How to Recruit and Retain World-Class Talent

Written by Todd Liles


Every professional sports team knows that it takes world-class talent to produce consistent results. That’s why Number One Draft Picks are so prized. A world-class talent could potentially take a team to titleship status.

In your organization, one world-class talent can change your entire business game. The right hire could set a “new” standard for success, and guide the path to amazing growth and profitability for the rest of the team. I’ve seen this happen to dozens of companies in our consulting business that we have the privilege to coach.

At this years’ Service World Expo, I’m going to be speaking on this exact topic. The event is October 16th through the 18th. My presentation will be on October 17th from 3:15 pm to 4 pm. I hope that you will join me as we unpack these six key points to recruiting and retaining world-class talent.


6 Keys to Recruiting and Retaining World-Class Talent


#1: Defining “what” world-class talent means to your company.

It’s important that every company defines what world-class talent means to their organization. This definition provides you with the guidelines for hiring. Internally, we’ll refer to the standards as KRA’s. KRA stands for Key Result Areas.

KRA’s act as boundaries. Hire inside the boundary, and you’re going to have success. Hire outside the boundary, and you’re going have failure.


#2: Knowing why a “slow” hire is critical to having successful hiring. 

A fast hire is usually a response to some negative occurrence in your company. Fast hires happened in emergency situations and those emergencies blind you to problems.

Inside of your company, you need to incorporate key steps that your potential hire must complete before they become a team member. Think of these steps as speed bumps in the road. Each step forces you to slow down and pay attention to your definition of world-class talent.

At Service Excellence Training, we utilize a seven-step approach. This approach slows us down and ensures that we make a good hire. It’s the same approach that we teach our clients.

(I’ll review this approach at the next Service World Expo.)


#3: How to pay above the market; and provide the best benefits.

Top talent wants the best pay. Top talent will also receive the best pay, even if they have to go somewhere else to get it. That’s why it’s important that you are able to pay above the marketplace and provide the best benefits.

Paying above the market requires that you have a smart business plan that includes:

  • A profitable pricing model
  • A successful service and sales training system
  • A solid marketing system


#4: Why money is not the only thing world-class talent desires.

Money is not the only motivator for world-class talent. It’s not even first place. For most top talented individuals, they assume money is a given to their skill set. Therefore, they look for companies that match up to their world-class mindset.

For top talent, culture and teamwork is the key to long-term success and happiness.


#5: Utilizing bonus programs to boost recruiting and retention.

Highly successful individuals need to feel like they are achieving. They are accustomed to winning in their life and receiving rewards and recognition.

The best bonus systems utilize the psychological persuasion components of reward and recognition. While both are important, you may be surprised to find out that recognition is more critical than the reward.


#6: Creating an “ownership” mentality in your culture.

The ownership mentality is one of the critical key differences between world-class talent and average producers.

World-class talent thinks about every opportunity and the impact that has on the company. The consideration of others is part of their team nature. Cultivating this mindset inside of your company can help reduce such problems as:

  • Material waste
  • Gossiping
  • Time theft
  • Pettiness

When your people begin to think like shareholders in your company, then headaches go down and profitability goes up. Retention and recruiting also become much easier.

Hiring world-class talent is within your reach. With a little bit of adjustment to your recruiting and hiring system, you can add that talent immediately to your labor force. Just think about what that could do for your business!

In your organization, one world-class talent hire can change your entire business game. The right hire could set a “new” standard for success, and guide the path to amazing growth and profitability for the rest of the team. I’ve seen this happen to dozens of companies in our consulting business that we have the privilege to coach.

Hiring world-class talent is within your reach!  We would love to help you create your new recruiting and retention system inside of your company. One of the easiest ways to make that happen is at this years’ Service World Expo. I hope to see you there.

Toss Liles is the CEO of Service Excellence Training


Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

The Trifecta of HVAC Maintenance and Prevention

Written by Steve Mores


Contractors know that in the summer and winter we can make really good money by fixing and replacing heating and air conditioning systems. You also know that if you aren’t really careful, you can give back all of your profits in the spring and fall when the phones aren’t ringing. That is why maintenance agreements are just as important as “the air we breathe”. It’s the lifeblood of your company, which also gives you more opportunities to promote IAQ products and other accessories on every call! Though, some contractors may not have their company protected with enough maintenance agreements to keep them profitable through the slower times of the year. We hear statements like, “I just can’t get my technicians to offer them on every call” or “My guys offer them but a lot of people just don’t want them.” We hear the same with IAQ offerings as well.

