Ah, New Year’s resolutions…. I’ve had a few over the years. Not one of the resolutions has taken. I think I am going to take a pass this year. Let’s be honest, at this point I don’t see myself becoming a better person, and I have struck out the last three years on resolving to lose weight. But, hey, I really don’t have a thin guy head anyway.

Now telling other people what to do — that is where I shine. And it has been my experience that people love that short of thing… just ask my family.

So, with that in mind, here are some New Year’s resolutions for HVAC contractors.

• Develop a relationship with your local trade school — Here is the deal, contractors can’t complain about not being able to find good young workers if they don’t help out their local trade schools. Make an effort to make your presence felt at your area trade school. Contractors should show up in the classroom to tell students what it’ss really like to be in the industry. They should invite students to their businesses and, even better yet, set up internship programs.

As a reward for their troubles, those who made an effort will often get first crack at the best young talent entering the HVAC world in your area.

• Measure everything — Dominick Guarino and his team at National Comfort Institute Inc. (NCI) have a saying, “If you don’t measure, you are just guessing.” There is unbelievable truth to that. How do contractors know they are doing a good job if they fail to measure the effectiveness of what they’re doing?

And this goes for everything including marketing, customer service, the answering of phones, return on investment in the social media world, etc. We are in the era of big data with the ability to get our hands on a plethora of different stats. HVAC contractors should use that to their advantage. Contractors might think they have the catchiest of jingles in their television and radio ads, but if they don’t measure how many people respond to that advertising it is just their opinion. It is time for the industry to play a little Money Ball.

• Google alert yourself — Certainly I can’t be the only person who Googles himself on a semi-regular basis. No worries if you’re not as vain as I am, but you do need to keep an eye on what people are saying about your business. If a customer is complaining about your performance, an ex-employee is badmouthing the business, or a competitor is stealing your website content, signing up for Google Alerts will bring that information to your email inbox every day.

• Talk about the industry — I have beaten this drum for a number of years. When I travel to industry events, contractors often lament the lack of high school students who realize what a career in HVACR has to offer. Rightfully so, these contractors point fingers at parents, teachers, and guidance counselors for not relaying the message to students.

And, while that is all true, sometimes the industry needs to take matters into its own hands. That means spreading the HVAC gospel by talking about the industry at family parties, neighborhood barbecues, and school functions.

I realize this is easier said than done as many HVAC contractors put in a ton of hours at the office. Contractors also likely go to bed thinking about their companies and wake up thinking about their companies. I’m assuming the last thing they want to talk about at the neighborhood dinner parties are their jobs. Let’s face it, this is a male-dominated industry, and guys are not big on talking work at home. My wife, a teacher, regales me with countless stories about her high school students (some of which I pay attention to, the vast majority of which I don’t), while I don’t know if she could identify what HVAC stands for. But, sharing your passion for this industry might open the door for a future HVAC contractor or technician. At the very least, it can make someone think about changing out their 25-year-old furnace or air conditioner.

So those are a few items HVAC contractors can work on this year. To learn more about New Year’s resolutions directly from contractors, see the feature in next week’s magazine. But, for now, I am officially done with New Year’s resolutions.

Publication date: 1/9/2017

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