Recruiting — and retaining — technicians in the home services arena can be challenging. It’s been a hot discussion topic at industry events (I recently spoke about the issue at the AHR Expo), especially given the current shortage of skilled workers across a variety of industries. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to finding and keeping quality technicians. But there are ideas and ways to think about the shortage that can help ease the pain — specifically the way that companies approach their recruitment strategy.
One critical aspect of recruitment that is often forgotten is knowing your culture. The literal definition of culture, according to Merriam-Webster, is the belief and customs of a particular group. So pervasive is the word “culture” in our personal and professional lives that it was the dictionary’s word of the year in 2014. In the workplace, culture may be hard to define. Culture is essentially the “why” behind a company’s business model — and why we work affects how well we work. Understanding that concept helps a business go after the right people.
At ServiceTitan, for example, I remember when we had 5 or 10 people and culture wasn't really something that I thought about. As we grew, and got to the point we’re at today, I'll say that culture now represents maybe 20% or 25% of my mindshare. The reason? Your culture is essentially your internal operating system. It's the core values that you have. It's the perspective from which your employees operate. If you don't define your culture, your culture ends up defining you. You have to understand how culture works, what you want your culture to be, and then figure out how to guide that process.
In speaking with businesses in the home services space, I noticed that many effective companies centered the “why” (as in, “why does your company exist?”) around serving or improving the lives of their customers. This messaging isn’t just a gimmicky statement to paste onto marketing materials, but instilled as a core value. The question doesn't necessarily have a right or wrong answer, but if the “why” behind your company’s existence is to make money, that's probably not the right answer.
Having a defined culture is beneficial to both recruiting and retaining technicians. That’s because culture is important not only in terms of not only attracting the right candidates, but also as a force that motivates and incentivizes teams to work. In appealing to the modern job-seeker, who is likely to be a millennial, it’s important to understand that purpose, and not necessarily the paycheck, is what keeps a job fulfilling. If employees don't feel like their work has purpose or that they're not doing something that actually matters, then other things may start falling apart.
Learn more about recruiting and retaining technicians at the SRT International Roundtable, April 6–8, where ServiceTitan will speak on this topic.