Question: What can we do to solve the labor shortage?

Drew Cameron; EGIA faculty member and HVAC Sellutions Founder:

This question comes up quite a bit. I can seem to pick up a trade publication without someone mentioning it. I did a really detailed presentation about this at the last EPIC Conference and I’m happy to share my slides with our listeners if they want to shoot me an email at dcameron@egia.org. I’ll give you an overview of some of the things we’ve talked about in that session.

Action item number one is to stop looking for unicorns. A unicorn is a person who already has the right skills and mindset, they came from another company and are already very successful. They probably have a high bill-by-hour efficiency, high customer service scores, and knows everything they need to know about the job. You’re just not going to find these people.

I think you have to bring people into this industry that have a mechanical aptitude and good communication skills and want something better for themselves. You will then build this individual through technical schools and the resources we have here at EGIA. There are technical classes around the country that you can leverage to find these people.

Look outside your geographical area, pay relocation expenses for the right people. Look to people retiring out of the military because you can get paid to hire and train them. Look to schools for troubled teens. Maybe they just need someone to take them under their wing. Look to people coming out of prison or parole.

You certainly need to start working with high school guidance counselors. You want to partner with the technical education programs in the high schools, provide a scholarship, and pay for a training or starter toolkit.

When they come out of high school, the ones that aren’t going on to college you can say hey, we’re going to pay for you to get training, we’ll pay your tuition, we’re going to pay you while you’re getting the training, and we’ll give you the tools you’ll need to start the job, and if you stay, you keep the tools. You have to look beyond acquiring talent from your competition.

You can also make sure local schools have the information that we just released for the EGIA Foundation scholarship program and have that on their website.

I’d say you should make a presentation at back-to-school night for juniors and seniors. If they have a career night, you should participate in that as well. Someone at the EPIC Conference talked about going to the school and doing a career night where they had a speed dating format. Kids could have a quick conversation with various people and this particular person showed up and represented the trades.

Action item number two is, you have to have a remarkable opportunity within your company. You have to have an amazing culture. You don’t want to just be the best contractor in town, you want to be the most desirable place of employment in town. A place that not only offers a great coworker experience but a great customer experience as well because you want your people to feel empowered to do an awesome job.

If they can be proud of the place that they work and the work that they do, that’s very rewarding and makes your company a little bit stickier than somebody else’s company. You want to have a great environment, a great facility, nice vehicles, world-class resources and benefit, and offer more value than anybody else.

To access the full archive of Ask the Expert recordings, log in to the member dashboard.

The following resources have been added to the Contracting Best Practices Resource Library. To access these new tools, visit the Best Practices Library.

Templates

10.10 - Technician Daily Tracking Report Example: Utilize this example EXCEL template as an example for daily tracking of all aspects of technician opportunities.

10.10 - Technician Detailed Tracker: This is a detailed daily tracker for tech opportunities.

20.2 - Plumbing Inspection Form: Utilize this form to create your version of a plumbing whole house inspection platform. The checklist allows the plumbing technician to professionally walk through a dwelling and ensure full evaluation of reporting to a owner, starting a conversation about the efficacy of the mechanical systems.

20.4 - Art Pages - Consumer Facing Presentation: Utilize the plumbing art pages to develop a presentation system for the plumbing technician and explain the need for maintenance on the plumbing mechanical in the home. This file is designed to be edited, improved and can help a technician sell more accessories and explain repairs more easily.

Documents

10.15 - After Hours Procedures: Utilize the procedures defined in the example to formulate your own company policy, process, and pay plan for after hours calls.

The key to managing the seasonal ebbs and flows of the contracting industry is building a solid foundation of service agreement customers.

In this "Clip of the Week" from EGIA's critically-acclaimed Cracking the Code show, learn why service agreements are so important, along with three steps to grow your service base.

Watch the clip below, and visit EGIA.org/Show to watch the full show for more on building your service agreement club.

Question: Is duct cleaning or duct sealing really worth our time?

Gary Elekes; EGIA faculty member and EPC Training founder:

It is worth your time if you feel like that’s a business model you’re committed to. If you’re asking if it’s worth your time because it’s profitable or it’s not profitable, that’s a different framing of the question.

All businesses need to make a profit to sustain themselves but that’s not really a factor in deciding whether or not to be in a business because of course it could be profitable.

The Aeroseal franchise has been around for many years and there are many other companies that specialize in duct cleaning, sealing, and sanitization that have been very profitable. In fact, some businesses are built solely on that model.

