I am sure I am not the first to write about this, but it doesn't change expectations of homeowners or trade employers. Why is it that millionaire ball players can be successful batting .300? A pitcher can have thirty starts, win 20 games and could be named for the Cy Young? Or that a successful quarterback can throw 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions? The reason: they are much better than their peers.
Imagine, as an HVAC Tech, you got the diagnosis correct one-third of the time? For one, if your employer did keep you on the payroll the homeowner would not be calling you back! So what makes a good technician? Not the one winning the Cy Young, he only gets it right two-thirds of the time. Here is a short list that I find 'fits the bill', no matter how far along in the industry they are:
A clear understanding of the basics
If I need to explain what a multimeter is, or how to measure amps and what it means, we have a problem. This assures no batting title and no way I want this player on my team. It is not enough to know just how to take the measurement, the technician should know what they mean. This feeds into proper diagnosis, the first time. When working with any HVAC equipment, you should have a Physics 101 course under your belt as well. As much as I hated that mandatory course in trade school, it has helped me every day, in every job I have had since!
When their license/certification expires
Knowing the expiration of their certifications and licenses shows some pride in their accomplishments and contribution to the industry. If they know the expiration, they will know the requirements for renewal. The employer should not have to keep track of the minimum requirements for you to work in this industry, I am sure they already have kids at home they need to worry about.
Punctuality & Initiative
It is not enough to be on time and in the proper dress, you need to know what you should be doing. Wouldn't it be great to have all the service tickets turned in (with payment), the truck cleaned and restocked, know where you are heading today, and where you could pick up parts if needed? A good technician that is successful in this industry makes all of this happen, before the Service Manager needs to tell them. As a Manager, listen to your techs and consider their feedback, as this is the way to identify the key players.
Knowledge is Power
There is nothing more powerful in this world than knowledge. I learned this week 2 of boot camp on Parris Island. Learning from those whom have done it the hard way. We had a saying in our platoon some 5 years later: "Work smarter, not harder". If you reach the point of frustration with equipment, or cannot diagnosis the problem in an hour, you likely do not know enough about what you are working on and need to call someone! This is what keeps good technicians engaged in our industry: the unknown. This is also how I figured out I need to keep up with changes in our industry. When you settle on the fact you do not know everything, you realize that completing the eLearning or attending the evening classes at local distributors has much more in it for the technician, not the company. You see, there may be tools you need to return if things don't work out with your employer, but knowledge will always go with you.
There is still new equipment coming out everyday, with new technology centering around efficiency and comfort. A lot of the old timers, eying retirement and more worried about quitting time, will not be attending these late night classes. Do not fall into this trap! Just because the they are content with their position and not being the best mentor, does not mean you need to follow in these footsteps.
Our industry is already in dire need of qualified, engaged technicians! Ones that can fill the unrealistic expectations set by homeowners and employers alike, making much less than ten percent of the worst pitchers in Major League Baseball, but getting the diagnosis right 99% of the time!