Contractor Forum

1.  Company Policies for Service Technicians & Installers

Posted 11-06-2017 11:31 AM
Hi All,

I am curious to find out if anyone would be kind enough to share a version of their non-compete forms issued out to service technicians and installers who work for their company? Also, if anyone could chime in to provide me some feedback in regards to attitude, piercings, tattoos, etc. that would be much appreciated.

I recently had an applicant for a technician position who wreaked of cigarette smoke, came off less than stellar in his presentation (e.g., sagging pants and baseball cap), while also having tattoos on evident throughout his forearms. That caused me to wonder what type of policies other companies have established to maintain presentation in their workforce? How have others dealt with smoking on or off the job (i.e., stench that remains in spite of smoking occurring outside of work hours).

Look forward to receiving feedback from you all.


Sincerely,
Neil S. Revollo
Nelson's HVAC, LLC

address: 6526 Roosevelt St., Falls Church, VA 22043
phone: 703.241.7181   email: info@nelsonshvac.com


2.  RE: Company Policies for Service Technicians & Installers

Posted 11-07-2017 11:28 AM
Many policies, especially a non-compete agreement, are going to have different weight or interpretations based on your state. Virginia is notoriously anti-non-compete, and an agreement drafted in another state may be of no use to you. If this is of great concern, I would recommend you see an attorney who specializes in labor law and, more specifically, represents only business owners. If you want a recommendation, we have used Kaufman & Canoles, P.C. in Norfolk.

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Linda Couch
Chief Operating Officer
Parrish Services
Manassas VA
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3.  RE: Company Policies for Service Technicians & Installers

Posted 11-08-2017 11:16 AM
Good Morning Fellow Contractors!

I agree with Linda, every state has their varying interpretations in regard to non-compete agreements. I am speaking in reference to a colleague of mine who had to go through the legal proceedings on a non-compete case. As previously mentioned, every state is different and this is merely a story, it must be taken as such instead of a legal advise. In her case, the state went in favor of the employee since he is a skilled employee. The state finds that in this particular case, the employer cannot withhold an employee from working at a different company doing the same work. The state emphasized that  non-compete agreements cannot prevent any worker in the state from making a living. 

Regarding the appearance issue, we require our technicians to wear company provided shirts and for those who has visible tattoos, we ask them to cover it as per company standards. We have a designated smoking area in our facility, we do not permit smoking on company vehicles and they can only smoke during their breaks, away from the job-site. 

Presentation is as crucial as the sales person meet prospective client for the first time. It is your company's image that your technicians carry as they show your company's logo on their shirt and ID tag. A viable applicant with experience and verifiable references but may not have presented themselves as far as appearance should be treated fairly as other applicants. 

There is one creed I still practice to this day: hire the attitude rather than hiring someone with skills and foul attitude. 

Attached: 
  • Standard Non-Compete Agreement  
  • Excerpt from our handbook (clauses on other employment, non-compete, dress code and appearance)
Please do not hesitate to contact me directly for any questions or to bounce ideas. I am always eager to hear how other contractors deals with this type of concerns. Insights from fellow ACCA contractors is always appreciated and great to have.

Our system is not perfect by any means, it is always a work in progress as varying circumstances presents itself.  

Sincerely, 

Andrea Hughes,
 ICBB

VP - Business Operations & Development


315 S 21
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P: 954-366-6131   |  F: 954-366-6140 
AirDuctFlorida.com  |  DUCTZ.com

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Watch a video of our process for a Residential AC Split System 
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4.  RE: Company Policies for Service Technicians & Installers

Posted 11-07-2017 11:29 AM
ON Smoking.... My guys are not allowed to smoke in trucks. Policy on smoking on the job is you go  away from the house, beside your truck or to the curb. No butts on the ground. Same goes true with vaping. I also ask my guys to carry body spray or cologne. If a guy is bad enough, I send them home to clean up. The one guy I have trouble with is my Best tech and great personality. But lacks hygiene. On tattoos, I only have them cover up if it demonic or inappropriate.  We have a standard if they disagree then we don't want them.

My guys drive trucks home so 1st offence is a warning, 2nd is loss of truck for a week and so on..


