Finding, hiring and retaining quality technicians is important for custom integrators today. Indeed, many custom integration companies report that the inability to find manpower is hurting their ability to grow. The problem has a spillover effect for the entire industry. If integrators don’t grow, then manufacturers don’t grow (and their investors don’t get the return on investment they desire). You could argue that this hiring dilemma is a contributing factor to more manufacturer seeking the direct-to-consumer route for their products as they become frustrated.
“The custom installation industry doesn’t not need 20,000 technicians… it needs 200,000 technicians,” said one unnamed manufacturer, who indeed speculated that the manpower issue is further evidence that scaling the custom channel to a grand size might be impossible. It also opens the door for security dealers, electricians, builders and even etailers (i.e., Amazon) to bypass the industry.
For integrators, the difference-maker is customer service and technical know-how. The more highly trained technicians become, the bigger the gap is between what custom installers can do and what other potential services can do (or what consumers can do themselves. ) Scott Harkins, vice president of IoT at Honeywell, recently noted at the Parks Associates Connections conference that 50 percent of homeowners who buy their own smart thermostat eventually end up hiring a professional to install it.
“They take it home. Take the [existing] thermostat off the wall, and there are five different wires. It looks a little bit scary,” he remarked.
In the meantime, once you hire a technician you have to keep him or her. One integrator in Southern California pays any employee who quits smoking 50 cents more per hour. He also pays their entire health insurance premiums. Another integrator in Connecticut recently hired his first female technician, and she has ended up becoming one of his most reliable employees.
Take this quick 5-question survey to gauge how you might be able hone your hiring practices, hire the right technicians and keep them.