There is a lot that goes into being a successful HVAC contractor. However, like anything else, sometimes it is best to boil it down to its simplest form. For HVAC contracting, that can be: Whoever has the best people wins.

Think about it. If your company has the best technicians, service manager, dispatchers, upper management, etc. there is only one person to blame if it is not a highly successful company. But how do you make sure you have the best people… or certainly better people than your competition?

I was talking to Matt Marsiglio from Flame Furnace at the recent ACCA fall meeting in Baltimore, and that company seems to be doing all the right things. The words that have stuck with me long after my flight home outlined the type of environment Matt and company president Gary Marowske have created.

“Catch people doing the right thing and reward it. If you are just trying to catch people doing the wrong thing, it becomes a pretty hostile work environment. They see you coming down the hall and they turn and burn. We praise in public and coach in private,” Marsiglio said.

The company has a prize chest in their office stocked with items such as Apple watches, AirPods, etc. The technician that gets the highest review rating in the month gets a prize.

They teach all employees about the rich history of the company. They will email out a question about the history and whoever has the correct answer first gets a prize. This has the additional benefit of keeping employees cognizant that they need to check email on a consistent basis. As you can imagine, the questions get answered a little quicker starting right after Thanksgiving and going into the holiday shopping season.

The company also does the little things that go a long way. Gary calls everyone on their birthday to wish them a happy birthday. It is a small thing, but it helps employees know the bosses care. They also make sure they acknowledge all accomplishments, such as a NATE certification, both in person and on social media. People love the positive reinforcement.

In addition to praising positive behavior, the company is proactive in making work a more pleasurable experience. They decided on a scheduling process by involving the people that will be scheduled. This led to a 90-day-in-advance schedule that gives technicians plenty of time to plan their personal lives without interfering with work. And it is a two-way street, as the bosses do their best they can to make sure time off is granted.

“I have a lot of youth football schedules on my Outlook, so I can be sure to schedule around them so my technicians can go see their kid’s games,” Marsiglio said.

We live in a different world these days. It is not like decades ago when there was a loyal group of employees blindly following the owner of the company. Things can’t be so top-down in the current work environment — at least, not if you want to entice the best talent to your company.

Think to yourself what you can do to make the job a little bit more enjoyable for your staff. Certainly you still need to make money, so it is rare that an HVAC contractor can decide not to schedule anyone for nights and weekends. But make concessions as you balance profitability and staff. Because if you are without the proper amount of employees and need to turn down work … it will certainly affect your bottom line.

And one more thing: Happy employees recruit friends and family to join the team. There are going to be a lot of holiday gatherings over the next few weeks. How are your employees talking about your company to the people at those parties?