Keys to HVAC Success

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): Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's show. Today I have with me, Will Calhoun. Thank you so much for coming, Will.

Will Calhoun (Tech): Thank you. It's definitely an honor to be here.

Krista Fabrick: Will, why don't you take a moment and introduce yourself to the people listening? Who you work for, and how long you've been in the industry.

Will Calhoun: Absolutely. My name's Will Calhoun. I'll be 23 this year in August. I've been in the industry for about five years. Been around it my whole life. I work for NWA Cooling and Heating out of Rogers, Arkansas, which is in the Northwest corner of Arkansas. I really love what I do.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah. And I know we've talked about this before, but to bring it up for the podcast, my mother-in-law was born and raised in Rogers, Arkansas. So I remember the first time I heard that, I was like, "Oh, that's so cool." But yeah. So you've been around HVAC your whole life. That's because of your dad, right?

Will Calhoun: Yeah. My dad's been doing this for almost 40 years, and my grandpa's been doing it for 60.

Krista Fabrick: So you're a third-generation heat and air guy. That's awesome.

Will Calhoun: Yeah. Third-gen and high expectations. Haha.

Krista Fabrick: Haha. Yeah, and that's one of the things I do love about this industry. There's so much family history in it, and a lot of people are second and third-generation. So, let's talk numbers because I know your numbers are looking pretty good these days. What was your total revenue for 2020?

Will Calhoun: So total revenue as a company was just over a million. We were like $1,000,021. I was the only service tech for most of that, all the way up until about September or October. So, I generated the vast majority of that. Our other technician probably contributed maybe $200,000.

He wasn't here very long. But we have since then doubled our revenue. This year we are projected to do a little bit over $2 million. We just interviewed a third service technician yesterday, and it went really well. He's familiar with programs like SBE. So I think he'll be a great fit. But, currently, we are sitting at $881,000 for the year.

Krista Fabrick: Wow.

Will Calhoun: And I'm at about $530K. I don't have all that entered because some of it's for June. I'm at about $530,000 for the year.

Krista Fabrick: So, for those listening in, we're recording this the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, May 27, 2022, so not even halfway through the year. You are on track to be well more than double last year, right?

Will Calhoun: I think so, yeah.

Krista Fabrick: And well, looking back to 2020, I think your dad was still in the field along with you, right?

Will Calhoun: He has actually had to come back into the field this summer. But yes, he was in the field next to me quite a bit. He was out the first part of the summer in June and most of July, but in August, he came back and was in the field. He's been doing maybe two or three calls a day, trying to help relieve some of the pressure.

Krista Fabrick: So that's why you're hiring somebody new, but that's all right. These are all problems, but good problems. Right? Because you guys are just growing. Oh, growing pains. But, I love hearing you talk about where you've been and how small your company is because a lot of techs go like, "Oh, I have to be a big company to do well, to make a lot of money," or things like that. And you know, here you are. You were the only service tech for a while there, so yeah.

Will Calhoun: We run extremely lean. Probably more so than most companies in the country. I would say a lot of people that are doing the numbers that we're doing are close to double in personnel.

Krista Fabrick: Right. Yeah. So, we'll talk a little bit more about your numbers and how you got there in a minute, but before we get into it, I'd love to start and warm up the conversation with what's your favorite thing about being a service tech?

Will Calhoun: My favorite thing about being a service tech is I always tell my customers it's dogs and babies. I love to pet my customer's dogs. I keep eye contact with them while I'm scratching their ears, and I would say problem-solving. It's very fulfilling to make somebody happy, especially whenever you come in, and they're stressed out, freaking out, you know?

Krista Fabrick: Yeah.

Will Calhoun: Not having air conditioning can be a big deal. Being able to come in and comfort a customer and then provide solutions, it's extremely fulfilling, and I love it.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah, I love that. But dogs and babies, right? If you don't like people and animals, you probably shouldn't be a service tech. Haha.

Will Calhoun: Right, right. Haha.

Krista Fabrick: But yeah, you get to go in and solve the problem, and then something as important as making somebody's home more comfortable is a big deal.

Will Calhoun: It's huge. Yeah.

Krista Fabrick: You talked a little bit about where you were as a company and you as a tech, and where you are now looking at 2022, it's gonna be a crazy awesome year for you guys.

What's changed, obviously, everybody knows you guys are part of SBE, but I mean, specifically, what kind of things have you done as a tech? What has made you more successful?

