Here are 46 business proverbs or truths that apply to the plumbing profession, presented in no particular order. Accompanying each is a question every plumbing company owner should ask about his company.

  1. If no one complains about your pricing, you probably aren’t charging enough. Are you charging enough?
  2. When you fail to charge enough to cover direct costs and overhead, leaving sufficient profit to reward company owners and invest in the future of the business, you are subsidizing your customers. Do your customers need your subsidy?
  3. A bankrupt plumbing company fails its owners, fails its employees, fails its customers, and fails the community. Are you profitable?
  4. A dollar of labor carries more overhead than a dollar of material. Do you put greater margins on labor than material to reflect the difference in overhead?
  5. People judge what they cannot see by what they can see. They look for tangible clues such as the condition of your trucks, marketing, and people to use to evaluate your intangible service in advance. What do your tangibles say about your service?
  6. Consumers believe companies that give an upfront price before work begins are more honest and affordable. Are you flat rate?
  7. On every repair, there’s broken plumbing and broken customers. Do you fix both?
  8. People judge plumbers based on their human relations skills more than their technical skills. Do you hire communicators with outgoing personalities?
  9. People call you for service because they want to buy your solution to a problem. What percent of calls do you convert?
  10. A good truck wrap is truly your best advertising vehicle. Are you driving white “abduction vans” or professionally wrapped vehicles?
  11. Poor grooming is the most frequent consumer complaint about in-home service providers. Do you pay for haircuts and a uniform service?
  12. When everyone zigs, it is time to zag. With the race to digital, do you buck the trend and escape the competition with direct mail, outdoor, radio, and targeted cable?
  13. When customers invite you into their homes, you are a guest. Do you act like one?
  14. Every mother wants their daughter to marry a doctor, lawyer, or plumber. Do you let young people know about this fact?
  15. The most powerful marketing comes from personal relationships. Do you network through the chamber of commerce, service clubs, leads clubs, and alumni groups?
  16. Customers are not always right, but they are always customers. Do you argue with your customers?
  17. Fighting with customers is a losing proposition. Even if you “win,” the customer can get even through reviews and by telling everyone he knows about his experience. Do you seek to resolve problems with customers as quickly as possible in a manner that pleases the customer?
  18. No one wants to be told no, told what they cannot do, or told what they cannot have. Do your people say no or say, “Here’s what I can do?”
  19. People want choices. If you do not present options, your competitors will. Do you give people repair, replace, or upgrade options?
  20. You will never satisfy some customers. Fire them and focus on the customers you can satisfy. Do you have customers you should fire?
  21. To put your customers first, put them second and put your team first. Your team will then put your customers first. Does your team believe you have their backs?
  22. Good service requires good dispatching. How is yours?
  23. “Gut” feelings are a reflection of your subconscious mind processing data your conscious mind misses. Do you trust your gut?
  24. An empty truck costs money instead of making it. Yet, mistakes from hiring too fast can wreck a company’s culture, lead to unnecessary drama, and cause others to leave. Do you hire slow to ensure people fit your culture?
  25. As soon as you know it is time to let someone go, it is usually past time. Do you fire fast?
  26. Your team will not treat your customers better than you treat your team. How do you treat your team?
  27. Cash is not cold and hard. It is warm and soft. Having lots of it makes you as comfortable as warm blanket on a winter day. Do you have adequate cash reserves?
  28. The best time to borrow money is when you do not need it. Have you established a line of credit with a local, community bank?
  29. A plumber turning a wrench is working for wages. Have you gotten out of the truck?
  30. Under a performance pay system, top performers make more and poor performers make less or leave, while the company dials in a profit. Have you adopted performance pay?
  31. More plumbing companies fail for lack of cash than lack of profit. Do you focus on cash flow?
  32. Your call taker sets the tone for everything that follows. Do you hire well and pay well for the person who is your first point of customer contact?
  33. People want to talk with people, not machines. Do you have an answering service for after-hours calls?
  34. The only person who makes money on windshield time is the plumber paid by the hour. Is your service area too large?
  35. There is more business within five miles of most plumbing companies than the companies can handle, if they marketed effectively. How far away do you send marketing material?
  36. Most customers will forget your company name five minutes after your truck rolls to the next call. Do you leave reminders in the home on service calls and send customers a consumer newsletter?
  37. Customer churn is the biggest marketing expense. How often do you market to existing customers?
  38. Training is not an expense, but an investment. How much do you invest?
  39. Training is like bathing. It wears off so it should be repeated on a regular basis. How often do you train?
  40. A business can be people centric and change with each hire or process centric and consistent across hires. Do you have written procedures for every job and situation?
  41. If you pay well and your people are constantly broke, it is because no one taught them how to manage their money. Do you offer training on personal financial management?
  42. Fraud requires opportunity. Good controls and vigilance reduce opportunities for fraud. Do you have checks and balances? Do you require people to take vacations?
  43. Technical plumbers master the craft of plumbing. Wealthy plumbers master the craft of business. What do you study?
  44. Unless you build a business that can operate without you, you do not own a business, you own a job and your business owns you. Do you own business where you can take a month long vacation?
  45. Mistakes are the tuition of experience. You can avoid them by attending conferences and meetings where you can talk to other plumbers about their experiences to learn what to do and not to do without paying for your own mistakes. Do you attend national conferences and meetings?
  46. A dollar invested in benefits buys more perceived value than a dollar invested in wages. How are your benefits?