The construction industry always heats up in the summer, and HVAC is no different. While you provide ventilation and cooling options to keep customers happy, remember your crew needs inspiration to stay productive throughout the summer!
After all, the HVAC industry is going to get busier every year for some time to come. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that HVAC installation and repair jobs will increase by 21% over the 2012 numbers. At the same time, 22% of the HVAC repair force is expected to retire. That creates a major shortfall of technicians, which means over the next few years your crew will be your most valuable asset.
Fortunately, there are some simple and effective ways to keep your crew dedicated. These small things will make them feel valued, so you’re less likely to hunt for talent in the middle of the summer.
How to Handle Overtime
Demand in the peak season means overtime is a real necessity. The trick is to make sure the work is assigned appropriately, and that overtime pay goes farther.
In the summer, it’s tempting to get in as many hours as possible, but remember that not every work day needs to extend past the usual schedule. Find out who on your crew wants to put in extra hours and who would prefer to have more leisure time. When you know who wants to do what, you can better organize them to keep everybody happy. This might mean additional training for some of your crew, but the investment is worth it if it means all of your workers are getting the hours they want.
You can help your employees get better value out of their extra hours by offering to deposit their overtime pay – or some portion – into a dedicated account they can withdraw from when their hours are less.
Help them Keep Cool
You want to keep your crew’s body temperatures low and their tempers calm. Keep a cooler in your vehicle filled with sports drinks and cold water for visits to the worksites. Turn the inspection by a supervisor into a welcome opportunity for a break. The sports drinks will help keep them hydrated and healthy, they’ll work better after a break, and they’ll feel good about their boss.
When everything is moving so quickly, errors can be made. Remember that it’s better to allow staff to take the time to cover all of the bases than to fix mistakes later. Employees take their cues from you, so instead of urging them to work faster, remind them to follow all procedures and give each job the attention it needs. Support this idea by holding a bi-weekly training session to review company procedures.
And Speaking of Training
Training is to the trades what location is to real estate. Make training available to all of your crew and for yourself. Teaching your crew shows them that you value them, and the better trained they are, the more complex and lucrative contracts you can take on.
Depending on whether you run a large operation, the training you provide yourself, and senior crew, should include management skills training. Good managers and leaders have less staff turnover.
And finally, find time to have fun with your crew and to show your appreciation. Set aside a day for a company event that includes families, give your crew end-of-season gifts, and make sure that each of your men and women knows that you value all of their hard work.