Two of the Top Frustrations HVAC Techs Experience in the Field
Working out in the field has its benefits. You’re not stuck in the office all day long. And you get to meet interesting people. But field service techs will tell you there are plenty of challenges, too. Our Steve Ehinger and Matt King are at the International Air, Heating, Refrigeration Expo (AHR2018) this week talking with managers and leaders in field service and they’re hearing some of the same challenges over and over again.
The Top Frustrations
One: Service techs are stretched too thin and they’re feeling the crunch. Too often, experienced field techs are “dumped on.” They’re given a larger share of jobs to complete, and the jobs are much more difficult. Field service managers and HVAC company owners tend to lean too heavily on these experienced techs because there aren’t enough experienced workers available.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 800,000 skilled trades jobs in 2016. And that number is expected to rise to more than 31 million by 2020. Unfortunately, there are fewer people between the ages of 25-40 entering skilled trades than in any point in history. The result is field service companies struggling to fill open positions and leaning too heavily on existing, experienced service techs.
Two: New service techs aren’t getting the training they need. This complaint goes hand-in-hand with number one. When companies are able to hire new field service techs, they have little job-specific education and little to no experience. That means pulling an experienced tech to teach the skills necessary to complete the job.
According to Aberdeen Group research, “best-in-class” field service organizations resolve the issue on the first visit 88 percent of the time, “average” companies achieve an 80 percent rate and the “laggards” struggle at 63 percent. But completing a job on the first call requires having the right experience, and companies are struggling to find that.
Overcoming These HVAC Challenges
So, how do companies overcome these challenges? Easy answers have been hard to find. Companies try leveraging their existing field service representatives to train new employees, but that throws scheduling off and slows the speed with which jobs can be completed. It also puts pressure on your experienced techs to do more and spend longer hours at work, which can result in unhappy senior techs.
Some HVAC organizations have also resorted to creating training programs. But that again puts the responsibility on the shoulders of your experienced techs. Attendees at AHR2018 are looking for better options. Steve and Matt have had dozens of conversations with HVAC field service managers and leaders who want a better option and they’re turning to technology to find it.
Field service management (FSM) applications like SAMPro from Data-Basics is one answer. These applications can help with scheduling, tracking, and even customer communications. But field service companies that really want to overcome the challenges they’re facing now – challenges that are only expected to become more difficult in the future – need something more. They need communication platforms that make it easier to share knowledge in the field without having to send two techs to one site. And they need the ability to communicate with other techs, managers, and customers easier.
It’s no wonder Steve and Matt are staying busy. They have a lot to talk about with these frustrated HVAC managers and leaders.