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Thread: Benefits, After-hours/weekends, vacation, etc - looking for feedback from techs/pros

  1. #1
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    Benefits, After-hours/weekends, vacation, etc - looking for feedback from techs/pros

    I'm the GM of a company in Oklahoma, and I would really like to find some ways to balance the demands of a growing company with helping my employees maintain a high level of quality-of-life, and a good work-home balance.

    I'm trying to figure out how other contractors out there are handling hours-of-operation, on-call, after-hours/weekends, vacation time offered etc.

    We are currently open M-F, 7:30 to close (which means whenever my techs get on their last calls, and the phone isn't still ringing). At "close", the phones get rolled to an answering service who dispatches anything that comes in to my on-call technician. Sat is 8:00 to close but we only have 1 tech who works on Saturday from Labor day to Memorial day, and 2 techs who work on Saturday in between those dates. The on-call technician can be called in as backup if needed. The office is closed on Sunday. The on-call rotation is Friday to Friday. The on-call techs make OT on anything ran, an extra half hour of drive time added automatically at OT rates, and a $50 spiff for every call ran (even if it's a warranty call).

    Here is what I offer, in terms of benefits:

    100% employer paid health insurance for the employee/75% employer paid health insurance for their family
    100% employer paid vision insurance
    100% employer paid dental insurance
    HSA/FSA
    401k with matching funds (100% up to 4%)
    100% employer paid license renewals
    Automatic pay raise/bonus program for any HVAC tech or plumber who cross-trains and gets their license in the opposite field.
    6 paid holidays
    12 days of PTO (if it's not used by the end of the year, we pay it out to the employee)

    Here is what the typical compensation range looks like:

    $14-$33 per hour (the "top" half of my techs are landing between $70,000 - $100,000 once it's all said and done)
    Spiffs on most all comfort enhancement products*
    Spiffs for setting leads for comfort consultants*


    *NO QUOTAS OR SALES NUMBER THAT THEY ARE REQUIRED TO HIT. We've added the spiffs to try and give guys who are interested, more opportunities to make more money. We absolutely do not spiff on any parts that are not strictly an optional upgrade in some way and not sold as such. Techs who are found to have been dishonest about that (or dishonest about the benefits of the upgrade) are corrected, the customer is informed and refunded, and the tech is sent down the road if they do it more than once.

    What can I do to attract the highest character guys/gals around and keep them here? What could I improve on? What do you see that isn't matching up with what you are seeing?

    I've considered just closing at 5 pm every day and having the on-call tech take everything from 5 pm to 7:30 am and then giving them off during the day for the entire week of their on-call shift. Would that be then too much work for the on call tech in the evenings? Would you guys hate that during the winter when there wasn't as much on-call work coming in? Have any of you seen guys who are hired to only work nights and weekends? What about having guys who work Saturday - Wed and giving everyone else off every weekend?

    When I was a tech, we just worked for what they said we were worth, and never saw our families but we didn't know any better. Times and people are changing (and it isn't necessarily all bad) and I want to stay out in front of it.

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  3. #2
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    This sounds almost identical to the place I work and Ive been happy. One thing that I wish we had is more training like different manufacturers of equipment or different products coming to the shop to teach us new or different things. I do all my own learning about different things and products and thats fine but would like some of that to come to us. I would like more input on some of the stuff we use like brands of tapes, parts and other miscellaneous stuff like that. What area is your business? Were in the general Tulsa and all surrounding areas.

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  5. #3
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    Is this residential or commercial or both?
    Philippians 4:13
    I can do all things in him that strengthen me.
    Apostle Paul inspired by GOD.

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  7. #4
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    Looks like you have a pretty decent benefits set up going.

    I would agree that you need to set a proper end of business day. Anything after that time should be OT rates to dissuade customers from calls that can wait. Most peoples problems in residential are not critical enough to be running your guys ragged.

    Refrigeration calls are a different story usually, but that is what the on call guy is for.

    Are you constantly fielding a large number of after hours emergencies? If so have you looked into why that is the case?

    Not everything is about money. As techs get older with families, a regular work schedule becomes important.

    Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk

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  9. #5
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    One thing I really like about where Im at is, they give me a lot of freedom and not micromanaged, If I need to take off for something that pops up, like it always does with little ones, Im usually able to do that, even on short notice. Im not pushed to get x number of things sold, when its slow I get to ride the clock a whole lot more than I would ever thought I could. Get to drive my work truck home and if need be can use it for non work things like having a dr appointment in the morning and instead of driving my personal truck Im able to just use my work truck and go to the appointment and then right on to work. If I need to go somewhere during the day to pick something up for myself or whatever, theyre ok with that too. Theres a lot of trust between me and my boss and we respect each other and it works really well. Its a small company with only myself and 2 other techs, 4 installers, the owner,2 office ladies, and my boss whose the operations manager. I know that I could make more money if I went to a larger company but like previously mentioned, its not always about the money.

