Where’s Your Professionalism?In answer to “Name Withheld” [in the letter titled “Where’s My Motivation”] in the Aug. 21 issue of The News, I would like to try to address some of his comments from the perspective of someone who has been both service tech and business owner.
I detected a note of acrimony in the letter towards the refrigeration profession. When you go into this line of work, you should be aware of the conditions you will face. Long hours, hostile customers, dirty and dangerous conditions, clueless customers and suppliers, and sarcastic responses are all a part of the game. After all, if it were easy, anyone could do it.
I would ask “Name Withheld” to do a serious self-examination. Are you doing a thorough job, or are you just putting in your time? Are you spending any of your own time studying to keep current with refrigerants, technology, and applications? Are you just a part changer, or do you take the time and have the wisdom to correct the cause of the problem?
If all you are after is gratitude and money, you are in the wrong profession.
I had an instructor in school who always told us that if we took care of our work, the money would take care of itself. With the exceptions of unions and poor managers, I have always found this to be true. Unions prevent pay for performance, and poor managers can’t get good help to stay because of their shortcomings, otherwise a good tech is free to either name his price or start his own business.
If you see young techs passing you by, perhaps you should check your own attitude first. I can tell you from an owner’s perspective, I have to hire about 10 trainees to find one good tech, and when I find a good one, I’ll go to great lengths to keep him. Remember, a business can be neither profitable nor successful without good owners and good employees. If you are a good tech, the doors are always open somewhere.
Greg R. Snyder
Ft. Collins, CO
The High Cost of LowballingI am writing about the “Feedback” letter in the July 31, 2000 issue titled, “Don’t Give Us the Brush-Off.” I am general manager of a family-owned hvac and plumbing business with 35 employees. It has been my experience that most “garage business” owners can lowball guys like me, not because they “don’t have overhead,” but because they cut a lot of corners.
We spend thousands of dollars every year just to make sure we do things by the book. We have periodic drug testing, regular safety training, driving classes, technical training, communication training, and much more. We take out permits on all jobs, and make necessary modifications to bring retrofit installations up to current code. We also carry every type of insurance that is required at or above the minimum levels. We keep all licenses and certifications current by attending all mandatory continuing education.
Most small contractors can’t or won’t do all of this. They don’t stay current on training because if they are sitting in a class, no one is running the service calls. They don’t carry proper insurance to protect the customer in case they have a major accident. They have a “good ol’ boy” approach to repairs or replacements and don’t do it right, just good enough to get the customer by.
I do not have anything against the garage guys if they are delivering the same quality, warranty, service, and everything else. But all too often, all they have to sell is a cheap price.
I think that if the garage guys would do all of the things necessary to run a truly first-class operation, they would find that they can’t offer such huge savings because of low overhead. Overhead is much more than a building.
Scott Gibson President/General Manager Gibson Plumbing, Heating, & A/C Lubbock, TX
Publication date: 09/18/2000