The Sharpest Tool™

Tyson and Erika | How Hiring Impacts Your Home Services Business Culture

Cheryl McRae
Josh Smith
Portland, Oregon based A-Temp Heating, Cooling & Electrical has been serving homes and businesses for forty years. Tyson, General Manager, and Erika, Marketing Director, say they were "born into it," and are proud to carry on the family business their dad built. Growing up in the business, they saw the value in treating employees like an extension of the family, and this continues to be a distinctive part of their culture today.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello. And welcome back to the sharpest tool where we take the sting out of marketing. And I'm really fired up because we have a temp in the booth from Portland, Oregon, and sitting here with me in the booth is Tyson and Erica Tyson is the general manager for a temp. And Erica is the marketing director for a temp. We're excited to have you in the booth because we're going to be talking about something that I think is really pertinent to a lot of business owners today. So Erica Tyson, welcome. Thanks.

Tyson (00:29):

It's great to be

Josh Smith (00:29):

Here. Awesome. Well, let, let's kind of dive right into eight temp. Tell me a little bit about the company.

Tyson (00:34):

It's a family company or our father started it technically in the eighties and we've been running into,

Josh Smith (00:40):

So you've been in business for coming up on 40 years. Is that right? That is correct. How did you get into the trades? You said it's a family business. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about that.

Tyson (00:50):

They were born into it. My dad made a living of it and that's what we enjoy

Erika (00:55):

Growing up with dad doing the business. We were around all the employees all the time. And I think that we that's how we naturally got the vibe that the employees were a part of the family because the technicians were there. At this point, the business was out of the house. They were there every day. We saw them in the morning. We saw them in the evening. Sometimes they were eating dinner there. So that's kind of where that whole, the company itself is an extension of your family. And that's definitely something that he instilled and is something that Tyson and I continue to enjoy about the business. It's the people, because those people are the ones that are out there every day, representing who you are and talking about who you are. You want them to love where they are.

Josh Smith (01:32):

Yeah. What got dad into the trades himself? Did his father, his father. So this is how many generations are we now?

Erika (01:39):

Well, that's it? Yeah. Where's the third. Yeah. Yeah. His father, he came over from Germany. Oh. Long time ago.

Josh Smith (01:44):

And it wasn't always a temple was that started by your dad

Tyson (01:48):

And ready temp was started by my dad. But he had a company before that called FTC Fredericks temperature control.

Erika (01:54):

That was a commercial company that was commercial. A temp was, was designed to be a residential side. It was actually an abbreviation of all the names of the kids. There were two other kids involved at that time. Angela Tyson, Erica Monica, Pamela was eight, 10. And at the time the yellow pages mattered. We don't anymore. But it did put us at the front of the

Tyson (02:15):

Bag in that.

Josh Smith (02:16):

Yeah. So why did you, what made you decide to stay in the trays as opposed to go off on different ventures?

Tyson (02:21):

I didn't leave the trade. I still stayed in the trade, but I went out and did my own thing, worked my way out of the field and was managing crews and people doing large projects, commissioning

Erika (02:31):

Buildings. And you were on the commercial side. I was doing

Tyson (02:34):

Commercial work. I started to get tired of that. And my dad was having some management issues. They were, they were having some management issues. I said, Eric,

Erika (02:42):

I'm going to come back.

Tyson (02:43):

And it was my mom's birthday dinner. Actually, we ended up talking and, uh, the timing was perfect. Well, it turns out that the timing was perfect because we made the move within a week. I was back working at a temp and it's been nothing but progress. I can say with full confidence that the people at atemp have really appreciate their job. And they liked the place they work and they're proud of the place they work. And that's really when it comes down to it, like the most important thing, the most motivating thing to be in.

Erika (03:10):

It's the best review we get. When, when the client writes that our employee was out there raving about ATM and that they love working there.

Tyson (03:21):

Yeah. Yeah. When they say, I can tell that this person loves their job, that's when anything that bad happened the day, if I can read that, it brings it all back around

Josh Smith (03:31):

The past 40 years. I gotta imagine that there's been certain growth areas in those 40 years. What's been the most recent one. What, what kind of growth have you seen in the

Tyson (03:40):

Last three years? I would say, well, it looks like we're going to hit about 50% growth in the past three years. That's pretty big. Yeah. We don't really, it's not stopping based on our plans and projections. Like we've got a plan in place and it's just, it really it's about getting, we just need to keep finding more good people to do the work because it works out there. You know, we have to turn down work right now because I'm not going to hire people. We're not going to hire people just to fill us, fill a van, fill a space, only hire the right people.