Over the years, maintenance has been devalued by cheap advertised offers. Originally, very smart contractors used this marketing strategy to offer proper maintenance at a reduced cost. This was meant to be a onetime offer to the homeowner so they could see how proper maintenance is done and for the contractor to have an opportunity to upsell accessories. Then the technician presented all of the additional advantages and benefits of being a regular maintenance client. Now enters the “Me Too” contractor that learns just how successful this marketing strategy is, and they decide to do it for a cheaper price! Then because the homeowner sees these low priced advertisements everywhere, maintenance agreements lose their value. What the homeowner doesn’t know is in order for contractors to offer a cheap maintenance agreement, they have to make major cuts to proper maintenance so they don’t lose their shirt!

It’s not really what you say, it’s how you say it. The question we should be asking as contractors is, “Is our message for maintenance agreements being delivered correctly?” You can make that message very clear by effectively using 3rd party documentation that validates the need for proper maintenance and what it costs them if it’s not done correctly.

One such document is a joint study that was conducted by Louisiana State University and Gulf State Utility Company. Their research determined that the average unmaintained system would use 13.6 more kw per day, which is an average of 9,520 lost BTU’s, while their system would run on average 1.7 hours more per day. Once a homeowner understands this, they will see that a maintenance agreement pays for itself by reducing overpayments to the utility company while offering other benefits as well. When you add up all of the additional kilowatts or therms being used with a typical unmaintained system, a maintenance agreement becomes an investment and not an expense.

By empowering your people with 3rd party documentation that validates the importance of proper maintenance, your client will understand that they can’t afford to not have a maintenance agreement.

The same thing goes for IAQ products. While scientifically designed and properly installed IAQ products installed can relieve asthma and allergy symptoms, it’s not the only thing that they prevent. IAQ products should also be promoted as preventive maintenance solutions. This can also be backed by 3rd party documentation. The EPA states that a buildup of just 1/20 of an inch of dust on a cooling coil will reduce its efficiency by 21%. Prism Engineering Ltd. in British Columbia conducted tests on dirty vs. clean coils and reported that a buildup of .25 millimeters reduces efficiency by 20%. In the average household, that can be an average savings of $420 per year. There is an identifiable payback on investment here. Properly designed and installed IAQ products will keep the system running clean between maintenances, and give the homeowner the efficiency that they paid for when the system was first installed.

When we explain and promote this reality during trainings, we have had technicians ask, “Well, if we are doing a thorough cleaning and maintenance every six months, why do we need IAQ products for this purpose?” A simple analogy can help here. We simply ask the technician, “How often do you go to the dentist?” The common answer is every six months since that is dentist recommended. So when you go for your six-month dental checkup, they do a thorough examination and deep cleaning of your teeth. The follow-up question then is, “Do you ever brush your teeth between dental checkups?” Well, the answer is obvious and that’s what IAQ products do every day. They keep the system maintained and healthy between maintenances!

There is also a third aspect of efficiency that most contractors don’t even discuss with the homeowner, which is what to do with the energy that remains in a heat exchanger or cooling coil after the call for heating or cooling. Most contractors don’t discuss this because they think that it is already being handled completely with set fan time delays on an HVAC system. Most HVAC systems come set from the factory with a 30-second time delay after the cooling cycle and a 90-second time delay after the heating cycle. That can be changed during installation, yet what time would you change it to and why? Through a study conducted, Southern California Edison Design and Engineering Services found that there is up to four minutes of remaining energy in a heat exchanger or cooling coil after the call. And this time will vary depending on run time. Their study concluded that the most efficient way to get all the remaining energy back in the house where it belongs is by using a variable time delay that is designed to use temperature sensor data to determine the optimum time to run the fan after the call and not a set time delay. The InteliFan variable time delay meets this requirement, was validated by this Southern California Edison study, and can add up to a 17% savings on energy cost.

