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12 Ways That Hearth and Fireplace Services Companies Can Attract (and Retain) Top Talent

For 2023, the phrase, “a good man is hard to find” takes on new meaning, especially for business owners in the hearth services industry seeking growth by adding service technicians. The stark reality is that the available pool of potential service technician hires has been shrinking for some time.

Why is that?

One major factor is the student loan crisis. The student loan debt that recent 4-year college students are saddled with—up to $57,500—is out of balance with starting salaries. The best and brightest of these graduates are pursuing white-collar, salaried positions to afford their crushing loan payments.

Another major catalyst of this issue is that attending trade school in anticipation of a career in a traditional blue-collar setting unfortunately comes with a certain social stigma. Although it requires substantially less time and money, it seems that most high school grads—and their parents—still believe that a 4-year college degree is the only surefire way to enjoy a high-salary lifestyle.

The blowback from Covid-19’s labor upheaval has further diminished the available labor pool for field services positions and jobs in the trades overall. Existing blue-collar workers found that they could replace their working income with several rounds of Federal stimulus checks and increased unemployment and childcare benefits. Many of these workers, already on the back end of their careers, used these emergency provisions as a means to transition into the next phase of their lives. The result? An unprecedented flight of workers from a segment of the workforce that was already struggling to find skilled, qualified, and willing workers. 

By the end of 2020, they noticed their white-collar counterparts had returned to salaried jobs and were teleworking comfortably from home. It’s no surprise that, according to the US Census Bureau, between 6.5% and 8.5% of existing blue-collar workers in the construction, transportation, and manufacturing sectors moved to white-collar jobs.

Is this all doom and gloom? No, it just means that as a hearth services business owner, you’ll need to work to find the right people.

Here are a few suggestions that you may or may not already be using in your business:

1. Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits Packages

Top technicians will likely have multiple job offers to choose from, so it’s important to offer competitive compensation and benefits packages to attract and retain top talent. This can include things like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. Sometimes it’s hard to justify paying above market value for an employee, but consider this—all it takes is one shoddy fireplace or stove installation to tarnish an otherwise sterling reputation.

2. Provide Ongoing Training and Professional Development Opportunities

Top-quality applicants want to continue to grow and develop their skills, so it’s important to provide ongoing training and opportunities for growth to keep them engaged and motivated. This can include things like in-house training, certifications, and opportunities to attend industry conferences.

3. Create a Positive and Supportive Work Culture

Many hearth services companies are family owned with a rich cultural heritage. Top-quality technicians  want to work for a company that values its employees, has a positive work culture, and people who simply “get it.” This can include things like open communication, recognition and rewards for a job well done, and opportunities for growth and advancement.

4. Utilize Employee Referral Programs

Employee referrals are a great way to find top-notch technicians as they are usually recommended by current employees who have a good understanding of the business and the kind of person that would fit in.

5. Partner With Educational Institutions

Partnering with local trade schools and vocational programs can help to attract and recruit recent graduates with the skills and knowledge needed for the job. A solid relationship with a reputable institution could lead to an abundance of worthy candidates sending you their resumés.

6. Foster a Positive Work-Life Balance

Encouraging a positive work-life balance will help attract and retain top-quality people. This can include things like flexible scheduling, remote working (when possible), and extended paternity/maternity leave.

As a business owner in the hearth services industry, chances are you’ve been running your business using the same workflow processes for the past decade or so. QuickBooks, multiple spreadsheets, even—gasp—actual paper in filing cabinets. For 2023, the most powerful tool you have at your disposal is technology. Specifically, integrated business management software built with the unique needs of the hearth services industry in mind.

Integrated business management software is used by companies, large and small, to help run their business more efficiently and productively across the board. A robust enterprise software platform puts you in the best position to hire and retain top field service people.

Here are some ways that business management technology can propel hearth services businesses past their competition:

1. Recruiting and Applicant Tracking

Business management software streamlines the recruiting process by allowing business owners to post job openings online, track applicant information, and schedule interviews. This will make your hiring process more efficient and effective.

a. Leverage Online Platforms

Utilize online services like LinkedIn and Indeed to post job openings and attract qualified candidates. These social media platforms can also help to build a talent pool for future openings.

2. Employee Scheduling

Business management software simplifies scheduling by allowing business owners to create and manage employee schedules, assign tasks and shifts, and track time off requests. This can help to ensure that there are enough technicians available to meet customer demand and keep your hearth business running smoothly.

3. Time Tracking

Business management software helps employers track employee time and attendance, which improves accountability, reduces the risk of time theft, and makes it easier to manage large projects.

4. Performance Tracking

Business management software helps owners track employee performance, set goals, and provide feedback. Ensure that technicians are meeting expectations and help identify areas where they may need additional training or support.

5. Employee Self-Service

Business management software empowers employees by giving them access to schedules, pay stubs, required forms, and other relevant employment information. This serves to reduce the administrative burden on small business owners and increase employee satisfaction.

6. Inventory Management

Business management software can also help to manage inventory, track stock levels, and reorder critical components on time, so field service technicians always have the necessary equipment and hardware to complete their day’s work.

In Conclusion

Because you’re competing for top service technicians from an ever-shrinking pool of qualified candidates, you’ll have to work smarter to attract and retain them. Integrated business management software is a strategic competitive advantage for your business, and gives you a leg up on the market.

