Like many in the HVAC industry, Jeff Adams, vice president of field services for Logan A/C & Heat Services in Dayton, Ohio, and The NEWS’ 2016 Best Trainer winner, gained his first exposure to HVAC at a young age by following his father around on job sites and serving as his “unpaid assistant” on service calls.
“He kept encouraging me to get into this industry, which I was not interested in initially. But, I went ahead and enrolled in a local vocational school and started working full time for a large contractor here in Dayton. I worked for them and opened my own company in 1982.”
After experiencing some health issues, Adams decided to sell his company to Logan Services in September 2008. He stayed with the company, though, working first as a sales consultant before transitioning into service management while also managing the install department.
“Since then, I’ve been responsible for all the training on the technical side. I think it’s an evolution, kind of — the oldest guy with the grayest hair ends up teaching those newer to the trades,” he joked.
5-STAR SERVICE DEPARTMENT
The rapidly growing company currently boasts 22 two- and three-person install teams as well as its own in-house training operation, which Adams pioneered. His training program has already reduced callbacks, increased sales, and improved customer satisfaction at Logan Services, and Adams is just getting started.
“We do formal training, and, like a lot of companies, we train during the slower times of the year. We’re starting to ramp-up our training in the fall, when it gets slower, and we try to train a couple of times a month in the busy season. In the slower seasons, they might be trained two to three times per week. We’re also developing the 5-Star Technician Training Program, which denotes technicians’ performance levels and there are incentives.”
The 5-Star Technician Training Program features training tailored to technicians of all levels — from those with virtually no experience to field managers with decades of knowledge and know-how.
“Right now, we have close to 60 modules, or training lessons, for our 1-Star techs — those who are relatively new to the service department,” Adams explained. “That training platform is designed to get them up to speed so they’re capable and confident enough to go and do tuneups. Our tuneup techs are 2-Star techs; they’re able to tuneup and repair units. Our 3-Star techs run various service calls that come in, and they have on-call responsibilities. So, they have a little more responsibility, hold a higher level of training, and are generally considered higher-level technicians.
“Our 4-Star technicians are those who are helping to supervise other technicians,” he continued. “They’re very competent senior technicians who are very capable of doing some service management and teaching. They assist the 1-, 2-, and 3-Star techs, and they’re future managers.
“And 5-Star techs are those who have more management experience and are more like engineers. Some of the stuff they have to know exceeds the everyday nuts and bolts, like management and computer skills, HVAC load calculations, etc.”
The 5-Star Technician Training Program is Adams’ brainchild, and he has enjoyed watching its progress as it grows and changes.
“We’ve seen tremendous results just in the last year,” he said. “It’s nothing short of phenomenal for me. The quality of service we are able to give our customers is up dramatically. Callbacks are down, and our efficiency is up. Our sales are up, and we’re operating a much more productive service department.”
COMMITTED TO SUCCESS
Adams said training comes naturally to him, and he finds it satisfying to help others succeed.
“I enjoy training, and I’m a coach by definition. I’ve coached athletes, and I like helping people see results. I like when I can see the lights go on inside, and it’s obvious they’re really getting it.”
However, he stressed the success of the training program at Logan Services wouldn’t be possible without a commitment from everyone — from ownership down to the 1-Star technician — to engage in, support, and promote the training.
“You have to have a commitment to go ahead and put the money, time, and resources into developing people,” Adams said. “It takes commitment at the highest level. It is expensive, but the returns have been obvious. By training all of them to be better at their jobs, I have fewer customer complaints to deal with, and we have fewer problems and better-quality work.”
Adams also enlists help from higher-level technicians to make the program successful. “I utilize some of our managers and 4-Star senior technicians, and every single module we do is open for improvement every time we do it. We want a lot of input, and we take requests for specific training they may need. A lot of times, I learn right along with them.”
Adams does more than just train technicians, said Scott Hebel, a customer care and install coordinator at Logan Services.
“In addition to the outstanding training he does with the installers and techs, Jeff is also integral in the training of employees in other departments of the company,” he said. “He provides a personal orientation session with an overview of install and service functions and processes, facilitates ride-along sessions with installers and service techs to help enable cross-functional understanding and relationships, and supports and encourages the participation of office staff in service department meetings and installer training sessions when possible and appropriate.”
Adams also makes a point to stay on top of the latest technologies, said Sara Guigou, customer care specialist at Logan Services. “As new products are developed within the industry, he acquires the education and experience necessary in order to teach others within our organization the ‘how’ of best practices,” she said. “Jeff is very hands-on, and he doesn’t shy away from difficult problems but pushes through to find a resolution alongside of the technician who may be struggling for the solution. Jeff is constantly mentoring and training as he goes into the field to work side-by-side with the company’s installers and technicians. He is well-respected in the Ohio Valley, as he is a trainer in the truest sense of the word. He is always willing to answer any questions and assist whenever and wherever.”
Of all the different roles he’s had in the 40 years he’s been in the HVAC industry, Adams considers training the most critical and plans to see this program through.
“Training is the most important part of my job,” he said. “I’ll be 60 in March and plan to work full time for the next two years. Then maybe I’ll transition to part time indefinitely so I can build this out and get it to where I want it to be.”
The program has grown so quickly and been so successful that Logan Services recently acquired additional space devoted solely to training.
“Our owner has leased a 2,000-square-foot space separate from here that is dedicated to nothing but training,” Adams said. “That’s what I’m talking about when it comes to commitment — that’s one reason Logan Services is so successful.”
The plan is to start remodeling the property beginning in October. “We’ll probably try to use it immediately, but I hope to have it completely done by late winter.”
For those who may be struggling to build an in-house training program, especially one as successful as Logan Services’ program, Adams offered some advice.
“Use the resources that are available,” he said. “The manufacturer you’re involved with may have training resources, as well,” he said. “Take them and tailor them to your company. Try to tailor everything to fit your own company’s needs and be open and look for what’s out there. You have to take the time to go online and read the various resources out there, and go ahead and buy a mundane training book because it may have some key tips for you. Be sure to use all the resources available because that’s why they exist.”
Publication date: 9/26/2016