In celebration of International Women’s Day, we invite you to learn more about the inspiring women leading Energy Center-Manhattan Pool. Throughout this month, discover their powerful stories and the impactful contributions that have led them here. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Lizzie McGurty who works with us as a customer service representative.
Q: What is your educational background and how it has influenced your career?
A: I have a high school diploma and some credits towards my associates degree. The actual materials I studied during my formal education haven’t influenced my career as much as the principle of it all: continued learning. The hearth, pool, and spa industry is one of constant innovation. If anything, my education really just solidified that I need to be in a field where I’m continually using my mind, whether it be to read on new technologies or to research solutions to customer problems.
Q: How did you first get involved in the pool and spa industry?
A: I became involved in the pool and spa industry in December 2021 when my husband and I made a big move from North Carolina. I was drawn into Energy Center-Manhattan Pool because I admire the fact that it is a local, family-owned business. I had also never really considered the fact that there are actually places where you can go to buy a whole fireplace. The concept was completely foreign to me at first. I thought, ‘How cool is that!?’
Q: What has your career path been like and how did you get to where you are today?
A: The majority of my career path I have worked in retail/customer service. My first job was working in a locally owned second-hand boutique where I made life-long friends with regulars. Another notable position I held was working at Marshall’s. There, I discovered my intense drive for sales. I regularly processed 70% of my location’s credit card applications per month. With this experience in mind, I believe I was chosen for my role at Energy Center-Manhattan Pool, due to my patience and empathetic nature when working with customers, as well as my fierce competitiveness with sales.
Q: What is your favorite part of working at Energy Center-Manhattan Pool?
A: My favorite part of working at Energy Center-Manhattan Pool would have to be the customers. I deeply enjoy putting smiles on peoples’ faces and making genuine connections. It makes the work-day fly by.
Q: What is a typical day in your role as a customer service representative?
A: My work day begins at 8:00a.m. I prefer to begin my day with asking any questions I might have of our technicians when they’re gathered downstairs to take their jobs for the day. Afterwards I go through my work orders handed back to me from the previous day to address any follow-up needed or to proof before it goes to billing. Next, I give follow-up to leads using our business’s CRM software. At some point each day, I do a walk-through of the showroom to make sure the shelves are stocked and everything is clean and organized. Throughout the day, I assist walk-in customers, answer phone calls, and respond to customer texts and emails.
Q: How do you handle difficult customer situations and what is your approach to resolving customer complaints?
A: I’ve learned to handle difficult customer situations by putting myself in the customer’s shoes and keeping an open mind as to what they’re saying, while at the same time considering the facts of the situation. I believe thorough communication and honesty are also key to achieving a resolution. I use these situations as learning experiences and as a chance to implement changes in the future to improve the customer experience.
Q: Can you give an example of a particularly successful customer interaction you had and how you achieved a positive outcome for the customer?
A: I had one customer that visited our showroom one day who was experiencing back-drafting through their fireplace when the wind blew from the north. I ended up fixing their problem by recommending they extend their flue. After installing this, the customer was so pleased, they actually emailed me a video of a roaring fire in their fireplace. They commented this fire was drafting correctly even with 16mph north winds, which they could not achieve last year. I achieved this positive outcome by listening intently to the customer’s details on the situation and using previously learned technical knowledge. Specifically, I used the 3-2-10 chimney height rule, meaning the chimney pipe must be 3’ minimum and 2’ above anything within 10’. Based on pictures provided by the customer, their chimney did not appear to meet this rule so this was my first guess as to what the problem was.
Q: Can you talk about a time when you had to make a difficult decision in your professional life?
A: Recently, I had some customers in who were wood stove shopping. They were wanting to install a particular stove into an alcove and cut down the stove’s legs. I try to be as flexible as possible with installation options, but I refuse to give wiggle room on manufacturer’s requirements for installation. This stove model did not allow for an alcove installation, and cutting the legs down would void the warranty. Informing customers of these facts, especially when a customer is very keen on purchasing, is difficult when it becomes the sale’s deal-breaker. When playing with fire, you have to do it right though.
Q: How do you stay motivated and maintain a good work-life balance?
A: I have always been a very self-motivated person with high-productivity levels and a strong work ethic. There’s also nothing quite like checking off all things on my to-do list for the day. To be completely transparent, I’m not the best with maintaining a work-life balance. I often become extremely absorbed by my career. However, I don’t necessarily consider this to be a negative thing. I figure at my young age of 22, I might as well put my eagerness and high-energy levels to use. I entered into the hearth and pool industry around a year ago, knowing absolutely nothing about it. Since then, I’ve spent time training, organizing customer projects, and reading over product/technical information 6/7 days a week. Even now, I’m still aware that I know only a fraction of available information. Still, not a bad thing. As I mentioned in my first question, I am a big fan of continuous learning, and in this ever changing industry, the learning never stops.
Q: Can you talk about a time when you had to take a risk in your career and what the outcome was?
A: A big risk I took was jumping from Marshall’s to Energy Center-Manhattan Pool. I actually had a transfer from my Jacksonville, NC location to the Manhattan, KS lined up when we learned we were moving. It would’ve been a easy transition as I knew the job well and I really excelled in it. However, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, and I’m very glad I did. I now have more pride talking about what I do for work than ever. I help people to stay warm in winter and maintain safe water in their spas and pools. There’s not a lot of people out there who do what we do, and it’s nice to feel needed.
Q: What do you consider to be your biggest responsibilities and accomplishments?
A: I would say my biggest responsibilities would be making appropriate recommendations to customers and making sure information I share is true and accurate. There is also a fair amount of customer follow-up that I complete on a daily basis. It’s easy to say my biggest accomplishment could be my biggest sale ever, but that is far from true. I consider my greatest accomplishments to be projects that involve high-levels of follow-up and research on my part and conclude with the customer being excited with the end result. Whether this result is them purchasing a $15,000 hot tub or me being able to get their fireplace working using nothing but information contained in an owner’s manual, it’s always more satisfying when I know I put a great deal of effort into finding a good solution.
Q: What is one project or initiative that you are particularly proud of and why?
A: One project I was particularly proud of was the role I took on in our latest patio furniture tent-sale. I would say my strongest area of product knowledge would be focused on patio furniture. Because of this, I was chosen to pioneer making sure the outdoor sets under the tent had all pieces brought out and organizing placement. Being so familiar with our inventory, I was very confident in my ability to recommend the perfect choice to customers. I ended up selling 4-5 sets throughout the duration of the sale. Collectively, my colleagues and I made the store a profit. Overall, it was great to take a leadership role in a successful initiative.