Hiring in HVAC: How Automation Can Help You Attract Talented Engineers

Rhys Pattimore
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When it comes to recruitment, you want to work with the best and brightest; with people who can take the initiative to help drive productivity. However, the truth is: it’s not only about what you want...

In many ways, for HVAC engineers who are job hunting, it’s a buyer’s market. As this report from Randstad shows, the UK has been experiencing a skills shortage of engineers, it warns that without a rapid turn-around (of some 186,000 recruits per year), the shortage is likely to persist into 2024 and beyond!

As a result, with more jobs available than there are qualified engineers to take them, candidates are on the lookout for what’s on offer to them, and (rightly so) are going to be picky about who they decide to work with. 

With that in mind - and as you’re likely already aware - when it comes to recruitment, your business needs to appear attractive to potential candidates. After all, no engineer worth their salt is going to commit to a company who doesn’t seem to genuinely have their best interests at heart.

A few points to ponder...

Can you afford to let your own standards slip if you’re not adopting the right tools, or risk putting off candidates because they’re unable to operate at their best?

You need to take steps to ensure you’re prepared to keep up with the changes that affect your industry: in particular, the emphasis on smart, integrated tech.

This means adopting quality software and efficient digital tools. 

You may already have aspects of your business working smoother thanks to your use of job management software, but there are ways to take this further.

For another moment, have a think about your engineers and ask yourself: “what’s most important to them in their day-to-day life?” 

Aside from a quality cuppa and a hearty breakfast to kick-off their day, when it comes to doing their job, they’ll most likely care about scheduling, communication, and job performance. After all, they need to know when they’re working, where to get updates quickly, and how to access information that lets them well...do their job.

So, let’s take a look at these three points in detail, with automation as your gateway to success! 

  1. Improved Scheduling
  2. Enhanced Communication
  3. Optimised Job Performance

1. Improved Scheduling

You run a proficient business that handles a lot of contracts. This means your office staff are kept busy, doing their best to ensure that diaries are organised and engineers are up to date. Now, let’s say you have a team of 15 engineers doing an average of 4 jobs a day: that could mean 300 jobs in a 5-day week! They’ll be juggling maintenance, installations, and emergencies (oh god, the emergencies!) day in, day out and...oh boy, it’s not easy, is it?

While it’s definitely a good thing to have the work, you’re probably running low on time when it comes to managing them all. So, wouldn’t you like to claw some of it back? 

That’s where automated mass scheduling comes in handy, to help to lighten the load.

By tying together your digital diaries housed on your job management software, automating your scheduling (thanks to a fancy bit of intelligent programming) will go toward saving you time, money, and energy and give everyone a far smoother experience in their working day. 

Basically, the software will analyse your data (scouring the appointments your engineers currently have booked), and find ways to schedule faster, smarter routes for the upcoming requests. It can take into account a whole host of factors, from:

  • The appointment type,
  • The job location (booked vs pending),
  • Your engineers’ qualifications,
  • Even job history,

Based on these factors, the system can quickly analyse and reveal the most suitable candidate to take care of an appointment, and in a much quicker time than if your office staff had to trawl through these details themselves. 

The human element is still present, as the system gives your office staff the option to confirm the suggestions that the computer makes. Having solutions appear nearly instantaneously, rather than after a lot of faff, is only going to make things easier for everyone. 

communicate with ease and read 7 ways to enhance communication

Of course, for the engineers themselves, they’ll be happier knowing that: 

  1. They’ll be keeping a steady stream of jobs coming.
  2. That their diaries are going to updated automatically.
  3. That the data they need it easily accessible.

As a result, they can happily keep track of where they need to be, when, and why, all in real-time. 

If your database isn’t handling bookings in this way, especially as you’re juggling all sorts of appointments for your engineers, it’s not going to reflect well on your image, but in addition, it’ll negatively impact your efficiency, too. 

If staff are held up by insufficient tools that prevent them taking care of more important, helpful tasks, then it’ll knock everyone down.

