The Sharpest Tool™

Chad Peterman Part 2 | How to Hire Humble, Hungry and Smart Technicians

Chad Peterman is the president at Peterman Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. He shares how his company is developing a unique process to allow their technicians to grow and thrive in their workspace.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the sharpest tool where we take the sting out of marketing with everything that we bring to the table. My name is Josh Smith. I am your host and the vice president of marketing for scorpion O for the home service division here. I'm really excited to bring Chad Peterman back in the booth with us here for another episode where we're going to talk about training and the top tech training program that they have implemented over at the business. So Chad, before we dive right in, can you give everybody a little bit of just kind of a quick 62nd elevator pitch on who you are, your role in a little bit about the company? Got it.

Chad Peterman (00:36):

Absolutely. So, uh, thanks for having me again, Chad Peterman president at Peterman heating, cooling, and plumbing. We are a heating and plumbing company, residential in Indianapolis, Indiana. Uh, two separate locations in Lafayette and Columbus, Indiana as well. Again, as we talked, just trying to grow the company, uh, serve as kind of the visionary, uh, as such and then alongside my brother who runs the company with me. So excited to talk about our training and, uh, what we're trying to do to hopefully Ella do our part and elevating the, uh, the industry as a whole.

Josh Smith (01:10):

Yeah, if you haven't checked out episode one, we go into a bit more depth about how they achieve the growth that they have over at Peterman and getting upwards of 180 employees. And that doesn't happen if you don't have a solid process in place, a solid vision in place for how you're developing your people and continuing to help them grow with the company. So we're going to dive into some of that today. I think that'll be a really good place for you to have some solid nuggets to take away implement with your business. You know, I always say, I say this to everybody, who's kind of on the show and people we talked to afterwards, if you're listening to these episodes and you're not taking one thing away to go back into your business and make a change, having all that information, isn't transforming your business the way that it should. So we're going to have a lot of nuggets here from Chad and we'll dive right into the top tech program. We talked a little bit about this last week on the episode, Chad what's, uh, what's the top tech program. Give us a little bit of background for that.

Chad Peterman (02:05):

Yeah, so the top tech program is our version of our in-house school. So it will be a three and a half month period where people that have no background in the trades will come in and they'll spend three days in the classroom, two days out in the field with what we're calling our field trainers, which are just senior technicians that are already on our team while they're in the classroom, they'll be doing kind of a split between lab activities. So we have a full functioning lab with all the plumbing and heating equipment in there. So there'll be in the lab. Um, and then the other portion will be in the classroom and we'll be utilizing Nexstar, uh, has put together what they call their mix tech academy, uh, which is essentially an entire online curriculum for both heating and plumbing. They also have electrical as well, so we'll be utilizing their curriculum and our own lab. And then our field trainers out in the field to hopefully get these technicians ready to one hop into an HPAC maintenance man here in about three and a half months or, uh, on the plumbing side, there'll be hopping into a, to a drain truck.

Josh Smith (03:14):

Yeah, let's go back a bit to the hiring process. You have a pretty rigorous hiring process in terms of getting the right people on the bus, so to speak in an environment where good techs are really difficult to come by. Why do you believe in such a tough hiring process?

Chad Peterman (03:30):

Yeah. So, uh, if you would ask me this before we started the school, I would say, and if you go onto our career page right now, and you're a plumber or a heating tech, um, we make the process as simple as humanly possible. You don't need to submit a resume. We literally will just take your name and phone number and then we take it upon us to reach out. And so we took a little bit different approach when it came to the top tech, because we know that these people coming in, we we've already, you know, we've already given up that they have any technical background and anybody who has hired, you know, heating technicians or plumbers knows we've all sat there at the interview table, crossing our fingers because this guy has got five years of experience and we're hoping that, you know, he works out.

Chad Peterman (04:12):

Whereas here we were kind of in the driver's seat, which was a fun place to be where we could be super selective on the applicants that were coming through. So I believe we talked on the first episode for this first round we marketed for about two weeks, we got over 600 applications. We then boil that down to about probably 60 to 80 phone screens. And the after we got through that, we brought in between 30 and 40 applicants for an in-person interview. We took, and I'm happy to share this with anybody is we took from Patrick Lencioni's book, the ideal team player, hungry, humble, smart. We took those three qualities and basically created a rubric for which we would grade people. And so we graded all the applicants and then they selected the top ones, which then came in to meet with me. And then we made our final selections, which I think worked out well. We've got some tweaks to make being as it was just the first time that we did it. For sure.

