Bridging the Technical Divide in the HVAC Industry
Helping your senior, most experienced workers get the most out of new technology
The world has certainly been turned upside-down by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. And your HVAC business is right in the middle of it. As an essential services provider, you’re still taking calls, helping people stay comfortable and safe during this health crisis.
But the crisis is also hitting everybody in the pocketbooks, and your business is going to have to look for ways to reduce costs and protect your margins. So, it’s important to keep finding new ways to integrate technology into your daily workflows to increase your company’s efficiency and profitability.
Change isn’t always easy, though, and asking people to lay aside decades of habits and work patterns in favor of something new doesn’t make it any easier. The question becomes: How do you motivate your most experienced technicians to adopt new technology?
First off, it’s not like your most experienced technicians are really scared of technology. After all, they’re experts in a field that requires a lot of technical knowledge and can understand mechanical systems that the average person has no clue about.
What they are scared of is having their time wasted by dealing with overly complicated software that doesn’t seem to add any value to their jobs.
Make Your Employees’ Lives Easier
No technology is perfect, but if you want your technicians to use it on the job, it has to be easy to use and quick to understand. Most of all, it has to be useful. If new software actually takes longer to use than the manual process it is supposed to replace, it’s going to be a non-starter.
The challenge is looking at it from the perspective of the technician. What would be useful for them on a daily basis? Perhaps the new application could eliminate manually taking notes. It could provide video and photography capabilities for creating quick, visual documentation of a completed job, helping eliminate the chance for customer disputes later. Maybe it could be an application to give them instant access to helpful information to assist with complicated problems.
It’s also about pacing yourself. Asking too much of your team and forcing too much change at one time don’t work. Start by looking for technology that is relatable. An older worker might not be all that excited to jump on a laptop, but they most likely have a smartphone and know how to use apps. Look for options that can be adopted with the least amount of disruption to their daily tasks.
Explaining the Reason Behind Technology Changes
Successfully implementing new technology in your HVAC business isn’t just about the technology itself. It’s about navigating human nature.
Nothing is worse than having somebody shove a new piece of technology into your hands, say “use this,” and then just walk off. Implementing new technology is all about change management and making sure your team understands the big picture.
You could provide the most awesome, complete newfangled software tool to a technician, something that could do thousands of things well. But if you don’t tell them when and why and how to use it, they’ll never pick it up.
Open communication will save the day. Tell the team the reasons that you’re implementing the new technology and tell them the actual “why” behind the decision: “Here are the direct benefits of using this technology. It’s going to save you time and effort. It’s going to mean less paperwork and frustration for you.”
But don’t forget that you’re talking to a real, live person. Acknowledge their experience, value their input and make sure they know you’ll thoughtfully consider it. Once your team members understand the reasoning and how the new technology will benefit them personally, they’ll buy into the idea. They’ll stop resisting and start embracing the new tools.
Preparing for the Future
If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we can’t start planning for the future soon enough. The sooner you start planning your company’s transition to using updated technologies, the better. By doing your homework, laying the financial groundwork, and by developing a clear message for your team about the need for the change, you’ll succeed and thrive.