Josh Smith (04:17):

So that feeds right into the topic today. Right. How to build a strong company culture and prevent technician turnovers. So talk a bit about your technicians. How long do they typically stay with the company?

Tyson (04:29):

People don't leave a tip. I've only had two technicians leave by choice. One was a personal choice where you had to move and leave the other one. He just wanted to change in his life. So he left the whole industry. Yeah.

Josh Smith (04:43):

What would you say is the biggest contributing factor to how you keep your technicians for so long? For years and years

Erika (04:48):

Hire people that their values align with yours. Sure. Let's make sure that what's in their heart and what they want to do is in line with what you're trying to take the company and do with it.

Tyson (05:00):

We're understanding about liberalize and then family is always most important. So if anything's going on

Erika (05:05):

And the call center, I got single moms. I'm a single mom too. So I understand when things happen, we don't, everyone is allowed to have a life and everyone is allowed to take care of their life. And that's not to be abused. If you're somebody who's going to abuse that privilege, then you weren't worthy of the privilege in the first place. Yeah,

Tyson (05:22):

I think really, and it sounds simple and kind of silly, but the key has to be reasonable. I mean, like just, you know, understand that people have their own lives and make sure that you're there to support them and help them enjoy and be comfortable in their lives. We try to make sure that everybody is happy.

Erika (05:39):

So you got to listen, if you want to understand. And sometimes that's exhausting in itself sending to your people, but it's important.

Josh Smith (05:47):

I do that frequently. Do you have any kind of feedback surveys or things like that, that you do on any kind of consistent basis to

Erika (05:55):

Ask for feedback on their reviews, ask for feedback or advice on things they think we could expand into and then it's always welcome. There is no closed doors, any attempt. So if you've got a great idea, we've never ever once squashed anybody for coming in with a great idea or coming in with some kind of feedback on what they think we could do to improve. Even if it's a silly idea, Hey, some silly ideas have worked. My father brought the silly idea of yard signs. I thought it was silly

Tyson (06:23):

That the old school, I thought it was ridiculous.

Erika (06:25):

And next thing you know, we are every, in every neighborhood and

Tyson (06:30):

Branding tools being

Erika (06:31):

The neighborhood company is what we wanted to be. And to tell you the truth, they, I hate giving them kudos, but I had to give them kudos. Good idea. I know he does.

Josh Smith (06:44):

So you mentioned that the family culture, we treat them like they're family. What are some of the practical ways outside of the ones that we've discussed that you do that day

Tyson (06:53):

In and day out? There's really not like a short answer to that. Um, and it's tough and that's, as we're growing as rapidly as we are, this is the tough thing to maintain that connection, that connection with everybody. But people want to know that you care about them and their family and their well-being really it's little things, but it's just, I think making people know that you care about them specifically, not just, not just ATM. Yeah.

Erika (07:19):

We run a, a longer schedule the most. It's not just a Monday through Friday eight to five. So our, our technicians are out. Some of them, the electricians are out as early as seven and they're working until seven at night. We also work Saturdays as well as Sunday on call with that. We have flexibility with the schedule too. Some of the guys like to do four tens and have three days off some of them, because they have evening things they need to get to like to do a shorter day. So those are things too, that we try to be flexible with to help accommodate what their lifestyle is.

Josh Smith (07:50):

What are some of the ways that you, uh, you reward your employees? Like when they do well, I know we talked about the financial

Erika (07:57):

Aspect. It's always work. They do.

Josh Smith (07:58):

I'm sure. What are some of those ways that you handle that

Tyson (08:02):

We like to surprise people, you know, bringing lunch.

Erika (08:05):

It could the install crew, cause

Tyson (08:08):

We do onsite visits and no,

Erika (08:12):

Of course love that too. When they see you going and taking care of your employees. Yeah.

Tyson (08:15):

So as far as your boarding, I mean there's gift cards. I try to learn people's favorite things. So I can this, some something as simple as a soda to somebody's favorite restaurant or Ice cream days are big days at that depth. And I'm pretty good. So I got everybody's place, but yeah, just stuff to again, make everybody know that you care about them,

Josh Smith (08:38):

Those who need more training or input, how do you divide your time between the business aspect and the mentoring aspect? It's difficult.

Erika (08:48):

You tried to keep, you can try to make sure you don't have the bad ones around second time. Yeah. All that stuff that sex away, your, your energy towards the negative so that you can have the time for the people that are out there doing all the good for you.

Tyson (09:02):

Th that's a perfect answer to that question actually, because that is the number one thing that does pull me personally away from training opportunities and is having to deal with the stuff that nobody likes to deal with.

