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12 Ways to Recruit and Keep Technicians - Part 1

March 10, 2017
Contractors are notorious for offering paltry benefits.  While benefits are expensive, they are less expensive than higher pay

Your ability to grow is constrained by the size of your field service staff.  Most contractors have trouble recruiting and retaining field service personnel.  Most.  Not all.  Here are the first 6 of 12 practices used by contractors to overcome the recruiting and retention problems that plaque most air conditioning companies.

1. Pay Better

Yes, it can be as simple as offering more money.  Pay more than anyone else in your market.  Of course, this also means you must charge more than anyone else.  And, pay alone is insufficient.  Better pay can attract people, but it will not necessarily keep them.

2. Offer Better Benefits

Contractors are notorious for offering paltry benefits.  While benefits are expensive, they are less expensive than higher pay, depending on the age and family status of the employee. 

When they do offer health care, most contractors only pay 80% and limit their contribution to the employee alone.  Why?  The financial cost of offering 100% instead of 80% is small compared to the psychological impact of offering 100% company paid health care.  While it does cost a more for family coverage over single employee coverage, it can lock in a technician with children at home.

Do more than health care.  Consider dental insurance.  A number of plans are available that are surprisingly affordable since the government meddles less with dental care.

Small, term life insurance policies for your employees are also inexpensive.  They give you the ability to tell prospective employees you provide company paid life insurance.  Many will never have had life insurance.

3. Subsidize Vacations

This may sound crazy, but offering a vacation subsidy can be a very sticky and affordable benefit.  Present vacation vouchers when the employee’s spouse is present.  You can adjust the amount of the voucher based on longevity with the company.  Limit it to an actual vacation and require the employee to turn in a picture of the family on vacation and a picture of a marketing idea seen from the trip. 

Essentially, you are paying for the marketing idea, which could be a picture of a nicely wrapped service truck, a unique billboard, something unique of different on an installation, etc.  The family picture can go up on a company billboard with family pictures of the entire team.

You might also consider paying for your own vacations and letting your employees take the incentive trips you earn.  You can even make this a contest.  Align the contest objective with the qualification for the trip.  If the trip is based on your purchases, the contest can be based on material sales.

While you may not publicize it, pay for a pair of plane tickets every now and then.  For example, if you have a loyal employee with a child in the military stationed overseas (but not in a war zone), consider plane tickets so the employee can visit.

4. Offer a Technician’s Lounge

Want a leg up on the competition?  Create a lounge for your technicians.  This is not your training room.  It’s a place for them to hang out and relax, with video games, a large screen TV with cable, foosball, darts, etc.  It works for college football.  It will work for you.

5. Feed Them

Many technicians do not eat well in the morning.  If you require your technicians to come to the shop before being dispatched on their first call, feed them.  It can be simple, like scrambled eggs and bacon, egg sandwiches, or breakfast tacos.  This is really a free benefit since the technicians will perform better if they have a decent breakfast, resulting in higher average tickets.

6. Offer Life Skills Training

You think you pay your technicians well, but they are always broke.  Why?  The answer, of course, is they do not know how to manage their money.  No one ever taught them.  It’s not taught in school.  Why don’t you teach them?  Use Dave Ramsey or one of the other financial management courses.  If technicians learn personal financial management, they will not be broke all of the time and less likely to jump for an extra dollar or two an hour.

Do not stop with financial management.  Teach a full range of life skills to complement your technical skills and soft skills.  Teach character.  Teach your technicians how to be a good father or mother, husband or wife.  Not everyone will buy in.  Those who do are the technicians you want to keep for the long run.  You will.

Need a speaker for a meeting?  How about a FREE speaker?  The Service Roundtable will provide polished, professional speakers for any organization that assembles a group of contractors in a room.  Chick here for more information or call 877.262.3341.

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.