Doing the Small Things to Say Thanks Will Make Your Crews Happier

Taking care of your crews and thanking them for a job well-done can go a long way in creating a positive environment.

Doing the Small Things to Say Thanks Will Make Your Crews Happier

Anthony Pacilla

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As an owner of a plumbing company, have you ever made it the entire way through a company culture article? You would be the first.

As successful as corporate America and their teams of culture consultants can be, they wouldn’t stand a chance at any of our companies. 

They are a profession of people who get paid for their efforts and, in most cases, not on their results. Corporate America has a constant pool of people to draw from since college has become a staple in society, and their idea of corporate culture has become team gathering events, nap times, trust falls, obstacle courses, ball pits (like the ones McDonald’s used to have), and TED Talks. You think I’m joking? Look it up.

That works for the new generation of corporate climbers; it does not work for the two guys you are sending to hand-dig a clay house trap in the zero degree F weather this morning. Two completely different types of people; two completely different types of personalities. We are the last breed of people in America who “work-work.”

We don’t have a few hours of cooler talk followed by an afternoon of using quick-switch browsers to hide Facebook from our looming boss. We are a brutal workforce.

Plumbers are faced with customer objections and difficult tasks minute by minute until it grinds us into dust. Name one other profession that has to deal with all of that and then collect lots of money the second we are done.

My point here is that if you are like the majority of plumbing firms out there and want to tweak your company culture, I think I have some solutions for you.


Did you know that thousands of plumbers around the country have gone out of their way to buy plumbing pride merchandise and join plumbing groups?

One of the most eye-opening experiences in joining one of the plumbers-only Facebook groups is witnessing what employees are like at home after they punch out for the day. By the thousands, they post pictures of their garages with the “Plumber Protects the Health of a Nation,” “Clog Free Nation,” and “For the Love of the Job” posters.

They are sporting hoodies and tees bought online that say things like “Skilled Plumbers Aren’t Cheap, Cheap Plumbers Aren’t Skilled.” They post photos of their work from the day along with thousands of other plumbers who comment with criticism, praise or pointers. Apprentices seek out advice from journeymen, masters, and business owners from around the world.

Contests, giveaways, branding, attitude pieces and meaningful debates are taking place every second of every day. These people are in search of these types of things, so why not provide them with what they are looking for?


Order the pride posters online and hang them proudly in your shop. Make your shop’s appearance command respect and instill pride. You should order hoodies that have your company name. If you make it edgy enough, they will wear that hoodie with pride all around town.

Go to job sites where work is being done and photograph their work. At your routine meeting, pull up the job site photos and single out the tech that did such great work. Make sure you point out specifics on what was so impressive about the job and what some of the adverse conditions were that they fought through. Do this at random.

Hire a local barbecue pit master and rent a local pavilion annually for a paid Friday afternoon off. Give out annual awards that are professionally framed. Thank your long-term technicians with “years of service” plaques. Consider shoulder patches that have ranks similar to the military system. Have a contest where the winner gets a tool prize package. Get the apprentices a bag of tools on their first full year and say it’s from “all the guys” with a card. Throw in an annual competition of some sort.

The people receiving these awards will post their awards proudly to the community of plumbers.

Use your imagination and tailor your program to your guys, but make sure to put forth effort. Instilling pride and a sense of worth will keep them taking their appearance, van, and work more seriously. At the same time, it will create that positive culture change that you’ve considered.


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