Why Can't I Retain the Best Technicians?
As I have visited with dozens of contractors in the plumbing, HVAC, and Electrical service business, I have heard this question from many of them looking to grow or replace a lost Technician. With the past two recessions, many Technicians have retired or left the plumbing, HVAC and electrical service industry for other opportunities. In the past 20-30 years we have done little to recruit and train a new crop of Technicians to replace those leaving or retiring. Jobs that require the use of your hands and mind have been downplayed by counselors for work that is “white collar”. These are some reasons that we have little or no control over. What if we did something radical to find prospectve Technicians and to retain them? Let’s look at a unique idea.
When we build a new building or a new house, we have a blueprint of the home with a defined plan, measurements, and various phases of the construction process. There are site plans, foundation plans, floor by floor plans, detail plans, and finish plans. There may also be a detailed set of specifications stating the way things are to be installed and what is to be installed. What if we set out a blueprint for the success of our prospective Technicians and our existing Technicians? Let me give you some detail.
When I was a contractor, we decided a career path was necessary so our Technicians and a prospective Technician could see there opportunities at our company. We laid out a typical path for a Technician and we broke this path (blueprint) down to four major categories for a Technician and several levels within those categories. Those categories were Helper, Minor Repair Technician, Service Technician, and Supervisor category. Each level within a category requires a fixed set of skills a Technician must have to be within that level. Additional skills your company might need in only one or a few of your staff are included for each Technician. Examples of this may be backflow testing, welding, boiler repair, sewer repair, or other special tasks your company performs. Within each level there is a pay range for a Technician with those skills.
The Technicians know their level and what they must do to achieve the next level. Technicians are reviewed semiannually. They fill out a review form with how they think they are doing and turn it in several days before the review. The manager or owner review the form and write comments on the progress of the Technician and together they set an outline of what the Technician must do to move ahead to the next level. This included additional skills and financial goals as well. Training for that next level may be company furnished or may need to be on the Technician.
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