Teachable Moments Arise When Customers Look On

Learn to show and teach customers what you are doing as a plumber and you could see return business

Have you ever had those customers who stand there and watch the whole time you are on the job?

It could be a big job, like changing out a water heater or repiping the kitchen, or something smaller, such as a toilet installation or unclogging a pipe. Either way, that customer is watching your every move.

I’ve seen posts on social media saying: “$100 for a service call, $200 if customer is watching, $250 if customer tries to help, etc.” While funny, I imagine many plumbers get that ever-watchful customer more often than not.

I have to admit something: I was that type of customer a few months ago when a plumber came to my house to change out a valve and install a new toilet. I didn’t realize what I was doing until it was too late and I was watching over his shoulder the entire time. Oops!

Homeowners likely don’t realize that this stresses you out and that you simply may not like it. Remember, it’s their home and they want to know what is going on in it. The plumber I had handled it well. There are things you can do when a customer is looking over your shoulder, and the plumber I had did all of these.


If a customer is looking over your shoulder, the easiest way to handle it is to start educating them. While you are doing the work, explain what you are doing and why.

Tell them why you are cutting a valve off or using a certain type of valve over another. It not only educates them on products going into their homes, but also probably alleviates any concerns they have with the work being done and where the costs are coming from when they get that final bill.

Don’t be afraid to tell them how something works as you’re installing it, it could help them better understand why that product failed in the first place.


As you’re doing the work and the customer is looking on, use this time to recommend products that would benefit them. If you notice that the water heater is older and not able to keep up with the demands of the house, recommend a replacement in the near future.

Ask them how the other plumbing systems are working, and offer recommendations on new or updated fixtures and new technologies. All of that can easily be done while you are there working on the job they hired you for.


As they are watching you, now is the time to impress them. Make sure you are keeping the job site as clean as possible, clearly explain and show what the problem is when you find it, and if you see something minor that could easily be fixed, offer that while you are there.

If you see a fixture nearby dripping and it’ll just take a simple tightening of something, do it. That simple act of kindness will almost guarantee that you’ll get more work from that customer.


How do you interact with your customers? I would love to hear some tips you have for plumbers and find out what has and hasn’t worked for your company.

You can email me at editor@plumbermag.com or call 715-350-8436.

Enjoy this issue! 


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