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    Systematizing HVAC Operations

    May 25, 2021
    In order to make your company attractive to buyers, and for you to be able to completely exit the company, it has to be able to run on its own without you.

    The only reason to start a business in the first place is to eventually sell it at a profit. In order to open the sale of your business to the widest potential market, it will have to be attractive to a company or individual from outside of the industry. In fact, my observation has been that organizations from outside of the industry tend to pay the highest dollar in the acquisition of HVAC companies.

    In order to make your company attractive to buyers, and for you to be able to completely exit the company, it has to be able to run on its own without you. That means it has to be systematized. 

    To make your company attractive to buyers, and for you to be able to completely exit the company, it has to be able to run on its own without you.

    Running even a small HVAC service and replacement company is complicated. Anyone from outside of the industry that thinks it would be easy to run a shop just hasn't thought things through.

    Having an Operations Manual will make your company more marketable. Systematizing your company and creating an Operations Manual is not as difficult as it sounds. Owners and managers don't have to do it themselves. Your employees will do it for you.

    Start with clear job descriptions.

    Conflicts in the workplace are often a result of people not knowing exactly what is expected of them. 

    Someone has to be in charge of every single thing your company does, from answering the phone, to ordering supplies, to making bank deposits.

    There are a variety of contractors organizations and manuals that have job descriptions, but they rarely are an exact fit for what your employees do. The first step in creating job descriptions that perfectly fit your company is to have your employees write down what they do throughout the day.

    Creative writing skills are not a requirement

    Initially, the job descriptions will start with a basic list, and as time goes on, employees can start fleshing out the details of each item on the list. Some employees will be better at writing than others. More than likely, someone in your employ will have writing skills and be enthusiastic about writing this manual. I know, because I was one of these employees back in the day. 

    An increasingly popular way to write manuals and books is to recite your thoughts verbally into a voice recorder, edit the recording, send it off to a service (usually located in the Middle East or India) and pay a very reasonable fee to have it transcribed. What you get back won't be exactly perfect, but it will be a more than adequate version for someone to use to do the final editing. A lot of the books you read are written in this manner. That's why the audio version of new books often hits the market before the Kindle or printed version does. 

    Eventually, this will become part of an operations manual, and will be done on a word processor. Initially, I'd give employees flexibility on how they start the process. One of the easiest ways to do this is to provide them with a daily planner, either a digital or paper version, and they can mark down what they're doing at various times during the day.

    It starts with recruiting the right people.

    Let potential hires about your plans to create an Operations Manual during the interview process. Ask them if they've got any writing experience. A lot of people do.

    Before hiring anyone:

    • Show them their workspace, and make sure they feel they'd like working there
    • Show them every single piece of paper they'll be required to touch
    • Introduce them to the people they'll be working alongside
    • Introduce male interviewees to some of the women in the office. If he gives them the creeps, don't hire him.
    • Don't hire anyone you wouldn't want as a member of your family. 

    The end result:

    Writing down what they're doing throughout their day will make them more accountable. Some people won't like that and will resist. That will be good information to have. People not wanting anyone to know what they're doing throughout the workday is a bad sign.

    On the bright side, they'll start using their time more effectively and start getting a lot more done. They'll spot inefficiencies and either make suggestions, or do something about it. 

    The end result is that you'll have a company the runs like a fine oiled machine with significantly increased value that will be easier to sell at a higher price. 

    Charlie Greer has twice been named the HVAC Consultant-of-the-Year, and is a member of the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame. For info on Charlie's products and services, visit www.hvacprofitboosters.com, or call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822). Email your questions about anything or your comments on this column to [email protected].