NASHVILLE, Tenn. - More often than not, when a service technician answers a call, it is likely that the door will be answered by the woman of the house. Want to ensure that you’ll never hear from that customer again? Just follow these tongue-in-cheek tips.

I wish I could say that we made all of this up, but during my many years in this business, I’ve seen ill-prepared HVAC contractors make every one of these mistakes. And it’s not because they were deliberately trying to alienate women customers; most of the contractors I’ve ever known are good guys, but even good guys can get into trouble when they don’t think about the person they’re talking with.

If there is no difference between how you talk with your technician buddies and how you talk with a customer, particularly a woman customer, you are just about guaranteeing that the customer will never call you again.

So, while these tips are funny, take them to heart. There is nothing funny about the effects they can have on your business.


Here are the ways you can alienate women customers - if that is your intent. (We hope it’s not!)

• Don’t identify yourself right away. Hey, your company’s name is on the truck parked in her driveway and she called you, so she already knows who you are.

Don’t waste time introducing yourself, and by all means don’t give her a business card. You’re in a hurry, with four more calls today; you can’t waste business cards on someone you may never see again. (In fact, by your actions, you are guaranteeing that you’ll never see her again.)

• Don’t be respectful! She needs you more than you need her, right? After all, you have the knowledge. What does she know? So talk down to her and smirk at her idiotic attempts to explain what is wrong with her HVAC system.

Oh, and be sure to avoid eye contact and ignore her as you talk with your assistant, as if she wasn’t there because to you, she basically isn’t there. (And you won’t ever be there again.)

• Do use the hard sell. There is nothing quite like intimidation. Push her hard to make an expensive decision right now (remember, you’re in a hurry), and make no attempt to explain why she needs to make this purchase. This is a sure way to put her in a foul mood when her husband gets home.

It takes a real pro to make the husband mad without even meeting him. Plus, he will tell everyone at the office how you treated his wife, so you’ve turned off no telling how many potential sales by being rude to just one woman. Attaboy!

• Do be dismissive of her input. She doesn’t know a pilot light from a cooling coil. What possible use could there be to listening to anything she has to say? And make it clear that you are not listening; this will be sure to shut her up, and you won’t be bothered by hearing all of the details about how the system is malfunctioning by a person who lives with it every day. (She’ll thank you by never bothering you again.)

• Don’t finish the job quickly and move on. Nothing will make her more uncomfortable than you sitting in your truck in front of her house, waiting on your next service call.

If you hang around after the job is done, it may undermine her confidence in your work. She may wonder if something went wrong, and will surely be stressed that a stranger is still in her driveway. This is a powerful technique and it’s so easy to do. Just sit there.

Fortunately, thanks to an increased emphasis on customer service throughout our industry, most of these boneheaded moves are history. But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded about what we should not be doing, because it is easy to slip back into bad habits if we don’t stay alert.

Just a little bit of common courtesy can go a long way. It can make the difference between one service call and a long-time customer.

Publication date: 12/06/2010