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November, 2017 - Smart Service

Top Trade Careers for 2018

On November 29th, 2017 by

Curious about the outlook for various trade careers in 2018? You came to the right place! The top trade careers for 2018 range from ironworkers to electricians and feature projections of significant growth across each industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes these estimates of national occupational employment growth, helping to identify emerging employment trends next year and beyond. According to the latest data, companies will staff up over the next 12 months to meet the demands for these top trade careers.

Ironworker Careers

2018 Increase: 900 Jobs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ironworker positions expect to increase by 900 jobs in the United States next year. This growth should continue from there, resulting in a 12.8 percent increase by 2026 for structural iron and steel workers. Ironworker jobs typically require apprenticeships and specialized training to break into the industry, although some employers may also require a technical degree. This trade is extremely niche, with only a small number of qualified employees. If you invest your time and develop your skills to become an ironworker, it could pay big dividends over the next several years as more opportunities become available.

Masonry Careers

2018 Increase: 970 Jobs

The number of masonry jobs will increase 10.6 percent by 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means the addition of approximately 970 new jobs heading into 2018. Depending on skill and level of experience, brick masons could stand to make bank for their efforts. To break into the field, a mason needs to complete an apprenticeship or work as a laborer on a masonry crew. For those willing to learn the craft and put in the hard work necessary to succeed, several jobs will become available across the country. This trade should continue to grow next year and beyond.

HVAC Careers

2018 Increase: 1,200 Jobs

HVAC contractors are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an average of 1,200 annual job openings over the next several years across the United States. This annual increase projects to fuel 8.7 percent growth in the HVAC industry overall by 2026. To become an HVAC tech, aspirants must train in the form of internships, apprenticeships, or in some cases technical degrees. From there, the dedicated HVAC technicians who continue to learn the more intricate points of the trade will excel. After spending time in the field, familiarizing oneself with HVAC management software can also help further one’s career.

Electrician Careers

2018 Increase: 6,100 Jobs

The number of electrician jobs should increase by 6,100 openings in 2018. By 2026, projections suggest a nine percent increase overall for electrician jobs across the country. Electricians have been an in-demand trade for some time, and it could be a profitable decision to enter this sector if you’re willing to put in the work to develop the necessary skills. Electricians will need to complete an apprenticeship or internship when beginning their career, but this could represent a worthwhile investment as this trade continues to grow.

Plumbing Careers

2018 Increase: 7,580 Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 15.8 percent increase in job openings by 2026 for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitter jobs. This growth will include an increase of 7,580 job openings in 2018, making the plumbing trade a lucrative sector to find work. Like any field, employers typically expect an internship or apprenticeship. From there, getting onto the job site and gaining as much real-life experience as possible can differentiate you from other plumbers. Additionally, becoming proficient with plumbing business software will also help advance your career.

Carpenter Careers

2018 Increase: 8,700 Jobs

In response to natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Irma, carpenters have grown in demand (along with the need to rebuild towns and cities damaged by weather events). These natural disasters and the steady growth from the homebuilding industry has left carpenters across the country highly coveted. Most projections expect roughly 8,700 job openings in 2018 and 8.5 percent growth overall by 2026. If you’re looking to learn a trade, investing your time in a carpenter internship or training program is a sound career development strategy. Look for emerging opportunities both now and in the future.

Landscaping Marketing Ideas for the Offseason

On November 22nd, 2017 by

During the offseason, the owners of landscaping companies face a difficult dilemma: how do you keep your business in the minds of clients when there isn’t any landscaping to be done? Rest on your laurels and your competition won’t hesitate to swoop in in anticipation of the coming thaw. On the other hand, if you flood your clients with ads and announcements, you risk annoying your customer base. It’s a fine line to walk, but doing so successfully will give you a head start when the changing seasons put landscapers back in demand.

Extend Your Season

Remaining active marketing-wise in the offseason becomes much less difficult once you shorten or eliminate that offseason. Though demand for landscaping drops once the leaves start to fall, that doesn’t render you and your employees totally useless. On the contrary, those falling leaves have provided you with a whole new market to tap. By offering fall cleanup services, you’ll give yourself an ingenious way to keep revenue coming in while also staying at the forefront of your customers’ minds. Those same clients will likely hire you when the first snow falls and they need someone to clear their driveway and sidewalk. With proper planning, your business can truly become a year-round operation.

