Grow out of a One-man Shop in 30 Days (Part Two)

July 1, 2011
Last month I showed you how you, as the owner of a one-man shop who is doing everything, can afford an office manager to handle your phones and all your paperwork. Now I’ll tell you who to hire and where to find them.

Last month I showed you how you, as the owner of a one-man shop who is doing everything, can afford an office manager to handle your phones and all your paperwork.

I also showed you how, as long as you’re running calls yourself an average of 30 to 40 hours per week, you have enough calls to keep two service technicians busy. Now I’ll tell you who to hire and where to find them.

Hire the Right Technicians
You don’t want just any techs. Never, ever hire anyone because you’re in need. If you really need a tech, and the right one doesn’t come along, don’t hire anyone anyway. Just raise your prices to the point tht you drive enough people away to keep you from taking on more work than you can handle. Watch out when do this, because you’ll end up making more money.

There are a lot of good reasons to “grow your techs from the gound up,” when you have the resources to train them. As a one-man shop, you don’t. You’ll have to hire experienced techs who already know HVAC.

If you’re a member of Service Roundtable, a proficiency test designed specifically for prospective employees is included as part of your dues at no additional charge.

Hire for attitude as much as for ability. I don’t skirt the issue when it comes to sales. I make certain recruits know that the only way to keep them employed is to keep money flowing into the business — and the only way money comes into the business is through them. I tell them that if “sales” is a four-letter word to them, they should look elswhere for employment.

Find Good Techs in Your Area
Post an ad for service techs on Craig’s List for free. Make the job title “Service/Sales Technician” so they know up front that you’re looking for techs who are proficient in sales.

I am doing this for a contractor friend of mine in a medium-sized suburban area. I’ve received a stack of resumes approximately two inches thick. I don’t talk to all of them. I only call the people who have experience in the field, show they’re able to stay in the same job for a few years at time, and make it clear somewhere on their resume that they realize that salesmanship is an important part of the job.

The number of technicians that could be described as “warm bodies” greatly outnumber the techs worth hiring, but don’t let that discourage you. You’re only looking for two.

What I’m finding is that, when the work slows down, for no reason, contractors are laying off perfectly good technicians that are competent, capable, reliable, drug-free, and profitable, and keeping their family and friends on the payroll out of loyalty.

Implement Flat-rate Pricing and Sell Service Agreements
Your investment in flat-rate price books pays for itself the first day you use it. Get four books: one for you, one for each of your two techs, and one for the office.

The service department drives the replacement department. Approximately 10% of your service agreement customers will replace their equipment every year. By pruchasing your service agreement, your customers are telling you they want a relationship.

Everyone wants a “deal.” Your techs can extend the discount pricing afforded service agreement customers to new customers as long as they buy the service agreement during that call. That gives them the deal they want.

Every time a tech sells a service agreement, that tech has just generated at least one more call (at least one more return visit for additional maintenance). That’s why you more than likely already have enough business to keep two techs busy, but only when they’re good at selling service agreements. Ask job recruits whether or not they sell service agreements, and don’t hire anyone who doesn’t.

Live a Good Life
Once you’ve got your two techs and your office manager in place and trained, get another truck and put a tech in it. That’s your magic formula for the next year: three techs, an office manager, and you. If you’ve started selling a lot of bigger jobs, this person could be driving a box truck and specialize in installations.

Can you imagine what it would be like to cut back on your hours, get other people to do your work for you, be caught up on paperwork and phone calls, have a higher closing ratio on the big-ticket jobs, make more money, and have more time to recruit and train your employees, organize your shop, enjoy your hobbies, spend more time with your family, and just relax?

You just might start remembering why you went into business for yourself in the first place.

Many, many of the larger contractors started out just like you. The difference between them and the one- to two-man shops is that they believed enough in themselves to take that leap of faith and hire the office person and techs, and buy the trucks.

They did it . . . so can you!

Charlie Greer is the creator of Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD, which teaches techs how to maximize each call, and Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD, which teaches you how to close replacement sales. For guidance on following the steps in this article, call Charlie at 800/963-HVAC (4822) or email him at [email protected]. Visit him on the web at