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Reducing technician churn in the trades: Beyond the numbers

Pat McManamon
April 15th, 2022
3 Min Read

One tenet is the bedrock when it comes to attracting and retaining the best employees: Culture.

Every decision a business makes is a reflection of the culture the business fosters and the values it espouses.

So culture can and should address issues that lead to churn, issues like overbooking or weekend work or excessive drive time.

“The culture is the foundation,” said Chris Hunter, ServiceTitan’s Director of Customer Relations and founder and co-owner of the GoTime Success Group. “If you have a bad culture, you’re probably just increasing the odds of this tech churn that we’re seeing in the data.”

The data Hunter referred to came from a ServiceTitan study of what causes churn in the trades

The numbers pointed to four key factors: Overbooking techs, underbooking, weekend work and excessive drive time. Hunter says all can be addressed, but also said company culture can avoid those issues in the first place.

“A lot of this just comes down to some basics,” Hunter said. “One is clearly knowing what's expected of an employee or, as an employee, what is expected of me? What does winning look like? And then when we do win, getting recognized for it.

“I mean it's so basic, but so many people, I think, get so busy that they tend to kind of forget this.”

First, define expectations for techs

Hunter said it’s surprising the number of techs who don’t have defined duties and expectations. That can lead to confusion and uncertainty, which can morph into bigger issues, like a desire to work elsewhere.

“They're doing their job and not really feeling like they have a purpose or they're just spinning the wheel,” Hunter said. “Instead of knowing, ‘Hey, this is what I'm supposed to do, let me work to achieve it.’ And then when they do, be recognized for it.”

Hunter recommends regularly checking with employees to assess burnout, concerns and how the relationship between employee and management is growing (or not), then using the data to improve the culture.

“That’s a huge opportunity,” he said. “The bigger and faster you grow, the more you need this communication. When you’re small, it’s easy. You text three people in your company. But when you grow, it gets tougher.”

Go in-depth on field tech hiring demand

Increasing connection to the company

He also suggested making charitable causes and community involvement a staple, a budgeted item. Pay attention to what employees care about and involve the company in their passions.

“It does wonders because now they’re a part of it,” Hunter said. “They’re more connected to the company.

“It’s just the right thing to do.”

In many ways, much of what works comes down to simply respecting everyone and treating people the way you want to be treated. Hunter referred to the book “Talent Magnet,” which discusses attracting and keeping the best people with three basics: the boss, the future and the vision.

“If a company just has something bigger than just, ‘yeah we're going to make money and fix air conditioners,’ I think it'll help reduce a lot of this tech churn,” Hunter said. “Significantly.”

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