You have all experienced the dreaded callback problem. Sometimes callbacks are unavoidable. A part fails. A customer is hard to satisfy. An accident occurs.

Who is usually to blame? It is likely the installer or the service tech. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the work is done correctly and by the book. Deviations from procedure, lack of concentration, or just plain sloppy work is inexcusable and preventable. In many cases, the worker gets a warning, a write-up, or gets shown the door. These types of mistakes lead to callbacks and angry customers. Business owners and managers take whatever disciplinary action necessary to ensure that their businesses don't suffer from the avoidable mistakes of their workers. That's a given. Weed out the bad habits or those who don't correct their bad habits. The same logic should be applied to the owners and managers, too. Let me explain.


How many times have you taken an employee aside and privately questioned them about a procedure they continue to do wrong? And if you haven't taken them aside, how many times has that person's manager had to take that action? In the worst-case scenario, how many times have you or your managers had to fire an employee because they kept making the same mistake more than once?

Now stop and think about how many times that unfavorable scenario could have been avoided if your employee knew how to correct what they were doing wrong - but no one took the time to explain it to him or her. Does this sound like I'm barking up the wrong tree? I'm not.

Many of the mistakes made by workers do not come from lack of concentration or laziness. The mistakes come from ignorance. The worker just didn't know any better. And why? Because his or her boss didn't take the time to train them correctly; or set them up in a proper training program. It's not the employee's fault if he or she fails to properly commission a new system because the manufacturer has changed some of the specs. Manufacturers are always tweaking their equipment. And they usually offer training so workers in the field understand the changes and make the correct decisions.

Ultimately, it is the owner's or manager's responsibility to see that their workers get that training so mistakes aren't made. If they fail to secure that training, they should fire themselves before firing the worker.


I hasten to say that there is no lack of training available to HVAC installers or techs, only a lack of motivation on their bosses' part to line up the training.

What blows me away is the amount of information a field worker needs today in order to keep their employer competitive. There is so much to know - and that's a good thing. Our trade has got a lot to offer for our present and future employees. Yet sadly, many of them are leaving for other professions because they don't get the training from their bosses.

It's too bad the only time some bosses realize that their workers need training is when there is a callback or an unhappy customer. By then it can be too late to fix the problem. It often turns into the boss chasing his or her tail, trying to handle each callback and not taking time to see what the real root of the problem is.

Stop. Evaluate your training programs on a regular basis. Understand that it is not always the worker's fault. While you're at it, understand that by having proactive training programs rather than reactive ones, your chances for hiring good talent also go up.

And if none of that sounds appealing to you, fire yourself. You deserve it.

John R. Hall, Business Management Editor, 734-464-1970, 248-786-1390 (fax),

Publication date: 05/29/2006