INDIANAPOLIS — The first-ever Office and Operations Managers Forum met Oct. 20-21 at the J.W. Marriott Indianapolis Downtown, in the heart of the city and well within throwing distance of the Victory Ball Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians, a MLB Triple-A affiliate. Just steps away from the Indiana Convention Center, White River State Park, Indianapolis Zoo, Lucas Oil Stadium, and several museums, the location provided a little something for everyone.
ACCA members came from around the country to learn office operational management strategies. “Running a profitable HVAC business requires more than just trained technicians and installers — it demands a well-organized and well-run office,” said Kimya Cajchun, member services spokesperson, ACCA. “We started this new Office and Operations Managers forum because our members said there was training needed that is specific to office operations.”
Beth Ziesenis, founder of Your Nerdy Best Friend, kicked off the Office and Operations Managers Forum with a trip through the typical day of a tech-savvy HVAC contractor. Well, almost. Ziesenis turned the audience’s perception of tech-savvy into a journey of mobile apps that can be used throughout the business day. Clad in black Converse shoes and toting a bright orange roller bag, Ziesenis presented an hour-by-hour progression of apps that help make an HVAC business’s daily routine more productive.
That typical day started with a 6 a.m. wake up call, but not from the alarm on your smartphone — rather from an app designed to recognize sleep patterns and wake users at the optimum time. From there, the list encompassed some familiar and not so familiar apps to enhance your day.
APP FOR THAT
“It’s generally accepted that four generations are working side by side, every day, using different technologies they’ve become comfortable with,” said Ziesenis. “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to merge all that information so everyone can be on the same page.”
During her presentation, Ziesenis said contractors should consider the following apps.
• Yelp — This helps plan the morning travel route to work;
• Evernote — The ultimate note taker for your morning meeting;
• Slack — An app that replaces redundant email threads with an in-house chat;
• Office Lens — A convenient scanner from Microsoft;
• Trello — A project and task manager that merges app technologies;
• IFTTT — This program automates everyday tasks between apps. It allows you to text yourself if rain is forecast for tomorrow or share a photo the instant you snap it;
• TripIt — This allows you to organize travel by merging schedules for air, cars, hotels, etc.;
• Last Pass — Create safer password storage with this app;
• Fancy Hands — This virtual assistant handles your minor tasks, such as scheduling a haircut, making dinner reservations, or finding an electrician;
• Scannable — Take pictures of the business cards you receive and easily add them to your database;
• Eyejot — This app allows you to create video emails in minutes; and
• Animoto — This program helps users create multimedia videos.
Sandwiched between Ziesenis’ opening keynote and the What’s Your Problem finale on the second day were 12 learning labs tailored specifically for the office manager type.
A sponsor showcase highlighted numerous manufacturers, including AC Leak Freeze, Data-Basics, Emerson, Federated Insurance, Field Aware, Jackson Systems, North American Technician Excellence (NATE), the Nexstar Network, Precision Recruiter, Service Automation, Service Trade, Survey Square, and Trane.
SERVICE MANAGERS: THE COACHES
The eighth annual Service Managers Forum took place on October 22–23. The NEWS co-sponsored the event and also served as emcee for opening ceremonies. The keynote was delivered by Dean Savoca, owner of the Savoca Performance Group, and a self-proclaimed results expert. Utilizing more than 20 years of executive experience, Savoca provided a highly interactive look at the importance of winning.
“Who was your favorite coach or role model? Why do high performers leave? What is the biggest hindrance to doing the right things at work?” asked Savoca. He then addressed the Coaching Conversation, an important part of the employer-employee relationship.
Savoca contended that the reasons people stay in a job, perform at their peak levels, and enjoy a higher level of job satisfaction is more than pay and benefits. People stay and perform because of leadership, he said.
According to Savoca: There are generally two types of leadership styles, old-style and coach-style. Managers using old-style leadership typically control others’ actions, focus on weaknesses, and solve problems in isolation. Those with coach-style leadership brainstorm options with others, focus on strengths, and help others solve and prevent problems.
Savoca discussed six elements of the coaching conversation and implementation strategy for each. “Make the discussion all about them,” he said. “Know who they are and comprehend their world view; find out their vision and goals, and what motivates them. Celebrate their involvement and accountability in the company, help them understand desired outcomes, and get them to focus on helping the organization accomplish its goals.
“Inspire them and connect them to the real reason behind the goal, let them know how the outcome is important to the company and the individual,” he continued. “Close the gap, guide them from point A to the goal, and move them from pain to pleasure. Manage their movement toward the goal in a way that removes obstacles.”
Much like the program that started two days earlier, the Service Managers Forum offered attendees 12 learning labs, focusing on topics pertinent to residential and commercial managers.
The event closed with the “What’s Your Problem” session, which was moderated by Bobby Ring, president and CEO of Meyer & Depew Co. Inc. As was true at Ring’s similar session on Wednesday, the audience endured his noted New Jersey humor and ill-fated love of all things Rutgers in exchange for answers to their daily operational questions, courtesy of numerous expert contractor panelists.
Callahan Roach and Davisware joined the previously noted vendors as showcase sponsors for the Service Managers Forum.
SIDEBAR: 12 LEARNING LABS
ACCA’s two-day Office and Operations Managers Forum, held Oct. 20-22, offered attendees 12 learning labs. The Service Managers Forum, Oct. 23-24, offered 12 additional learning sessions. Here are a few poignant quotes from a number of the event’s speakers.
“Are you paying service techs for callbacks? Callback labor must be paid according to the labor board. Therefore, treat a tool left on the job site the same way. Practically speaking, if you don’t pay the tech in order to teach him a lesson, you may end up paying $7.25 on a labor claim. And, he might also learn a lesson about leaving tools behind.”
“Get legal advice before holding someone’s pay for anything such as destroyed or missing equipment.”
“How are you calculating overtime pay? Forty hours worked must be work — not holiday pay, not sick pay, just work time. However, bonuses earned in a pay period should be added to the 40-hour week before calculating the average for the purposes of overtime.”
— Brooke Duncan III, attorney, Adams and Reese
“I always start my conversations with simple questions: How’s it going? What’s working? What’s not working? What can I do to help?”
“Keep coaching simple. It’s more about listening. I am a terrible listener. I’ve taken multiple personality tests, and, every time, it tells me I’m a bad listener. I have to work hard at closing the mouth, closing down the thoughts running through my head, and concentrate on listening.”
— Laura DiFilippo, vice president and co-owner of DiFilippo’s Service Co. in Paoli, Pennsylvania
“I tell our people, ‘I don’t want you to work any harder, I don’t want you to work any smarter, and I certainly don’t want you to do anything unethical. Just have a conversation with the customer about service agreements and answer any questions they might have.’”
— Bobby Ring, president and CEO, Meyer & DePew Co. Inc., Kenilworth, New Jersey
Publication date: 2/1/2016