Why Your Mindset Matters with Ricky Garland, Top 10 HVAC Tech

Intro: Are you a technician who wants to set yourself apart? Then the Trusted Technician Podcast is for you. I'm your host, Dr. Krista Fabrick, with SBE, and on this podcast, we will have top-performing technicians and experienced HVAC coaches and trainers sharing their tips and strategies to help you be more successful.

Krista Fabrick (Coach): Ricky, thanks so much for, coming and talk to me today. Why don't you go ahead and just introduce yourself quickly?

Ricky Garland (Tech): Hey, nice to be here. So my name is Ricky Garland. I've been a service technician for about 20 years. Started in 2002. Started off as a maintenance tech, just doing strictly maintenance and then slowly working my way up. But I know the struggles of doing maintenance every single day.

Krista Fabrick: Haha yeah.

Ricky Garland: I've been coaching for about a year now with new technicians, trying to bring on new technicians, trying to get 'em up to the SBE process. That's been a struggle. Learning the process in and out. Which is all I can be able to teach it.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah.

Ricky Garland: I got three adult kids and a granddaughter, actually.

Krista Fabrick: Awesome. Oh, how old is she?

Ricky Garland: She is gonna be three this year.

Krista Fabrick: Oh, that's fun. That's fun. You look way too young to have a granddaughter, haha.

Ricky Garland: I started young.

Krista Fabrick: You started young, yeah!

Ricky Garland: Yeah. Started very young.

Krista Fabrick: That's funny. And so, tell us about what company you're with and where.

Ricky Garland: With Wally Falke's out of Modesto, Turlock area in Central California.

Krista Fabrick: I don't know if we've gotten to talk about this before, but one of my best friends growing up, her dad was from Turlock, and so I've been to Modesto and Turlock. I was born in Southern California, so I know your hood.

Ricky Garland: Right? You shared a little bit about yourself earlier.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah. So, tell us what is your favorite thing about being a service tech, especially since you've done it for so long?

Ricky Garland: I could tell you a lot more about what I don't like about maintenance. No, it's great. Service technician's great. You get to help people out. You get to keep your company busy.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah.

Ricky Garland: Also, what a lot of people don't think about is a lot of spearhead is the service technician. They get to feed their company. Right. They get to feed the installers, and then, being out and about, you're not stuck in an office all day. You're out taking care of customers. Helping people that can't help themselves, really. That's what I love about being a technician and helping other technicians come up. Most technicians need help, but they won't ask for it.

Krista Fabrick: Yep. So that's awesome. And serving the customer is ultimately part of why you've been so successful, right? Taking care of the customers.

Ricky Garland: Yeah.

Krista Fabrick: So your revenue for 2021 was $1.6 million?

Ricky Garland: $1.6, $1,594,000.

Krista Fabrick: There you go. So, obviously, you started as an HVAC maintenance tech. Can you talk a little bit about what changed along the way? What has helped you become as successful as you are to the point where you're now coaching the new guys even?

Ricky Garland: Yeah, so when we first started with SBE, I was one of those techs that pushed back. I don't wanna do this. I don't wanna do this. What I do is fine. I only want to go in there and save my customers money, and what I thought was saving them money was doing the very minimum. It's change the capacitor, and I'm out, right? Over the last few years, I've really bought into the SBE program. I broke it down because I was struggling. It just gets boring, doing the same thing every day. HVAC Maintenance, blowing through calls. We are doing, I don't know, 10 to 12 calls a day.

Krista Fabrick: Wow.

Ricky Garland: Now we only run five calls a day. We only have our technicians do five calls a day. Most techs ask, "Five calls a day. How's that even possible?" I just hired a new guy that was working for another company. They were doing 12 calls a day. Insane. He does an hour a call, but their average ticket is $150.

Krista Fabrick: Ouch.

Ricky Garland: Yeah. And they don't do any sales. All turnovers. The technicians get no steps at all. Nothing to fulfill themselves. Every time it came to a unit sale, they'd push it off to another guy. They got no kind of self-worth out of it. You're just supposed to go fix the units and get on, you know, speed throwing.

