Back in the good ‘ole days when the Sears, Roebuck and Co. mail order catalog was the go-to source for everything, when your home appliance broke down, a service technician employed by the company came to your home, made the necessary repairs and was on his way. End of story.

That process still held true until more recently when a combination of smarter, more efficient selling techniques and a slumping economic climate that stretched service companies thin created the need for techs to be more than just techs. They have become latter-day Renaissance men and women, skilled in not only the technical side but also in upselling, cross-selling and securing service agreements and warranties on-site. In short, yesterday’s tech simply had to be a darn good repairman. Today’s tech is that and much more.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2010, median household income declined and the poverty rate increased to its highest level in 52 years, and separate reports have found lagging consumer spending and confidence. Naturally, the service industry has been hit hard and companies are realizing they must take advantage of any and every point of contact with their customers to secure additional services. If they don’t, the cash-conscious customer may not be there next week. Enter the Renaissance tech.

As the only face the customer is likely to see, today’s service technician is in the unique position to fix the problem and offer additional services, warranties and contracts. He or she is often trained in the arts of upselling and customer relationship management and can serve as a key revenue source in these dire times. Trained properly in sales techniques and your company’s portfolio, the modern tech is able to identify which accounts are ready for additional offerings and will be able to make sound recommendations on what makes most sense for the customer.

Imagine: your HVAC tech is sent to a residence on a typical service call. They return not only having fixed the unit as expected but brings back an extended maintenance agreement, a filled order for an equipment upgrade and a thoroughly satisfied customer. What was once accomplished by a team of technicians, sales reps and auxiliary office staffers, can now be done by one individual.

With a sharp mind and the proper training, the modern tech can lower operating and personnel expenses while bringing in a previously untapped source of revenue in an era when every dime matters. A Renaissance man indeed.