How does one become successful in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration trade? Well, the same way one is successful within a game. No matter what the game is, sports, board games, poker, etc. there are rules that need to be followed, there is education that needs to take place and there is a strong competitive nature that needs to be applied. Playing the game like a champion will ensure success and a relatively less stressful existence operating within it. Let’s break it down into three major categories…
1) Service and Install
2) Peers Within Your Company
3) Dealing With Customers
Service And Install
The key to success in this portion of the game is education. Early education and base knowledge is needed to advance, without a strong base there is no foundation. Learn the basics of electrical, refrigeration and gas and build on it as time passes. Do not let your ego stand in the way of picking up a manual or calling tech support, too many fall into this trap. Don’t turn a blind eye when it comes to the advancement of tools and equipment. One day, your boss might say to you, “can you go load some updated firmware onto the control board for Mr. Jones?”. If, “what’s firmware?”, is your answer, your day will probably not go without some hair pulling. Don’t get stale is the moral here.
Peers Within Your Company
It doesn’t matter what role you play, apprentice, owner, dispatcher, service manager…We all have one thing in common, we are all human beings and we all have a job to do. When your dispatcher is sending you on a call, presuming they are just trying to do their job, put yourself in their shoes for a minute. You need to look after you, they need to look after all the customers, all the techs and take slack from both ends, this is not a job I would want to have. Dispatchers and office staff, listen up, same goes. A technician is out there alone, maybe in extreme heat or cold, hungry, tired and perhaps tackling some new technology that includes a 50 page manual. Attempting to understand the roles that one another play will allow for better communication on a day to day basis. Good communication leads to good production. Techs, you work hard and sometimes you feel you deserve more from your company, some owners are not very receptive to this and sometimes you need to ask for it. But here’s the kicker, don’t do it without building a strong case first. Quid pro quo (something for something). Stack up unanswered favours, a late call here, an extra on call there. I keep these in my back pocket and will use them if and when needed. For example, I remember a few years back…It was Sunday morning, I decided to take my three boys to the park. My phone rang, I spent my whole time on calls with the customer, my company owner and the apprentice on call. I don’t mind helping, but that stuff can be frustrating and be taken for granted. Just remember this concept also works in reverse, some owners are fantastic, they give without receiving. The game of understanding roles, respecting them and knowing you must give before you take is very important.
This is crucial. If the customer is happy and consistently so, money continues to flow, if money is good, everyone is in their glory. Learning how to interact with customers is essential to success within the industry. First and foremost, safe, working equipment at a fair price is key. This is where education and base knowledge comes full circle, without it, you can’t provide value. I have witnessed some outfits, mostly in the residential market, train their employees to work off a script like robots. Customers are smart, they can see through the B.S. Approach customers as human beings, compliment them, for example…That’s a cool picture, dinner smells delicious, what is it? The landscaper did an awesome job on your rock wall. Those of you in commercial or industrial may have to get a little more creative. This shows positivity and we all know positivity is addictive and it helps to create rapport.
The game of HVAC has rules, follow them and your HVAC life will be a lot more fulfilling. Sometimes the rules however need to be bent, knowing when and how much is something you will need to figure out on your own.