The majority of learning about HVACR is technical. There’s no doubt about that. And, most of what I’ve been discussing in this series has focused on that….how to do you decide how you’re going to be able to learn the technical stuff you need to know. Things like actually being able to track down the source of a problem with the operation of a piece of equipment, and, in the end, get paid for getting it running again. I don’t know if we can really measure and attach a percentage to the technical side of being an HVACR technician and compare it to the soft skills side, but I would guess it would be pretty high. Let’s say that it’s 90% of what you do. That leaves only 10% for what’s referred to as the soft skills a person needs in order to do their job.
OK, it’s a 90-10 situation. But that doesn’t mean that since it’s only 10 percent of what we do that it’s not of major importance. As a matter of fact, the way I look at it is that even though it’s “only” 10 percent, not doing it well will mean that, in the end, you won’t be able to effectively accomplish the other 90 percent of doing your job. So while you’re learning HVACR from an electrical, refrigeration, air flow, and mechanical perspective, invest in developing your soft skills too.
If you’re in residential HVACR, this boils down to what I call direct-and-to-the-point, front-line customer service. If you’re in commercial arena of HVACR, it still means front-line customer service, and the only difference is that the people you interact with may not be spending money directly from their own pocket (although they may be if it’s a small restaurant, bar, or independently-owned convenience store), but it’s still you interacting with the people who have asked you to perform a service for them. And even it it’s not their own money, it’s still their job to be responsible for spending the company’s money.
In the process of learning about soft skills, here are five simple facts I think you should keep in mind:
1. Showing up well-dressed in a uniform, as neat and clean as you can be, even though you’ve just spent the last two hours in a dirty, dusty, heat-choked crawl space, is where your customer service begins. Along with arriving in a lettered service vehicle so you’re customer won’t wonder if you might be an axe murderer.
2. If you think nose rings are cool, or that ‘this is a free country, damn it, and I should be able to have my hair down to my shoulders without being hassled by somebody about it’, that’s your right. I won’t deny that. But, if there’s a chance that it might make your customer uncomfortable for whatever reason you don’t agree with, don’t be surprised if being stubborn about your right to look however you want to look has an effect on your ability to make all the money you deserve to make by being good at what you do in the HVACR profession, and, in the end, affect how happy you will be with yourself at the end of every work day, work week, month, or at the end of the quarter when it’s time to cash your bonus check.
3. Introducing yourself to a customer, being polite, smiling, and telling them your name, and being ready to shake their hand if it’s appropriate, doesn’t make you a slimy, sneaky, sales type. It’s part of your job as a technical professional.
4. Wearing shoe covers that are often referred to as “booties” doesn’t mean you’re a weenie. It means that you’re showing the customer that you have respect for their home or office by not tramping through it with your dirty, greasy, oil-stained work boots. (And, in order to get respect from somebody, show respect for them.)
5. Taking the time to explain to your customer what you did and why you did it is just as important to them as it is to get their equipment working again. If you aren’t comfortable talking with customers, learn how to get comfortable with it.
Until next week….
Learn from yesterday…..Live for today….Look Forward to tomorrow