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Shaun Davie
Decatur Heat & Air, Inc
Decatur, TX
shaun@decaturheat-air.com
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5.  RE: Company Policies for Service Technicians & Installers

Posted 11-08-2017 11:51 AM
1st impressions mean so much. Women at home alone or with children feel especially vulnerable. I never want there to be something about one of our people (I could've done something about) that turns a client off at the door - before a she gets the opportunity to know the person OR us!

For over 15 years, we haven't hired: smokers;  anyone with tattoos that can be seen in a short-sleeve shirt; anyone unwilling to be clean shaven daily; anyone who fails the 12 panel drug test; and/or anyone who hasn't met our background check requirements.

I can only hire 100% non-smokers because I have very severe allergy that triggers my asthma. I can't sit or walk near someone who has been smoking, but isn't right now.  If you don't have this problem, you have no idea what it's like to open your front door and not be able to breathe before somebody even walks in your house.

Besides, we believe that we're in the business of improving a family's indoor air quality - not reducing it by walking in the door.

Does it make hiring more challenging? Yes? Is it worth it? To me, yes.

I've had several clients tell me that no matter who we send to their home, we always send the same person - which they appreciate.    They aren't talking literally the same person, but rather, the same kind of person.   That is without regard to whether the person is - tall, short, skinny, female, male, stocky, black, brown, white, or purple.

I may also get push back about tattoos here too. But ... It works for us. We have NEVER had any client complain that the service technician or the installation technician we sent was "too clean cut."

On the other hand, we NEVER exclude someone or make hiring decisions based on immutable characteristics (we're an equal opportunity employer).  If a client has an issue with a person's age, race, creed, nationality, gender, weight, etc. that is the client's issue, not mine. I don't need that person in my database and I wouldn't subject anyone who works with us to a person like that.

I'm not making any judgments about long-haired wearing, tattoo art expressing, smoking, and/or soul patch/mustache/goatee/ and/or full beard sporting folks. I've got people I love in my life with all the above. I've also made so many friends over the years at conferences to know we are the exception in some of these areas. Many with all the above own their companies, have done very well and are much bigger/more successful than we are.

As business owners, we all make choices about the kind of company, culture and "look" that spells "Professional" to us.

A lot of what defines  "professional" has A LOT to do with where they're located, the kind of work they do, the kind of clientele they serve, their BRANDING message, and their personal preferences.

We don't use noncompete agreements for a lot of reasons.  I've considered doing it from time-to-time. Definitely have a lawyer on your jurisdiction do it for you. This varies wildly from state to state.

We do have people sign an agreement before we send them away for training that requires they repay us if they don't stay "X" amount of time.

The bottom line about what kind of standards you're going to set for your people depends on a lot of factors that are really UNIQUE to you and who, what, and where you serve.   There are no right or wrong answers here - only standards you've determined either fit in with your company culture or don't.

I hope this helps.

Kathe

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Kathe Stewart
Precision Air Conditioning & Heating, LLC
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6.  RE: Company Policies for Service Technicians & Installers

Posted 11-08-2017 04:53 PM
Good Afternoon All:

Here's a link to non-competes in all 50 states that was last updated in July, 2017, and should be current as of today.

https://www.faircompetitionlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Noncompetes-50-State-Survey-Chart-20170711.pdf

When in doubt, I advise against them. Even when permissible, they are very narrowly construed by the courts in terms of geographic area, length of time the non-compete can be imposed, and type of work performed (the exception on occasion are IT jobs where the level of work is highly proprietary and involves trade secrets.)  A handful of states prohibit them outright. As several on this Forum have already stated, the courts frown upon attempts by a company to restrict a person's right to seek livelihood and put food on the table for his or her family.

And always seek an opinion from your legal counsel before proceeding.

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Hilary Atkins
General Counsel & Sr. VP, Finance and Administration
ACCA
Arlington VA
(703) 575-4477
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7.  RE: Company Policies for Service Technicians & Installers

Posted 11-09-2017 10:32 AM
Your best bet with the slobs of the industry is to decline their application, but send them along to your competition. Over the years we also advised troublesome customers to do the same. In most cases we gave the competition a great build up to the job seeker or troublesome customer. Definition of troublesome; serial complainer, dead beat, or folks who make a hobby out of providing bad reviews.

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Dennis Treacy
Brilliant Mechanical llc
Philadelphia PA
215 533-9666
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