Focusing on Block-and-Tackling
With the onslaught of the Coronavirus, the world changed, and Bryce says that it has forced him to look at their processes and their systems and focus on getting back to basics – business fundamentals.
“To be honest,” he explains, “it isn’t all due to the virus outbreak. “I belong to an ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) MIX (Management Information Exchange) Group. They provide tough love and point out missed opportunities.
“But then the shutdowns began and the world changed. I definitely wanted to batten down the hatch and focus on improving the fundamentals.”
According to Bryce, despite the bad news, there are a ton of opportunities for the HVAC Industry that should help companies keep the lights on and provide essential services to people who are spending more time in their homes than ever before.
“With the shelter-at-home orders around the country, many companies are struggling because they lack customers due to their fear of being exposed to the virus.
“But it is also a terrific opportunity to pick up training and certification for your entire team,” he says.
“We have always focused on technical training as well as on the soft skills side of the business. As a team, we consistently work toward a greater understanding of the impact of overall system performance since our very beginning. We are now trying to take that to the next level.”
He explains that this is happening in a variety of ways. One of them is very unique: Bryce founded a State-accredited trade school called the Better Tech Institute (BTI) last year which is now licensed in post-secondary education. The school can provide diplomas to graduates.
Advantages of BTI
Bryce adds, “When you take the overhead from the school and cross-pollinate those instructors into continuing education for the team at AC By J, that creates a huge opportunity to step up our game.”
That opportunity extends beyond just the HVAC team. It is product-related as well. Bryce says that recently, due to the climate and concern in the marketplace, plus the growing consumer awareness of everything from IAQ to how germs are spread, they are researching and exploring the entire family of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) products and sharing that information with the entire company.
“Not just with the HVAC service techs,” says Bryce, “but with our plumbers and the office team as well. The idea is to get everyone onto the same page so we are all talking the same language when we make recommendations and provide advice to our clients and the community.”
Gearing Up the Team
Another opportunity that Bryce sees is to further enhance an initiative that created clearly defined career paths for AC By J installers and service technicians. In the AC By J Service Tech pathway, there are five career steps.
“A level five is the top technician: the guy you wish all your techs would aspire to be,” Bryce says. “Each level requires a number of certifications to be achieved and has a compensation range that the techs can expect. Each has requirements for the types of tools they carry and their knowledge of how to use them. It is a pathway they can use to accelerate their career.”
Bryce says that he met Rob Falke very early in his career. In fact, he met Rob before National Comfort Institute was born.
“Remember, as a relatively new business owner, I knew very little and turned to the manufacturers and distributors for training.
“But I also turned to people like Rob, as well as the membership organizations I joined, like ACCA, to help me learn every aspect of operating a business successfully and doing the right things technically for customers.
“I became Rob’s first customer when we hired him to come to Scottsdale to teach a class. My wife Kelly and I invited him to stay with us and we held that first class in our home as well. We were sheltering in place before it was a national trend!”
“From that point forward, we cemented our relationship with Rob and Dominick Guarino, ultimately becoming the very first contractor to join the NCI membership,” he says.
Bryce also says it was in those early years that his philosophy on training zeroed in on investing as much as possible into the entire AC By J team.
“We believe that if we are to present ourselves in the marketplace as professionals, then we need to be professionals. This means we need to continuously train and get certified in the disciplines that make us pros. In my mind, there is no going around that.
“Training is one of the most critical aspects of running this organization. I don’t know how else to run a business.”
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