How Hearth and Fireplace Service Companies Can Keep Up With The Latest Tech Trends

In today’s competitive Hearth and Fireplace Services market, the ability to provide exceptional customer service is essential for customer retention and remaining competitive on price while still making a profit. Technicians are on the front lines of customer interaction and it is crucial that you maintain optimal field-to-office communication. In an age where business management technology is rapidly evolving, using Hearth Services management software will keep you up to date with the latest technology trends pushing your industry forward.

Companies can use hearth service management software to unify and streamline business operations, improve communication, and provide a succinct and clear view of day-to-day finances. Convenient access to scheduling & dispatch, inventory control, and service metrics for advanced insight into industry trends are just some of the many ways that business management software for the hearth industry can lead to better outcomes for your business.

Trends are increasingly short-lived and are constantly changing in a world starving for product differentiation. Hearth service management software helps your business to adapt to the shifting demands of the consumer.

How Can Hearth Service Management Software Optimize Your Growing Business?

Improve Operational Efficiency

Hearth service management software unifies your business operations into one system for easy access for all of your employees. This eliminates disconnects from the field to the office, most notably reducing errors and delays in manual data entry and information exchange by integrating in-office and onsite data into a single connected platform. Reducing human error prevents a negative feedback loop in which small inaccuracies can snowball into larger issues. 

The first-time fix rate—the percentage of jobs completed on the first visit—is essential to customer retention and keeping your business competitive. According to Aberdeen Group research, an 88% rate is necessary to stay at the top of your industry, while having a lower than 80% success rate renders your services below average. Hearth management software keeps scheduling, dispatching, and work orders in the same place for your employees in the field, ensuring they are always prepared to meet your clients’ needs the first time, not the second or third.

Enhance Data Security

Protecting company and customer data from cyber threats is a growing concern for small businesses in all industries. With the increased use of technology in business operations, it’s important to have strong security measures in place to protect sensitive information from potential cyber attacks. This includes not just the data stored on company servers, but also the data on the customer side, as well as data on mobile devices used in the process of installing or servicing the equipment.

Enhance Information Access

Consolidating your business processes into a single platform eases the stress of managing your hearth services business. In order to maintain smooth field-to-office communication and ensure a pain-free customer experience, management must keep important information readily available to everyone, especially employees in the field. Hearth service management software keeps financial documents, inventory control, and customer services organized and connected in order to increase efficiency. 

Research from the Harvard Business Institute reveals that an average of 95% of a company’s employees do not understand or are not aware of the overarching strategy that executives base their most crucial decisions on. Hearth Services management software helps bridge the gap between management and staff by providing an all-in-one system that enables transparency, communication, and efficiency across the board.

Customer Engagement

Keeping up with the demand for different types of fireplaces, patios, and hearths can be a concern for small business owners. As consumer preferences change, it’s important to stay informed about the latest trends and advancements impacting your industry. For example, with the increasing popularity of electric and gas fireplaces, a small business may need to invest in new equipment and training for employees to meet this demand. Using timely data sourced from your proprietary service metrics enables you to stay competitive with popular industry trends and current consumer preferences. 

Hearth Services management software provides a powerful customer relations tool to keep your sales team on top of both contacts and contracts. Customer relationship management enables direct and comprehensive communication with custom reporting and photo upload features, as well as allowing customers to leave feedback on any work that was completed—or worse, not completed. 

Inventory Management

Maintaining an organized and accurate inventory management system is essential since hearth service companies rely heavily on managing complex—and oftentimes flammable— inventory. The inability to quickly adapt to the rapidly evolving external environment or organizational lag increasingly plagues all types of businesses. According to Inc.com, a leading business magazine, 70% of all organizational change efforts fail. 

Inventory management systems help your business avoid these pitfalls by automating order management processes, easing the manual elements of the sales and delivery processes, and properly putting together accurate financial plans. Utilizing the right inventory management system both reduces the ability for human error to cause major problems and overall cost.

Plan For The Future With Technology

The advent of smart home technology signaled a design shift to a more spacious, abstract home interior design. Consumers want their fireplace to match the rest of their home. Electric fireplaces are rising in popularity due to convenience and modernization. This competition requires gas fireplaces to constantly evolve to prevent extinction.

Top-rated direct vent gas/propane fire pits feature more efficient heat output while adapting to contemporary smart homes with an app to control the blaze. Comfort-level tech monitors the room temperature similar to a thermostat. One of the newest innovations in direct vent gas fireplace inserts is a ceramic liner that creates a barrier, sending heat from the fire back into the room rather than up the chimney. Vent-free appliances now have oxygen depletion sensors and carbon monoxide monitors to make your preferred appliance more eco-friendly.

Some homeowners prefer not to have gas or wood appliances in the house at all. With more homeowners looking to create comfortable outdoor living spaces, it’s important for small businesses to stay informed about the latest products and trends in outdoor fireplaces and hearths.

Keeping up with the latest advancements in fireplace and hearth technology can be a significant concern for any business in the industry, especially small and growing businesses. With the increasing focus on eco-friendly options and smart home integration, it’s important to stay informed about the latest products and advancements in technology that customers desire. This can be a significant investment, as new equipment and training for employees may be required. Keep in mind, a robust hearth software solution allows you to draw accurate data from your own internal service metrics and helps you to stay on top of new trends hitting the market.