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  11. #6
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    What you’re doing all sounds pretty good except not having an end to normal business hours. I’m on overtime after 8 hours in a day. We are not forced to work overtime unless we’re on call, but obviously overtime often can’t be avoided. It sounds like you’re residential so I don’t see why your on call guy would get so many calls that he can’t work days too.

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  13. #7
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    Well done on having such a well rounded compensation package!

    Agree with others, one area of improvement could be the operating hours.

    Being residential (presumably), I'd imagine there may be alot of calls from people getting home from work to find a broken HVAC system. This being the case, consider having overlapping shifts, say, 7am to 3pm and 11am to 7pm. Or whatever. This might help alleviate the after-hours issue.

    Another approach could be 4 day work weeks (10hr days), again, with overlapping teams. Where I work has similar to the above, most people loving that long weekend every week!

    The more experienced tech probably has a family that they love and want to spend time with. Maybe that is for after school activities... or even just reliably being home for dinner. A somewhat consistent schedule that a person's family can plan around goes a long way in keeping that person happy.

    Cheers.

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  15. #8
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    Work day 7:00 - 16:00
    Guaranteed 8 hr days, 40 hr week.
    10 Holidays
    10 Sick days, Sick days can be banked for future use up to 6 weeks. (That came in real handy for my heart surgery. Was out 12 weeks)
    1 Week Vacation for the 1st year. 2 weeks after the 2nd year. 3 weeks after 5 years. 4 weeks after 10 years. (Vacation time can also be banked up to 4 weeks)

    What's the cost of housing in your area? The hourly rate has to reflect that. $33 hr is $850 - 900 take home, That doesnt buy much house!

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  17. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurst11 View Post
    This sounds almost identical to the place I work and I’ve been happy. One thing that I wish we had is more training like different manufacturers of equipment or different products coming to the shop to teach us new or different things. I do all my own learning about different things and products and that’s fine but would like some of that to come to us. I would like more input on some of the stuff we use like brands of tapes, parts and other miscellaneous stuff like that. What area is your business? We’re in the general Tulsa and all surrounding areas.
    We are in the Oklahoma City metro area.

  18. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artietech View Post
    Is this residential or commercial or both?
    Residential and LIGHT commercial (like, very rarely do we even work on 15 ton units).

  19. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BALloyd View Post

    Not everything is about money. As techs get older with families, a regular work schedule becomes important.

    Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk
    This is what I'm really trying to fix- I want these guys (and ladies, if I ever had any apply) to have a healthy home life.

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  21. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    Work day 7:00 - 16:00
    Guaranteed 8 hr days, 40 hr week.
    10 Holidays
    10 Sick days, Sick days can be banked for future use up to 6 weeks. (That came in real handy for my heart surgery. Was out 12 weeks)
    1 Week Vacation for the 1st year. 2 weeks after the 2nd year. 3 weeks after 5 years. 4 weeks after 10 years. (Vacation time can also be banked up to 4 weeks)

    What's the cost of housing in your area? The hourly rate has to reflect that. $33 hr is $850 - 900 take home, That doesnt buy much house!
    Oklahoma is CHEAP to live in, thankfully. I really haven't had many guys complain about money (or even ask for me). Based on these replies, I'm starting to suspect that hours of operation and vacation may be what is keeping me from turning the corner on hiring and keeping quality people. We do guarantee 30 hours a week to anyone licensed (although most of my senior guys prefer to have the extra time off when it's slow and choose to stay home- the younger ones haven't learned to budget and always need the hours lol). What I need now are ideas about how to make it work without losing business and then having to lay someone off. I've only had to lay someone off one time due to not having the work and it was a terrible feeling (even then I hired him back as soon as I was able). I'd like avoid it in the future.

  22. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BALloyd View Post

    Are you constantly fielding a large number of after hours emergencies? If so have you looked into why that is the case?


    Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk
    The heaviest volume is that time between 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm when people are getting home to a hot house in the summer.

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  24. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostandjustfine View Post
    The heaviest volume is that time between 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm when people are getting home to a hot house in the summer.
    So how many of those people do you think would wait if they would be billed afters hours charges?

    People will naturally take advantage. If they know they can come home, phone you at 6pm and a tech gets dispatched for the same price as between 8am and 5pm, you know they are going to call.

    If that is how you want to service your customers, that is great. Just remember that all your techs need to be on board as well. Are they getting paid overtime even if the customer is not being charged OT? Lots of guys will go somewhere else if they can be guaranteed to say be off by 5pm most days and not be forced to work OT unless they are on call.

    You could have staggered shifts as was mentioned but lots of guys are not interested. Most guys I know in this trade are early risers.

    Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk

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  26. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BALloyd View Post
    So how many of those people do you think would wait if they would be billed afters hours charges?


    Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk
    The issue becomes about competition. The other big firms here don't charge after-hours/overtime rates and while I have plenty of loyal customers who would wait, we are also growing (like everyone else) and I'd like to find a way to capture those customers as well. Obviously I may not be able to have my cake and eat it too, and great techs are a lot harder to find than the next customer, which is why I'm trying to find a good solution.

