Five Quotes to Guide Your Plumbing Operation

These famous words contain wisdom that you can apply to the way you run your business

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There is power in a good quote. It's incredible how a string of words and an idea can inspire millions. Of course, it helps if you are famous enough that those words get remembered.

Some people are both eloquent and famous enough for their quotes to stand the test of time. Their words might inspire you to become a better leader, to set a goal for yourself, or adjust your mindset. As I said, quotes are powerful. When it comes to money, business, and leadership, there are plenty of quotes out there to choose from.   

Here are five of my favorites for plumbers:

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

— Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens' writing is stiff and hard to read by today's standards. However, if you can sift through the strange dialect, his words still pack a punch. Incredibly, his lessons are still relevant today.

In A Christmas Carol, Dickens taught us what it meant to be a “Scrooge,” but what did he think of overspending? It turns out Dickens had opinions on spendthrifts too. Put in simpler terms, this quote says, “If you spend less than you earn, you'll be happy. If you spend more than you earn, you'll be miserable.”

Said plainly or with pizzazz, there is no denying the truth in those words. 

While it may seem like there is never enough money to go around, that isn't an excuse for letting finances run wild. Running a plumbing company is stressful enough. Don't add money worries to the mix.

Dickens would probably advise modern-day plumbing companies to keep their money in line by:

  • Watching your cash flow position
  • Following a budget
  • Having a cash reserve
  • Keeping receivables short

“It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages.”

— Henry Ford

Henry Ford is a complicated historical figure, but he sure has some fantastic quotes. This one might seem like it is about money, but it is actually about customer service. Ford's words are a good reminder for both owners and staff about who really pays the bills.

Plumbing is a service industry, and without customers, we have no business.  We can't write our employees’ paychecks — or our own — without our clients. That's why customer service should be everyone's top priority.

Ford might encourage you to keep customers happy with:

  • Consistent customer service training
  • Proactive communication
  • Regular customer feedback 

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

— Thomas Edison

No one in this industry is afraid of hard work. However, I don't think Edison is necessarily talking about getting dirty. Opportunities to grow your business might take a different kind of work.

Change is hard. If your organization is facing change, that might mean wearing a pair of new overalls that aren't so comfortable. That is work too, and don't mistake it. Don't miss an opportunity because you are scared to do the personal or professional work needed to learn the job.

Edison was an inventor, which means he was always challenging himself with the unknown. Take a page out of Edison's book by:

  • Investing in personal and professional development regularly
  • Listening to criticism and advice from others
  • Leading by example

“If you don’t value your time, neither will others. Stop giving away your time and talents. Value what you know and start charging for it.”

— Kim Garst

This quote could be three separate ideas. There is plenty of power in those three sentences. Let's break it down:

"If you don't value your time, neither will others."

If you haven't figured out how to price yourself for profit, make it a resolution. Undercharging is the same as running a charity where you give donations to your customers. It's a very odd business plan.

"Stop giving away your time and talents."

Not only are you giving your profit away but you are undermining the industry. Plumbers already fight for respect. Don't make getting respect harder for everyone.

"Value what you know and start charging for it."

Even if something is a simple fix for you, it doesn't mean the solution to the problem is less valuable for the customer. Don't think about your prices as a charge for labor or materials. Instead, think about the value of the service you are providing to the customer. This mind-shift is critical for success.

Garst would undoubtedly encourage you to:

  • Consider what your prices say to customers about your quality
  • Ensure you are building profit into your pricing
  • Conduct an audit of competitor pricing

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

— William Bruce Cameron

Sometimes quality doesn't come from quantity.

There is real value in numbers. Every high-paid expert out there will tell you that a metrics-driven organization is the most profitable. That's because numbers don't lie to you the way feelings do. Yet money, the drive for perfect industry-leading numbers, and bragging rights don't bring heart and soul into a company. You have to balance these things to stand out in a service-based industry like plumbing.

Money and data are significant but so are things like honesty, respect, and integrity. Don't let the things that can't be quantified fall out of sight. There is nothing wrong with deciding that your company culture is going to override an opportunity for profits. Whatever is important to you is relevant to the organization — measurable or not.

Cameron would probably tell you to:

  • Know what your values are and don't compromise on them
  • Understand that company culture has to come first sometimes
  • Lead with your heart and your head

What quotes inspire you to be a better leader, manager, or plumber?

About the Author

Anja Smith is the managing partner of All Clear Plumbing in Greenville, South Carolina, and a writer/speaker at Tradebiz Toolbox. Smith is presenting a live marketing workshop at the 2019 WWETT Show in Indianapolis. Learn more about the workshop and how to attend at


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