We had the good fortune of connecting with Jodii Zimmerman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jodii, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
Nana Mae and Great Aunt Betty were my first role models, and although they are no longer with us they continue to inspire me. I grew up in a few family-run businesses, one of which was a women’s undergarments store. Nana Mae (and Papa George) ran one store. Nana Mae ran the front of the store (customers, cash register, salespeople, etc.), Papa George did the bookkeeping, inventory and tailoring. Conversely, Aunt Betty ran three stores, but she did the accounting and inventory and had others manage the front of the store. I worked in both stores growing up, and it frankly never occurred to me that there was anything unusual about women running businesses. In fact, I thought that was normal. It wasn’t until I grew up and started working that I realized it wasn’t common for women to own and run a business. It also wasn’t “typical” for women to work, especially at the time my grandmother and great aunt were supporting their families. So today when I get frustrated, I think about Nana Mae and Aunt Betty, and they inspire me. They were carving out a place for women in business, similar to my goal of carving out a place for women in the HVAC industry, and it bolsters me to keep charging ahead when things get tough.
What should our readers know about your business?
The HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) business is interesting because it’s one of the last industries that has virtually no women unless they are at a desk. It may not be intentional exclusion – women certainly can go to HVAC technician school, for example. But very few do because the industry is so male-dominated and unwelcoming to women. In fact, very few of us have ever seen a woman technician, which exacerbates the problem because if you can’t see it, it’s hard to be it. People like role models.
When I first got involved in this business I went to a conference led by a very well-known guy in the HVAC industry. He’d written books, led conferences, etc. As the conference progressed I noticed that there very few women, and the ones there worked in the office. None of them worked in the field. So I raised my hand and asked this industry expert why more women weren’t in the field. His response was, “I guess women are afraid to get their nails dirty.” And that was the moment PriceMyAC.com’s Women’s HVAC Service Technician Apprenticeship Program was born.
Today our first apprentice, Julissa, has started working in the field. It takes a long time to become an expert technician, so Julissa is will continue training with both our master engineer and lead technician while stepping up to harder, more complex appointments. When asked about her career choice, she said, “I’ve been wanting to become an AC Technician for a long time, but I never felt welcomed in this male-dominated industry. PriceMyAC.com welcomed me with open arms, trained me, and now I’m following my dream.” There is no greater joy than helping someone achieve their dream, and I’m so proud of PriceMyAC.com for being the first in Arizona (and the U.S. as far a we can tell) to self-fund an engineering-based training program and employ women in this industry as technicians.
I am also proud that PriceMyAC.com is empowering customers. The trades are really the only industry besides medical that’s provider-focused instead of customer-focused. A great example of that is the way AC companies price and bid on new AC installations, which is typically a lump sum number with no details that may be in writing but is often verbal. Sure, a company may talk about all the things they will do, but it’s rarely detailed in writing so the customer has no recourse if they aren’t happy. And if something goes wrong after-the-fact, the customer usually has to pay to correct the issue if it’s more than a month or two past the installation date. Lastly, just providing a lump sum number makes it easy to inflate the bill, which is why customers feel the need to get multiple quotes.
PriceMyAC.com does things differently. We are the only AC company in Arizona (and the U.S. as far as we know) that has 100% transparent pricing on new system quotes, a full materials list, and 2 years of free maintenance. That means our customers see our costs and even our profits, so they know the price isn’t padded. And a complete list of materials means that customers know exactly what they are getting. It’s common for cheap installers to reuse old parts (even if they don’t quite fit) or omit parts, which is why the quote is the cheapest, and customers have no idea because the equipment is on the roof or in the attic. Unfortunately, this type of shoddy work can void warranties, increase energy bills, make the system noisy, and reduce indoor air quality and cooling comfort. Cheap installers know this, which is why they also don’t offer 2 years of free maintenance like we do.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would dedicate my shoutout to Nana Mae and Great Aunt Betty (mentioned previously), the women who inspired and encouraged me to work hard and be me – as a business person and personally.
I am also very fortunate to work with my current team at PriceMyAC.com. Face it – it’s very challenging to grow a business, and it’s impossible to do it alone. The hardest part about being a business owner is finding people you can rely on, people you trust who will go the extra mile because they want to be part of the vision vs just waiting for a paycheck. Plus, it’s critical to have a team that’s not afraid to speak up, share ideas, and provide feedback. More heads are always better than one, and just because someone is in charge doesn’t mean their idea is the best idea. It takes a village.
Lastly, my dad has provided me some of my best business advice about working with people, whether they are customers, employees, partners, vendors, etc. His motto is, “Fair, Friendly and Firm,” and I have to say that I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t appreciate being treated this way.
Other: Call/Text: 480-451-7022 to schedule service or a new system estimate, or DIY schedule from our website PriceMyAC.com.
Visit our “Did You Know?” Learning Center at PriceMyAC.com ( https://www.pricemyac.com/did-you-know/ ) to learn about energy-saving tips to reduce your AC bill, how to easily improve indoor air quality, what to look for when shopping for an AC, and more articles and videos. Google Reviews – PriceMyAC.com