Planning, however, is essential to making this work. Make your clients aware of your fall and winter services well before the weather turns cold. This lets them plan and budget in advance. Employees that go out into the field during the summer should do so with flyers advertising your off-season services. They can stuff these in mailboxes and pass them out to customers.

Of course, no matter how exceptional you make your marketing, you probably won’t stay as busy during the fall or winter as you did in the spring and summer. Therefore, you must plan to pare down employee hours in anticipation of the slow season. Let the members of your team know well in advance if you’ll retain them (and how much work they can expect). This lets them make plans for other employment until spring rolls back around.

Reset Your Marketing

Even if your business continues to operate in the offseason, you’ll still likely have more free time on your hands than you did during the summer and spring. The smartest way you can use that free time? Take a close look at your marketing strategy to determine what works and what doesn’t. Did certain neighborhoods respond better to papering than others? Do visitors to your website convert into customers? Do you target the individuals most likely to take advantage of your services? The answers to these questions will help you determine your marketing and business plan for the coming season, allowing you to fully capitalize on the brief window in which you can offer your full slate of services.

Trying to create a marketing plan without proper analytics is like trying to build a house without a blueprint. You might have some idea of what you’re doing, but the final product is likely to be shoddy and substandard. If you want to learn more about digital marketing, this time of year gives you the perfect opportunity to do it. Study Google Analytics to learn the basics of effective digital marketing and consider using that knowledge to place a few online ads of your own. If your website lacks functionality or panache, consider hiring a web designer to help you make the most of your internet storefront. If you’re unfamiliar with the demographics of your area, a site like American Fact Finder can provide you with that information. Sites like, meanwhile, offer detailed data on the average revenue of households and the value of homes within surrounding zip codes. Used together, these resources allow you to create incredibly precise ads targeted perfectly towards the people that make up your customer base.

Reaching the people you want to reach is only step one of the process, however. No matter how targeted you make your ads, they won’t work if you don’t offer a distinct, unique selling proposition. What does your landscaping company do better than any of its competitors? Do you offer more affordable services? Do you employ a friendlier and harder-working staff? Do you simply deliver better results than the competition? Find your answer and make it the centerpiece of your marketing. If your advantage involves pricing, make sure that your advertisements draw a clear comparison between your fees and your competitors’. If you have nicer employees, consider supplementing your ads with a headshot and personal statement from a particularly affable team member. If you deliver superior results, include pictures of some of the magnificent landscaping projects your company has executed over the years. Don’t just let people know you exist, get them to realize how your existence benefits them.


Marketing becomes tricky even without the added complication of an offseason. However, you should look at this hurdle as an opportunity to outclass and out-prepare your competition, just as you would with any other challenge posed to your business. If you keep these tips in mind, spring will surely welcome you with an excited group of clients fighting for the right to use your services. For more marketing ideas, consider visiting our blog or contacting one of our friendly customer service representatives.

Best Books for Electricians

On November 20th, 2017 by

An electrician knows that their education never truly ends. As electrical systems grow more sophisticated and complex, so too must an electrician’s knowledge of their chosen craft. Full-time electricians may find it difficult to find a moment to study up on the latest tricks and techniques, especially if they’ve been out of school for a while and don’t know which texts are currently regarded as the industry standards. By directing the electricians on your team to the resources below—or even by purchasing the texts for them—you’ll make an important investment in their professional development, an investment that will pay off as their value to your company increases.

Free Online Courses

In some cases, your investment need not even require a financial hit. offers free public courses on topics ranging from algebra to poetry. Their catalog includes several courses that deal with electronics and electrical technology. Two of them, “Soldering Guide” and “Circuits and Electronics,” were created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both represent great ways for your electricians to brush up on the basics. Those looking for something a little more advanced may find “Circuit Theory” or “Lessons in Electric Circuits” of interest. With so many options, you can find relevant courses for everyone, not just the college types in your employ. While some courses gear towards experienced and formally-trained electricians, others aim to satisfy those learning at a high school level. No matter the expertise of your electricians, through they’ll find resources that can help them learn new skills or master some old ones.

