The Hire Better Now program was developed by an HVAC contractor over 14 years as he struggled to solve an acute technician hiring problem in his own business. The following article tells the story of how and why this unique program was developed.
By Charles J. Brand
When I was in college, my family purchased Hart & Iliff, an oil and energy company located in Sussex County, NJ. Founded in 1889, the company originally sold feed and grain, lumber, coal and heating oil. Over the years it diversified into HVAC installation and service. Since I had little interest in the business, when I graduated from college I went to law school and practiced law. A number of years later my father got sick and passed away. Since my mother was struggling to run the company by herself, it became clear that I either had to get involved in the business or it had to be sold. Before I knew it, I was working full-time at Hart & Iliff. The company had a number of experienced HVAC technicians who were at or near retirement age. By the time I entered the business, one experienced technician had already retired and been replaced by my father, before his death, with a technician who had worked for another company. The problem was how to replace the other experienced technicians as they retired. As I began to learn the business, I quickly discovered that it was very difficult to find good HVAC technicians. I had no clue where to begin or what to do.
I ran newspaper ads, visited technical schools and tried to hire experienced technicians. In each case, I found the process frustrating and unproductive. At one point, I hired an experienced technician who was a recovering alcoholic. I talked to his Alcoholics Anonymous advisor and was assured that he hadn’t had a drink in more than six months. So against the advice of my wife, who is a social worker, I hired this gentleman. Approximately six months later, I got a call at midnight on a Sunday from the local police department, informing me that this technician had been picked up driving a company van while intoxicated. Despite the “I told you so’s” from my wife, I still didn’t learn my lesson. I continued to hire HVAC technicians who had worked for other companies. None of these technicians, including the one hired by my father, were the type of employee I was looking for. For years I tolerated behavior that was totally unacceptable, afraid that if I let a technician go, I wouldn’t be able to replace him. Hart & Iliff developed a reputation as a company in which a technician could do almost anything (short of driving while intoxicated) and get away with it. It was the classic case of the inmates running the asylum.
Eventually I came to the inevitable conclusion that, in general, hiring experienced technicians is not a good idea. If they couldn’t make it in another HVAC company, they wouldn’t make it in my company either. Once I came to this realization, I began to study and analyze the problems associated with finding, hiring and training technicians. My legal training helped because I’m an analytical thinker and I’m very persistent. Over a period of fourteen years, little by little, bit by bit, I developed and refined the details of a program to successfully find, hire and train quality HVAC technicians. As the program began to take shape, we slowly weeded out the marginal employees.
When the first technician was let go, it made a huge difference in the attitude of the other members of the department. First of all, the technician who was fired was a constant complainer. Removing his bad attitude resulted in addition by subtraction. Secondly, it made it clear to the other technicians that if they didn’t shape up, the same thing might happen to them. Even more important is the fact that each time we let an employee go, we were able to replace him with someone appreciably better. Today, Hart & Iliff routinely gets voted as the best HVAC company in the Sussex County, NJ area.
HireBetterNow.com (HBN) was formed to make this powerful hiring program available to any company in the HVAC industry who wants to solve their technician hiring problems, once and for all. Over 40 companies have successfully used the program. These companies come from various geographic areas and range in size from very small to extremely large.
The theory of the program is to attract new people to the industry. Applicants are screened to make sure they have superior mechanical aptitude, good people skills and the right character and personality for the job. The HBN team performs the entire hiring process and presents the employer with a number of highly qualified candidates to choose from. Once hired, candidates are trained on an accelerated basis. An outline of the 8 steps of The HireBetterNow Hiring System™ appears below. Any company in the HVAC industry can use these concepts to dramatically improve their overall hiring program.
The HireBetterNow Hiring System™ was originally formed to deal with an acute technician hiring problem. However, in discussions with companies around the country, it became clear that there is a need for this type of program for employees in other phases of the HVAC business. Therefore, the program was expanded to cover other employees including drivers, office/support staff, and management personnel. The quality of all employees hired using the Hire Better Now Program is guaranteed or your money back.
The HireBetterNow Hiring System™ allows you to take back control of your company from your employees. Every business has to live with a certain amount of employee turnover. For a business owner/manager, it is an empowering to know that if an employee does leave, that there is a proven method of replacing them. The program also allows employers the latitude to replace marginal employees and upgrade the quality of their workforce. As your employee mix improves, so does the tenor of the organization and the operation of the entire business.