Finding Hires Outside of the HVAC Industry

Feb. 13, 2015
Faced with a shortage of labor in the HVAC industry, contractors must look outside of the industry for an infusion of new personnel. Here are some places to look for your next technician, CSR, and salesperson.

Before You Start

Before you start looking for a person, make sure you know who you are seeking.  The individual who will make a good technician is a people person who is comfortable working independently (and maybe, desires working independently), with a mechanical aptitude.  While all of these characteristics are necessary, being a people person is most important.  Remember, as a service business, your people are your product. 

The CSR is your first point of customer contact.  The CSR should be friendly, empathetic, able to solve problems, multi-task, and calm the unruly.  Just call her Superwoman.

Salespeople need minimal mechanical aptitude.  They need enough to make a mechanical sketch, run a load calc, and figure out solutions to basic problems of fitting today’s high efficiency equipment into spaces designed for 10 SEER.  Salespeople should be driven, competitive, and money motivated.  You may give them a paycheck, but they should understand the work for themselves.

Finding Technicians

Some automotive mechanics like interacting with people.  In today’s auto repair business model, mechanics do not get the opportunity.  If you find a people oriented mechanic, HVAC can offer him human interactions, more freedom, and more money.

The military is drawing down and ex-military can make good technicians.  If they have initiative, consider the service side.  If they appear to need someone to give them orders, consider installations.  There are a number of websites that actively or solely promote hiring ex-military.

Retail salespeople working in stores selling hardware or tools can be excellent technicians with training.  In all likelihood they are working in the hardware area because they like tools and are mechanically inclined.  Plus, you get the opportunity to observe how well they interact with others.

Finding CSRs

The hospitality industry can be an excellent source for CSRs.  One occupation in particular is the front desk personnel at a hotel.  They are trained with in customer service and accustomed to problem solving, and dealing with difficult people.  You can offer better hours and pay, the opportunity to sit down, and the ability to dress comfortably.  If the hotel employee is on a management track, you will not be successful.  If, on the other hand, the employee sees the front desk as a dead end, you might find an outstanding candidate.

Another place to look for CSRs is among bartenders and restaurant servers or wait staff.  You offer better pay, hours, and working conditions.  Moreover, the restaurant employees are accustomed to incentive pay.  Service agreement spiffs should resonate.

Finding Salespeople

Real estate agents can make excellent HVAC salespeople if they possess sufficient mechanical aptitude.  The hours are not dissimilar, but the pay for HVAC is far higher.  Real estate agents have usually receive some sales training.  They are money motivated and used to generating leads on their own, not to mention marketing.  You offer more money and less expense.

Another occupation to consider are automotive service advisors.  The interpersonal presentation requirements of the job would serve them well in HVAC.  Financially, HVAC has a lot more upside.

Approaching Candidates

You should not try to hire a candidate away from another occupation while working.  Instead, hand the person who catches your eye a business card and say you might have a career opportunity if the person is interested.  Instruct the candidate to call when off work.

If the person is intrigued enough to call, you have cleared the first hurdle.  Arrange for a meeting at a coffee shop.  Spend the first part explaining what you do, why it’s important, and why your company is a great one.  Be excited.  You are selling the industry, your company, and yourself.

Explain the position you are considering the candidate for, where the position fits and why it’s important within the company, the hours, working conditions, training, opportunities for extra pay, and the potential for advancement.  Ask the candidate if he could see himself in this role.  If he answers yes, ask him why he thinks he would be a good fit.  By selling you, he will also sell himself.


For turnkey technician recruiting, screening, training, and development, check out Service Roundtable Fast Track.  Call 877.262.3341 for more information.

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.