Sixty Service Leaders Talk People, Processes, and Technologies | HVAC Service Operations Forum

Synergy Solution Group hosted a Service Operations Forum on January 26-28th at the Hotel Derek in Houston for 60 members. The three-and-a-half-day session focused on the people, processes, and technologies Synergy members utilize within their organizations.

Guest speaker Michael Brandwein kicked off the meeting with his presentation on fast and effective skills for outstanding communication, collaboration, and management. “To be a successful leader who continually develops new and stronger skills in ourselves and others, we need to become really expert at one thing.” said Michael. “We need to focus on skills instead of qualities.”

Throughout the morning the group broke into pairs for different exercises that reinforced different leadership skills. During a listening exercise participants were told to listen to what their partner said and repeat it back to them before adding their own comments to the conversation. “The most critical skill in leadership communication is not talking, it’s listening,” said Michael.

“This was such a great session about communication,” said Jeremy Ettesvold (Interstate Mechanical). “I can’t wait to do some of these exercises with our team.”

Rob Lehman (Maxair) and Jeff Smith (Brady Services) continued the morning’s leadership theme and facilitated an afternoon discussion on transitioning and developing leaders. This topic hit home for many in the group as almost 60 percent of the attendees had worked in the field at some point in their career. Rob and Jeff stressed the importance of creating a leadership development climate where a company’s culture and core values help leaders lead. Many in the room talked about the role of failure and how it should be okay to make mistakes. Others shared stories about not knowing what to do on their first day in the office and how different it was from being in the field where they knew exactly what to do.

“I gained a lot from this due to my current position of leaving the field as a technician and transitioning into the office,” said Pete Klos (MSC).

The first day ended with a reviews, evaluations, and career planning Synergy Showdown. The Synergy Showdown is a close up look at how members are tackling the same process using different approaches. Jim Bartolotta (Atomatic and Synergy managing partner) shared the 360 review they are doing with their team members, Lori Cline (Vital Mechanical) shared her one-on-one process she uses instead of a typical review to help with career development, and Bart Gedeon (ISS Mechanical) shared his technician review process.

Friday started with two Synergy Showdowns. The onboarding Showdown featured Jim (Atomatic) shared what happens on the first day for a new hire, Brent Little (Brady Services) talked about the onboarding process for day 2-90, and Andy Foster (Pacific Rim) explained about the different departments a new team member visits during their onboarding process to ensure new hires understand how everyone works together. Bill Van Winkle (CSE), Jeremy Ettesvold (Interstate Mechanical), and Kenneth Hetzel (ACIS) all presented their company’s best practice during the small project Showdown.

After lunch Synergy members got to hear more best practices during the estimating and field quoting Showdown with presentations from Keith Reissfelder (Cox Engineering), Eric Fleming (CCM), and Bart Gedeon (ISS Mechanical). The second day closed with a presentation from Synergy partner, XOEye, and a panel discussion of members who are using the wearable technology.

The final day of the Service Operations Forum started with an invoicing Showdown with Rob Lehman (Maxair), Ted Christiansen (CSE), and Eric Fleming (CCM) explaining their company’s process.

Jim led a large group discussion on KPI’s. Members then broke out into small groups to discuss the KPI’s they are using in their company. For some of the attendees, this topic was brand new to them so Jim encouraged them to think about their ideal service tech, their skill set, their traits, and what they do exceptionally well and turn those things into KPI’s or things that could be measured. “Start small and don’t go back and try to measure everything,” said Jim. “Pick one thing, one area that’s been an issue for your clients or your team.”

The session ended with each attendee writing down their action plan of what they want to implement and goals they will accomplish when they return home. “I love coming to these forums,” said Keith (Cox Engineering). “It is always good to be surrounded by good people who strive to be better. It seems we all know we are not perfect but strive for progress. I honestly feel at home while attending.”