Now he starts here, he is like, "Oh my gosh, this is amazing. You mean I can actually take time?" And I'm not calling him after an hour and a half and being like, "Hey, what's going on?" So, The SBE process has really kind of helped that. It helps me when I bring on a new technician, I have a process.It's not like, Hey, this is what we do, or this is what we expect. Good luck.

It's like, this is what we do. Why do we do it that way? Well, we do it, so everybody's the same. It's part of a brand. We start our brand with a phone call from one of the CSRs. So when the phone call happens, it should be the same. Coca-Cola brand, right? There's a reputation that goes with it. It goes from the time the phone is answered to the time the invoice is paid. There should be the same level of service throughout the whole thing.

Whether I have one technician going to the house or two technicians going to the house, those two technicians' interactions with that customer should be the same. That's why we've decided it's imperative that we have every technician doing the process from start to finish.

Krista Fabrick:Yeah, that's awesome. That consistency of the customer experience. I love that you brought that back to my background in marketing, and people don't think about marketing being from whoever answers the phone all the way to how the invoicing is handled, but that is the whole experience.

Ricky Garland: Absolutely.

Krista Fabrick: That's amazing to hear. You said you kind of wanna get out of the field. Talk a little bit about that. Is it just because your passion is to help? You've seen success, you're comfortable now, and you wanna just help others?

Ricky Garland: I'm older, but yeah, if there could be five of me, that's better than one of me, right? If I can make five of me, I feel like I'm helping five times as many people, if that makes sense. You gotta get to the next step, the next level. And sometimes, the next level is helping people.

But as the process goes on, when a new technician comes in, they're scared. They're nervous, just like a customer. When they first get a technician coming out of their van, they're like, "Oh, is this guy gonna try to sell me? Is he gonna fix my problem?
Am I gonna have heat today? Am I gonna have cooling today?" They're nervous. They're a wreck, right? They're like, "Is this guy gonna even be what I hoped he was?

Well, same thing with a new employee. They're like, "What are my expectations? What does this company expect from me? What's gonna happen?" Well, if they know that we have a process and everything has its place, they don't have to think about what's expected of them.

We tell them, "This is how we want you to do an upfront call. This is what we want you to do when you knock on the door. This is what we want you to do after you got permission to provide solutions. When you go to provide solutions, this is how you should react. This is how you should take pictures." Everything's got a process. They don't have to guess and say, "I hope I'm doing it right." We tell them exactly how to do it. Now they come to us and say, "I'm having trouble with this one spot." We don't have to try to analyze why you're not doing it because we already have the process in place. We have 5, 6, and 7 other technicians doing it.

So we can just come to him and say, "Hey, this worked for so and so. It seems like your personality is kind of like, this guy's. Let me get you and him together, and you guys talk and share ideas because he's quiet too. Let's find out what's working for him, how he's approaching it, or how he got out of his shell." We couldn't do that before. It was impossible.

Krista Fabrick: I love that you brought that example up because there are a lot of introverts in this industry, right? There are a lot of techs who are much more mechanical. What you just said shows that you don't have to be a salesperson. You don't have to be an extrovert to be successful as a service tech. You can sell by taking care of the customer and following the trusted advisor process, asking those questions, and building that trust. You don't have to be a big bubbly person.

Ricky Garland: Right. Well, most guys think you hear the word sale, right? Most technicians, when they're younger or newer, they think, "Oh, I'm not a salesman. I don't wanna sell." If you follow the process, you sell nothing. You're not even allowed to sell anything. You only have to ask the customer for permission to give them the solution. And then, when you give them the solution, you're still not asking them to buy. You say, "Okay, so I found this and this and this. If you would like to talk about that, let me know." Then the customer says, "Yeah, let me know about those." "Well, these are the solutions. This is what I found. This is how most clients fix these things. If you'd like to fix those, let me know before I leave again." You walk away again. If they want to do it, they will ask you, or they will find out what's concerning to them during the process.

