There’s a lot that goes into running a successful home systems business. Marketing, training, customer relations, and the list goes on.
While managing the day to day operations of a company comes with its own set of hardships, the biggest challenge identified by home systems dealers is the inability to find and hire qualified personnel. It ranked first (31%) in 2017 as a major issue, according to the fifth annual Residential Security Market Report (2018) from the research firm Parks Associates and CE Pro sister publication Security Sales & Integration. The survey reflects business conditions for the 2017 calendar year.
Why the difficulty? The home systems industry stretches across a growing list of multiple subcategories—security, automation, lighting control, HVAC, IoT, networking, A/V, and more. The more comprehensive your offerings become the more challenging it can be to find technicians who are experts at all disciplines.
Moreover, as home systems become more widely available to consumers through retail outlets, they have come to expect more from professional installers—personalization, customization, superior after sales support… benefits they can’t get anywhere else. Consequently, the techs you hire should also be able to forge good relationships with your customers. Tech expert and customer service extraordinaire wrapped into one? When you find this person, you certainly don’t want to lose them.
ConnectWise, provider of a full portfolio of business management software, also offers tips on how to hire the right person and successfully integrate your new employee into your home systems team. Here are the steps you should take:
The Interview: Focus on More than Just Experience
An interviewee’s level of experience with home systems is certainly important to ascertain during an interview, but it is far from the only trait to consider. You should also look for someone who brings something unique to the table, and who will fit smoothly into the culture and dynamic of your installation team and the company as a whole.
Therefore, pose in-depth questions that will help reveal a bit about the interviewee’s character: “What do you do that other people find annoying?” or “Tell me about someone who is better than you at something you care about.” There are no perfect answers to questions like these, but you’ll be able to determine whether they are as honest about their faults as they are of their strengths.
The Onboarding Process: Set Them Up for Success
Your onboarding process sets the tone for an employee’s entire career with your company. You want to make sure that it’s smooth, organized, well thought out, and prepares your new employee to do their job well. If that means sending them to training, do so. Or if they need to shadow a technician for a week, put that plan in motion. If you get them started on the right foot, they’ll be more likely to stay with the company for the long haul.
So how do prepare your onboarding process? Start by talking to your existing team. What do they wish they would have known when they joined the company? What worked for them and what seemed to be missing? Armed with this information, you can put together a documented onboarding plan that fills in the blanks for the new hires. With each new employee, update the onboarding document as you learn new things.
The Offboarding Procedure: Soften the Blow
Firing someone feels bad, but it’s a necessary part of running a thriving business. Without a defined process for offboarding an employee, you’re stuck with a person whose issues are bringing your whole team down.
So what the best way to tackle the problem? Documentation is crucial. Have these materials on hand when it’s time to let the employee go. Make sure your plan covers not only the human resources details of how and when to offboard an employee, but also what happens when they are gone. Don’t leave your existing team high and dry, holding the responsibilities of their own jobs plus picking up the slack of a now missing employee. That’s a sure way to burn out your employees, furthering the issue.
Technology Professionals: Elusive But Attainable
By honing your interviewing skills, and developing solid onboarding and offboarding practices, you can expand your home systems team in a way that adds strength and vitality to your company. You can ensure that each new hire fits nicely into the organizational and stays on board. Good people are the backbone of any good company, so make sure you take the steps to find, hire, and develop a strong employee. ConnectWise can help guide you through the process.