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The “One-Day” Install

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While on tech is explaining the work conducted to the homeowner, this gives the opportunity for the other tech to tidy things up.

Working with your crew to make one-and-a-half-day jobs turn into one-day jobs will save your company money.

By Glenn Mellors

A one-day install is a two-person crew consisting of a lead and a helper completing a replacement furnace, air conditioner and a humidifier or water heater in one visit. Now it is possible, or rather probable, that half of the readers are laughing at such a preposterous idea, while the other half are laughing at the crew that can’t do it, after all, they do it every single day! Our goal, or rather your goal, is to learn how to complete one-day installs.

The money dynamic

There are typically 20 days in a month to complete one-day installations, which can be multiplied by the number of installation crews you have to measure your production capabilities. Without getting too far into the weeds, we can assume that we require $2,000 gross margin (profit) dollars per installation crew per day to meet the financial needs of the company. We will save that topic for another day.

If you are not able to complete one-day installations are you pricing the day and a half jobs correctly? Rarely do we! For some reason, we price out the job for a one-day installation and then add a few hundred dollars for the following half a day. Whoops! What happened to our $2,000 per day gross margin requirement? Why do we only add on a few hundred dollars to cover day two? We calculate our costs for a half-day of labour and tack that onto our one-day install price. The only problem is we don’t have a half days worth of gross margin dollars, so we fall behind and at the end of a busy month and we didn’t make any money.

So you have two choices, one is to take your half-day costs and add $1,000 gross margin dollars to it, and then do it again to the job you start in the other half-day or choice number two, learn how to get your crews doing one-day installations!

Training your staff

When was the last time you stayed with a crew for the day to observe the talent that they have, or look in a mirror at yourself and see what talent you have? The limitation of talent can typically be enhanced by training and attitude. First and foremost, we must be convinced that it can be done if we have all dynamics working together. Attitude comes from everyone proving its possible by leading by example. Training is what gives us the mental tools to see what’s possible. Lack of knowledge can frustrate an installer especially once they find out we have not given them the knowledge that we know exists. Imagine how you would feel if you found out there was a way or a tool to make light of an arduous task and no one told you. Spending time with your teams and pointing out new and advanced ways of doing things, will create a happier technician. It saves the person from that “should have known that” moment.

Too many trips to the work trip might be slowing down the amount of work completed.

Collaboration is key

Everyone is a winner when they are involved in developing a process that affects them directly. We don’t like being told how long it should take to do our job but rather be the provider of the answer when asked the question how long it should take. This is the case when we ask our technicians the question “how long it should take to replace a furnace, air conditioner, water heater or humidifier.” Why a day-and-a-half? The only problem at the end of them answering the “how long should it take” exercise is that they still had time left at the end of the day.

Now in everyone’s defence, we are talking about a straightforward remove and replace installation. What they discovered was that the jobs should have rarely been one-and-a-half-day installs.

Coaching with an open mind and a sense of humour is key. Think of the information that they share with you is akin to your parents finding out what you did as a teenager a few years after your adolescence is long in the mirror. “What would you do differently today” is a great reaction to their humble confessions.

A great place to start is to be an observer on site. We had the true confessions of a lead hand and helper after the homeowner observed them making 47 trips to the truck and back during the completion of a one-day job.

Step-by-step basis

Upon the arrival to the jobsite:

Greet customer(s) and go over what you are about to do, what the timeline is, what will be shut off, and what will be different when you leave. During this time, the helper is bringing in drop cloths and making the area safe and protected. Time: 15 minutes

Prepare the worksite, turn off gas, water and electricity where applicable, disconnect water heater and start pump to drain, pump down A/isolate coil and line set while disconnecting the existing furnace, stripping old line set and carrying equipment outside. Time: 60 minutes

Remove outdoor unit and reset the new unit, carry down furnace and water heater and set in place, tidy up the area and put water pump away, having positioned the new equipment, prepare for connections. Time: 60 minutes or less

Connect water piping and run/connect venting, start to fill tank and install plenum and A/C coil, reconnect gas piping to water heater. Time: 60 minutes

Reconnect electrical connections to outside unit and prepare to accept new line set; while inside, the gas has been reconnected to the furnace and venting has been completed, run, and prepare line set for charging. Time: 90 minutes

Start jobsite cleanup while lead starts commissioning the equipment. Once cleanup is complete, the helper can walk the homeowner through equipment manuals, thermostat usage and paperwork to collect the payment. Time: 90 minutes

Both the lead and helper do a final inspection for completeness, tool collection and tidiness of jobsite, load all garbage and finalize. Time: 45 minutes

Walk your people through a similar exercise. Let’s see if six hours plus lunch and coffee breaks and back by 5 p.m. works for them?

Check stock of the tools available to your employees. Working with old or broken equipment may be slowing productivity.

Right tool, right job

You cannot cut a tomato with a hammer and you cannot complete a one-day install without the right tools. When was the last time you took stock of your tool requirements and availability? Like true confessions of labour waste, it is time to create the tool list. Create your list with the aid of all installers then have them do an inventory to see what the shortage is. Are the tools in good working order, safe and complete? I personally have seen technicians with hand screwdrivers and snips because they don’t work anymore or worse, they left them at a jobsite. Properly tooled is not an option, it is a must. Be creative in how you manage your tools! Make sure that the one being punished is not yourself. Create the system with your teams’ input for both supply and tool management. Let them create the boundaries to live within. Once you have completed the list above, you are well on your way to understanding the dynamics of a “one-day” install.

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