Killing the service tech

The average service technician is overweight, stressed out, and fueled by legal stimulants. Coffee, cigarettes, and monster drinks have replaced the staple of a good breakfast and rest. ALSO READ:  8 REASONS WHY TECHS SHOULD QUIT SMOKING

This unhealthy combination is an absolute recipe for disaster, and it’s killing our service techs.

The impact of an an unhealthy life style is causing massive damage to our industry.  If not resolved, we may find the plumbing, electrical and HVAC trades dying off.

RELATED – How to Win the Recruitment Battle for Good Plumbers and Techs

Techs don’t live to work

If you ask any business owner what his biggest challenge is today, he is going to say,

“There is a major shortage of people in the trades. We are just not getting any new blood.”

Now, ask a father that happens to be a tradesman (plumber, electrician, or hvac tech) what he would say to his son about becoming an hvac tech. He would probably say something like,

“Son, why don’t you get a job that pays you well and has normal hours? I’m proud to be a tech, but I want you to have more time with your family.”

Why does a father say this to his son?

Because, he loves his son, and understands the stresses that come from non-stop service.

In the “new generation,” kids have been raised to value their health, time, and quality of life more than money.

You can get mad about that, and say the modern generation is lazy. Or, you can recognize that the previous generation raised the current generation this way for a reason.  Parents want their kids to be happy and healthy.

The value of a healthy balance to life and work

A healthy work life balance is critical for the following reasons:

  1. Techs that have a healthy work / life balance are happier. This reduces turn over.
  2. Happier people have less stress, which reduces stress induced sickness.
  3. Healthy people have fewer medical bills. Medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy.
  4. Happier people make happier clients. Happy clients like to buy from happy techs.
  5. Clients that are happy tell their friends.

I could go on, but the bottomline is a healthy and happy tech is good for business.

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Creating a healthy balance in the on-demand services trades

The challenge to a healthy lifestyle is typically caused by your business model. It is just a fact that the on-demand services trades are going to have more stress than a 9 to 5 job.

It’s not about eliminating all stress, it’s about handling it in a balanced approach.

Doctors work in an on-demand trade, and a lack of rest greatly affects their performance. Do you know that you are statistically more likely to be misdiagnosed by a tired doctor that is in his 60th hour, than a rested doctor that had the weekend off?

Do you think this is any different for the trades? Many hospitals have recognized this problem, and are taking steps to correct it.

The trades are also beginning to realize the problem associated with an unhealthy lifestyle.

Here are some of the steps you can take to reduce the stress, and create a healthier life balance for the on-demand service tech:

  1. Limit on-call rotation. It is the dream of all retail service companies to serve their clients whenever that client calls. Personally, I want that level of service from my service providers. However, it requires a business to reach a certain size before that becomes a sustainable model. If you are at 2 service techs, then both of those service techs are going to be on call the vast majority of the time. That will wear them out in a hurry! Even if the tech is making a lot of overtime money, he may not make it very long in your company. The solution?  Grow your company to handle demand, limit the on-call, and rotate techs in and out of the service schedule. Try to limit your techs to 1 week of on-call per month.
  2. Mandatory long weekends. This is going to sound like a wild concept, but creating a mandatory long weekend is a great idea. Some techs love to work. They love it so much, they will work themselves to exhaustion. Schedule a mandatory long weekend for them where you will not call them for any reason.
  3. Remove the threat of the emergency call. Many companies say something like, “Keep your phone nearby all weekend. You are off call, but in an emergency, I may need you.” If that happened once in a while, then a tech could handle that. However, it becomes a weekly statement for most service managers. This is one of the worst things you can do to a tech. When you do this, you force them to think about work. The mental energy is exhausting. If the tech is off, let him be off. Don’t stress him out with, “maybe we will need you.”
  4. Guaranteed Sleep. If the tech is out to 2am in the morning, don’t demand that he be in the 7am meeting. Create a system that is automatic for the tech. It could be that he has 10 hours from the time his GPS shows him home until you will dispatch him again.

Any company can implement the 4 procedures mentioned above. With a few minor adjustments, you can promote a healthier lifestyle for the on-demand plumber, hvac tech, and electrician.

Question: What does the service industry need to do help keep techs healthier? Please comment and share on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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