In the first installment of this series, we looked at ways that office workers in a contracting company can protect their jobs in tough times. Now, it’s time to focus on the individuals in the trucks and in the home - the technicians.

As a technician, how do you keep your job from becoming an economic casualty? You have the benefit of being a revenue producer, but if there aren’t calls coming in, your job gets a little less secure. But with the right mindset and the right actions, as a technician you can practically recession-proof your job. In the battle of technician versus the economy, this is how you win.

Here’s what you need to do to make yourself layoff-proof.

• Kill callbacks: Callbacks simply kill your company in any economy, but today they are especially potent. There is no faster way to wind up in the doghouse as a technician than to have a callback when your company is scraping for every dollar. Every callback that you get gives you a shorter and shorter leash and puts you under an even tougher magnifying glass. Check, double-check, and triple-check your work, but don’t have a callback in recessionary times.

• Let customers do the bragging: Bragging on yourself may be perceived as obnoxious, but a customer bragging about you is absolute sweetness to an owner.

Your company probably has comment cards, and now is the time to make it a personal initiative to always have them with you. Give them to homeowners on every call. Put them in their hands, and offer to bring them back with you so they don’t have to mail them. Provide top-level service so that those comment cards say how great you are because nothing says you’re a valuable part of the team more than a mountain of compliments from happy customers.

• Serve your clients’ needs: During these times, you need to serve your clients at a higher level than ever before. If things are a little slow, you probably have some extra time that you could invest with each homeowner. Ask questions and make them aware of the additional items and services you offer that might help them in some way. They probably aren’t aware of some of the things you can do.

For example, if they are replacing a furnace, ask if they would like to update their water heater at the same time. If you’re doing a tune-up, mention upgraded filters that can improve air quality. Serving your clients at the highest level is not only good for your clients, but it’s good for your average invoice.

And average invoice is one of the criteria that companies look at if they have too many technicians and someone needs to be cut. Keep your average invoice higher than your peers, and you’ll have happy clients and a happy manager.

• Agree on agreements: Do you have a high maintenance agreement conversion ratio on service calls? These agreements guarantee your company service calls and revenues for the future. And, they ensure repeat customers and long-term sustainability for the company. The technician that can get a homeowner happily involved in a maintenance agreement is furthering the success of the company.

This is one of the key stats an owner will look at when evaluating your performance. In some instances, a technician who can bring in a high ratio of maintenance agreements may even be more valuable than someone with a high average invoice and no agreements. Those agreements guarantee the future of the company, and that’s something every owner wants.

• Volunteer to be the one: Even in tough times when you may be working fewer hours due to fewer calls coming in, I’m guessing everyone scatters when the topic of who is going to be on call comes up. Even today, some technicians don’t want to even think about working nights or weekends. However, in tough times, it’s more important than ever for the company to serve clients whenever you have the opportunity.

For that reason, volunteering to be on call will make you a hero in your owner or manager’s eyes. If another technician balks at the idea of being on call or refuses, step up to the plate. That’s a great way to stand out above the other techs, and it gives you the opportunity to earn additional income for you, as well.

• Don’t complain: In tough times, when owners may be faced with the tough decision of which technicians get to stay on the team and which technicians need to be let go, the deciding factor isn’t always performance, it’s attitude. Specifically, it’s the complainers that are first in line to go. No one will ever fault the owner of the company if they let someone go that everyone dislikes and is a royal pain. Ask yourself if that’s you. If you’ve been known as an, “I just say it like it is” type guy, you may want to consider changing that tone to become a “tow the line” type guy.

• Be DIY: You want to be an all-star in the eyes of your owner or manager? Generate your own calls. You’re a skilled pro in a valuable trade that everyone needs, and I have no doubt that you demonstrate the pride you have for your work on every single call.

Now, take that same pride and let all your friends and family know the kind of work your company does. You’re going to sporting events, social events, churches, and organization meetings, and everyone there most likely lives in a home. Simply ask them if they’ve had their system tuned up this season. You know the benefits of a tune-up, and who better to tune up the systems of the people you know than you? A technician who generates service calls for the company without being asked is not going to be laid off in even the toughest of times.

Simply doing your job isn’t enough anymore. You need to stand out. You need to show your company that you’re indispensable.

Owners use these criteria everyday to make decisions. Who had a high average invoice? Who had few callbacks? Who had positive comment cards? Who volunteered to be on call and tows the company line? All of these points are items used to evaluate technicians and determine who is indispensable in a company.

Follow this list, and the indispensable one will be you.

Publication date: 05/25/2009