By Greg Wells
Every business operating in any industry can claim that its people make all the difference. But as home service providers, we know that sentiment is undoubtedly true. Our people are the ones going into customers’ homes, sharing their deep expertise and representing the company with every conversation and customer experience. Without service technicians—the “boots on the ground”—HVAC, plumbing and other home service businesses simply could not operate. When someone in our industry says that the people are everything, they mean it.
Home service companies must take this deep appreciation for their team and translate it into more than praise (though yes, plenty of praise is good). As we all compete to fill open positions and keep existing team members, benefits play a huge role in winning. These benefits don’t just allow businesses to keep hard-working team members or attract top new talent, they allow the company to change the lives of team members for the better, encourage people to not just stop by your business for a few years of their career, but retire with you. And most importantly, it is the right thing to do.
While competitive compensation usually tops the wish list for most people looking for work, there are other important benefits that should be considered. Here, we detail the three most meaningful benefits that will help companies competing for workers during this talent shortage.
Competitive Referral Program
Many people working as contractors in multiple industries have built a network of colleagues with similar skill sets who have become friends. By offering a competitive referral program, a business is able to entice existing team members to reach out to those they know and trust in the industry with a relevant job opening. This benefits both the company and the person making the connection. From the company’s standpoint, they now have an applicant that has been vetted, to some degree, by an existing, trusted team member. They also receive the opportunity to potentially work with someone they know, and a monetary reward sweetens the deal.
Rather than offering a one-time bonus per person referred who goes on to be hired, consider switching to an ongoing model, where whomever refers a new team member is paid a smaller bonus each month of the referred person's employment. This extends the length of the benefit and keeps the referral program top-of-mind month after month.
Health coverage is a requirement for full time employees, and many companies check that box by providing minimal, or expensive health coverage options. This does a disservice to your team, and the financial drawback is amplified for those who have families insured on the plan, as well.
Invest in better health plans to entice team members to stay with you longer. Renegotiate insurance plan options on a yearly basis, and try to provide different levels of coverage so there’s a fit for anyone’s insurance needs. The same can be said for 401K benefits. Consider a 401K match program that will be seen as a difference-maker when someone is considering a job offer. Even a small match is better than none.
Deeper, Simpler Employee Discounts
Too often, service companies are offering employees either discount programs that are complicated with far too many hoops to jump through, or the same discount that customers receive during the best sales and coupon seasons of the year. Your team works so hard for the business, and they simply deserve more than customers are receiving. Creating a program that is too hard to understand or too intensive will only drive your team away from attempting to benefit from it. It needs to be easy to understand and far superior to anything you give your clients. This is just another way a company can go above and beyond to provide its team the best in all areas.
One thing to keep in mind about benefits is that they should change over time. Gone are the days of plugging in a compensation system and minimal insurance plan and considering it done. Our team members deserve to know the businesses they work so hard for are in turn working to provide them with the best pay and benefits packages possible. This means benefits will fluctuate over time. For example, a company could respond to the recent rise in gas prices by offering gas gift cards as incentives. Opportunities for gaining more industry knowledge could also be encouraged with the implementation of a few paid days per year for skills training. Paid time off for philanthropic efforts is another idea.
Regardless of the specific benefits offered, make sure employees feel supported each day, and extend that into the hiring process. Be sure each person who applies with the company is receiving quick communication and updates as they go through the hiring process. Extending care toward individuals from the moment they first inquire with a company is a good way to lay the positive groundwork for a meaningful relationship even if someone doesn’t end up signing on to work right away.
As I have seen first-hand, supporting your business and customers always means supporting your team first and foremost. By keeping compensation and other meaningful benefits top-of-mind year-round, your team will feel better appreciated and supported, customers will receive a better experience and business will thrive.
Greg Wells is the president of MAX Service Group which operates Williams Comfort Air and Mr. Plumber in central Indiana, Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in southwestern Ohio, Buckeye Heating and Cooling in greater Columbus, Ohio and Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in greater Louisville, Kentucky.