I’ve sung the praises of the field mechanics, e.g., service technicians and installers. They are sometimes called the “front-liners” — the ones who represent the company to its end user, the customer.

But what about the people who are the first contact with customers, establish the lines of communication, and ensure that each customer is satisfied each step of the way? I’m talking about the customer service staff, the dispatchers, receptionists, even the parts people. I’ll call them the support staff.

I’ll extend that list to the people in the accounting department who make sure each employee gets a paycheck and every invoice is paid. And the ones who take time out to make sure the bank deposit is made and the employee breakfast is set up.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I called this “behind the scenes” workforce the lifeblood of a hvacr contractor’s business.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many support staff members as I have visited with contractors. In fact, many business owners and managers make it a point to introduce me to their staff members and point out their importance. It is a matter of pride.

Unsung Heroes

Many members of the support staff prefer to remain in the background, shunning publicity, even refusing to have their picture taken forThe News.I sense they feel uncomfortable sharing the spotlight for just doing what they are paid to do. I had to pull a few teeth to get some people to pose for some of the photos you see here.

By the way, I’d like to thank the support staff at N&M A/C and Heating/Blue Dot Services in Sarasota, FL, for being kind enough to pose. General manager Harry Friedman, a friend and News consultant, introduced me to his staff on a recent visit to the Sunshine State.

I liked how dispatcher Bridget Mahar summed up her job: “I tell men where to go all day long!”

In case you haven’t taken a moment in your busy schedule, stop and say thanks to your support staff. They bust their rears to schedule service stops, route the technicians, see that parts get to the jobsite, and deal with angry vendors who wanted to get paid yesterday. They put in the extra hours to complete the week’s payroll and wrap up the month-end reports in the wee hours of the morning.

I think my bosses would shudder if I suggested another News’-sponsored award program. After all, we already have “Best Contractor to Work For,” “Hvacr Instructor of the Year,” and a few other one-time-only contests. But if I could, I’d start another contest: “Best Support Staff Worker.”

Oh, what the heck. Send me the names of the people you think would deserve this award and I’ll be a namedropper in future columns.

It’s the least we can do for them.

Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-542-6214; 734-542-6215 (fax); halljr@bnp.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 04/02/2001