How to Hire Plumbers, HVAC techs, and Electricians Using What We Already Know
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5 November 2019 - 20:33, by Trevor Flannigan, in Recruiting

I recently had to remind myself of the “big idea” when it comes to hiring and recruiting plumbers, technicians, electricians, and other tradesmen and women. It’s all about sales and marketing; something that I think we do extraordinarily well as an industry. Everything we do is based around sales and marketing. We have a well-defined value proposition, we have great jingles, spend a great deal of money to keep in front of customers, and we loop in almost every part of our business on this plan. From customer service representatives, to training for technicians, to incentive-pay for our people to satisfy the mission.

However, for some reason we don’t let that framework impact our recruitment strategy. It’s a little baffling. And I can say that because I’m in the same boat. I did this wrong so many times. And I forget it all the time even after I remember it again. It’s a big blind spot for us.

A typical top-notch service company has a process for getting new customers:

  • Advertise on TV, radio, google, our website, etc.
  • Customer stands in a puddle of water or in a cold house and they think of the first jingle their reptile brain gives them
  • We answer the phone when they call in less than 3 rings (every ring after that is purgatory)
  • We get ALL the information and assure them that we are the right place and we will take care of the issue
  • We send out a technical person; he greets them, puts on booties, sets expectations for what to expect on the visit, inspects the issue with the customer, educates the customer on the issue and gives options based on their conversations while he is there, and ultimately executes the work, collects payment and asks if everything was a five star experience.
  • We might even follow up with a thank you card from the technician or if it was a large installation, a small gift from the company

We understand that as a company we aren’t competing with other service companies. We are competing with customer experience across the board. We are up against Chick-fil-a, Marriott, etc. I think that as an industry, we compete really well in the experience game.

However, this is our typical process for getting new technicians:

  • Technician is fed up with their current job; hours are too long, bad manager, feels like he/she doesn’t matter, spouse wants them to look around
  • They google some larger companies that they know are in their area (because he doesn’t see advertising like a consumer and his/her reptile brain can’t think of just one) and submits an online application for each
  • A week, a month, a couple months go by…
  • Then as a company, we think about following up because we can afford it/need someone/ have time…
  • We call and they answer. We are super robotic on the phone because that’s what we are told is professional and what you are “supposed” to do for interviews
  • They agree to come in next Tuesday for an interview at 1pm because that is when we told them is the best time for us.
  • I’ll mention that the time delay made them forget about a lot of the pain and also made them somewhat convinced that you might be a lot like their current situation
  • On Tuesday, they don’t show up. We get discouraged/ pissed/ sad.
  • We probably didn’t empathize with the fact that the guy was working that day and was wearing a company uniform and driving a wrapped truck and may have had jobs to go do. And the risk of people finding out wasn’t worth it. So, he regretfully didn’t show up.
  • Then we complain to everyone we know how hard it is to find technicians.
  • Why don’t we respond as quickly to new applications like we do customers asking for help?
  • Why don’t we advertise for technical roles like we do customers?
  • Why do we act robotic on the phone when we should be building value?
  • Why do we schedule interviews in the middle of our workday instead of around their schedule?
  • Why don’t we get coffee off site and talk about the elephant in the room of how they might be wearing a uniform and you won’t be, and it won’t look weird?

How can we use all our skills in the marketing and sales arena when it comes to hiring and recruiting?

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