Latest from Columns

Photo 16903019 © Skypixel |
Photo 51372886 © Thinglass |

A Service Story

May 16, 2024
Photo 210659396 © Freemanhan2011
Illustration 9227645 © Ashestosky |
Photo 161233010 © Jamesteohart |
Photo 43963025 | Business © Choneschones |
iStock/Getty Images
football coach instructs players

Run Your HVAC Business Like a College Football Coach

Dec. 2, 2021
Nine characteristics of the best college football coaches can be applied to running your HVAC company.

Another college football season is nearing the end and the coaching carousel has started with schools coughing up millions for the best coaches.  These coaches are paid well because they win.  The best coaches in the college game have nine characteristics that set them apart from the rest.  All nine can be applied to running your company.

1. Recruit All Positions

Everyone perks up when the talented skill position player commits to a college.  They’ve got the speed and the moves to change a game.  They’re special and attract attention accordingly.  However, the best back won’t shine without blockers up front.  The best quarterback won’t deliver the ball if he’s running for his life.  And, the best team in the world can lose a game over poor kicking.  Thus, coaches recruit all positions hard.  They pursue interior linemen and special teams players as well as the fleet of foot.

Contractors should recruit hard for all positions as well. The service tech who can flip leads like clockwork or sell changeouts on half his calls will not be successful or effective without a call taker to set the call up properly and a dispatcher to get the right person to the right opportunity.  Put forth as much effort targeting office personnel and field service.

2. Out-Facility the Competition 

There is a facilities war in college football.  Colleges must keep with the state-of-the-art or get left behind.  Accordingly, practice facilities look more like palaces than locker rooms with gyms.  The best coaches don’t merely
focus on the razzle dazzle, they take advantage of the latest technology in kinesiology and sports medicine, monitoring players in real time during practice so they know just how far they can push.  Colleges have long since issued tablets with game films and
playbooks.  Cryotherapy has replaced ice baths for rehab.

Contractors should build employee lounges to make the company appear more attractive to potential employees.  Make training rooms more up-to-date, using quality video boards and cameras for bringing in trainers at a distance.  Build up a library of training tapes that can be played on phones or tablets.  When new tool technology is introduced, outfit the team with it. 

3. Build Depth 

In football, the second string is only one injury away from becoming the starter.  Injuries happen in football.  That’s why most teams follow the mantra, “next man up.”  Accordingly, coaches are always building a bench of people read to become the next man up when the opportunity arrives.

Contractors need to be building depth on their teams for those times when illness or injury temporarily sidelines a key person or when that person jumps to another company.  Who would step up and take over for the service manager?  Who could dispatch if needed?  

4. Develop 

There are colleges that seem to perform exceptionally well with rosters of two- and three-star recruits.  Conversely, there are a few universities who are consistently ranking high for their recruiting, but it never seems to translate to the field.  The best coaches “coach up” players, regardless of star rating.  They put emphasis on off season strength and conditioning. 

Contractors should develop their teams.  This can be done through internal training, bringing in trainers, sending people to training programs, and even simpler things like building libraries of training material available to anyone who wants it. 

5. Spread the Touches Around 

If a college team has an exceptional running back, the number of times he carries the ball will be limited.  The reason is too many touches can take a toll on a player’s health.  It also means other players are not getting a chance to show what they can do and to improve through playing time.

You want to match opportunities to a person’s ability to generate the greatest revenue and profit for the company.  In the short run this means loading up your superstar.  In the long run, it means spreading the opportunities around.  Sure, the superstar gets more good calls than others, but he cannot get all of the good calls.  

6. Practice 

Football teams practice many hours for every hour they play.  This is supplemented by study.  They study their own playbook and study the opposition.

How can a contractor practice?  Role playing works.  If you have special statements or greetings that people are you use, have them practice them in a mirror.  Practice over and over and over. 

7. Establish a Process 

The greatest coaches talk a lot about the process.  The coach each player to focus on the next play, the next step, the next task as part of the process.  By focusing on the steps in the process, the outcome takes care of itself.

Similarly, contractors can establish processes and procedures for the way things are done.  Each process includes a number of steps.  An employee following the process should focus on the immediate task, then the next, then the one after that.  Take care of all of the steps in the process and the outcome is assured.

8. Adjust With the Times

College football changes over time.  Offenses develop.  Great coaches change with the times.  They adopt new offenses or defensive styles if they prove more successful than the current style.  If they lack the understanding to master a new style, they hire assistants who can run it. 

Contracting practices are slow to change, but they do change.  Once it was hard to find contractors who used flat rate pricing.  Now, it is hard to find someone not using it.  But, it was the early adopters who benefitted the most.  Keep up with the state-of-the-art in contracting practices through one of the business alliances.  Be open to change when something new comes along.

9. Be Honest 

Great coaches are honest with their recruits and players.  They do not over promise and guarantee a stud recruit immediate playing time, for example.  They tell the recruit, he must earn playing time. 

Similarly, contractors should be honest about what someone can expect in the company.  They should be blunt about the steps needed to move up or increase pay.  Shoot straight, even when the recipient of the information does not want to hear it, and especially when the recipient needs to hear it.

Become a better coach of your team by joining the Service Roundtable.  Contracting is hard and the Service Roundtable makes it easier… and more profitable.  Check it out at

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.