Get the Upper Hand
George Costanza needed the “upper hand” in his relationship in one episode of Seinfeld. Maybe an upper hand in your business is missing or lacking, and an inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) arm is what you need to get that “hand.” What can an ITM department do for you and your business? It extends your outreach in the fire protection service industry and provides the potential of expanding your services. What could be the hidden or the not-so-apparent value of providing ITM services?
Value #1 – Diversity of Services
Your diversity in the industry will give you firm fingers on that “hand.” It will allow your company to be less one-dimensional and provide opportunity to pursue other fields of fire construction and services. You likely have an install department and possibly a service department, but an ITM department may not be a component of your business or, if it is, might not be big enough. Perhaps for you, construction will be incessantly strong and there will be no lean times, but for those who think otherwise, diversifying with ITM may be the answer. The average return from ITM contracts in billable service can vary from one company to another, depending on your area, operations, and overhead, but service is additional income and it’s a source of income that’s created from a source of recurring income (ITM).
Value #2 – Sales and Retention
Sales and retention come to mind as a hidden value when I speak about ITM. I’m reminded of a company party that I attended when I was a technician and I was approached by a sales manager. He came over, shook my hand, and made a compliment that my acquisition was the best thing they did. Okay, okay… I may be paraphrasing, but I promise I’m not too far off the mark. For him, my hiring allowed sales and management to concentrate on the smaller customer relationships or those whom we had a lesser footprint on and, quite honestly, those who needed more coddling. Surprisingly, not all customers were happy with us and not just in ITM, but with service, install, and general administration. By having a well-trained professional system specialist to develop and earn the customer’s trust, he nor the account managers had to worry about putting out fires and could focus on producing our sales targets and deliverables efficiently. In turn, he was able to sell our brand and other services through an ITM presence that maintained the relationships and our performance in the field.
Value #3 – Retaining Employees
With a dynamic ITM department it can further allow for your company to provide a long-term path for those valued “hands.” Typically, those driven and responsible employees are looking for advancement in their careers. Not too many trades come to mind that are so diverse in opportunities: the need for pre-construction, design, and install, including recurring ITM tasks of the systems. It allows for those valued associates to work towards a professional position within your company from the field and up the chain. Employee retention has more benefits than just retaining the experience – you avoid exhausting resources in the search and hiring of new “hands.”
I don’t want to just throw out “professional” lightly; however, a professional approach is the only way to go into ITM. This is no longer throw whomever at the inspection to fill hours; there is too much to gain or lose. Employees who are attentive, passionate, professional, and educated in ITM responsibilities are key to a successful company and can draw talent to expand beyond hanging pipe. Need a “hand” to do so?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jason R. Williams, CET joined the AFSA’s Engineering & Technical Services Department in 2017 as manager of ITM Technical Training. He brings nearly 20 years of extensive managing and hands-on industry experience in sprinkler install and ITM, fire alarm, and special hazards. Williams has held and maintained multiple state and municipal licenses in Arizona, Texas, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Montana, and is NICET III certified in ITM of Water-Based Systems and NICET II certified in Fire Alarms. He currently sits as a principal on the Technical Committee of NFPA 25.
AFSA’s Inspection, Testing and Maintenance (ITM) Inspector Development program utilizes on-demand and live training courses combined with robustly structured on-the-job training (OJT) and mentoring program with the goal for candidates to pass NICET Level II water-based inspection certification exams in less than two years. The Spring 2019 ITM class is now open for enrollment. To learn more