At no point should you say, "I found this, and I recommend you do this. And if you don't do this, you're gonna burn up your system. You're gonna burn down your house. I need to come sit with you at the table, and we're gonna talk about this before I leave." None of that happens with the process.

It shouldn't be that way. If that's happening, you're doing it wrong. It should be the customer saying, "I want to take care of this. I would like to do it today, and I understand it's gonna cost this much." Then you get to say, "I'll get that done for you."

It doesn't even have to be it. The solution could be just a capacitor. That doesn't mean the only solution is to replace the air conditioner. Right? The capacitor could have been it, so let's say you go to a unit capacitor, right? Your capacitor's bad, and the technician says, "Your unit's a little bit older. How much longer were you trying to get out of it?" They say, "Well, I'm trying to get two more years out of it because I'm moving." "That's okay. I'm here to help you. Would you like me to look at your system and see if there's anything that I can do to help you get two more years?" If the homeowner says, "No," I'll just take my chances. "I'll get that capacitor changed for you, and I'll get outta here."

Now, if the customer says, "Oh man, that'd be great!" and you go find a dirty blower wheel or a dirty evaporator coil and you come back to them, you say, "I found a few things that may cause you not to get two more years."

Right? Because their concern is two more years. "I found a few things that might not get you two more years. Would you like to still hear about this?" and they say, "Absolutely." Now let's say they say, "Well, how much is that?" You tell them, then they're like, "Do I really have to do this?"

"No, you actually don't have to do either one. This is just what you're gonna need to do to guarantee you get two more years. If you would like to do it in the future, let me know. If not, you know, then I'm gonna be done here in the next 30 minutes. I still have to put your system back together, but if you change your mind, let me know before I leave."

That's not sales. So now most guys will say, they've decided, and they said, "Yeah, go ahead and do it." "Oh, I sold them this. I sold them this coil cleaner. I sold them this blower motor." Right? No, you didn't. All you did was help them decide that it was important enough to them. To do it so they can prolong the life of their HVAC equipment. That's all we do.

Krista Fabrick: You let them make the decision. They chose, they said, "This is what I want to do." Love it. That was one of the best explanations for not selling that I've heard in a long time.

Ricky Garland: The guys in the masterminds, when they hear about this, they're like, "I've never heard it explained that way."

Krista Fabrick: Yeah.

Ricky Garland: When I hear them say that we sell, they think they have to. They're not doing a good job unless they sell equipment. No, we're not asking to do that wrong. Not at all.

Krista Fabrick: That's right.

Ricky Garland: Your average repair bill is just as important as your average equipment.

Krista Fabrick: Absolutely.

Ricky Garland: But you're not going to get that unless the customer trusts you, and the customer's not gonna trust you if you're trying to sell them a bunch of stuff. Does that make sense?

Krista Fabrick: Absolutely. Securing the repair is just as important as selling a new system when appropriate. All right, obviously, you've had a lot of success in this industry to the point where you're now coaching and training your guys. But what does the success mean to you? The income or the change in lifestyle or anything like that. How has that impacted your life?

Ricky Garland: I feel more important. Let's put it that way. I'm not too big on money. Money's money, right? I'm not one of those big, super flashy people, so when I can help another guy get better, that's what fulfills it for me.

Just at the conference today, you know how many people came up to me and were like, "Oh, remember this mastermind?" "Remember this time you talked to me? Oh, it really helped me. I really had a boost in my numbers after this." or one guy was really struggling last year. Another tech in the program and I were talking to him on the phone, helping him get through it, and then he said it really helped him get through it. He was like, "Man, you two talking to me really helped out."

Krista Fabrick: That's awesome.

Ricky Garland: That's what makes it for me now. And I wouldn't be able to do that because, let's just face it, people won't follow you. Like, let's say if you wanna make a ton of money, you follow a guy that has a ton of money, right?

You want to do better in sales and better in helping your customer. You find a guy that's good at helping his customers, who's doing sales. It's, what do they say? "If you want to be the next millionaire, hang out with millionaires?"