The one thing is there that if that’s your only business model, you’re clearly committed to it. You would be passionate about educating your customers, you’d be passionate about training and developing your team, making sure you invest in the right equipment you need in order to function.

I do believe that duct cleaning and sealing can be a distraction in some businesses. If your core business isn’t performing at a high level and you’re not getting the cash flow you need – if you’re not essentially printing money out of the existing core structure of the business – then I don’t see how adding a segment like that could be in anybody’s best interest. The core business needs to perform at a high level first.

What we would like to say is get your fundamentals down first. It’s a little bit like football, if you don’t block for your quarterback, it doesn’t matter who your quarterback is. Tom Brady is as old as I am these days and he’s still performing at a very high level. If he was on a team who didn’t block for him, that could be a different story.

When you’re looking at duct cleaning, duct sealing, and duct sterilization, you have to ask yourself if you’re functioning at a high level, then ask yourself if this business model fits as a bolt-on, then how to price it, then how to train and educate.

I think it’s an excellent example of even duct modifications. There are companies that do one-day jobs and don’t modify any air flow and there are companies that price the modifications as part of a second day and understand they have to price it higher to recover the costs of the extra day of labor.

Surely you could make money, you just have to convince the customer that it’s in their best interest. The value has to be real and the transaction pricing has to be in the best interest of the company.

I like that business model but it’s on that you have to get into after you’ve built the main structure of your business and you’re ready to put that in as part of your IAQ model. You have to look at your core KPIs and the fundamentals of your business and make sure those are functioning first.

To access the full archive of Ask the Expert recordings, log in to the member dashboard.

The following resources have been added to the Contracting Best Practices Resource Library. To access these new tools, visit the Best Practices Library.

Templates

2.7 - Business Planning Tool - Scaling -Up Blank EXCEL Tool: This is a blank version of the Scaling up Tool we utilize and built to define the areas of the company and activities required to create alignment in goals for the year, the quarters, and the one page strategic plan (OPSP).

3.1 - Chart of Accounts Example: Here is a sample chart of accounts. A company can use this as a benchmark. The numbering system can be customized in quickbooks (or any accounting software/module). Various departments may be a part of a company not included here. Follow the structural process of how the chart for accounts is organized.

4.3 - Indoor Air Quality Benchmarks-KPI's for IAQ Segment: Utilize the spread sheet here to determine the performance of your company to the benchmarks of the industries top firms in IAQ.

6.14 - Outdoor reminder Advertising - Billboard: Examples Sample bill board ideas.

6.14 - Billboard Example: Sample billboard ideas.

10.10 - Technician Daily Tracking Report Example: Utilize this example EXCEL template as an example for daily tracking of all aspects of technician opportunities.

10.10 - Technician Detailed Tracker: This is a detailed daily tracker for tech opportunities.

17.2 - Fleet Maintenance Sample Form: Utilize this form as a basic maintenance platform to track and manage your fleets required checklist for maintenance and safety.

20.2 - Plumbing Inspection Form: Utilize this form to create your version of a plumbing whole house inspection platform. The checklist allows the plumbing technician to professionally walk through a dwelling and ensure full evaluation of reporting to a owner, starting a conversation about the efficacy of the mechanical systems.

Documents

10.15 - After Hours Procedures: Utilize the procedures defined in the example to formulate your own company policy, process, and pay plan for after hours calls.

19.4 - Asset Purchase Agreement: Use this as a guideline to work with a local attorney to edit into your county, city and state for an asset purchase.

19.4 - Buy-Sell Agreement: Use the example buy sell agreement to update with your local attorney for city, county and state.

19.4 - Acquisition Confidentiality Agreement: Utilize this confidentiality agreement acquisitions, to insure both parties are secure in trust to not divulge information of the sale/purchase of the entity.

19.4 - Bill of Sale Sample: Use this as a bill of sale example for any acquisition.

19.4 - Assignment of Purchase Agreement: Use this as a sample to complete and work with a local attorney to finalize for city, state and county level.

One of the most important KPIs to track in the contracting industry is revenue per lead.

In this "Clip of the Week" from EGIA's critically-acclaimed Cracking the Code show, HVAC sales expert Weldon Long discusses how important this metric is to the overall success of your company.

Watch the clip below, and visit EGIA.org/Show to watch the full show for more on building your maintenance agreement club.