Top Tips for Protecting Your Plumbing Business

We look at how these basic practices can help keep your plumbing business afloat. Hint: Don’t use subcontractors on service calls.
Top Tips for Protecting Your Plumbing Business
This plumber says he never uses subcontractors on service calls, which helps him control the quality of both the workmanship and service.

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When John Baethke’s grandfather started a business 65 years ago that would later become John Baethke & Son Plumbing in Chicago, he likely didn’t face the same challenges as plumbers do today. 

The 21st century presents different challenges and different work ethics. Because of this, current owner John Baethke realizes that protecting his business is one of his top priorities. One way he ensures that is to never use subcontractors on service calls — it’s a policy that helps him control the quality of both the workmanship and service. 

“I understand the reason why people hire subcontractors; it saves them a whole lot of money. But because all my people are my employees, they are insured under my company. 

“I feel it’s protecting my business and the customer,” says Baethke, who incorporated his own business in 1993. 

That means Baethke puts a great deal of emphasis on hiring quality employees. “First and foremost, I consider the integrity of the person I’m hiring,” he says. “When I’m interviewing, I ask questions about past experiences, etc. I also want to see where their level of empathy is for people.” 

That’s especially key, Baethke notes, when interviewing those in the millennial generation, whom he notes tend to have different work ethics and manners. That demographic, he has witnessed, tends to have “entitlement” issues. They may also lack in workplace etiquette, he says, offering an example of how one recent millennial interviewee was visibly text messaging during the interview. 

Since maintaining quality service is essential, training in all aspects of the business is encouraged and supported. “That’s my number one for business; all my employees are service oriented.” 

Any new hires must possess a state license to perform plumbing or Baethke will help the employee through the licensing ranks as an apprentice. 

Continued on-the-job training is important as well, he notes. “We do safety training here in the office.” That includes, among other things, driving safety and confined-space training. 

In addition, all his employees are required to get four hours of continuing education annually. 


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