We’ve written before at the SmartVan about the field service industry’s graying problem. Today, Patrick Peterson, author of the ZenHVAC blog, offers his call to action for business owners to get more proactive about replenishing their workforce and enticing kids to get into the trades once again.
Click here for the original article. Article republished with permission.
A Call to Action
Since the beginning of time, business owners have been trying to plan and strategize (is that even a word?) their next business moves based on something as unforeseeable as the year 2099: their business’s sales projections. Well, I have some bad news for you. None of it will matter in 10 or 20 years anyway.
Take a good look at your company’s employees, specifically your service crew, and answer this one simple question: How old are they? Most of you will find your technicians are in their 40s and 50s. You may have a couple of apprentices in their 20s or early 30s, but the bulk of your work force is made up of middle-aged employees. (For all you middle-aged technicians out there, don’t worry about being middle-aged; you’re worth your weight in gold.)
Now let’s take a little trip back in time to the late 80s and middle-90s, and take a look at the average HVAC company’s employee roster. The apprentices were in their late teens to early 20s. The first-year mechanics were in their mid- to late-20s. The seasoned technicians were 30 to 40, and the sales people, estimators and service managers were in their 50s and 60s.
What’s my point? Simple: there was a natural and logical progression where age and experience lead to advancement and duties that involved more brain and less brawn, and rightfully so. (No offense meant to you whipper-snappers out there.)
Fast-forward to 2012 and we find there is a huge gap in our ranks caused by a lack of interest in the trades; there’s no one representing the early 20s-to-early 30s generation, and this is proven by the average age of your technicians and the lack of apprentices.
I have a simple question for you: Who is going to take the place of the technicians who are advancing or retiring out of the field? Answer: Right now, no one. This means that no matter how well you run your business, no matter how well you project the next quarter’s sales, no matter how well you train your technicians, it’s over in 10 or 20 years.
If you think I’ve painted a fairly bleak future for you, good, I meant to. While what I’m saying is obviously negative, I’m hoping it will bring about something positive. We need to become proactive. Wringing our hands and declaring that “the end is near” won’t accomplish anything — only action will.
This article was written to make people get up off their duffs and take action. The only question is, how? It’s easier than you think.
Technicians and business owners need to become involved. Go to your local high school’s career day and set up a booth. Volunteer to talk to the kids at the local trade school. There are a bunch of unemployed people (including kids right out of college) that need jobs; give them a chance to learn a trade, and a living.
Remember, it’s not just their future, it’s yours, too.