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Mechanical Systems Contractors: Recruit Like A Football Coach

Sept. 8, 2013
In football, recruiting the best, smartest, most talented players is a key job of any coach. Frankly the same is true of any owner/manager of an HVACR contracting firm. So why not approach recruiting like an NFL coach?

The most important activity for the head coach of a college football team is recruiting. You should run your company like a college football team and make recruiting your most important function. So how much time should you devote to it? Ben Stark, one of the industry’s most successful contractors, says you should devote 30% of your time to recruiting. That’s two and a half hours each day. That’s a lot of time. That’s more time than 99% of what all contractors spend recruiting (maybe this is how Stark came to be in the top 1% of all

Become Your Company’s Head Coach

College football head coaches don’t need to be great “coaches” to succeed. They’re executives. To win, head coaches establish the team’s philosophy or culture, identify and hire great assistants who buy into the philosophy, make good game day decisions, and recruit talented players.

Similarly, the HVAC head coach doesn’t need to be a great X’s and O’s guy (i.e., a great technician). He doesn’t need to be a great coordinator (i.e., a great service, sales, or office manager). He does need to be a great recruiter and good talent evaluator.

Recruit Year Round

The best coaches don’t wait until signing day or even the official contact period. When they aren’t allowed to make official contact with recruits, they speak to them through social media. They recruit indirectly at football camps.

Too many contractors wait until need overwhelms them. May is too late to start recruiting technicians for the summer. By June, any hire is one of desperation. Any tech looking for work is likely looking for a reason, but desperation blinds you to shortcomings.

Even if you happen across a solid technician who appears to be working in an intolerable situation and is looking for a place to land, you can’t really be sure what you’ve got. At best, he’s bringing another company’s bad habits. At worst…

Remember, your customers trust you to send trustworthy people into their homes. Background checks aside, do you feel comfortable hiring someone today and sending him or her to your customers tomorrow?

The best time to hire is in the off-season, when the supply of technicians is up and competition for talent is down. Yes, it costs you more to hire when your call volume may be off, but it gives you time to identify and fill in training deficiencies, tune the technician to your culture, and give him/her time to learn your procedures, while unlearning bad habits. Think of hiring early as spring training and fall camp rolled into one. The increased performance in-season will pay back the cost of training in the pre-season.

Recruit Over Time

College coaches start recruiting star athletes after their sophomore years in high school (earlier in some cases). They recruit them for two to three years. They continue to recruit them after they verbally commit to other schools, just in case the kid changes his mind.

You may find yourself recruiting stars for years, while they continue to happily work for someone else. Just as you use email marketing to stay in touch with customers, use it to keep your brand front and center with potential hires, even if they decline working for you.

If you interview someone, and you like him or her, but don’t have a position open or hire someone else, keep recruiting over time. Consistent recruiting means you’ll have a database of potential recruits whenever you’re ready to grow or need a replacement.

Everyone is a Prospect

Summer football camps give coaches the opportunity to evaluate talented players who might otherwise be overlooked.

HVAC coaches should take every opportunity to evaluate potential talent. Whenever you get an opportunity to interview someone, take it. An interview gives you far better insight than a resume or job application. An interview also gives you the opportunity to sell your company.

Everyone Recruits

Many head coaches choose assistant coaches as much for their ability to recruit as their ability to coach. While the head coach is the head recruiter and closes many of the recruits, it’s impossible for him to do all of the recruiting. Everyone on the coaching staff is also a recruiter.

Make recruiting a part of your company’s culture. Every manager should recruit. Remember, your company is only as good as the people you recruit.

Learn more about recruiting from the Service Roundtable. Visit online at or call 877/262-3341 for a free recruiting tool.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable. The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. Call toll free: 877/262-3341 for more information about how to join.

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.