In horse racing, a bet in which the person betting forecasts the first three finishers in a race in the correct order is called a Trifecta. The Trifecta of HVAC maintenance and prevention is to promote maintenance, IAQ, and fan delays, not as separate concepts, rather as an all-inclusive package:

  • Perform top-notch regular routine maintenance to bring the system to factory-fresh condition and performance.
  • Install IAQ products to keep the system running at peak efficiency between maintenance with the added health benefits of cleaner, fresher, and healthier air.
  • Intelligent fan time delays AFTER the call for heating or cooling to optimize the remaining energy left in the system and get it into the home to extend the time between heating and cooling cycles.

The Trifecta is a safe bet for optimum performance of an HVAC system. This huge benefit for the homeowner has their system run at peak efficiency, prevent unnecessary premature breakdowns, and extend the life of the system.

You and your customers will win and cash in on the Trifecta of HVAC maintenance and prevention!


Steve Mores is the Vice President of Residential Sales and Training at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions.


Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

In Search of the “Magic Pill”

Written by John and Vicki LaPlant


This topic makes me think of Indiana Jones played by the great Harrison Ford…you know, Han Solo of Star Wars. Indiana Jones is a professor always looking for the challenge of what no one else had discovered. He survives a lot of difficulties from Nazis to snakes, always in search of the coveted prize.

A number of HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical contractors are also in search of the prize….it could be sales volume, profitability, industry recognition, selling the company for “BIG BUCKS” as an exit strategy, or creating a family legacy company. Regardless of the desired goal, we consistently hear, “I have done all I know how to do and the needle just does not move. Tell me what to do, just fix it. It is wearing me down so just fix it and make the pain go away.

Just fix it with no more angry customer, employees that actually show up for work, employees that do not whine, employees that do not look like they have been dumpster diving, vehicles that keep running, money in the checking account so I can get a night’s sleep and make payroll, some real time with my family, and suppliers that are not hounding me for payments. Just Fix It!!!”

Make no mistake about it, the contracting industry can beat a person up to the point of being black and blue and gasping for air but….only if you let it. Now, the operative phrase is “If you let it.” It is time to take a stand. Join the movement of professionals. This is not for the timid or unprepared. It is not for those unwilling to ask for assistance from available resources. And, those resources are out there. It is OK to ask for help.

If help is not sought, the vicious circle continues with little or no planning, budgeting, branding, no culture building, no prioritization, and no energy for pushing change in the existing business model.  And, let’s face it; if a business is not moving forward then, it is going backward. There is no neutral position because cost structures, employees, customers, and products are constantly changing.

You might ask, “So what about that ‘Magic Pill?” Where can you get the prescription? Fortunately, it is readily available, and it is not comprised of some new expensive formula. In fact, it is not even experimental, because it has been successfully taken by numerous successful HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical contractors everywhere. It boils down to three actionable items:

  1. The cost recognition system must be right. The chart of accounts must be management focused, departmentalized with allocated overhead to produce an income statement that management can use for making profitable decisions. This is concerning pricing decisions and implementing processes that increase efficiency and reduce costs. The purpose of a management income statement is to provide the information management needs to maximize the profits of the company. It is the tax account’s responsibility to figure out how to legally reduce the amount of taxes paid.
  2. Pricing must be profit maximizing for the company and allow for different gross margins by department and different overhead recovery for each department.
  3. Lead generation must be the primary focus of everyone in the company. Marketing must be planned and implemented for 52 weeks a year. Everyone in the company needs to understand who the customer is and constantly be looking for that customer. The marketing must target that same customer through digital marketing, direct mail, outbound calling, and neighborhood marketing. Trucks must be wrapped and stand out in the market. The branding used in the marketing must be consistent so everything associated with the company has the same look and feel. A set of emergency marketing campaigns must be on the shelf, ready to go when inevitably sales do slow down. The key is to own the address, own the neighbors, own the block, own the neighborhood, own the subdivision, and own the zip code.

This is the 1 – 2 – 3 step prescription to making a significant difference in the success of your business. If these three pills are swallowed, it will cure and be the “fix it” of a good number of business ills. You will be able to positively focus on future growth and profitability. And the best thing about these three pills; they actually encourage the spread of an infectious disease throughout your company and employees.  And that disease is called: SUCCESS.


Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!