    I suspected the same thing about guys being early risers. I don't know that I have anyone here now who'd prefer a later shift but I suppose it's possible that I could advertise looking for someone like that. Maybe someone who's semi-retired from their day job and bored on nights and weekends?

  27. #16
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    Top half earnings $70000 to $100000. A selling point for some, not me.

    This tends to indicate that there's a loads of overtime that techs are expected to work. In my younger days, ok.

    Now seasoned, my first priority is not my job, and I have no desire to work overtime, unless absolutely necessary to complete a job. A lesson learned the hard way.
    You never mentioned anything about education being part of your package?

    I started out as a mechanic, but that's not where I wanted to stay forever. I wanted more. Some people look forward to someday becoming a Salesman, or an Owner, or any one of the other number of positions that make up our business.

    Personally, I never wanted to be the Engineer, but I wanted the knowledge and skills of the engineer, and to be treated as an equal. (To this day, the thought of a desk in a prairie dog farm behind a computer screen remains revolting.)

    Your people need to be offered a path to the future, or be assured that the good ones will leave.

    Mentorship within your employee ranks is also essential, remembering that the plants grown are only as good as the seeds they sprout from. You must have well seasoned and intelligent people willing to mentor your youngsters. If you don't have these people in the ranks, you need to find them.

    You also need to be willing to send your people to factory training, as well as offer everyone in your organization outside education incentives. Especially if you are performing any sort of Commercial or Industrial work.

    Money and benefits are not the only thing your employees are looking for. They want to see a future, and to be treated with dignity and respect. And, for those who don't appreciate what you provide, don't be afraid to trim the ranks.

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  29. #17
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    I get that you are worried about competition, but I think you need to worry a little bit less about what those other companies are doing and concentrate on what you provide to your customers. If you provide good service and value, customers will come. It is really hard to find good contractors. Think of it this way....do you want to be like all those other companies or do you want to set your own path.

    Let the rest of the companies fight over the pain in the butt customers.
    Quote Originally Posted by lostandjustfine View Post
    The issue becomes about competition. The other big firms here don't charge after-hours/overtime rates and while I have plenty of loyal customers who would wait, we are also growing (like everyone else) and I'd like to find a way to capture those customers as well. Obviously I may not be able to have my cake and eat it too, and great techs are a lot harder to find than the next customer, which is why I'm trying to find a good solution.

    I suspected the same thing about guys being early risers. I don't know that I have anyone here now who'd prefer a later shift but I suppose it's possible that I could advertise looking for someone like that. Maybe someone who's semi-retired from their day job and bored on nights and weekends?
    Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk

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  31. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostandjustfine View Post
    The heaviest volume is that time between 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm when people are getting home to a hot house in the summer.
    I am just south of you a ways and I don't even consider those after hours but there is no way I am going to work before 8:30 every day and I prefer 9:30. I have been out on calls till 11:00 at times and I don't really mind.
    I would take a late shift over the usual hours any time.

    Sent from the Okie state usin Tapatalk

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  33. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostandjustfine View Post
    The issue becomes about competition. The other big firms here don't charge after-hours/overtime rates and while I have plenty of loyal customers who would wait, we are also growing (like everyone else) and I'd like to find a way to capture those customers as well. Obviously I may not be able to have my cake and eat it too, and great techs are a lot harder to find than the next customer, which is why I'm trying to find a good solution.

    I suspected the same thing about guys being early risers. I don't know that I have anyone here now who'd prefer a later shift but I suppose it's possible that I could advertise looking for someone like that. Maybe someone who's semi-retired from their day job and bored on nights and weekends?
    I tried to PM you but it looks like you can't receive PMs yet. Could you email me? I have a question for you. My email is in my profile.

    Sent from the Okie state usin Tapatalk

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  35. #20
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    I own a business in Louisiana, I offer almost the same things as you do, just not as much on the insurance side of things due to just not enough people anymore to get the good price on the insurance, but we did back in the early to middle 2000's. My problem around here is, every tech I have hired in the last 5 years ends up stealing work from the business, I am convinced that all of the guys in this field now are liars and thieves and will bite the hand that feeds them till it is gnawed off and you are left with a bloody stump, maybe its just Lousyanna. At one time, I had 20 guys working and had hired two guys that would work weekends and have 2 days off during the week and the guys I had back then all were hungry and worked as much as they could, so I never had to start an on call rotation. This was 2005 when I had started this 2 guys on the weekend, then 2006-2007 happened and the world changed, so I had only done this for about 16 months and honestly, it freed me up on Saturday and Sunday, but it took 2 guys to do what I was capable of doing, so I didn't really see any money, but rather the benefit of family time, I also had to hire someone in the office that came in on Friday to Monday to take the calls, but the few extra calls she took, that would usually get missed, usually paid for her salary, and the extra 2 guys helped get the other guys home earlier on the days during the week they worked, which they took different days off and one of them was usually there 4 days during the week, it did get the Monday - Friday guys home earlier on those days, it was working out pretty good till the recession.
    "Orange Man RAD!"

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