We Are Consumers Too!

We are consumers too! Part of what makes us good business owners is how we can “relate” to our customers experiences.  I think from time to time people forget that as business owners we don’t just look at everything from the “Inside out”, we also look at our business from the “outside in”.  Here’s how we look at issues that pop up in our home and personal lives and how we deal with them! We want our company to operate as we want to be treated by the outside world!  Here are a few things that we find that are important to us and maybe even to you!

Answer your Damn Phone!  Why is it so difficult today to answer a phone?  Why is it that no matter where I call I get a menu to “pick” from and buttons to push?  Well, as a consumer my number one pet peeve is that when I call someone I have to leave a message or push 30 buttons and get nowhere after 40 minutes.  Ever try to call the airlines anymore?  Just can’t!  We operate our business like “we” want to be treated!  We answer our own phones (yes, let me repeat that we answer our own phones daily, in the middle of the night and on weekends).  If I am having a plumbing emergency the LAST thing I want to do is talk to is an answering service, call a pager or speak to some dumb answering machine!  We aren’t perfect.  We have lives outside of work so from time to time you will get our voicemail but we leave instructions on how to reach us immediately if we don’t answer!  We pride ourselves in having that level of customer service for our customers.  We hope you appreciate it!  I know when I call the orthodontist to make an appointment I get a “person” but when I call to make a doctors appointment at my GP practice, I have to press 5 buttons before I can get a human on the phone.  I appreciate more personal service and we think our customers do to…that is how we operate our business! 

Expectations! We manage our expectations of the people that we hire.  If we hire a service company to “fix our dishwasher” or “look at our water softener” for problems, we know that we are expecting to pay someone with the expertise and knowledge to see what can be done to fix these issues and don’t have expectations that they “will” be fixed or solved in that appointment.  Recently, I made an appointment for someone to come fix our dishwasher because we were facing purchasing a new one.  When the appliance repairman showed up he found nothing wrong with our dishwasher only a problem with our drain leading to our dishwasher.  (I know we are plumbers but it’s the old adage that we come last!).  He charged us a service call fee of $99.00 and an hour labor of $220 to come to that conclusion but other than looking at it, he didn’t even pull out a tool.  While it seemed on the surface that he did “nothing” he actually did us a huge favor.  We knew where the problem was and focused on the solution to the problem which of course involved us fixing it.  We expected to pay him for his knowledge whether it solved our issue or not.  When we make appointments for our plumbers to come to your home, we try to manage expectations with discussion, emails, text messages and our signed terms and conditions prior to starting the work which are aimed at managing the expectation process of the Plumbing Service Call.  We are of course using our knowledge and expertise even if the end result doesn’t “fix” or “change” your situation.  From time to time clients will say, “why do I have to pay you, you didn’t fix anything”.  Well, sadly its true.  A lot of times we find that just because we were called to your home, took our time and tried to figure out a solution to your problem, there isn’t always a “quick” solution or instant gratification. Sometimes when we are on drain calls and the main is blocked, we have to “guess” at what the problem is if our snake cannot clear the line.  Even with our state of the art equipment, you cannot video through water.  Sometimes there is no definitive “answer”, only more questions.  While the initial call doesn’t always “solve” the problems, it usually gives customers a gateway to find a solution to the problem even if we cannot provide the solution.  Sometimes we spend hours trying to unclog a drain only to find that the line is broken, rusted or clogged with tree roots.  All that costs money and time.  Recently, we had a customer who’s drain we couldn’t unclog.  They swore that they just had the septic tank emptied.  We attempted to clear the line to the septic tank and were unable to clear the line.  When we further investigated, we found that the septic tank was indeed full as initially suspected.  The husband thought the wife made the call and had it emptied and the wife thought the husband made the call before Christmas.  This happens all the time.  After hours of work, the customer focused on how we didn’t “fix” anything and thought our visit should have been free.  Sometimes expert knowledge and advice is worth paying for even if there isn’t instant gratification or it doesn’t solve the issue initially.  