Does that sound like an experience prospective employees will find satisfying?

2. Enhanced Communication

We’ve always tried to save time for ourselves, but with the advent of digital services like Uber and Deliveroo, expectations (both at home and at work) to have things done faster and more efficiently are more profound than ever. It’s the same for communication.

Of course, these days, there are many, many routes to connect to each other and thanks to these digital highways, teams can communicate far more efficiently. Whether it’s WhatsApp, Slack, Zoom, or even good ol’ email, communication via tech, particularly with customer portals, means individuals allows us to work more effectively. If you’re not, then you’re already behind, and your staff will know it.

When it comes to automating communication, it’s fair to say that messages often act as notifications to take action, or as confirmation that something has been done. Rather than write a message from scratch each time and send it, an automatic notification can be sent in an instant, auto-filled by a piece of software that understands what fields need to be changed (name, address, title, etc). 

For engineers, this dramatically influences the way they work. After all, they want to spend as much time on the job, doing the tasks they’ve spent time training to do, and focus on doing them well: not doing admin. While the inevitable administration tasks they do contend with can be a bit of a pain, streamlining them gives them control and means they don’t dither. Whether it’s automatically filling in templates for invoices, receipts, or even providing a completed certification, having communication capably automated saves everyone time and effort.

It also means they can receive direct feedback from customers too, rather than having to wait to send a survey of questions, these can be fulfilled in a short space of time quickly, and easily. In this way, good, structured communication sets a strong foundation for quality customer relationships to flourish and grow. 

8 Benefits to Optimising your Customer Communications - read the blog

The communication with customers also makes an engineers life easier as it reduces the aggro caused by last minute changes; if a cancellation occurs due to spare parts being unavailable, or clients becoming unavailable, they can get notified and updated much faster missing. This also increases the overall client satisfaction rate, which is great for the engineer on-site, out on the front line.

Automating communication in this way helps maintain a competent level of professionalism, too. By ensuring you present yourself as a company who’s on the ball when it comes to communication, it not only means you can benefit from fewer headaches, less confusion, but you’ll gain a better reputation and the time to do more important tasks.

On a job by job basis, saving a few minutes may not seem like much. But reducing admin by 5 minutes from many jobs will add up to hours of saved time each week, all to be practically invested elsewhere.

3. Optimised Job Performance

Maintenance will be a big part of your engineer’s day-to-day work life, so it makes sense for them to be able to do it well; and to do it well, it’s best to be planned. This is where automatic updates play a significant role, particularly with Planned Preventive Maintenance. 

Through a combination of both automated communication and scheduling, you’re able to truly enhance the work of your engineers. An engineer won’t want to join a company whose data is in disarray, or a business who doesn’t help them by providing access to important information. Having a quality PPM strategy, enhanced through automation, will be the best way to help you succeed.

Knowing what’s wrong with an asset, it’s history, and status means that their overall performance will be significantly improved. If an engineer is out in the field and is able to connect to a database via the cloud, then they’ll be able to get all the updates they need to complete a job more efficiently. 

We mentioned before that the advent of smart integrated technology (both domestic and commercial) is playing a massive part in the HVAC industry, and it’s true that without adapting to that in your industry, you’re going to significantly hinder the type of work you’re capable of fulfilling and miss out to the competition.

Learn more:  Why Automating your PPM Strategy is Essential for Your Fire and Security Business

The Takeaway

HVAC engineers are undeniably amongst the most qualified and diversely skilled engineers in the field service industry. Whether you’re in Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, or all aspects of HVAC: you need to attract the right people to your business.

By optimising the way you manage your business, from enhanced communication, improved scheduling, optimised performance, you can show engineers that you have some of the best tools available to help them achieve the work they’re hired to do. Save time, increase productivity, and earn more money: if you’re happy, then your engineers will be too (and visa versa). What more could you ask for?

Well, we’d suggest our feature article on the retention of not just employees, but customers. Read more on Why your Database is Essential for Customer Retention and don't forget to download a copy of our infographic too: 

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