Productivity • Management • Operations • Business Tips • 55 minutes

Wow-factor: Woman-owned San Diego Shop Excels by Hiring Female Technicians

February 16, 2021

Episode Overview

“The mistake isn’t when we do things that aren’t right, the mistake is not learning from the mistake.”

— Mary Jean Anderson

After taking over the business from her ex-husband in 2005, Mary Jean Anderson tripled San Diego-based Anderson Plumbing Heating & Air into a $37 million company. With more than a dozen female techs on her staff, Anderson excels in acquiring and training a diverse team. She talks about her company’s “wow” factor, building her own school and creating a woman-friendly workplace.  

Here are Mary Jean Anderson’s top tips for building a home services company that’s both big and diversified:

Create a “wow” factor.

Anderson’s company’s tagline is “Nobody wows like us.” It’s catchy, but Anderson says the employees live up to the billing.

“Our mission statement says that the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong,” she says. “We have our mission statement posted all over our building, so everybody knows it. It’s all listed there.

“Part of it is cleanliness—our trucks are clean, our environments around us are clean when we’re working. And other things. But we read our mission statement at the beginning of every one of our meetings.

Do memorable marketing. 

When Anderson took over in 2005, she decided to flip the brand. She’d made some acquisitions, but trucks had different names on them and marketing was all over the place. 

“There was no cohesiveness,” she says. “So, we rolled it all into the Anderson brand and we focused on the fact that it was female-owned. My marketing person convinced me to use a 10-foot picture of me. And we added the color pink to everything. It truly worked.”

Equal pay for all.

Anderson has a higher-than-industry-average number of female technicians. And the policy is equal pay for an equal job. 

“Everything is the same for everybody,” she says. “And do you know what giving women equal pay can do? It lets them buy and own a home. It gives them a sense of being able to take care of themselves. It gives them choices they might not have had.”

Start with training. 

Anderson decided it made sense to build her own school, in part, as a pipeline for new techs. 

“Anderson Career Builder Institute is a great way to bring people into the industry,” she says. “Our industry pays well—but it's supply and demand. We’ve got to find ways to bring people in.”

Let Nexstar help you. 

Anderson was at her wits' end when she turned to industry trade group Nexstar

“I’d decided to get into heating and air but was failing miserably,” she says. “I didn’t get the margins; I didn’t get anything. I was failing and falling into debt. But after finding Nexstar, within two years of following their advice I was completely pulled out of debt.”

Learn from your mistakes. 

Anderson admits she made a mistake with an early acquisition of a company. 

“The guy had taken his trucks down to Tijuana and had them all repainted,” she recalls. “The fleet looks good—but it was really a heap of junk. I was conned.” 

But that was the last time she approached a similar situation without in-depth background checking. 

“Now, I know what to look for,” she says. “Before venturing out, I connect with people who know what they’re doing. The mistake isn’t when we do things that aren't right, the mistake is not learning from the mistake.”

The secret of recruiting women. 

Anderson observes that women can be more detail-oriented. And better conversationalists.

“Let me say that I don’t just have 12 female technicians—I have 12 extremely successful woman technicians,” Anderson says. “Our top producers in this company are women. 

“We don’t do anything special for them. All are treated equally—which is good for both the women and the men to see. Employers need to look for women to hire—they’re out there. Women in the military are a good place to look. But just put it out in your ads that you have openings for both men and women.

“It’s still tough. But it’s worth it.”

About ServiceTitan

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help home service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business.

Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

Ready to learn more about what ServiceTitan can do for your business?

More episodes

Technician Tips • Management • Business Tips • 46 minutes

How Second-Chance Hiring Can Improve Employee Engagement

CEO Christian Rattin of Five Star Home Services is proving that employee engagement and se...

Marketing • 41 minutes

How Companies in the Trades Can Evolve Digitally to be More Competitive

Scorpion CRO Jamie Adams helps trade companies navigate and optimize digital marketing str...

undefined • 45 minutes

The $40 Million Answer: Make Your Customers Feel Seen and Heard

As the new president of a long-established HVAC company, Lawrence Castillo boosted revenue...

About the Show

Toolbox for the Trades is a podcast where top service professionals share the tips, tricks, and tactics they use to succeed in their industry. Hosted by Jackie Aubel, this podcast is brought to you by ServiceTitan—the leading home and commercial field service software.

Episodes will feature stories and strategies to help contractors grow and scale their service business.

Get on the show!