You want to be a good technician that can take care of their customers and have good relationships with them. You hang out with technicians that do that already. And you find a ton of them here.

Krista Fabrick: And that's why I love seeing the contractors that invest in their new guys to come to this too because when we're sitting in the tech panels, I mean, it wasn't just the guys up at the front talking. It was the whole class. The whole conversation was valuable.

Ricky Garland: People wanna know, right? The techs want to know. Everyone wants to know the secret.

Krista Fabrick: The secret. What is the secret, Ricky?

Ricky Garland: We discovered this in one of our classes today, so the guy was like, "Well, what's the secret? You guys told us how you get there and what you guys do, and it's mostly just following the process. But what's the secret?" I told him one of the secrets is what they teach you in SBE. For example, you need to listen.

Krista Fabrick: Right.

Ricky Garland: My biggest thing when I do it is getting to the knowledge, getting to the questions that help you move forward. But a good question is only as good as you're listening to the answer. You can't hear a customer talking about air quality, and all you want to do is ask them about energy savings. You can't do that. Right?

Krista Fabrick: Yeah.

Ricky Garland: They're sitting here just wasting time, talking about energy, energy, energy. Meanwhile, the customer is like, "How do I stop Fido from bringing dirt into my house?" and you don't listen. The customer's like, "Well, I'm gonna wait on that." You're like, "Oh, what happened to the sale? What happened?"

I thought they wanted to do something. No, because you were talking about energy. They want filters and IAQ products. You're talking about replacing the system with higher-efficiency equipment because you want them energy equipment. They want a cleaner. You could have talked to them about a less efficient unit with more indoor air quality add-ons, and they would've jumped on it because now they don't have to feel guilty about bringing Fido into the house. Right? We just don't listen enough.

Krista Fabrick: Listening and shutting up, right? You tell them something, and then you just shut up.

Ricky Garland: Yes. That's the other part. Don't talk yourself out of a sale.

Krista Fabrick: Exactly. All right. Well, you've given a lot of good advice for new HVAC technicians or even seasoned techs who are kind of stuck in a spot where they're working too many hours or whatever. But if you had one little gold nugget to leave with those newer techs or techs that are burnt out, what would it be?

Ricky Garland: Oh, it's the asking questions. I understand listening is important, but what I say is to practice asking questions. There's a little thing that I do with all new technicians or new people I meet when they're like, "Well, how, how do I ask?" Yeah, so it's a filter, right? You go to a customer's house, and you tell them they have a dirty filter.

Most of us say, "Hey, your filter's dirty." but have you ever tried saying, "Hey, were you aware your filter was this dirty?" No. Just change little things every day into a question. Everything you want to tell a customer or people in your family, your friends, anything you're out and doing, try to phrase it in the form of a question, you know?

Instead of saying, "Hey honey, I'm going to the store." Say, "Hey honey, you don't mind if I go to the store real quick? Do you?"Just form it in a question because that's everyday practice. You can use it for everything. You tell your son, "Hey, go mow the lawn." Instead say, "Hey, were you gonna mow the lawn today?"

It's just different. You still get the same point across, like you're hoping that it's gonna happen, but you're gonna get more engagement back from them for any new technician.

Krista Fabrick: I love that. We hear that all the time that people, as they learn some of the principles in the SBE process, the trusted advisor processes, end up using it at home too.

Ricky Garland: But they do a lot of that. They'd say, ask questions. Ask questions, ask questions. And they're like, what questions do I ask? What's the magic question? Anything can be a question.

Krista Fabrick: Yep. Awesome. Ricky, I so appreciate you taking the time. So much information. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm sure we'll have you back on again later.

Ricky Garland: Any time.

Outro: Thank you for listening to The Trusted Technician podcast. If you would like to learn more about SBE, you can find us on sbeodyssey.com, and if you enjoyed today's episode, we would appreciate it if you would leave us a review. Thank you for tuning in, and we will see you next time.