In the residential plumbing service business, we tend to be closed-minded, only focusing on what the customers called us out to their homes for. This mindset can cost your business thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year. Let me share a little secret with you. The true opportunities lie in the house and not in the issue they called you for.
To give you an example, let’s say a customer calls your company because they have a drippy faucet in the hallway bathroom. What a plumber will typically offer is to fix the faucet and, maybe, give another option to replace the faucet altogether.
What the plumber might not know (or may know, but not offer to look into) is that the leaking faucet can often be an indicator of a different problem. The problem could be the customer has high water pressure. It may also have to do with the quality of their water, which might contain calcium, lime, rust or too much chlorine.
Cause and effect of leaks
Instead of focusing on the symptom (the leaky faucet), you need to focus on what’s causing the faucet to leak. It’s a simple case of cause and effect. This scenario is a lot like when the oil light comes on in your car. It doesn’t mean the lightbulb is bad. It means that something else is causing the oil light to come on. So, you see, the opportunity is not the faucet, the real opportunity is what’s causing the faucet to leak.
Let’s say in our first example that the customer has high water pressure. In this case, the water pressure should always be the primary focus of the job rather than the leaky faucet, the symptom. If their water pressure is not high, then you should turn your attention to their water quality. You might be surprised to hear the majority of leaks in potable water systems can be related to either (or both) of these issues in some way.
The nice thing about diagnosing poor water quality is that for the most part, the problem can be smelled or seen before you ever need to break out the test kit. Your customer will be able to smell too much chlorine or chloramine in the water just as they can see calcium buildup on their shower heads and aerators. Too much chlorine and calcium also can be felt. Your customers’ skin may become dry because of one or both of these issues.
Cost of poor water quality
Just as poor water quality can cause problems with your customers’ skin and hair, it can also cause major havoc on their plumbing system and appliances. Too much calcium and lime in the water line can cause pipes to become blocked from the inside, much like a clogged artery. This blockage can cause issues with your customers’ water volume. It also causes huge efficiency problems when heating your water because the heating elements will be coated in an electric water heater.
In the case of gas water heaters, you’ll likely see a large layer of sediment on the bottom of the tank. Since gas water heaters heat up from the bottom, this is the equivalent of putting a brick on a stove top and a pan on top of the brick. You will eventually heat the pan, but you have to heat the brick first, causing you to waste enormous amounts of energy and money. This buildup is also the number one reason that a water heater tank fails prematurely. As a matter of fact, most tankless water heater manufacturers will not give a warranty on their tankless units unless you have a water purification system.
As a Nexstar business coach, I like to teach my members how to shift their plumbing business and culture to adopt this mindset. This shift starts with changing the mindset and the culture of the call center.
It’s important to fully educate everyone in the call center about the negative effects of water quality and water pressure. Then, educate your plumbers on the effects of poor water and pressure quality as they relate to the home and the homeowner. After educating, make it into a process. This is exactly what I do when coaching Nexstar members. This way, when they revert back to the old way of doing things, I can determine where the process went wrong once their numbers go back to where they were.
Benefit to your customers
Once you embed this culture into your business, you will no longer be in the plumbing business, instead, you’ll be in a water treatment business that also happens to do plumbing. This will be a huge win for your customers, your employees and the company at large.
Customers will have better than bottle quality coming out of every single faucet in their house. As a result, they’ll never have to buy bottled water again, which saves them money. Their appliances that use water will last up to 50% longer, and they’ll also save money on their water heating bill by not having to heat through the minerals in the water.
It doesn’t stop there. Your customers will use less soap, less lotion and less conditioner as well. Their skin will feel softer and their hair will be smoother. Their clothes will last longer, and they won’t have to use fabric softeners anymore which saves even more money. They will have less mineral build up on the shower door as well as the tub and showers. This means your customer will spend less time cleaning hard water buildup, making their quality of life better.
I would always tell my customers they were paying for a water system regardless of whether or not they had one. I encourage you to do the same. Turn that next leaky faucet call into an opportunity to assess the cause of the problem, rather than the effect. The end result will be more revenue for your business and happier, healthier customers. RJ 2.0