Happy November! The cold is beginning, and we are now set to move into winter and the holiday season. Hopefully, you are in full swing with your maintenance agreement inspections and preparing for the holidays.
This month, we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week from November 11-17th. Many of you are familiar with our Apprenticeship Program and how it allows AACP to grow skilled technicians and installers from the ground up. This academic year has had a tremendous influx of new apprentices from new member companies, and we are incredibly excited to celebrate our current apprentices as well as those who have completed our program and gotten their Journeyperson's license. Be sure to follow us on social media to see some excellent features and testimonials of our AACP apprentices.
We had a great time at "Keep Your Cool! Better Leadership for Better Profitability" with Mary Kelly earlier this week. Everyone in attendance, myself included, learned a great deal from Mary about their leadership skills, economic strategies, and how to improve our businesses.
My term as President of AACP is coming to a close at the end of December, and I want to thank all of our members for a wonderful two years. I am happy to have Phil Thompson moving into the position of President this January, and I look forward to seeing our success as an organization continue.
Whether on an active construction site, on a fast-paced manufacturing floor, or in any situation where several activities are taking place simultaneously, attention from everyone is key to helping keep a work environment safe.
Distractions on the job can have catastrophic consequences. And while distractions are all around, there is one type that can be easily eliminated: mobile devices.
The Myth of Multitasking
Safety-minded businesses generally take the necessary step of prohibiting mobile device use while operating machinery or while in areas where potentially hazardous activities are taking place. But without providing context, you run the risk of an employee ignoring the rule and causing an otherwise preventable disaster.
Tell your employees this simple fact: People cannot multitask. Sure, the human brain can switch swiftly from task to task. However, it can’t focus on more than one task at a time, even though it appears that way to an outside observer.
Imagine a forklift moving a heavy load through a warehouse. The driver can be doing everything correctly — sounding the horn at intersections, driving at a reasonable speed, scanning his or her path for obstructions, etc. — but if other people in the area have their heads down, reading a text message or checking the weather, there’s no telling what could happen.
Hands-Free, but Not Worry-Free
With increased awareness of the dangers new technology can present, solutions like hands-free accessories have popped up. But the problem is far from solved. Much of the research on using hands-free technology has focused on use while driving, but the lessons learned are easily transferrable to nearly any situation. Even with a Bluetooth headset in his or her ear, a mobile device user is still distracted.
Removal: The Best Solution
The best practice is to eliminate the temptation to use mobile devices altogether and require your employees to either keep their phones in their pockets or, better yet, store them away from the hustle and bustle of the work site.
Practice what you preach. Job site foremen, managers, and other authority figures should model safe behavior, signaling to employees that casual use of mobile devices without a business purpose has no place on the job.
Keeping attention on this important topic is key. Post signs, dedicate a safety meeting to the subject — do whatever you can to let your employees know that mobile devices can be a threat to the safety of everyone on the site.
Sales Tax – AACP engaged legal and accounting professionals to prepare a Sales Tax Overview of HVAC Work in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. The Overview is available to members in the Industry Resources section of our website. This overview not only provides members with a “short answer”. It includes reference to specific Code. The AACP will submit a request for clarification to DC regulators on the need to collect sales tax on maintenance/service contracts. There is confusion among and between specific statutes.
If you are interested in any of these issues, please volunteer your time to serve on our Legislative Committee. Contact us at info@AACPnet.org or call 410.527.0780.
Now in its fifth year, NAW is a nationwide celebration that gives businesses, communities, and educators the opportunity to showcase their apprenticeship programs and apprentices while providing valuable information to career seekers. NAW 2019 will be held November 11-17, 2019.
Do you want a job where you work with your hands, and not behind a desk? One that provides a pathway to a career?
The AACP Apprenticeship Program provides you with training and experience in the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration [HVACR] industry. Developed after careful assessment of industry needs, our four-year apprenticeship program offers year-round work, promotion, and earning opportunities.
As an AACP Apprentice, you are employed by an AACP member company to earn while you learn through your on-the-job training hours. You also attend evening classes at the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College two nights per week, learning from experts in the HVACR industry.
Registration for the 2020-2021 Academic Year will open on May 1, 2020.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Overcome the skills gap by educating, training and creating your own skilled workforce.
To understand what skills are important today for new hires to bring to the table, it is first important to know what your needs are for the technicians who work for you. This set of expectations should consider how the employee will grow with you — from their hiring to several years down the road — and should vary according to a new hire’s background.
Expecting a new technician straight out of college to do what an experienced technician can do is unrealistic. It is also important to know, in advance, what you, as the employer, are willing to invest in their development, as this will influence the type of new hire that would best fit your needs.
No matter how you define the specific qualifications your business requires of its technicians, there is one skill that envelops all contractors and is absolutely indispensable to business today: communication.
