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4 Training Tips for your HVAC Company
Training is important for businesses of all industries, but it’s especially vital to the success of your HVAC business.
When new people join your team, you need to be able to teach them the basics of your team’s operations, such as how to report time and log their travel expenses. Then, they must get up to speed on the company’s best practices; for example, you may teach them about flowing nitrogen while brazing and using large vacuum hoses.
However, we also need to provide continuous training if we hope to develop our businesses and adapt to the ever-changing world of HVAC. As regulations change, technicians need to know the best practices for entering the brave new world of A2L refrigerants, higher-SEER heat pumps, and more.
At Kalos, we’ve managed to make an internal training regimen to keep our techs aware of best practices, refreshed and ready to go for the shift from heating to cooling season or vice versa, and constantly rectifying internal issues at our company.
Here are 4 training tips that we have used at Kalos to build up our training program:
1. Make videos of the job being done correctly
The first of our 4 training tips is to film your technicians doing best practices. If you are subscribed to our YouTube channel, you’ve probably noticed that we publish lots of videos of technicians doing tasks in the field. Bert and Eric Mele tend to do most of these, but we sometimes show our other technicians and apprentices using best practices in the field.
Check out some of the videos our techs have made for our organization (and everyone else in the HVAC School audience, of course):
Bert, Residential: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYXxLu_APXc&t=745s&ab_channel=HVACSchool
Eric, Commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Swu6GM5AsGo&t=179s&ab_channel=HVACSchool
Although you can certainly show our videos to your technicians, it helps to have some of your own techs or senior techs make videos of themselves doing their jobs correctly and explaining their work. When your employees can see that other people in the company are using best practices and explaining the “how” and “why,” they may be more inclined to follow suit. (After all, why should they care about what some random guys on the internet say?)
Now, it can be pretty difficult to film, talk, and work at the same time. So, if you have trouble filming in the field, you can pay someone to follow your employees with a camera and edit the footage into a video. With all of these teenagers aspiring to be YouTubers these days, it’s probably quite easy to find a young relative who would be willing to film and edit training videos for pay. Trust me, they know how to film and edit videos; I swear it’s a biological adaptation of Gen Z and young millennials.
Once you have some videos, you can incorporate them into your new-hire orientation. Be sure to speed up the unimportant parts and focus on the highlights, though.
2. Send emails
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
“Emails? Really? My employees don’t want to spend precious time reading EMAILS! What makes you think they’ll even bother?”
If your employees aren’t reading emails, then this may sound harsh, but the emails are boring or unimportant to them. Or, perhaps the emails are too long-winded.
You can send short emails that cover a single training topic. These emails don’t need to be any longer than two paragraphs, and you can also include photos that show what you’re trying to teach.
You can also use the training email as an opportunity to recognize an employee’s hard work; employees often like that sort of recognition. At Kalos, the customer service team members share five-star reviews that mention techs by name, and the employees show quite a bit of excitement and support for each other.
For the record, I also fully endorse including dad jokes or memes in your emails to keep your staff’s attention.
All that said, DON’T test your techs’ attention span. Keep things short, sweet, and worth reading. Your employees might even look forward to those emails if you send them regularly and make sure they have content that matters.
3. Have weekly training meetings
The third of our 4 training tips is to have training meetings weekly. Having regular 1-hour training meetings weekly can do a lot of good for your company. It’s also a good idea for you to record these, have them transcribed, and send them out to employees who couldn’t make the meetings.
Once you have done enough of these meetings, you can compile all of that information into a single manual (or put all the recordings together to make a masterclass playlist).
For best results, these meetings shouldn’t just consist of you talking to your employees for an hour; meetings are best when they’re dynamic and have some element of roleplay involved. That way, your employees can be engaged and are more likely to learn the content covered in the meetings.
4. Create a training series
Our fourth and final of our 4 training tips is to convert broader topics into a training series. There are plenty of hot topics in our trade that have several different components. You can take one of those topics and dedicate an entire week to it. For each day of the week, you could have a 15-minute training session where you cover an element of that larger topic.
For example, you could have a high-voltage electric week and cover the following topics:
- Monday: Electrical basics (volts, amps, ohms, inductive loads vs. resistive loads, etc.)
- Tuesday: High-voltage safeties and conductors
- Wednesday: Capacitors
- Thursday: Condensing fan motors
- Friday: Blower motors and heat strips
Of course, that’s just an example. You could have a week dedicated to customer service, leak detection, and so much more. There’s so much ground to cover in this trade, and there won’t be a shortage of topics to discuss over the course of a week here and there. (Maybe you can even include snacks or bring in guest speakers and turn those training weeks into mini-symposiums!)
However, at the end of the day, training is much more than just a means of providing education. At Kalos, we believe in a concept called “kaizen” (改善), which is a Japanese word for continuous improvement. Kaizen is also a philosophy that states that we need to develop all of our employees to see an increase in overall productivity and customer satisfaction. Training is how we embody kaizen in our business.
Now, imagine if every HVAC contracting business had kaizen as a core value. If everyone focuses on doing things right and knowing the science behind our work, we might see a shift in the perception of our trade. Maybe, just maybe, we might see young people becoming more excited about the trade and looking up to HVAC technicians as knowledgeable people who do a great service to society. (Though maybe I’m being a bit too idealistic here.)
I hope you’ll consider using some of these training tips to strengthen your technician base and grow your HVAC contracting business. Besides, with changes always seeming to be around the corner in this trade, a solid training regimen will be one of your company’s most valuable assets.
In other words…. don't overthink it…. Just DO IT!