Pricing Objections! We all have problems with pricing.  Including us!  Most of our pricing objections in my household are based off of our version of what we “think” it should cost, read on Google or surmised from some podcast.  I have heard more than a few times when we have asked for pricing for home remodeling or repairs my husband saying “he’s crazy, I am not  paying that”.  When I inquire and ask Steve why he thinks “he’s crazy”, he never really has a good answer and then he realizes what he is saying.  We are all attached to our money in a different way and how we want to spend our money.  Recently, we needed some concrete work done.  I got pricing from $4,000 to $12,000 for the same scope of work and concrete yardage.  Firstly, neither of us wanted to pay $4K or $12K.  I went with the cheapest solution because that is the most I could spend. Bad idea.  We had said we wanted colored concrete and we sure got colored concrete.  Every block is a different color.  Not what we wanted.  When we called the company who manufactured and mixed the concrete assuming it was a “dye lot failure,” we found that it was an “error” on the part of the contractor in the “drying” and “finishing” method of the concrete.  Ultimately, we found out that it was his first time installing colored concrete and he didn’t know any better.  The method of drying took a lot longer which the $12,000 contractor knew.  He had a ton of experience with colored concrete and in the end would have been the less expensive solution due to all the work that had to be done to rectify this situation.  Sometimes we base our pricing objections on what we “want” to pay and not what it actually costs in reality for quality skilled labor.  There are times when two people do the exact same work in the exact same manner and one is just less expensive than the other.  More often than not however, I find that when people have pricing objections, it’s usually not understood what the actual preparation time was for the job, the distance traveled to get there and the work that actually had to be done.  For example, we use pro press fittings which are far more expensive than soldering a joint and the tool to “press” them onto the pipe is a lot of money.  It takes more time to make sure you have all the right fittings and to do the work properly . We use pro press fittings as they are a longer lasting more quality finish.  Some plumbers will use “shark bites” and we do not use them.  They are time savers for sure but the end product will be inferior to the work we do.   Everyone has to charge what they need to charge to stay in business but we as consumers certainly have control of who we hire.  No one wants to spend money on plumbing.  Including us.  It doesn’t beautify our property in any way and we underestimate how much we rely on it daily!  I think they call that a necessary evil !

Be understanding!  As consumers ourselves, when things don’t go according to plan in our home we justify-ably get upset, annoyed and even yell on occasion.  Not at anyone, just amongst ourselves.  But, when we have issues or problems that we need to hire outside providers for, we are hugely grateful.  Grateful they showed up.  How many people do you call that don’t call back, don’t show up and basically don’t care?  We are grateful they took the time to give us their opinion and most of all grateful they were able to help us or at least tried to help us.  Recently, in the last year, our well pump went suddenly with no notice.  Water is sort of important.  We initially thought…well we are a plumbing company and we can replace this ourselves.  Very little cost when the labor is free and you can get a discount on the well pump.  We thought we could replace this pump for around $1,400.  Then my better sense kicked in and said….”we don’t do this every day” and no one wants to come in and fix what you tried yourself and failed at.  I thought to myself, if something goes wrong, a whole lot of people don’t have water or showers.  Instantly, I went from trying to save a few bucks to full on panic mode to find someone to do it quickly!  We called our well company that has serviced us in the past and BAM, pump replaced in 2 hours.  BUT, once the pump was replaced and the crisis was solved, it didn’t work.  OH no I thought maybe it wasn’t really the pump after all ! What did I just spend thousands on!  Well, not only did the well pump go but now that the well pump increased in size, the “board” that controls everything was outdated.  I had to swallow the cost of a new pump and the icing on the cake was that the contractor didn’t mention when he asked about increasing the pump size tell me that I would need a new board.  More thousands.  As much as I wanted to scream, be mad and complain, I understood that he was focused on getting me a new well pump and water and when he asked me if I wanted to upsize due to my household size, I replied “sure”.  The end result would have been the same.  I would still have gotten the larger pump and upgraded board but the fact that we didn’t know up front was a shock to us.  We didn’t ask price upfront and probably should have but we were just so grateful that we could get water in 4 hours or less!  We can always work longer hours to make up the money right?  It wasn’t the end of the world.  Sometimes there is a silver lining in even things we don’t see.  As contractors, we recognize that there is no easy answer to please everyone.  We do our best and we are happiest when customers are grateful for how quickly we get there, how far we are willing to go to help our customers and how hard we try to fix their problem.  We appreciate our customers seeing how the world today is challenging our business in a way that it hasn’t in the past.  We are doing plumbing work through COVID-19, our staffing challenges are real as no one wants to go into the trades anymore, everything happens on an emergency basis so long hours, weekends, holidays and tired bodies are real!  We aren’t perfect but we do try very hard to help everyone!  Understanding and gratefulness go a long way!

