Menu Close

The Only Thing That’s More Expensive Than Training Someone and Losing Them…

It’s always been my personal opinion that the residential HVACR technician is, as they say, a ‘different breed of cat’….a bit different than an electrician, a plumber. And when I say different, I don’t mean from a hands-on or craft perspective. I’m talking about the desire to be independently employed.

I don’t really know if my percentage estimate is right, but to say that somewhere in the neighborhood of 95% of the technicians in the heating and air conditioning business either have been, are, or have a stronger-than-average desire to be, in business for themselves, feels right. And, in my experience in working with the other crafts mentioned above, I don’t get the same feeling about those technicians. My feeling is that the being  independent-and-owning-my-own business desire percentage is significantly lower for them than it is for HVAC technicians.

And, again, while I don’t claim to have hard statistics to support my hypothesis, my feeling about this is that this higher-than-average desire is the reason I often hear from HVACR contractors who are frustrated about losing an employee who has decided to “open their own shop”. I’ve heard things like, “I brought the guy on board as a green technician, and now that he’s got some field experience, he’s one of my competitors,” or, “After I invested two years in him, he walked out on me and started his own business.”

(By the way, the subject that’s kind of related to this is losing a technician to another service company….on this one, what I hear is something on the order of, “I spent all that time and money training him and he left me for a lousy 50-cents an hour.”….so, some of what I’ve got to say on this subject will apply here, but, back to the technicians who “want to be on their own”.)

The first problem are regarding this higher-than-normal desire is that many technicians really don’t have a clue about what it takes in regard to covering expenses in order to operate a successful (meaning profitable) HVACR service business. All they see is the fact that their employer charges a significant amount per hour for labor, and that what they are getting in their paycheck is what looks like a very insignificant amout per hour. And their reasoning is either, “Heck, I can run three calls a day, be done by noon, and make more money that I’m making now,” or, “If I work the same amount of hours I’m working now, I’ll make twice the amount of money (or maybe even three or four times more!) than I’m making now.”

Umm…that reasoning is a bit off the mark there….no, wait a minute. I would be more correct to say that it’s actually not true at all.

Without going deeply into the boring and seemingly mundane details about licensing, workman’s comp, sales, marketing, (yes, there is a difference between those two things) accounting, taxes, adminstrative support, etc…that many technicians wave off and decide to get to later in the excitement of planning their ‘freedom of being on their own’ and allegedly doubling or tripling their income, it’s sufficient to say that the things listed here are the reasons you may hear, “I was on my own for a while,” or, “I used to be in business for myself,” in a conversation with an older and wiser technician.

Which brings me around (finally) to the title of this week’s segment, which is directed toward service company owners and service managers.

“The only thing that’s more expensive than training someone and losing them….is not training them and keeping them.”

My point here is that, as a service company owner or service manager, you certainly know about all the stuff I’ve been rattling on about, but that doesn’t mean that it justifies not doing the best you can do to offer in-house training to the technicians you employ or supervise, all the while helping them to understand that they are, in fact, in business for themselves as an “owner” of “their company” within your company because, not only do they get paid via an hourly wage or salary as part of their earnings package, they also earn money via a fair and just incentive program that rewards them for providing outstanding customer service and doing the best job they can do on a daily basis.

And, if it turns out that after an employer/employee relationship that has been beneficial to both parties ends, and the employee does decide to leave and establish a business of their own, there’s no reason to look upon that situation from an angry and frustrating lack and limitation perspective, and that ‘there’s only so much business out there’, etc…

Instead, understand that life happens when you look at things via a prosperity consciousness perspective (I wrote an entire book on this subject if you’re interested in knowing more about it) and remember the benefits that you both derived from the relationship that you had, and move on to hiring and training another person who will be a part of helping you succeed in your business.

Until next week….

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look forward to tomorrow.