From time to time, The News has published stories about female technicians, stories spurred by such comments as “there is always a need for female technicians in our trade” or “more women need to take more of an interest in hvacr.” (See “Success Stories Of Female Service Techs” on page 19 of this issue.)
I’ve heard all kinds of stories from contractors who talk about the positive results from having female technicians on the job. Most importantly, there is a positive effect on customer relations. For example, one female tech has been on the job for a number of years and is the “tech of choice” for some of the older, female homeowners who like the idea of a female technician performing a clean and inspect on their heating and cooling systems. Why? I think the answers are obvious.
Before I give my answers, I’d like to add this disclaimer: I am not a psychologist — just an average card-carrying male with an opinion.
THE SPECIAL CONNECTIONFirst, there is that special connection between two women. Being a member of the male population, I will not try to explain this connection, but I think it exists. I can liken it to two men who can strike up an instant friendship by talking about their favorite sports team; there is a connection and trust built on similar interests.
Critics say that female homeowners would trust a man to do their clean and inspects because of the nature of the work. After all, aren’t most technicians male? That’s fair enough; there are always two sides to the argument.
But let’s turn the tables and look at a different profession. When you think of a hairdresser, do you think of a man? Sometimes, but usually the thought of a beauty salon conjures up rows of chairs, sinks, and hair dryers, “manned” by women waiting on women.
DETAILS, DETAILSSecondly, there is a perceived notion that women “stick to the details” — that they are more thorough and take more time to ensure that a job is done right. I definitely see truth in that. Just ask the wife who would rather ask for directions than drive around for hours looking for an address.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure the reverse argument can be made. Remember my disclaimer. I just know from the experience of being married to a meticulous wife and being the son of a meticulous mother.
Too bad their good habits haven’t worn off on me.
COMPLEMENTARY SKILLSThirdly, call it chauvinism or chivalry, but I think that a male-female team would be one of the most effective tools a contractor could have. The reason? Simple. Men are showoffs. In a male-male situation, each is competing to be the most effective. Nothing wrong with that.
In a male-female situation, the man tries to impress the woman with his knowledge and expertise. I suspect this is the result of a chemical reaction in the brain every time the two genders collide on a level playing field. That’s good, too. The male can do the grunge work while the female can stick to details. What a combo!
When you think about it, our trade is just ripe for an influx of female technicians. In a time of tight family budgets and a preference to fix up rather than replace, now is a great time for the female “touch.”
The question is, how much time and effort do contractors want to make to go out and recruit female technicians? I’ll leave that question with my contractor friends. I hope they’ll flood my in-box with answers.
Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-542-6214; 734-542-6215 (fax); email@example.com (e-mail).
Publication date: 01/14/2002