Best Advice of 2018: Wisdom From Successful Plumbers

Here’s a look back on some of the best pieces of advice contractors shared in the pages of Plumber magazine in the past year

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It’s again that time of year that is typically reserved for some reflection. Here we reflect on some of the industry knowledge that has appeared in Plumber magazine in 2018. A lot of contractors are featured in the magazine over the course of a year, and whether they have decades of experience or are still fairly new to the industry, there is often something to learn from their experiences:

“It is not doing a customer justice if you’re not inspecting as well as rodding a line.” — Jay DeFrates, owner of Jay’s Plumbing & Sewer, on making camera inspections standard on drain cleaning jobs


“We’re realizing that it’s important for our guys to have time at home, so we try to have their last call finish around 4 or 4:30 p.m. It used to be that we’d have everybody available for any call that came in before 5 p.m. We’d have them just keep going, and they’d sometimes not get home until 8 p.m. We’re trying to change that and focus on our employees and their quality of life.” — Phil Frasier, owner of Frasier’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, on maintaining 24/7 availability while still giving employees work/life balance


“We know we can’t make everyone happy. We could not get hot water to one bathroom we worked on, so we gave the client all his money back. I’ve given money back on $12,000 jobs. When things don’t work, we leave the client satisfied by not taking his money and walking away. It’s all about reputation. When people know (you have a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee), they are more willing to let you do work for them. Most customers will let you work through problems until it’s right.” — Gary Eisenhauer, general manager of The Sunny Plumber, on the company’s approach to customer service


“I decided it was my attitude. So I actually hung a board up in our office, and I assigned one person to rank my attitude every day based on what everyone else said. The first day they gauged my attitude at a six, and one of the guys said, ‘If you’d have done this last year, you’d have been at a zero every day.’ So it took me a matter of two days to change my attitude and how I treat my people. I treat them with the utmost respect. My attitude, they say it hovers around a nine every day. And since then, my business has been growing double every year. It’s been two years and I’ve gone from three to six to now 14 employees. If your business isn’t growing or you’re losing employees, your leadership ability is not there. It applies to every business, every organization. Your business will not outgrow your leadership capabilities.” — Doyle Parsons, owner of Parsons Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling, on leadership


“If you don’t offer heating and cooling, customers will call someone who does and then you run the risk of that company also taking away your plumbing work. It’s the way the industry is heading. As consumer expectations change, you have to stay up with them.” — Joseph Wood, owner of Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating, on providing HVAC services in addition to plumbing


“When people call in for service, we ask how they found us. We get a lot of calls generated through Google. We can see where our marketing dollars pay off, and we pay attention to that.” — Patrick Wallner, co-owner of Wallner Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning, on deciding how to spend marketing dollars


“I joined a Facebook group called Plumbing Hacks, which has about 20,000 members. And through that, I was introduced to other groups, including the Sewer Roundtable, which specializes in drain cleaning and drain repair. We post pictures of our jobs, share family events, and discuss various business and work issues. By joining the groups and posting pictures of my work and my thoughts on things such as pricing, I’ve met a lot of plumbers, including local guys I actually didn’t know existed. I’ve learned a lot from these people — received business advice or heard about equipment I otherwise might not know about.” — Linda Hudek, owner of LH Plumbing Services, on using social media to network


“It has just given us more solutions to offer to the homeowner. It’s less destructive and helps us diversify and expand to truly become a full-service contractor. There are times when homeowners have to make a very expensive repair to a sewer line and we’re able to do trenchless and save them a lot of money. We have videos to show homeowners what we’re going to do and how it’s done. They can watch them online, and our technicians carry videos of us doing trenchless work too.” — Lance Smith, owner of L.D. Smith Plumbing, on including trenchless technology in the company’s service offerings



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