I went to my doctor recently. I say “my” doctor and not “the” doctor because I have been seeing him for 15 years. Which is why it was so noticeable that for the first time in 15 years, he had a female nurse in the room during the exam portion of the visit. When he told her, “We’re all done here,” she walked out.

“#metoo?” I asked when she left the room.

He said he made the decision after the Dr. Nassar scandal.

“But, I guess it is part of the Me Too Movement,” he said.

What does this have to do with HVAC, you ask? Everything.

There are a lot of women who live alone. There’s also a lot of women who are home alone while their husbands are working. And, believe it or not, they sometimes need their HVAC systems repaired or replaced. It’s your job as a contractor to make sure that everyone who hires you feels comfortable while you are in their homes and that they are 100 percent satisfied with your work.

There’s a lot that goes into that, and it starts with the hiring process. It’s more important now than ever to run background checks, to have an extensive interview process, and to build trust with new employees. But, just because someone’s background check is clear, it doesn’t mean they’re not a creep.

So, what if you took your efforts one step further? And while I’m asking questions, here’s another one … There’s a labor shortage, right?

Think about how much your company would stand out if you started recruiting women so that you can provide a female technician when requested by the homeowner.

I don’t know how long it really takes to train someone in order to go out into the field — one person says nine days, another person says four years. So maybe it’s not reasonable that you would be able to do that immediately. But you could hire some extra female office staff members, and they could accompany the techs on the calls. You might find some young ladies who are just looking for a temporary job, and that’s OK. But you also might find some who want to learn from your techs, who you can train, who can be working in the field somewhere between 9 and 1,448 days, and who can bridge the labor and skills gap.

You might think it’s silly. But here’s the thing…

The Me Too Movement is about giving women a voice — because for years, they were silenced. Women were afraid to speak.

So maybe you haven’t received any complaints or had any women ask for a female to be present during the service visit. But you don’t know what’s happening outside of your phone call. You don’t know if your customers are paying someone else to come over while your techs are there because they don’t feel safe. You don’t know if there are women in your town who have a broken HVAC system that they can’t seem to get fixed because they keep asking everyone they know for a contracting company that will send a woman, only to find that there aren’t any.

Contractors are always talking about how important their online reputations and reviews are. And I agree; it’s good to listen to what your customers are saying. But, it’s equally important to listen to what they’re not saying, too.

A lot of your customers — men and women — are still too scared to say “me too.”

Although I am not one of those customers who is uncomfortable being home alone with male contractors, I do get a lot of lectures from my friends and family about how I should be more careful. But, even though I’m not scared, I must say: I would be so impressed if I called an HVAC company to schedule a visit, and I found out that they send a female apprentice, office worker, etc. with the tech to ensure the comfort of their customers. Asking if they want a female to come is a nice gesture, and it will still make you stand out. However, the fact of the matter is, it will not help the people who are too scared to admit they are scared. So it’s best to just commit and make it a standard process.

Service is the best way to stand out. Actually, it may be the only way. Get ahead of your competitors and offer the service that makes people comfortable while your techs are in their homes, not just after they leave.

Publication date: 7/30/2018

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