who can help you develop your business and elevate the industry. Workforce recruiters are one resource for getting techs in your trucks, but business coaching is also valuable in ensuring the growth necessary to retain talent.

Get Involved

Have you considered reaching young people when they’re still making career decisions? Bringing on apprentices and interns as they explore the skilled trades is a great way to build your labor pool and build the reputation of our industry.
Reach out to local high schools and trade schools, letting them know you’re willing to participate in internship programs. Show students by example that HVAC is a fulfilling, growing and lucrative career path.

Make sure that your training for these students is hands-on, valuable and interactive, and highlight the high-tech nature of our industry, too. Even if the students don’t end up working for you, they will share their experience with family and friends, growing your word-of-mouth reputation as a stellar employer.

The Path Forward

The chances that the LeBron James of service or install will grace your door when you magically have an opening is a pipe dream. According to Recruit4business, it currently takes an average of 173 days to hire a qualified service technician and 160 days to find a qualified installer. If you were looking to hire someone for this spring, you are too late.

Today, it seems everyone is competing for our trained and talented workers. Building owners and property managers are creating their own service teams. Other industries are also pirating our work force.

It’s vital to the continued health of our industry to build great career experiences for young people. If you’re seeing high turnover, maybe it’s time to reach out for help. To develop your workforce of tomorrow, it is time to start recruiting, developing and nurturing potential new employees today. Leverage the resources available to you and take your HVAC company to the next level. You’ll experience robust growth and higher employee retention, and you’ll have done your part to nurture tomorrow’s workforce. There is no time like the present to get started.

About the Author

Bruce Wiseman is owner and president of Business Development Resources (BDR), the premier provider of business training and coaching to HVAC contractors and distributors, established in 1995. BDR’s Profit Coach program has a membership of 600 leading contractors. Ten thousand HVAC professionals across North America attend BDR training courses annually. Nearly 1,000 industry professionals attend Profit Launch, BDR’s planning workshop.

For more information, visit www.bdrco.com.

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