This 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:
“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 doesn’t 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. 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. Develop and begin implementing the strategy that will result in your company being the “employer of choice” in your community and market area. Create an environment where people actually enjoy coming to work.
3. Continually observe and monitor the program as it’s developed and implemented. You should have a lot of presence in the program as it moves forward. All coworkers should see and realize the program is important to you, that you’re open to suggestions and 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. Explain the HVACR industry to the students and the opportunities it presents as a future employment choice.
Be sure to tell them they can contact you if they have questions or want additional information (and don’t forget to provide them with your contact information).
Contact your local civic clubs, such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions, and volunteer to be a speaker at one of their meetings. Civic clubs are always looking for speakers. They have influential members who, once they understand the employment opportunities presented by HVACR contractors, can be of significant help in your recruiting efforts.
Properly executed, both of these recommendations will assist in future staffing solutions. They do not, however, provide a critical “quick fix” to a present job opening.
Methods of Recruiting
Here are some additional ideas to help your recruiting efforts.
Coworker Rewards. Offer a financial reward to coworkers who recommend possible candidates. Make the reward whatever you wish it to be. As an example: Suppose a coworker recommends a capable service technician who is talented and seldom changes jobs. The coworker reward might be $1,500 upon employment and another $500 after six months of employment.
Online Recruiting. There are many of these types of 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. A lot of contractors I know like indeed.com, some like craigslist.com.
You should also consider using ziprecruiter.com, which basically searches all of the sites for you.
Your Website. Of course, you should be recruiting on your company’s website.
Job Fairs. Some companies conduct their own job fairs. I have consulting clients who do this successfully.
Other Trades. In my own contracting companies, I’ve found success in hiring electricians and then teaching them the required HVACR skills 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.
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
Radio and TV. I’ve personally had some positive results with radio, but have never used television in recruiting.
Supply Houses. Personally, I keep my service technicians and installers out of supply houses, as there are contractors who recruit from supply houses. I do not recruit there.
Vocational Schools. Establish a relationship with any local vocational schools and their instructors. You can donate used equipment and volunteer to speak to the students about the opportunities they’ll find in the HVACR industry. With your occasional presence in the school, students will hopefully think of you and your company when they graduate from the program.
Newspaper Display Ads. The classified ads just don’t work well any more, as many of us know. I’ve had success with nice, clean newspaper display ads, however, not only in our market area but also with out of town newspaper ads.
Remember, whatever methods of recruiting you use, always mention that you provide on-going company paid training. The better technicians are the ones who have an appreciation for training — your training program could very well be what attracts them to join your company.
Step up and take the responsibility for your company’s coworker staffing.