Being able to have a good dialogue with your customers is critical and, judging by the amount of training programs available to develop communication and other soft skills, the industry recognizes the need. It is crucial to evaluate a new technician’s communication skills and incorporate communication training — even if they are already a good communicator — as part of both new-hire and ongoing training.
As an employer, the technical skills you should be looking for depend on the resources you are willing to invest in upfront wages and benefits — and, in training.
Highly Developed Skills Rare
If you choose to seek qualified people rather than invest heavily in training, keep in mind highly skilled people tend to have more options for employment. In some cases, this creates competition among contractors looking for the same type of people, and, thus, you may have to pay more to reap the benefits.
The same can be true when considering college graduates — the most desired will be those instructors recommend without hesitation because the student has shown all the desirable aptitudes from day one of classes.
If you choose to hire more skilled talent up front, remember:
Identify Potential Talent
Harder to recognize are the students who do well but do not stand out as much among their peers because they may not have a strong extroverted personality. They, too, can be star employees if given a chance and, more importantly, support along the way through mentoring, ride-alongs and soft-skill classes.
They also make up a much larger part of the available talent pool, which is a strong plus for employers. I highly recommend you work with your local technical school(s), get to know the instructors and help them out in a way that is workable on your end. Instructors can be your best friends when it comes to helping you find and recognize good talent, and being around the students yourself allows you to observe them and see them at work first hand.
Do they show up late and unprepared for class or have an attitude you wouldn’t want associated with your business? If they do, does having a good score on an exam override these kinds of behaviors and personal skills?
Any graduate or prospective hire who can show up on time, demonstrate some technical competence and have a good work ethic should be a focus of your hiring efforts. The challenge is you will not be able to just give them a van, tools, GPS and send them off to fix stuff.
This can be a particular challenge for smaller contractors who may not have the senior technicians available to mentor and do ride-alongs with new hires as they learn the trade and develop the necessary skills.
Keep in mind, however, this is an investment, so it makes sense to use past interactions of potential hires with instructors and managers to help identify those with the skills required.
Once you have identified and hopefully hired someone with the attributes you desire, developing them is a continuation of your investment, like adding to any employer-provided benefit or retirement fund. In fact, it is pretty much the same as using the proceeds of the sale of your business to help you retire.
Since investing wisely is the name of the game here, you need to determine what your investment should look like six months, one year or even five years down the road. What you are looking for will change as time goes on, with the goal being the amount of investment diminishes with time while the value and return increases.
If you choose to seek and develop potential talent, remember:
The first three to six months after a person is hired is generally the time when you will monitor, evaluate and decide whether or not a person will work out in their role and as part of your business.
Unfortunately, this is often used as an excuse to minimize investment in training and developing the person because of the fear of losing the investment if the person does not work out. While this may make sense if you just hired a person who claims to be experienced but you have little actual knowledge or testimonial of their past, it is counterintuitive if you have already invested in finding the person with the skills you already desire.
The whole purpose of working with schools to vet the better students from the rest is to quickly overcome the typical six-month probation period. Obviously, some caution is warranted, but do not risk losing good talent by not developing it early on if you have done your homework in hiring them.
One of my biggest recommendations is to ensure the new hire has access to a more senior technician.
Finally, it’s important to implement a set of ground rules for training ride-alongs. Make sure the new hire gets to see both how something is done and then provided a safe environment to try it themselves with supervision.
Give the senior technician several points to monitor so you can discuss later. This will allow you to then evaluate trends in development and overall performance. Also, it’s important to let the senior technician know you value the experience over the time it takes to complete a job, so they are assured they can spend the time needed to let the new technician learn.
Once the new hire develops a set of skills they can do on their own, you can send them out a few days a week to work alone. On the other days, have them travel with a senior technician to jobs that provide an opportunity to learn new skills and continue to build on what they have learned.
Ultimately, for a successful contracting business, finding technically strong employees with good communication and people skills is the goal — and a well considered and supported mentorship program is an excellent way to develop these.
Remember, a technician who has gone through a mentorship program can grow into a top-rated technician who remembers their experiences and makes a fantastic choice to mentor other future new hires, thus repeatedly paying back your investment.
Top of Page
About the Author
Jamie Kitchen is an account manager for Danfoss. He previously was the training manager for Danfoss in North America. Jamie has worked in several positions around the world to develop an expertise on the various considerations each region requires to achieve its air treatment needs — whether through refrigeration, air conditioning, heating or humidification. For additional information, visit danfoss.us.
Author: Elaine Duraes
1. Get free support for being a great installer.
2. Grow your business with Facebook.
3. Keep up with the industry.
4. Manage your reviews.
5. Stay current on your training.
6. Use existing resources.
About the Author
Elaine Duraes is marketing manager at Bosch Thermotechnology Corporation, responsible for overseeing the company’s North American marketing, communications and customer programs. Over her 13-year tenure with Bosch, Elaine has worked in the company’s Automotive Aftermarket and Thermotechnology divisions. For additional information, vist bosch-climate.us.