Men in the finishing industry – customers, vendors, and sales reps alike – respond to my female employees differently than they respond to me.
This is a longstanding issue that has always driven me nuts. I’ve had a lot of women on my team over the years, of various backgrounds, in varying roles, with differing personalities. They’ve all struggled to be heard.
For example, Abby has been running Kaser’s front desk for two years now, and she still faces some version of this scenario on a weekly (if not a daily) basis:
Male customer: “What’s your lead time?”
Abby: “Eight weeks.”
[Male customer complains, questions, bargains, and/or pushes back, then proceeds to call me.]
Male customer: “Jase, what’s your lead time?”
Jase: “Eight weeks.”
Male customer: “Ok.”
It’s incredibly frustrating, because the more time I spend on the phone repeating information that has already been given, the less time I spend managing production as a whole. Having someone at the front desk frees me up to run my business more efficiently, meaning quicker turnarounds for everyone.
Of course, there will be certain technical, process-oriented questions that I still need to answer. However, customers, it is still in your best interest to submit those questions to our qualified team in the office, who happen to be female, for two reasons:
1. They will get a hold of me faster than you could, meaning your question will be answered in hours rather than days;
2. I’ll be in a better, more helpful mood if you’ve shown my team the respect they deserve, rather than ignoring, arguing with, and/or circumventing them.
Abby and Chloe are knowledgeable, competent, and ready to help. I communicate with them several times each day, and I trust them to answer customers’ questions. Not only will they give customers accurate information, they will do so with more patience and kindness than I would in their shoes.