Due to COVID-19, there are a lot of unemployed people out there. The job numbers from April recently came out and it showed 23.1 million Americans are unemployed resulting in a 14.7 percent unemployment rate. That is horrible.
As an essential business, many in the HVAC industry are still working. Of course, that is not to say the industry has not been hurt by the current situation. Businesses on the commercial side of the business are running into a real headwind. Anecdotally, when I talk with residential contractors, some are doing great while others are struggling.
There are some that are bullish on the residential replacement market. Perhaps you have seen the video of Matt Michel from Service Roundtable breaking down the data in regards to expectations for 2020. Looking at items such as AHRI shipments 15 years ago, the number of installations in 2019, and additional information made the organization believe the replacement market was slated to grow 26 percent before the COVID-19 virus arrived in the world. Nobody knows how much an impact the virus will have, but Service Roundtable believes not enough to keep the replacement market from growing. So they believe 2020 will be a better year for that market than 2019. Go ahead and read that sentence again. It will undoubtedly make you feel better.
Everyone reading this also probably knows that the HVAC industry has struggled to find employees for quite some time now. The reasons have been well documented. Guidance counselors pushing kids to four year colleges, parents who look down on the trades, or the fact that the HVAC equipment is hidden in the basement or outside and is just not on the minds of the general public. Kids might tinker with a computer, but they don’t think about HVAC.
So we have at least one segment of the HVAC market that arguably will see an increase. We have an HVAC industry that has always struggled to find enough talented employees. We also have possibly the biggest labor pool in this nation’s history looking for work. I hate to sound crass, but this is an opportunity for the HVAC industry.
While many Americans sit at home worrying about how they will pay their bills, HVACR technicians are working and continue to be in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the HVACR industry to grow by nearly 34 percent in the next decade, further increasing the demand for a career that cannot be automated or outsourced.
The last thing an HVAC residential contractor wants to do is to be caught flat footed in terms of employee resources as the numbers start growing this summer. In a recent podcast with The ACHR NEWS, economist Alan Beaulieu said he sees a V-shaped recovery to this economic situation. That means the economy should bounce back much quicker than during the recession of 2008. HVAC contractors need to make sure they are properly staffed to enjoy the ride back up.
Communicating with prospective employees is obviously tougher these days. It is not as simple as popping into the local high school, being a part of the local trade school, or attending a career fair. Contractors will need to get more creative in order to reach these people.
Ideas can include social media posts, including information in an enewsletter communication you have with your customers, or perhaps an incentive program to have current employees recruit individuals they know are looking for a job.
There is probably never a better time to market. And that includes to prospective employees. People are certainly not distracted by going out and living their busy lives. They are at home waiting for your message. Especially those that are seeking employment.
All HVACR employers have great stories to tell about the industry, so why not share them? The HVAC industry has so many exceptional opportunities for the right people, so it’s important for the people in it to spread the word by reaching out to as many people as possible.