Will Calhoun: SBE has been a huge part of us. I would say that without them, we probably wouldn't be where we are. I would say we would have growth without a doubt. We don't have much choice, right? But I don't think that we would have the growth that we have had. Sticking to a process, sticking to a specific order of operations, I guess, would be a good way to put it helps to make life easier throughout the day. It just contributes to a huge part of our day-to-day tasks. Keeping our service techs and even our installers familiar with our process as well. Yeah. Keeping everybody uniform, keeping everything together, consistency, really. Would be a big part of it. But without SBE, I don't think we'd be anywhere near where we are now.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah.That's why we do what we do because we know we can literally transform businesses, which can change lives too.

Will Calhoun: Absolutely.

Krista Fabrick: I love that. I hear that from a lot of our most successful techs. It's process and consistency, those two things. It's a lot easier to be consistent if you have a process to follow, isn't it?

Will Calhoun: Yes, it is.

Krista Fabrick: And because, as you know, a lot of techs, they love to just go in and fix a problem and get out, but they don't necessarily have a process of how they run that call. Right?

Will Calhoun: Right. We have a service tech that needs some training, obviously, as far as the technical side of things goes. But from my experience, after learning some things from SBE, it almost doesn't matter what you know mechanically as long as you can talk to people, and stick to a process, stick to a list, and it makes things so much easier.

When I first started as a service tech, I was running in the middle of the summer, you know, 12, 14 calls a day, and I would knock on the door and say, "Hey, is it blowing air inside? All right, cool. I'm gonna go out back," and I would just try to fix the problem. But since then, I have slowed down. I take my time, and I build my relationships with my customers. It takes time, and it takes consistency, and it takes a professional demeanor to be able to do it. There's so much more to being a service tech than replacing a capacitor and throwing some refrigerant in the system.

There's so much more to it, and I didn't know until we joined SBE.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah, you don't know what you don't know. That's why a lot of techs just think of themselves more as mechanics, right? "I'm just here to fix the mechanical part of it. If the system's blowing cooler, or warm air, whatever it is, that's really my main job," but it's a system, right?

It's an HVAC system, and it affects the whole house. And there are so many other things that customers don't know. Customers don't know what they don't know, and unless you talk about their system and talk about what's going on in there and what things they could do to make it more efficient, or make their air cleaner, or whatever, they don't know.

Will Calhoun: There's a lot more detail. Even on the technical side of things, there's a lot more detail to pay attention to, and you have to know what to talk to the customer about and uncover problems. You have to, there's a lot of attention to detail.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah. And so that actually kind of makes me think about, you were mentioning about 12, 14 calls a day.

Summer is here in many parts of the country, especially when this episode comes out. I think we're gonna be in the middle of summer. Some techs, no matter what, are going to have to run a lot of calls, but how do you get through the grind when it is, no matter how amazing your company is, no matter how amazing your process is, there's gonna be busy times in winter, busy times summer, where it is just never-ending calls, right?

Will Calhoun: Yeah. It certainly seems to. Our office staff is getting overwhelmed with phone calls. 50, 60 phone calls a day, scheduling out two weeks. Right now, since we are shorthanded, we are running more calls than we should per day.

We're running somewhere between six to nine calls per tech per day. So about 18 to 20 calls a day. Slow down and take your time. Everyone that I go to, I don't get overwhelmed. I relax every time I pull up to a house. This is a new house. This is a new job. This is something else. I kind of take a breath before I walk to the door to get ready for my next call.

Obviously, I try not to look ahead at my schedule. I try to go from one to the next. It makes it much easier. Of course, being able to have a lower call volume per tech also helps quite a bit because it does relieve stress, and you're able to spend more time with your customers. But you're able to spend enough time with them if you're willing to put in the long hours when you're doing more calls. Yeah, that's kind of where we're at.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah. No, I love that, though. Looking at it, just one call, one house, one customer at a time, and just thinking, "Okay, I know I have a long day ahead. I know I'm very busy, but this customer right now is who I need to focus on." That's great, and that deep breath trick is amazing.

Taking in a few seconds to pause because maybe we're stuck in traffic, or maybe you just rushed to get there because, you know, your window was at the end of it or whatever. But, It doesn't take long, or just go, "Whew, okay, let's go."

Will Calhoun: Absolutely.

Krista Fabrick: That's great. One call at a time. What happens when it's eight o'clock at night and it's been two months of nine calls a day? How do you motivate yourself or pep talk yourself or whatever it is you do to keep going?

Will Calhoun: Well, so, I'm sure everybody knows that one incentive is money. That's kind of the biggest thing for me. I certainly don't mind putting in late hours. I'm used to it. So for me, doing service calls until eight o'clock at night is something that's just kind of part of it.

Some people don't like it, some people aren't comfortable with it. However, if you're looking to do good and do what you do well, you certainly don't mind putting in the time. Right. Clearing my head and spending my time with my customers is one way that I get through those late times.

I talk to my customers, I get familiar with them. We crack jokes, talk about where they're from, you know, that kind of thing. It almost seems like it's not even work. You know, and some customers you could talk to them for 15 minutes, and some of them you could talk to for two hours and have tea.

