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Keep Your Cool During 'Short Fuse Summer'

June 19, 2020
Most people have never experienced a more tense time. If you are not careful, the tension is likely to impact your business.

It seems the “Shutdown Spring” has run headlong into the “Short Fuse Summer.”  Most people have never experienced a more tense time.  If you are not careful, the tension is likely to impact your business.  Here is how you can keep your company from erupting.

Summer is Stress Enough
Every summer is stressful for an HVAC company.  It’s our Christmas.  The summer can make or break the year.  However, that comes with hot weather, longer hours, uncomfortable working conditions (hello, 130 deg F or higher attics), and stressed out customers. 

Recognize That Tensions Are Unusually High
Things are already tense.  Now add in the stress from people scared of the virus, people climbing the walls due to the lockdowns, people resentful of the lockdowns, people being out of work or worried about being out of work, people not being able to travel, police shootings, protests and riots, arson, insurrection, social media, and irresponsible journalism.  It makes for a recipe where things might easily boil over for a person or group. 

Monitor Your Team
Make sure you check in with everyone on your team from time to time.  See how they are handling this summer.  Along with asking people how they are handling things, be observant and alert to behavioral changes.  If you suspect anyone is getting close to the breaking point, give them some time off.  It is better to lose a few calls than to lose a technician.

Give People Time-Outs
If someone does lose his cool, pull him aside and get him away from the rest of the team.  Anger can be contagious.  Do not let anger jump from person to person the way a wildfire can jump from tree to tree.  Make the person take a break and cool off. 

Let him vent at you.  Then, once the rage has burnt itself out, make an assessment whether he needs a day or two off.

Be Steady
Your team will follow your lead.  No matter how angry you might feel from time to time, never let it show.  Be calm and unfazed in the presence of your team.  If you feel you are about to lose it, leave.  Go to a distant park or parking and vent to yourself. 

Avoid Sharing Your Opinion About Politics
Be careful who you spout off to at work about politics and current affairs.  People on your team might have a different opinion.  If so, you will irritate them at best and more likely, anger them.  You might anger them enough to lose them altogether.  

Even more than your team, your customers do not want to hear your views on things unrelated to HVAC, unless they happen to share your views.  Unless you know for certain what a customer thinks, keep your views to yourself.  Express yourself on social media if you want, but do so cautiously. 

People get triggered easily.  Your job is to maximize shareholder value, not be a political pundit.

Remind People of the Mission
You keep the buildings where people work and live cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  You improve the air people breath.  You are essential service workers because you perform an essential function.  Without air conditioning, people in your community might die during a heat wave.  

What you do matters and is important.  This is why it is necessary to move beyond things that are irritating or even, inflaming.  The mission is the customer.

Show Appreciation to Your Team
Sometimes the smallest gestures make the biggest differences.  Keep some ice cream bars in a freezer at the shop.  Give people some gift certificates for lunch.  Send a gift card to a local restaurant with take out to the spouse of your technicians with a note showing you understand that the job puts stress on the family.  Say thank you a lot.

Take Media Time Outs
Spend more time with the trade press and business press than you spend with the national press.  Avoid the news during the day.  If it upsets you, avoid it altogether.  Take a TV break.  The national press corps is not focused on news that will uplift you and make you feel better.  Their job is to sensationalize the news for the purpose of drawing eyeballs.  In other words, they are trying to stir you up.  This summer, you do not need to be stirred up.

Focus on Things You Control
Do not worry about whether your County Judge, Mayor, Governor, or other politician is a nincompoop, or not.  Do not worry about the riots and protests beyond knowing where to avoid them.  Focus on your business.  Focus on delivering great service.  Focus on making more replacement sales and delivering excellent installations.  Focus on your financial performance.  Focus on your people. 

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About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable (ServiceRoundtable.com). 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.