Josh Smith (05:09):

I love that hungry, humble and smart. Oh, who's the author again, just for those who might not have

Chad Peterman (05:14):

Patrick Patrick

Josh Smith (05:15):

Lencioni, Patrick Lencioni. And what was the book it's called

Chad Peterman (05:18):

The ideal team

Josh Smith (05:19):

Player, the ideal team player. Awesome. And I know you looked for a bit of both technical and life skills, aside from the hungry, humble, and smart. Are there any other things that you look for specifically,

Chad Peterman (05:31):

We're really looking for someone so hungry, humble, smart, really lined up with our values, but we're really looking to, so the other set of questions was based off the values here at Petermann. We were really looking for people who were really 100% connected to our values and, you know, to go back to my earlier comment about, we've all sat at the table with the technician, that's got five years experience, so we really need a plumber. And what do we all do? We all overlook all of the red flags that appear in the interview because when we really need somebody and you know, I think this may work out and it never does, and it's never worked out. And I've been known this for a little while and it's never worked out. If you have questions about the guy at the interview table, it's never going to work out. And so that really just took that off the table. We weren't sitting there ready to make a bad decision out of Mead. We weren't recruiting out of need because these people aren't going to be ready for another three and a half, four months. And so to be in that place, I think sets us up in a really unique position. And I also think it sets us up in a really advantageous position because it's going to allow us to not make a bad decision because we need a technician in a truck tomorrow.

Josh Smith (06:50):

Yeah. That's a common pitfall. We face it all the time over in our organization as well. You have such expansive growth. And so everybody's kind of on edge because there's so much work that needs to be done. And so it's like, let's just get a body on the bus rather than the right body on the bus. Are there anything, is there anything you see as like a, non-negotiable something that we will not bend over on for our employees?

Chad Peterman (07:13):

You know, we've got the normal, the background, the drug screen, all of that stuff. Uh, you know, that I would say the non-negotiables were really the values for us. We kind of went into this, this process saying we are going to be very, very stringent on, you need to answer these questions and really show us that your values align with the company. And that is really what we were looking for. So I would say that that was a non-negotiable, we've stated the values right upfront, and this is what we believe, and this is how we conduct business. And this is how we treat customers. And if there was any hesitation whatsoever, like I said, we had, the great thing is we had 600 people. So, you know, surely we can find 10 to 15 that align with us in there. Again, it just goes back to fishing in that bigger pond, uh, rather than just, well, have we had any plumbers apply in the last three weeks? No. Okay. We'll see if you can get somebody in here. Well, that automatically trips you into that desperation mode, which never turns out. Well, definitely.

Josh Smith (08:17):

Now you have a three month training program for new hires. Uh, what information is covered during that timeframe?

Chad Peterman (08:24):

Yeah. So we're going to go at it a little bit. No, I don't know if it's different. I'm not sure if everyone's, you know, program, but two portions. Obviously we want to train them so that they are comfortable in front of a furnace or in someone's home, looking at their plumbing system. Uh, what I've told our trainers is you have years of experiences, you are not going to train them to be an expert in three and a half months. You can't train experience. So we're going to have to get them comfortable to where they feel comfortable asking questions. They feel comfortable enough to say, you know what? I'm not a hundred percent sure of that answer, but I know who to call. And they're resourceful enough to call and to, you know, work through a process and all of those things. So we'll be training the technical side.

Chad Peterman (09:09):

I think the other piece that maybe makes our program a little bit unique is that we'll also be on Mondays. Both classes will be together and it'll be a lot of, a lot of life training. So what we found is our best employees are the people that are really stable in their personal life. They've got their things together. They're whatever it may be. They're, they're very, very stable. And so we'll be teaching all kinds of things. I'll be teaching quite a bit as it relates to leadership and leading ourselves, which is one of our values and steps that they can take to continually better themselves. And it's really, you know, I think of when we set out to do this, it's thinking of that person coming into the school and they have no belief system as it relates to plumbing or heating. So, whereas another technician I got to un-train the four or five bad habits he has before I start in on my process.

Chad Peterman (10:05):

These people, we actually, and I'm more than happy to share this as well. We actually created a sheet for each trade. This is our we believe sheet. And so it's everything in that particular trade that we believe here at Peterman. And so it excites me to know, and to know that we're going to set that down in front of them and they're going to be like, well, this sounds good. You know, I don't have any other, any other basis for not believing. So this, this sounds like a, a, this sounds like a good thing. And so we hope to couple that with some of the life skills training, whether it be leadership or budgeting or, you know, whatever it is that can hopefully help them kind of become that full team members as opposed to, well, he's really good at being a plumber, but you know, his, his personal life's a disaster, you know, because he's no one's ever taught him how to balance a checkbook or, you know, whatever it is. Yeah.