National Electrical Code 2014 Handbook (NFPA)

Speaking of the basics, your electricians must continuously ensure that their work remains up to code on every project they take on. Doing so, however, requires that electricians review that code every once in a while. The latest edition of the National Electric Code (released by the National Fire Protection Association) represents the newest and most comprehensive collection of safety guidelines on the market, an exhaustive tome that covers requirements for residential, commercial, and industrial electrical installations. A panel of experts reviews every one of those requirements to ensure that all the information contained in this handbook stays as accurate and up-to-date as possible (a prime concern given the rapidity of change in modern electrical systems). Even if your electricians claim to know their guidelines forwards and backward, it’s still best to have a copy of this book somewhere in the shop.

Practical Electrical Wiring: Residential, Farm, Commercial and Industrial, 22nd Edition (F.P. Hartwell, Herbert P. Richter)

The first edition of Practical Electrical Wiring was written in 1939. Ever since, industry pros have considered it an essential text for electricians, both amateur and professional. Now in its 22nd edition, this industry standard contains all the knowledge needed to work with modern electrical wiring systems. At the same time, it retains the wealth of basic, irreplaceable information that remains as true now as it did almost eighty years ago. The most remarkable feature of this book? It manages to convey that information in a much more interesting and relatable way than most texts. The professional yet down-to-earth tone makes the nearly-overwhelming amount of knowledge offered within seem well within the reader’s grasp. From expert electrician with many years under their belt to total beginners who don’t know a solder from a seder, this book remains valuable. If your electricians were formally educated, there’s a good chance that they encountered this book during their studies (and an even better chance that they’ll appreciate exposure to the newest edition).

Electrical Motor Controls for Integrated Systems, 5th Edition (Gary Rockis, Glen A. Mazur)

Base knowledge of circuits and wiring can only get you so far. Any electrician worth their salt needs to put that knowledge to use in practical applications, especially if they work for a field service company like yours. If electricians on your team need that extra assistance in putting their knowledge to good use, you can’t go wrong by getting them a copy of the newest edition of Electrical Motor Controls for Integrated Systems. Your clients, after all, don’t want you to fix a malfunctioning electrical component so much as they want you to fix the machine or system to which that component belongs. By studying this text, your electricians will familiarize themselves with the inner workings of modern motor controls and integrated system technologies. That information will serve them as an excellent reference when they must repair unfamiliar machinery, expanding their skill base and allowing you to take on a greater variety of clients.


As the owner of a field-based electrical services company, your goals certainly include seeing your business prosper and expand for years to come. The easiest way to do this involves ensuring that your electricians have the resources they need to grow right along with your company. Ensure that their skills and education keep up with the rapidly-changing world of electronics. Keep these books in your office for your electricians to study at their leisure—you may even consider getting one or two of them for each member of your team as holiday gifts. If you’d like more tips on successfully operating an electrical services company, please consider visiting our blog or reaching out to one of our knowledgeable industry experts.

Staffing Solutions for the HVAC Industry

On November 2nd, 2017 by

Successful HVAC business owners know that their company’s continued growth depends on maintaining a happy and well-trained workforce. If your employees don’t have the skills needed to effectively conduct a wide range of HVAC tasks, you’ll find yourself losing out on jobs and failing to satisfy the few customers you can attract. If your employees are capable but unfulfilled, their discontent will come across in the quality of their work and in their interactions with your clients.

Attracting quality technicians and keeping them satisfied in their work constitutes a delicate but necessary balancing act for those who wish to remain relevant in a highly competitive field. We’ve compiled some helpful tips to keep in mind if you find yourself in search of a new employee or struggling to retain those you already have.

Hiring HVAC Technicians

If you’ve ever put out a listing for a position before, you know that half the work in finding a new employee comes from sifting through a deluge of resumes. While it’s great that job postings can attract a high level of interest, many—if not most—applicants inevitably won’t have the skills or background you’re looking for. Thankfully, a business owner or hiring manager has many methods at their disposal to limit the number of applications while still attracting prospective employees that possess the desired skills.

