My Two Cents: Have No Fear, Help is Near
National and local contractor associations and community boards offer invaluable assistance
Every HVAC contractor has issues. Whether you’re large or small, you can be assured that, at some time, issues are going to arise that will tax your mind and spirit to come up with the correct answer(s). Large contractors have a staff of personnel, often with different backgrounds and experience levels, who can help solve particular issues. However, the average contractor doesn’t have a large staff to provide intelligent input when one of these issues arise. According to statistics, most heating and air conditioning contractors fall into that average contractor category. Without a large internal staff, to whom do we turn to seek advice when one of those issues occur?
OPTIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Fortunately, there are a number of available options. We just have to take some initiative to determine which ones we feel will work best for us. There is the Service Roundtable, a multifaceted HVAC contracting service. In addition to having an infinite number of forms, letters, and other resources for its contractor members, the organization also provides an ongoing daily chat room for contractors to ask questions and exchange ideas with their peers. The chat room welcomes public conversation ranging numerous topics. For general information, this can be a great place to start.
Belonging to a local and/or national contractor organization is another way to introduce yourself to contractors with the same issues you face on a regular basis. Having connections with local contractors provides specific solutions from professionals who are active in the field. On the other hand, when dealing with a difficult internal problem or issue, you might find it more beneficial to seek input/advice from a contractor who is not a direct competitor. Bouncing ideas off an individual residing in another portion of the country can be very helpful because they’re likely looking at an issue from a completely different perspective. National and local contractor associations also keep members aware of issues that may impact their businesses through e-newsletters or similar communication mediums.
Yet another advantage of national contractor association is the presence of MIX or peer groups. These groups typically bring a number of contractors (typically 10-12) from different parts of the country together to share ideas. These companies are not in competition with one another due to geographical distance and often share many traits. These groups typically meet once or twice annually at one of the member’s businesses. Some will spend a full day critiquing the host business and a second day addressing a variety of issues. Others spend the entire time focusing on industry questions and issues. In either case, there is always enough non-meeting time to discuss any special issues owners may be experiencing with one or more of the attendees.
Some contractors, even quite small contractors, put together a board of directors from within their own areas to provide insight and advice. The typical board may consist of highly respected, successful friends or company associates within the given area, all of whom possess different backgrounds. These may be bankers, lawyers, accountants, or businessmen from other industries. These committees help familiarize your company and industry to the community so that when an issue arises, you’ll be able to seek advice from one or more of these individuals.
Since these individuals are not competing with your business, they’ll most likely provide you with an unbiased response. This does not need to be a formal board of directors, but can be merely an advisory board or just a group of advisers. The format is not important; but, what is important is having someone to bounce critical thoughts and ideas off of in times of crisis.
Regardless which method you utilize — and I would recommend more than one — it’s very likely you’ll make close, lifelong friendships. Most importantly, you’ll have someone who will listen and understand your concerns when difficult situations arise.
Publication date: 8/3/2015