Josh Smith (10:59):

You know, there's a lot of, I know a lot of business owners struggle with where to even start. Sometimes, sometimes they hit roadblocks along the way, when they're developing a training program, he seemed to have something pretty well, ironed out. What advice would you give business owners who are looking to improve their training and their onboarding programs?

Chad Peterman (11:15):

Yeah. So I would say finding really great people. So as I had mentioned, I'm the visionary. So as you can imagine, this was, you know, a lot of this was some of it was my idea, others. I took from very resourceful friends in the industry, but we have a team, our talent acquisition manager and our team member success coordinator. They have really worked together, whether it be the bringing on or vetting all 600 applicants and, or setting up the school. And so to me, the one thing that's really helped us out. And I'd be remiss not to give them credit as is next ours, next tech program. If we wouldn't have had a curriculum, I honestly don't think we would be where we're at, because to me that's the most daunting piece. Like there's so much to know in a heating system or a plumbing, where do I start?

Chad Peterman (12:02):

And so that's been a huge help. And then we really kind of built out the rest of it outside of that to make it fit within our kind of model of what we wanted to see in that kind of three to three and a half month range. So when next, our first developed it, I, to my knowledge, no, one's doing it in a three month kind of intensive way. It's more of a supplemental to some guy who's out in the field and maybe you meet once a morning or whatever it is, and kind of go through the training. So it'll be interesting. I'm sure we'll learn a lot moving forward, but you know, the advice I would give is just to really hammer out a plan at the beginning, uh, we kind of had some deadlines of, Hey, we want to get this piece done by then this piece done by then. And yet it still comes way too fast. So, uh, we're putting the finishing touches on it right now, for sure.

Josh Smith (12:52):

Yeah. So as the visionary of the company, and I know in our first episode, one of the things we talked about was you felt like you weren't as mechanically inclined, but you had this, this Acument for helping people and, and being the visionary ultimately is where you stepped into this role of like, here's the direction that we're going as a team. How would you say the trade school and developing a trade school and then the next tech program, how has that helped you become better at running the company and broadcasting that vision?

Chad Peterman (13:19):

Yeah. So I think that's a two-parter. So the one, and to answer your question about running the company, I can honestly say that where we are now, as far as employee count and revenue and all of that stuff, as we have made it through this year, it's kind of been weird because as we've kind of created this, we uncovered where this is going to truly help us in the future. And one of those things is, as you continue to grow your rate of customer acquisition and membership acquisition, so customers that you are making a commitment to service, it begins to pick up velocity because if you can put 20 techs out in the field in front of potential customers and sign them up for a membership, well, we all know that that membership just signed you up for two more visits that you have to fulfill.

Chad Peterman (14:09):

And so what we've seen as we get more technicians out there, our membership base begins to grow substantially. When you add more people, you can run more calls, which equates to more opportunity. And what we have found is that if we were sitting in this very same spot and we didn't have the school in the works, we would be in a very peculiar place because I don't know that we could hire enough people to satisfy the demand. And that's just the demand of our own customer base. We're already running up against it right now, where we haven't had our plumbing marketing turned on. Now, some stuff's on, and obviously people can find us if they search for us on Google. But you know, we haven't had paper click on. We haven't had, we haven't been running any Fe hardly anything since March because we just can't, you're just up against a wall and we have customers right now.

Chad Peterman (15:00):

I think we're booked out on like plumbing service until like October. And it's, if we didn't have this in the pipeline, there's no way we could find enough people, uh, enough good people. I mean, we could probably throw some bodies at something, but I don't want to do that. Whereas next or our top tech will allow us to, hopefully we'll run a class October through January, we'll start a new one in February. And so June, that first week of June, when everybody knows you'll need heating texts, I'm going to be able to ha I'll have starting from now until then I'll have close to 20 new technicians that all have running out there and all I've created them all on my own. So I think that's going to really amplify our ability to grow, because like I said, you just can't find people. And so operationally, I think it's going to be a huge deal.

