Contracting Business spent a few minutes chatting with Bonetta Day, president of Dayco Heating & Air, a $5 million residential contractor in Kennewick, WA, to find out more about the pressing issues facing her business and residential contracting community. Here's what she had to say:
Contracting Business: What is the biggest challenge currently facing residential contractors?
Bonetta Day: The shortage of qualified personnel. Not only are fewer and fewer people entering this field, but HVACR is in direct competition with other industries for the same talented people. Finding technicians with mechanical ability and customer service skills is also a challenge.
CB: What is your company doing to attract the right people and to keep them?
BD: It's our goal to have a widespread reputation of being a cutting edge, terrific place to work. We offer a wide range of training for all employees -- technical, customer service, management. We also provide a clear career path. It's critical to show employees that they can have a long, illustrious career with your company.
CB: What is the greatest challenge facing your company in particular?
BD: Ensuring that we never lose sight of the importance of providing consistently great customer service.
When we were a small company, we knew we could give customers our undivided attention. But as we grew, that became increasingly difficult.
This is why that sense of urgency and critical care has to be conveyed to your technicians, receptionist, sales, every frontline employee.
You also want to instill the importance of not just going out and doing the job, but doing it with pride and caring. Finally, the employee must protect the company and charge for the value of their services. They have to understand the company must make a profit AND provide great service.
CB: What do you see in the future for residential HVACR?
BD: Because we're advancing so quickly, I think we'll see technology that was once only available to commercial contractors.
CB: What's the best thing about being a part of this industry?
BD: The constant change and diversity. Every day brings something new and exciting. In addition, you're always learning. Sometimes I think to myself, "If I had only known that five years ago!"
CB: What is the best business advice you've been given?
BD: To work on my business, not just in my business. It's so easy to get wrapped up in putting out fires every day, that you don't have time to build for the future.
Someone has to be in charge of planning ahead and adapting to change. Otherwise, you can get blindsided and never know what hit you.
CB: What advice would you give to someone considering starting his or her own HVACR business?
BD: Running an HVACR company today requires more stamina and business savvy today than it did 10 years ago. Although you may be a great service technician, it doesn't necessarily make you a good business person.
And although you're in charge, you must still must be willing to do any task your employees are doing, and remain devoted to serving your customers.
Finally, you have to stay motivated and excited about what you do. For me, this means attending association meetings and classes with other business owners. You realize that you're not the only one facing these challenges, and you'll come away with some great solutions.