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A Future We Can All Hope For
We can all agree that the future we all would have expected for 2020 when we rang in the new year isn't the one we got. We are all worried and looking to hedge our bets or cut our losses in one way or another, which makes sense. Given what we now know, let's look at a brighter future and imagine what that might look like if we start making moves toward it.
Interest In “Essential” Jobs
I understand that for the moment, during “quarantine,” even our industry is seeing layoffs, but for us, that won't last long.
The reality is that once this all settles down, there will be many people who want to work in jobs that aren't as impacted by economic swings. While there will still be a huge shortage of skilled workers in the trade, we will have an opportunity to bring some new people into the trade who will value the peace of mind it can bring.
Rise of Practical Product Performance Testing
When we have big problems, people tend to come together to find real, practical solutions. I hope to see more of this lead to better testing standards for IAQ products so that we can compare them head to head and make the best choices.
In this test of a DIY filter from Smart Air Filters, they show the DATA of how well a DIY filter can reduce very small particles from indoor air. In our podcast with Founder Thomas Talhelm, we talk about how getting better data and interpreting it in clear and honest ways may be the future of the IAQ industry, and that's a future I can get behind.
Registered apprenticeship programs are a really nice alternative to college where students can learn as they are employed with participating employers. Many people will have a desire to get out of debt and stay out of debt while they pay their bills from their own efforts. I look forward to the future where more companies participate in these programs. Ideally, more high-quality techs would also spend time teaching in the field AND in classroom settings.
Cut Through Red Tape
We've already seen many building departments going to remote video inspections and many previously “essential” processes going to the side to keep the world running. While some of this isn't always the best, I hope some of the best parts remain, and video inspection seems like an excellent idea to save time and labor, and dare I say—pollution? (Less driving around and return trips.)
More Technology Solutions
How many people have and will use ZOOM for meetings, online learning for classes, and online signature capture for forms and documents? Necessity is forcing us to adapt and learn new things. Even NATE and RSES are embracing online accredited classes and remote proctoring for exams, which will be HUGE in helping busy people.
When the going gets tough, we often rethink the way things are done. I talked with Michael Housh and Jim Bergmann about some of the problems we could solve with a self-contained R-290 heat recovery chiller in residences. Farfetched? Maybe, but big ideas can lead to practical steps of growth, and that always excites me.
Return to Fundamental Business
What are some good fundamentals to follow? You already know them (and if you don't, check out THIS ARTICLE), but let's do this anyway:
- Don't go into debt
- Only spend money you have
- Make do with what you have and save your money to grow
- Hire good people and train them for the skills
- Fire people who don't do their job well or exhibit toxic behaviors and do it quickly
- Price your services wisely so that you make a 6% + net profit
- Don't confuse markup with gross margin
- Keep track of ALL your expenses
- Bill immediately and follow up on accounts receivable weekly
- Watch your cash
- Learn to read your P&L and Balance sheet (basically, follow Ruth King; she joined us for the HVAC School podcast's HVAC Business Best Practices series, and you can listen to her wisdom HERE)
Are we being idealistic? Certainly.
Will most of these happen the way we hope? Probably not.
But if we have learned anything, we have learned time and time again that steps towards progress have setbacks and unexpected discoveries that can sometimes lead to greater progress than we could have expected.