Chad Peterman (15:51):

And I, I really don't know if you can do it, if you could continue to grow without something like that, because there truly aren't enough people out there to, to do it. And that do it well for me on the visionary side of things, to me, it's just that next step, you know, it is how do we bring more people in, how do we impact more lives? And to me, if I can look at somebody across the table, I mean, the, the first person that, that we, that I gave the okay to for this school, you know, his exact words were, I've been thinking about this for a week and a half straight, and I couldn't be happier right now. He took a picture of the acceptance letter and sent it to his wife. I mean, it was like I was sitting there. I was like getting, teary-eyed like, oh my God, this is bigger than what we thought.

Chad Peterman (16:39):

This is, this is something that is, is really, we talk about changing people's lives. And, you know, sometimes that's difficult to imagine by changing out their water heater now sure we can, you know, we can provide a really great experience and all of that stuff, but you know, what we're looking at now is through the trades, we are truly going to change people's lives. You know, we've probably got three or four people where COVID put them out of work and we're giving them a new start. So that piece is very impactful as well. So for me personally, and in my kind of vision to kind of restore that integrity to the trades and really grow people and provide them with, uh, with an unbelievable opportunity. Obviously we're seeing that very early on and we haven't even had our first day of class. That's incredible.

Josh Smith (17:27):

Well, Todd, this has been awesome. There's so many good pieces in here. Um, if you had to, you know, make the sauce sink one kind of key piece of advice that if, if they didn't listen to it, you want to listen to it back. What would that piece of advice be as we close things out here?

Chad Peterman (17:42):

So my biggest thing, and I learned this very early on and it becomes more apparent every day that we are in business and see success. And that is if you're running a company, if you're managing a division, even if you are a technician that just started into the trades two weeks ago, if you keep this thought at the top of your thought process, what you're going to do is you're going to see exponential results. And that thought is to always be serving others. And it is through that, that you will ultimately be served in what it is that you want to do. And so each morning I wake up each time I talked to the company and they'd probably tell you this, usually at the end, all I say is, go out and help someone today. Whether that's someone on our team, whether that's a customer, whether that's your uncle, whether that's your wife, whoever just go serve.

Chad Peterman (18:38):

And if we all can take that mentality, if a company of 180 people can all be helping each other and helping customers, we're going to get where we want to get. It's oftentimes when we think about ourselves and want the business to serve ourselves, or, you know, one, our technicians as a manager to go out there and, you know, run into the ground so that I can reach my bonus or whatever it is. No, no, no, no. You've got it all backwards and that's never going to work because people see right through that, what they don't see through and what makes them want to serve everybody else in return. And it becomes very like a snowball effect is when everybody is trying to serve each other and try to help out. And that is how we continue to grow. It's how we'll always be. It's what my parents taught me how to be. And that's just, it's a heck of a lot more fun. I'm telling you to see, to see a smile on someone's face because they are grateful that you reached out and helped them. I think if you, if everybody takes that mentality, we're gonna, we're gonna live in a lot better place. Um, and we're going to run really successful companies. For sure.

Josh Smith (19:42):

I love that, Chad. That's great. You know, it's been awesome. Talking with you over these past two episodes, where can our listeners go to find out?

Chad Peterman (19:48):

Yeah, absolutely. So you can find us at our website, Peterman, You can find our top tech academy stuff. So if you're interested in that, we have a whole website dedicated to that Peterman, top You can find me on LinkedIn, it's Chad M Peterman, and then our podcasts that we have, which I think we talked about it on this episode, some of the leadership training, we record all of that and put it on our podcast, which is called can't stop the growth for our guys so they can listen to it wherever they may be since they're mostly mobile. So yeah, you can find us, find us any of those places. If you can also reach out to me on LinkedIn, if you need any more resources, I'm more than happy to share whatever we have many, like I said, many people have shared with me and that's how we've, we've developed a lot of our stuff for sure.

Josh Smith (20:37):

Awesome. Chad, thank you again so much for your time. All the insight. I really appreciate

Chad Peterman (20:41):

It, man. Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. Absolutely.

Josh Smith (20:44):

And for all of you listening, if you found this episode valuable, definitely share it around with somebody who needs to hear it. There's a lot of really good nuggets in here and I just know somebody who's ready to take some of this and go back into the business to make a change open up that podcasting app definitely hit the like button or the subscribe button. So you can continue to get more of this awesome content that we're dishing out here. And if you can leave us a review on iTunes, it really helps the algorithms to help the sharpest tool be found by even more business owners that we have the potential to help from all of us here at the sharpest tool until next week. We'll talk to you then. Thanks.

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