But everybody's a little bit different about reading their customers. Their attitude and their personality when you can usually tell who your customer is going to be when you open the door. So gauging your customers and also adapting your energy to each customer individually is a big thing.

You have to almost change your personality per customer. That's just to relate to the customer and to build that relationship.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah. I love that. That's great. You're right. What if you take the time to talk to the customer? It helps you almost take a break, right? It's just like, "Okay, I'm not trying to use my brain to figure out a problem right now. I'm just talking to the customer. I'm just talking to another human being, having a conversation," right?

Will Calhoun: Helps to make things easier.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah. As we do this interview, you are sitting in your trailer getting ready to camp for the holiday weekend, so that tells me something. But at 23 years old, you told me there's a baby on the way. How has your success as a tech, especially the additional income, how has that impacted your life?

Will Calhoun: It's created, so to speak, some freedom. I feel like I'm probably in just a little bit of a different situation than most techs because I do have quite a bit of responsibility being a small company. I don't just do service calls. I do tech support, and I do load calculations, duct drawings, and so on. It's created financial freedom. We were able to buy my wife a new car, we got a Forerunner, something I can get in and out of easily because I'm a big guy, and something we can get a baby in and out of easily.

We have dogs. We love our dogs. We take care of our dogs. We're able to do more or less what we want as long as I'm able to work around work. That's been one thing. And then also having the knowledge to talk to people. I've always been outgoing. However, sometimes it's hard for me to figure out what to say to people.

I get a little tongue-tied. I can get nervous too, but talking to customers, talking to people day in and day out makes it very easy to talk to people in public in general. I've sold systems just camping actually.

Krista Fabrick: I love that!

Will Calhoun: Talk to people. I hand out a business card, live five miles away from them, and then I go in, and they might decide they wanna replace their system.

Krista Fabrick: That's awesome.

Will Calhoun: Yeah. So, freedom for me.

Krista Fabrick: We hear that all the time, too, as techs learn the trusted advisor process that we teach because the key thing we teach is just having conversations, asking questions, and techs all the time, tell us, "Well, it actually really improved my marriage, or it helps me network better, or it helps me just talk to strangers better," right?

Will Calhoun: Mm-hmm.

Krista Fabrick: It is not about selling. It's about being able to have conversations. So that's cool that you've gotten better at that. A lot of techs are introverts, but they still are able to have good conversations. And so I love hearing that you sold systems from people you met camping.

Will Calhoun: Yeah. Yeah.

Krista Fabrick: That's awesome. Alright, so my final question for you before we wrap up this episode today is if you could give one piece of advice to other techs, especially since you're 23. There are a lot of people either considering the trades that are maybe listening because a buddy said, "Hey, you should listen to this podcast," and you know, "This is what I do. You should do it." Right. They're fairly new to this industry because they're 18 to 24 at that younger age. What would you tell them about being a service tech? What should they know?

Will Calhoun: I think one thing that I've learned is, like I said earlier, to take your time and slow down. Don't get frustrated, and don't get overwhelmed. Not only from a standpoint of talking to your customers and building a relationship but from a technical and mechanical standpoint as well. There is so much to learn about this. This is probably as close to engineering as you can get without a degree.

When you really get into it, it's more than just blowing cold air and blowing hot air. There's a lot. Slow down. Take your time. Find a process that you're comfortable with. SBE has great coaches. They have great literature. Their training programs are phenomenal, and they were able to make me see everything, and it really changed how I did things.

Krista Fabrick: A hundred percent. Love that. Great advice. All right, is there anything else you want to share with the people listening to this podcast that I should have asked you?

Will Calhoun: I don't think so. I think we covered pretty much everything. This is a great industry, especially the more you learn. If you're a nerd, it makes it a lot more fun, it makes it interesting. Each day is an adventure for me.

Krista Fabrick: Yeah.

Will Calhoun: I love it.

Krista Fabrick: The more I learn about this industry, the more I love it too. It is a great thing. I hope that more young people continue to look at this as an option for their career path. Hopefully, some people hearing you talk at your young age will inspire them to consider something that maybe they hadn't before. Thank you so much, Will, for joining me today. This is awesome. I think you had a lot of great wisdom to share with other techs, and I hope you have an amazing time camping this weekend.

Will Calhoun: Wonderful. Thank you. I really appreciate it, and I hope you have a great weekend as well.

Krista Fabrick: Thank you.

Outro: Thank you for tuning in to the Trusted Technician brought to you by SBE. To learn more about SBE, visit us at If you enjoyed today's episode, be sure to share it with your friends and leave us a rating wherever you're listening. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next episode. Have a great day.