The HVAC industry is booming. Technicians’ skills are in high demand—but for business owners, that means retaining employees is harder than ever. Employee churn and other HVAC workforce management challenges slow your operations and limit growth. So what can you do about it? Let’s dive in.
How do HVAC companies manage employees?
HVAC management practices vary based on the size of the business, but mid-size to large companies typically include field technicians, project managers, dispatchers, sales and customer service representatives, and administrative staff. HVAC workforce management coordinates all these roles by:
- Scheduling appointments
- Planning daily routes
- Dispatching HVAC technicians and sales representatives
- Supporting technicians and sales reps on the ground
- Tracking employee performance
- Managing customer interactions
- Managing truck and tool inventory
HVAC workforce management can result in higher margins and more revenue. But it isn’t without challenges. One of the biggest issues is the high turnover rate among HVAC technicians. Recruiting and retaining qualified personnel can be difficult, and the cost of training new employees is high. Owners can encourage employees to stick around by treating them well.
Some owners employ HVAC software to help them address challenges. Scheduling and dispatching, inventory management, and customer relationship management (CRM) are some common use cases for HVAC business software platforms.
But more important than the tools you use is the way you run your business. If you’re looking to improve your HVAC workforce management, read on.
6 tips to improve HVAC workforce management
Smoothly managing your workforce starts even before you make a hire. Here are the most important things to get right.
Improve your hiring process
Employee retention starts with your hiring process. You want to make sure your potential employee not only has the skills you need, but also fits in with your company culture. First, write a clear and defined job description. Many HVAC companies also conduct pre-employment screening, including:
- Criminal history and civil records
- Workers’ compensation records
- Driving history and motor vehicle records
- Controlled substance screenings
Make sure the candidate fully understands expectations, including what a “day in the life” looks like and what shifts they’ll be working. And don’t overlook the importance of soft skills. Employees with communication, problem-solving, and customer service skills make HVAC workforce management easier.
Implement retention strategies
Once employees are hired, make it easy for them to stay around. Pay a competitive wage and offer attractive benefits. Review compensation annually and offer bonuses and raises based on merit. Create a path for employees to move up in the company, so they don’t have to look elsewhere to earn more compensation.
Another way to help stop the churn is to offer profit sharing. Profit-sharing plans give a percentage of your company’s profits to each employee. They can help give your employees a sense of ownership in the company—who doesn’t like to have some skin in the game?— and improve productivity.
Streamline scheduling and dispatch
HVAC workforce management poses unique challenges for owners and operators of all kinds, such as dramatic seasonal fluctuations, unforeseen issues, and frequent last-minute changes in the schedule. You need to maintain flexibility while also providing excellent customer service.
Investing in automated scheduling software can help you optimize technician routes, manage work orders efficiently, and improve customer response times. You also need to establish clear communication channels. Create a process to make sure dispatchers communicate all relevant information, such as job details and customer preferences, to field technicians.
Invest in your employees
Successful HVAC workforce management depends on investing in your employees. One important investment you can make is training. You should offer:
- Technical training on the latest HVAC technologies and industry best practices
- Customer service training on how to interact with customers in a positive way
- Safety training for preventing workplace accidents
Many employees also want professional development opportunities. Offer your employees the opportunity to get new certifications, complete training they’re interested in, attend conferences or trade shows, and otherwise improve their skills.
Listen to feedback
Building a relationship based on open communication can make employees feel heard—and less likely to jump to one of your competitors. Make it easy for employees to meet with you and share their opinions. Listen actively, encourage feedback, and create a culture where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves.
Communicate regularly to set expectations for upcoming projects, address concerns, and share important company updates. Use real-time tools like messaging apps to improve communication, especially for HVAC technicians who may only be in the office at the beginning and end of the day.
Provide a positive work environment
Providing a positive work environment also makes employees feel more engaged. First, take a look at your own management strategies.
One question we like to ask at CEO Warrior is: “Are you a lumberjack or a gardener?” Here’s what we mean. Lumberjacks give broad, often negative feedback that undercuts employee morale. Gardeners, on the other hand, give feedback that is meant to shape employees and help them grow.
By focusing your feedback on actions and results and providing support, you create a more positive work environment. In addition to giving constructive feedback, recognize hard work with bonuses, awards, or gift cards, and organize team activities. Recognition and team building create an environment of trust and collaboration.
HVAC workforce management FAQ
The HVAC industry is unique, and so are its management practices. Here are some of the most common questions we’re asked.
How do I find the right HVAC technicians for my business?
The current talent shortages make hiring more difficult. It’s important to offer compensation that is on par or above the industry standard for your area, and you can also throw in extra benefits like profit sharing. That should help you attract a larger pool of talent so that you can focus on hiring the highest-quality candidates.
What tools are available for making HVAC workforce management easier?
HVAC business software is the most popular tool to not only better manage your employees but also streamline your operations. Look into scheduling and dispatch, inventory management and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to help you streamline your operations and be more efficient.
How can I keep HVAC employees around longer?
The first thing to do is make sure you’re providing competitive pay and benefits. You should also build open communication channels, listen to feedback, and create an environment of trust. Don’t forget to offer professional development, including opportunities for growth within your company.
Master workforce management with CEO Warrior
HVAC workforce management encompasses nearly every aspect of your business. It can help you hire right and retain employees, even in the challenging landscapes of today. It’s also essential to improve your operational efficiency, increase your margins, and drive revenue.
Managing a workforce takes time to master, but CEO Warrior can help. Our membership programs include personalized coaching, continuous support, and networking opportunities that help you take your HVAC business to the next level. It all starts with a free strategy session—book yours today and take the first step toward spending less time in the truck, and more time growing your business.