by Jim Hinshaw

So we just completed a move from Phoenix to Dallas, started a new position with Service Roundtable, a company I have worked with as a consultant for years. I am the Vertical Market Manager for HVAC, one of four Vertical Markets under the Service Nation umbrella. Sit back while I share the onboarding process and how amazing it was.

This process started before I ever hit Dallas, got a series of emails detailing insurance coverage, holiday pay, benefits and responsibilities of my new position. The company had a portal that I logged into, where all my secret stuff was stored. In fact, I had a question early on, the first page in the portal said if I had questions, email one of our amazing team members who will get back to you fast! I did, and they did. Got an answer in just a few minutes, surprised me how quick it was.

They had a Zoom meeting scheduled for all team members a couple of days before I started, I was still in Phoenix packing up for the move. I was listening in (I believe the term is lurking) with video shut off. Someone asked if I was on the call, another person said I was but in listen mode only. So I opened up the video link, they all shouted out, Welcome Aboard. It felt really good. We hit town on a Sat, unpacked the UHaul, spent Sunday looking at our new town. I got an email Sunday evening, it said “Welcome to Your First Day”. Another really feel-good thing. That email shared what would happen on Monday, my first day. Who would be involved in filing out paperwork, how the phones worked, all the details for starting a new job.

Here is what is interesting. The portal, the emails, all were automated. No one had to sit down and crank out another message, set up a virtual meeting. Since I have had my own consulting business for the last 20 years, I had not been exposed to this sort of onboarding, maybe it happens every time today. But I doubt that. The new employee, no matter if they are 23 years old, or a multiple of that age, still feels a little nervous that first day.

When I came into my office, there were valentines all over the walls and offices. Turns out the company has a tradition of posting large heart shaped valentines for each employee. We just took them down two weeks later. One of the girls asked if I was going to keep mine. Told her had not thought of that, but I did put them on a shelf above my desk. She said she had hers saved for the past few years! Again, it is little things that make a huge difference.

Here is my application for your company. What is your onboarding process? Years ago I worked in the business as VP of sales for Donley Service Center. Jim Donley would sit down with each new hire and explain the culture of the company. Have a client that tells new techs and installers: I will never fire you for making a mistake, I will fire you for misleading or lying to a customer. I is a good thing to tell the new employees what the boundaries are, what is expected, as well as not accepted.

At the Service Roundtable, we have a couple of computer screens that have a rotating message in the break rooms and hallways. The messages are compliments for employees from co-workers when they have done something amazing, above and beyond the normal duties. We also have trivia details posted: Bob’s high school nickname, Amber’s first car, that sort of thing. Anyone can post positive messages; the idea is to lift us all up.

The concept is to get the team working as a team, to make sure everyone feels like an integral part of the customer solution process. When each employee feels important, they convey that feeling of confidence to the customers, it becomes much easier to work through the obstacles that we may find on the road to profits!

By the way, just had a group into our headquarters for some training, someone shared a concept on keeping employees, since people are at a premium in our industry. Set up an employee retention program, where you work to keep the techs, installers, and office staff on your team so they won’t drift to another company. Celebrate a successful month with a dinner, maybe reward team members with a tool allowance, fishing trip, house cleaning, whatever makes sense to show them you appreciate them. Again, it doesn’t have to be a week in Hawaii, but it shows that you want them to stay.

Take a look at how you receive the new person, how you can help them get integrated into your culture as soon as possible. You hired them because they can do something needed for your company, help them get there faster, feel better about themselves. It will pay dividends.

Thanks, we’ll talk later.