  • Be as specific as possible in the initial listing for the position. If your team needs a specialist in a certain area, be sure to say so. Keep in mind that an employee can specialize in more than just the sort of work they do; if you’re looking for someone with, say, excellent customer service skills or marketing abilities, don’t hesitate to include that in the listing. While it’d be great to attract an employee who’s good at everything, such individuals are few and far between. You’ll find it much more rewarding (and much less frustrating) to focus on those who offer exactly what your team lacks.
  • Be choosy about where you post your opening. Hybrid recruiting/social media sites like Indeed or LinkedIn make for solid options, as they focus on attracting career-minded individuals to their ranks. Posting to a site like Craigslist, on the other hand, will likely do little more than water down your applicant pool and give you a slew of underwhelming applications to sort through.
  • Consider putting out the call for a new employee through word of mouth before creating a public posting. Here, your relationships with other HVAC owners and professional organizations will come in handy. You can also potentially reap the benefits from remaining receptive and open with your employees. Your technicians may very well know of a friend or family member who needs work and possesses the skills your company needs.
  • Make the process as simple and easy as possible. Though this bit of advice seems contrary to the above tips regarding limiting applicants, you know that lackluster applications will come in no matter how complicated (or simple) you make your hiring process. You don’t want to put up so many barriers that a talented technician decides to take their skills to a company that doesn’t ask for the same degree of hoop-jumping. Make sure your website remains as accessible as possible and to limit the amount of work involved in the application process. Don’t make applicants register and login to a new system in order to submit an application. If you absolutely need to know everything about a candidate before hiring them, you can ask for any missing information during an interview. Candidates are less likely to walk if requests for more information are made after a potential employer has already shown significant interest.
  • Deciding on an HVAC technician to hire can be a long and difficult process. An employee is an investment, and it is important to not take this decision lightly. Write down a list of applicable HVAC interview questions that can help narrow down your pool of applicants. Applicants may find these HVAC interview tips helpful when preparing for the interview.

HVAC Technician Retention

Adding talented employees to your team is one thing; keeping them is another. With HVAC technicians in high demand all over the country, yours won’t hesitate to jump ship to the competition if they feel unappreciated or that you treat them unfairly. The smart HVAC owner knows that retention doesn’t mean showering employees with rewards and praise to keep them happy; it means recognizing their talents and investing in their growth in order to improve their abilities as an employee (which, in turn, increases your business’ capacity to serve clients).

  • If your employees are worth retaining, they’re worth training. The HVAC industry evolves at an astonishing pace, so much so that even the most talented technicians can find themselves falling behind without regular education. Set aside time in your employees’ schedule for them to attend paid workshops and training sessions. Doing so will allow them to sharpen their skills and learn new ones to both their benefit and the benefit of your clients. This sends the signal that you’re interested in the growth of your employees as individuals and not just in their ability to make you money.
  • Get creative with perks. There are ways to reward your employees for exceptional work that’ll be friendlier to your bottom line than a raise or bonus. Some of these methods work just as effectively in improving morale. Merchandise with your company logo costs very little and doubles as free advertisement. You can purchase gift cards for less than their retail value and use them as prizes for monthly or quarterly contests. Even something as simple as rewarding a high performer with a paid day off can boost the spirits of that employee while also sending the message to the rest of the staff that you happily recognize hard and skillful work.
  • Make your HVAC company a place your employees want to work. HVAC technician retention can come down to company culture. Appeal to younger HVAC graduates by setting your company apart from other as innovative. When you appeal to younger homeowners through internet marketing, you also appeal to younger technicians who can relate more to the business practices. Being on top of HVAC industry trends makes your company a more appealing one to work for compared to other HVAC companies.
  • Make your expectations clear. This notion should also apply to the hiring process, as few things can kill the relationship between a new hire and their boss quicker than a lack of proper communication. Work with your employees to set realistic goals for their training and growth. Put those goals in writing and check in with employees monthly or quarterly to discuss their progress. Remain clear about your business’ policies and procedures. Doing so will ensure that your employees appropriately represent your company and that you’ll have established documentation to point to should one of your technicians violate one of those rules.
  • Don’t let employee information fall through the cracks! Missing important milestones such as work anniversaries, birthdays, or review schedules can harm your employees’ feelings of worth or value. If you pay out commissions, you also want to be very careful about keeping good records and managing the payouts accurately so as to benefit both the company and your technicians. Managing such information with an HVAC software solution will keep this database in line with the rest of your company and customer information and prevent you from entering information into more than one system.

Keep your HVAC Service Business Growing With Good Hiring Practices

HVAC technicians are no different from employees in any other field. They want meaningful work and they want rewards for doing it well. The only distinction? The competitiveness of the industry means that they can easily go someone else if you can’t provide the working environment they desire. While hiring and retaining the best technicians on the market can take extra work and expense, the benefits to your business far outpace that cost and hassle. If you’re serious about ensuring the long-term success of your HVAC business, the very first thing you need to do is create an environment in which your employees can thrive and grow alongside your company.

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