Josh Smith (09:14):

Yeah. Talk a bit more towards, I want to talk more towards our business owners who are listening right now, all the things we've been talking about have been leading us towards building the reputation of a phenomenal place to work. What kind of advice do you have given all of these things that we've been talking about? If you're sitting across the table from a business owner to help them understand how you created this amazing reputation of the workplace

Erika (09:38):

Environment, you hire on attitude,

Tyson (09:41):

It's all about the hiring process. And I'm not sure if it's kind of redundant from what we've been saying, but it's, you don't hire based on skillset necessarily. I mean, you have to factor in some of that stuff, but you hire the person. Most of my hires, we just hire them on the spot. Normally, normally they, they, they catch us because you know, there's just,

Erika (10:00):

Well, usually our interview has nothing to do with your skillset. The interview is a hundred percent to figure out if your vibe is the right vibe. I want you to be that same energy. I want you to be that same person. I want you to come in and be a compliment asset to the rest of the group. Yeah.

Josh Smith (10:15):

Yeah. Well, I, it, would you say it's more of a gut reaction or a gut feeling that you have in that interview? Um, or are there certain questions you ask or responses you're looking for?

Tyson (10:25):

It's definitely to get,

Erika (10:27):

Go with your gut on hiring and go with your gut on the other side too. Don't wait too long.

Tyson (10:33):

I'm pretty, I'm pretty stubborn about this one. It's tough because we're getting bigger, but I want to be involved with every interview, every hire because it again is that there is a gut feeling like, like she said, either way, if you feel a little something's a little off here or some people that just blow you away, most of our hires are that person, they just blow you away.

Erika (10:51):

And we've made the mistake of hiring the person where we were like, well, they were okay. I think you're right. You think they're okay? Yeah. I think they're okay. No, he think they were okay. They weren't, they were not, you need to be excited about it. You need to be like, oh, that was a good one. Oh, that was a good one. And when we both feel that way, we know that's a good one. And we, we go with it

Josh Smith (11:10):

For a business owner. Who's, who's struggling with the high turnover at their organization. What's some advice you would give them or where's the first place they should look

Tyson (11:18):

Again. It goes back to just being reasonable to do what you think is right now, you're going to get your payback. If you're treating people properly, they're going to stick around. They're going to want it on. They're going to want to be, they're going to, and they're going to go the extra mile for you as well. So just do the right thing, you know? And that's, it's really simple. The numbers can cloud your judgment at times. Something as simple as the other day, I was like, you know what? It hasn't been a good month. You know, let's not order another pallet of water, you know? Cause we provide fluids for

Erika (11:49):

Our guys. It was new. It

Tyson (11:51):

Was a 24. It was. Yeah,

Erika (11:53):

It was, yeah.

Tyson (11:55):

It was like a 24 hour thing. I'm like, that's just an example of what I'm talking about. Like you need to make sure you're doing the right

Josh Smith (12:03):

Always. Is that something that you both have set the tone? Is that something that comes from your dad instilling how's the leadership kind of embody that

Erika (12:11):

He's always been a giving man. He was always as super giving man. If anything, at times we felt too giving, but don't let the few that might take advantage of the situation ever keep you from taking care of the ones that aren't good. That would love that it would be a bad move.

Josh Smith (12:27):

Yeah. How do you ensure like employees are giving that same quality of service? I know services, the quality and the high-end quality of the service that you give your,

Erika (12:35):

How many customers are you retaining and follow up and ask them, ask the customer, look at your reviews, make sure you're responding to your reviews, ask for reviews and make sure those customers coming back every year. And if they're not find out why I,

Josh Smith (12:50):

I really appreciate both of your time here today in the booth. I want to kind of wrap it up with a nice bow. If you could give one piece of advice. And I know we've had a lot of nuggets in here, one piece of advice to business owners who are listening right now that want to grow their business and not really compromise on the customer experience. What

Erika (13:05):

Would you say don't compromise your integrity. You know, we do what's right for the customer, always, always. And that would be probably the fact that we don't compromise. Our integrity, allows our employees to stand behind the company a hundred percent and believe in what the company is doing.

Tyson (13:23):

Hiring, align yourself with the right people, create a good

Erika (13:27):

Trust, your company like you trust a team or a family. If you don't instill trust, if you don't allow them to go out there and do what you want them to do and believe that they can do what you want them to do, it's it doesn't work either. So just trust the group of individuals that you hire and you'll have a bunch of believers. That'll carry it out for you.

Josh Smith (13:44):

Well, Erica Tyson, this has been awesome. Again, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you. Appreciate your time. And for everybody listening, wherever you might be listening at, definitely hit that subscribe button. So you can get more of this awesome content on the sharpest tool. And from all of us here, we'll catch you next time.

Erika (14:02):


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