An acronym for what is synonymous with all that is bad with the American Pastime, Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED's) have been proven to inflate a ballplayer's performance.  Most important in contract years, a player's performance is measured in specific statistics.  So, what if there was a pill, or cream, that an HVAC Technician or Salesperson could take to inflate their numbers.  Make them perform at the top of their field and get them the highest pay in the industry?  Would you take it?  Even if a doctor prescribed it?

  We all know there is no such thing out there, but that we are all human and would at least entertain such an idea.  Imagine what this would mean for a small business: no more call backs, closing sales at the highest rate, and no chance of burn out.  Sounds like the perfect solution for an industry that is understaffed and generally technically deficient.  As an owner or manager, would you question such high performance?  Likely not,  in the same way the blind eye was turned in Major League Baseball.

  In the fast paced world of contracting, performance enhancers could take many forms.  Most importantly to note, none of these solutions are a drug and work immediately!  So, let's change that last word to "Performance Enhancing Development".  I want to share a few things that could improve your performance, all that are legal and will not get you arrested!

1.  Digital Tools; Large advancements have been made in tools over the last (5) years in the HVAC industry.  Investing in digital tools will make your job easier, faster, and more concise.  Take digital refrigerant analyzers for example, you now can see Superheat and Subcooling in real time, without the need of math or charts.  These gauges will do to A/C what Combustion Analyzers did to the heating industry: easier, faster, and more concise!

2. Customer Relations; Listen to what the customer has to say, no matter how busy you are.  They are always going to tell you what is wrong with the system, maybe with some incorrect vernacular.  Remember they live with this system every day of the year, they know what is out of the ordinary.  By listening, and responding to their needs, you will build trust.  Also, you are the expert in the house, they called you and agreed to pay for the expert.  Many technician's demise root cause was poor Customer Relations.  Maybe next time you sign up for a class, it doesn't need to be about a piece of equipment.  Try Customer Relations, no customers equals no business!

3.  Read The Manual; If everything were installed per manufacturer's recommendations, there would be more time to take on new customers instead of chasing call-backs.  Every technical class you have attended, or plan to attend, is probably based on a manual or two. Trust me on this: before you install the next piece of equipment, or even sell one, read the installation manual.  I believe most can even be found via the Internet, compatible with most smartphones these days.  Specifying equipment for a job?  Are you aware of the local code and proper system design?  Yes, there are manuals for this too.

  Some very simple investments (both time and money) can increase your performance in this industry for the long haul.  Anything that promises a quick fix or immediate results will likely fade and break down over the years.  A wise Drill Instructor (oxy-moron?) once told me that "Knowledge is Power".  I have come to realize that he may have been on to something.  You see, no matter where you choose to work, your personal tools, knowledge, and skill go with you.  With these tools, knowledge, and skill  over time comes experience and confidence.  This is what will improve your performance, but it takes time.  So have some patience, and invest in yourself.  There is no magic pill or cream...

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Comment by Chris Compton on August 9, 2013 at 10:18am

Gee, it seems that you are indicating that a "professional" approach to being a contractor/technician type is recommended?  I can rant on that one all day long but the reality is that HVAC is still a "familial" business.  There are approximately 230,000 HVAC contractors in the US with an average size of 5 or less employees.  20% or less of them are who I would consider "professional" operators....the other 80% are not the least bit interested in excelling at what they do, growing their business and really being's just a job.  When and if they approach the thought of being successful they are usually overwhelmed by what it takes and back away. 

We have been engaged (in an educational process) with the existing workforce for 15 years and personally I don't have much hope for them.  Somehow the concept of professionalism or craftsmanship has never taken a deep root in this industry...the blame can go in all directions but that doesn't solve the problem.  We need to focus on the next generation now or continue to stay buried in the morass of ignorance, rules of thumb, and the blind leading the blind.       

From our perspective the current workforce leaves a huge opportunity hole for anyone that wishes to step up and take advantage of it.  We are training the next generation workforce now using online educational methods "blended" with hands on labs to practice and master the necessary competencies.  Those competencies include all of your bullet points listed.  A competent tech is not made overnight it is a process of knowledge, skills and experience and probably more importantly a personal commitment to be the professional.  Obviously you have an ear on the street and know your list is what has been heard for the past several decades. 

You are right...there isn't any magic pill or's just hard study and hard work for anyone that wants to be successful in the silver bullet, why do people keep looking for one?  The good news that we have for our students and working technicians is there isn't any "glass ceiling" in the biz....if you want to go there there are plenty of opportunities all you have to do is the work!

Comment by Tom Strumolo on July 29, 2013 at 12:19pm

Do you have favorite tools for AC test tune balance? I got a chance to play with Honeywell's Servicemaster kit many years ago, might not even have been digital.  Or would any of you have recommended manufacturers or suppliers I could contact for more information / specs? I am an engineer and want to be specific about the tools and reports I need the HVAC techs to use when servicing my clients' equipment. These new tools allow us to make pretty accurate savings projections.

Comment by Anthony Hyde on July 29, 2013 at 11:58am

The tag line paragraph almost made me delete the post - just another wild idea that should never have been posted. Then I started reading with the intent to blast the poster of such drivel.

But items 1-3 are spot on advice for HVAC contractors.  The only thing I would like to have seen added was how to get those "Don't tell me how to do it, I been doing it this way for 20 years" contractors into today's world.



Comment by tedkidd on July 29, 2013 at 11:47am

Actually there IS such a thing.  It's called a Comprehensive Home Analysis - given to homeowners by contractors with the blessing and specifications of the State.   

The Performance Enhancing part is these reports, on average, promise savings of 2-3 time what homeowners actually experience:  

Here are a few reports that have very disappointing numbers: -The first report I found has program realization at .38 (see appendix page 13) - the "we suck less" report - see conclusion at bottom - didn't turn out as well as "we suck less" report projected

And requirements that "Projects" appear "cost effective" gives inherent blessing and institutionalization to the lie.  
The basic problems seem to be: 
  1. No feedback on results
  2. No accountability for results
  3. No clarity around objectives
  4. No incentive for excellence
Tracking actual results seems the only path to breaking free of these lies State Programs are enforcing upon unknowing contractors.  
I've been mounting a campaign to get contractors thinking about their results.  This way they can be prepared for the shift to accountability.   This is published on my blog (as are the warnings I tried to give NYSERDA about the path SIR requirements and low energy costs placed them on):


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