What are the most significant issues facing the future of our industry?
Thereâ€™s certainly no shortage of significant challenges we face these days that could be the answer to that question. If we look honestly at our industry, we know the list of challenges is extensive, and we also know that some issues will be harder to fix than others. Of course, if you asked me that question, I might say that one of the most critical issues is the lack of well-trained technicians. It is as good a place to start fixing our industry as any.
Here's the honest situation: There's an immediate need for qualified installers and service techs. Many company owners and managers are banging their heads against the wall to fill positions within their companies. There's an immediate need because the sales staff is still working hard, creating sales that have to be installed...and these newly sold systems must be installed in a reasonable amount of time. The unfortunate result is that existing customers' repair calls may be delayed, but that's not a good solution, since you don't want to lose a good customer because of a slow repair call.
In many cases we're recycling "experienced techs" from competitors by offering them more money or promises of better working conditions. Many of us are so desperate today that we're lowering our standards to simply get a "body" in an effort to "stop the yelling". Obviously, it's never good to lower standards, yet many of us are doing just that to bring in anyone.
So that's where we stand -- we need qualified technicians, but how many of us are simply putting a Band Aid on the problem and really closing our eyes on the future? This is a nationwide problem, and one which is clearly not getting any better. Albeit some conscientious alarm industry associations have created programs which will prove to help, there are other existing solutions that our industry, in general, is not taking advantage of. Let's be proactive and not reactive!
In the 1980s and early '90s, I used to put an ad in the paper for a skilled tech with a minimum of five years experience, and I would quickly have a line out the door with well-qualified candidates. Today, that same ad would generate two phone calls if you're lucky. One of those would come from an out-of-work delivery driver, and the other applicant would be a person who has some experience repairing TVs and VCRs. Based on the experiences of so many alarm industry hiring managers, here's what would happen at that point. Neither of them would show up for the scheduled interview, and if they did show up, they wouldn't pass the drug test nor would their driving records be conducive to even considering them.
There is no argument that many of us have no choice other than to do whatever we can to address the immediate need. Regrettably, with little attention, we're closing our eyes to the future need and the problem is going to go on and on indefinitely. Unless we get proactive about recruiting new trainees today, the lack of qualified technicians is going to continue to escalate.
Finding new recruits is a time consuming and agonizing task. Most of us are extremely busy and are really not very creative when it comes to looking at the future. It's easy to try the same things over and over with little success. I wish I had a dime for everyone who told me they're using Monster.com for this purpose. While the online job hunting services may provide a few success stories, it will not solve the problem for the future. So what can we do?
One suggestion is that we take a lesson from the military. In every single city throughout this country various organizations sponsor job fairs. Organizations like the U.S. military use the job fairs, because, like our industry, they are in constant need of new hires. Every single high school and college campus does a job fair type of event. Trade schools and junior colleges have several during the year. Your company can capitalize upon these jobs fairs. Consider designating someone from your company to set up a table and actively pursue these events with the objective of revitalizing our industry with some energetic new blood.