Improvement for new HVAC and plumbing technicians can come in many forms. Often, HVAC and plumbing owners such as yourself will turn to vocational training programs like those from NexTech Academy or apprenticeships, but few methods offer the immediate impact of feedback.
New HVAC and plumbing technicians crave quick input from their superiors and colleagues about what they are doing and how they can do it better. When they enter the field, they also enter uncertainty. Any reassurances you can provide via feedback about the things they are doing right or areas they could handle things differently are highly valued.
How exactly does feedback augment HVAC technician training, electrical training, and plumber training? Where should feedback come from? How often should a business deliver feedback? These are all questions owners such as yourself struggle with.
Here’s our best input on how to handle your feedback within your company
Feedback improves your business
No employee is more profitable for your HVAC or HVAC business than the long time veteran. Typically, that technician has seen, heard, and fixed just about everything. They know instinctively what to do, what to watch out for, and when to rally help. On the downside, a senior technician your most expensive to hire or retain. In a perfect business world, you’d have a roster of young, lower-paid technicians with the knowledge of a long time technician. While we can’t promise you that, we can suggest a proven way to get more from your entry-level technicians. One answer is classes from NexTech Academy with new lower prices, but your most immediate and affordable answer is using feedback.
Feedback comes in a variety of ways, external comments from customers and internal conversations from yourself or fellow technicians. Both are valuable, and both benefit your bottom line.
Growth from customer comments
Your profitability begins and ends with the customer. How many customers you have, how much work you can do for them, and how satisfied they are with your technicians dictates the bottom line. Often, a customer will let you know exactly how they feel through surveys, phone calls, or emails. Whether their comments are good or bad, everything they say can make a new HVAC or plumbing technician better. This is true even if the comments were not directed toward the new HVAC or plumbing technician.
If the customer comment is negative, teach your new technicians how to avoid the mistake or situation. Maybe it’s something as simple as forgetting to wear shoe covers when entering the home. Or, perhaps it’s something less noticeable like failing to make eye contact when talking to the customer. There are millions of things that can impact customer satisfaction. That means there are a million ways a new HVAC or plumbing technician can improve what they do before they even get to the issue at hand.
When the customer comment is positive, it can be just as impactful. By sharing what works and what customers like, a new HVAC or plumbing technician can incorporate it into their normal routine. Perhaps it’s the way a repair was explained, or how a technician outlined the different options for a new piece of equipment. Whatever it was and however it was done, it worked, so encourage new HVAC or plumbing technicians to do it.
Improvement from shop talk
Clearly, customers can provide some of the most actionable feedback to improve a new HVAC or plumbing technician’s performance. That’s because it’s your customers who get to witness first hand how a technician performs, acts, reacts, and communicates. That said, internal feedback can be almost as effective. Input from colleagues, mentors, and management can improve every aspect of the new HVAC or plumbing technician’s abilities by providing the inside scoop and pro’s perspective. How can this internal feedback be facilitated? Through easy and open internal-communications.
Whether formalized meetings or casual conversations back at the shop, opportunities for feedback abound. It’s up to you as an owner to foster an environment where everyone listens, thinks, and responds to a new HVAC or plumbing technician’s stories and questions. Ideally, you should find ways to motivate senior staff to become involved in the development of new technicians. Encourage them to offer a listening ear and advice on how to do things better, faster, more efficiently, or improve customer relationships. Maybe this is through a mentorship program, possible staff lunches, or daily kick-off meetings. However it is arranged, peer-to-peer feedback is always appreciated by new HVAC and plumbing technicians. Not only does it build rapport among your team, but the advice is also considered highly valuable since it comes from people who have been there and done that.
When all options are compared, casual shop talk over coffee or during breaks is among the easiest, most non-judging and comfortable way for a new HVAC or plumbing technician to receive feedback. The more opportunities a business owner can create for these interactions, the faster a new HVAC or plumbing technician improves.
The right timing for feedback
How often should an HVAC or plumbing business owner step in to offer feedback for new technicians? That’s a difficult question to answer. The best answer is what works for your company, schedule, and team size. Obviously casual shop talk isn’t something that’s scheduled, it’s organic. However, business owners should be intentional about scheduling feedback time with each new HVAC or plumbing technician. Maybe it’s a 15 minute talk at the end of each shift, or a half-hour recap of the week’s assignments each Friday. For other businesses, a longer meeting held as a monthly review could work best.
The advantage of a monthly review is the ability to identify trends in work and behavior by having a macro view. On the other hand, more frequent mini-talks are advantageous at nipping issues in the bud before they become habits or cause widespread issues with customers.
What’s best for your company? Likely, the solution is a hybrid approach. Perhaps each new HVAC or plumbing technician that joins your team begins with a weekly roundup talk on Fridays for the first month. Then, you have them migrate to monthly meetings for the new six months. After that, move to quarterly. And don’t forget senior staff at this point. Even senior staff will benefit from biannual check-ins where you listen to their thoughts, address issues, reinforce best practices, or inform them about company changes and goals.
While this article focuses on how feedback can benefit new HVAC or plumbing technicians, never forget feedback plays a critical role in the performance of all employees.
Keep it positive
The only feedback that isn’t helpful is silence. Your new HVAC and plumbing technicians crave input on their job performance and tips on how to improve. Feedback isn’t telling people what they did wrong, it’s helping them to improve. Keep the experience positive for the technician. Help them, do not insult them. Show them ways to address any concerns and remind them it’s all part of the learning, growing, and process of constant improvement. When done correctly, feedback can be used to unlock potential talents and create your top technicians.
Get Started on HVAC or Plumbing Technician Training
If you’re interested in learning how to get started with training at NexTech Academy, visit our student experience page or call us at (651) 426-2000.