Google and YouTube!  Everyone searches Google !  So do we!  If we need to know how to fix the Tractor, the blower or change the oil on the car we Google and YouTube it!  It looks so simple and easy!  To learn to update my website I googled “how to work in WordPress” and “how to use Photoshop”.  Now I know why my developers charge so much money!  They are worth every penny because they are complicated programs and take a ton of time to learn!  Google tells you how much everything costs!  You can just search up Google and find the cost for a toilet, a valve or a pump right?  YUP that’s what we do too.  We search Google for the very best price and pray they have it in stock.  Where it goes horribly wrong is in plumbing.  Plumbing parts have varying degrees of quality.  We use only the most commercial grade quality parts that only contractors can buy from Local Suppliers.  YES local suppliers.  We cannot source and stock every part we use on our trucks and we need to use local plumbing supply houses to get these parts.  No, you cannot Google them because they typically will give you wrong pricing as they are “To the Trade Only” supply houses.  It seems so simple to compare pricing to Google.  For me, when I search Google, I am searching the exact same “piece” the same exact “hose” or clothing brand.  When we are installing pumps or parts we are limited to “what’s in stock” or “what’s available” today.  Not what is the best price or value shopping.  We don’t have time to search for “deals” because we are busy re-loading our trucks and stopping at supply houses for that weird part we haven’t seen before.  We shop local, local costs more money.  We support local small business and local small businesses care.  Amazon does not know you or care about you.  When we got our well pump I called local suppliers and searched Google for price and availability.  My local part supplier was more money but guess what, if I wanted it cheaper, I would have had no water for over two weeks.  The supply chain is bad.  I mean really bad.  Nothing we order is coming in on time.  That situation has us running to sometimes 3 supply houses to find a part which costs time and money.  Installation?  Everything on YouTube seems so easy to do right?  Change that valve in under a minute!  Simple!  On Facebook we posted a video of us installing a tankless water heater in under 6 minutes!  We made 8 hours of work look easy in 6 minutes time.  Learn what you can from Google but understand that Google and YouTube only tell part of a story!

Often times businesses get a bad rap.  Google Reviews, YELP, Next Door and all the Review channels out there are meant for people to express gratitude, gratefulness and are a venting avenue for people who are just angry and want to see you out of business because they can.  As consumers we are very careful about what we write for a review.  My mom taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  I can honestly say that in my 57 years of living I may have posted two negative reviews.  And, that was only after being harmed significantly and trying multiple times to reach out to the company with no response.  We understand that not everyone will see eye to eye and sometimes your version of things is different than our version of things.  That’s ok!  As consumers we want to be treated fairly and want a voice.  I get it.  You do too!

We hope a sneak peak at how we operate as consumers gives you an appreciation for how we operate as a company.  Our voice matters to us and your voice matters to us.  Be understanding, no one is perfect.  We do our best.  Manage your expectations of pricing.  It’s expensive to be in business and we have no choice but to pass along those rising costs.  We are paying it too as consumers when we purchase quality things and hire quality people.  We are a legitimate business with licensed plumbers and insurances.  That all comes at a cost.  Google is good for some things but isn’t relevant to our pricing structure or the parts we use.  We invest in people, good parts and good equipment.  Manage your expectations of what we can get accomplished…even if you have to take a step back and think.  No one can come to your home for free regardless of the result or diagnosis. We aim for the best result every time but as a plumbing company we often do not give good news! Check out our video on our “About” page that gives you a glimpse into “who” we are!