Since 1995 Yets has been a regular contributor to Home Improvement USA, a nationally syndicated radio talk show. He is the plumbing authority. That’s the same thing the 15 guys in his apprentice class will tell you. Or the people that send questions to his Internet site.
Yets wants to educate the public about the plumbing industry while improving his business.
“I want people to realize plumbers went into plumbing not because they couldn’t get into something else, but because it’s a good business,” says Yets, whose Palatine, IL, company has been in business since 1987. “I’m working at building credibility for the industry. I want to change the way people look at plumbers.”
Yets has the market for people to listen — the average audience for Home Improvement USA is 30,000 people at any given moment. He secured the “Ask the Plumber” segment on the weekly two–hour program for homeowners, contractors and do-it-yourselfers. “Ask the Plumber” is heard for one of the two hours every month.
The show — which is hosted by Jerry Kuc, Dane Sheahen and Ken Walchak — is heard on 120 of United Broadcasting Network’s 200 stations. The program features industry experts like Yets, and representatives of manufacturing companies. Guests answer listeners’ questions, discuss industry products and address homeowner projects. The show improves industry standards while raising credibility. Heard in every state except North and South Dakota, calls to the show are diverse.
On the particular show PM sat in on, Yets, Kuc and Walchak discussed the benefits of snowmelt systems, radiant heating, water heater safety and checking contractor references.
If the hosts don’t know the answer to something, they look it up on the Internet, and give the answer out over the air moments later.
“We tell listeners things like check the references on your contractor. Check to make sure they’re insured,” says Steve Leventhal, owner of SRN Broadcasting and executive producer of the show. “We try to educate and entertain at the same time.”
Leventhal says that he hopes to get Home Improvement USA — “America’s Most Useful Radio Show” — picked up in some of the larger markets — like New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The show, which airs Saturdays at 1 pm EST, has its strongest presence in the Southeast.
“A lot of people call and tell us they listen every week,” Leventhal says. “If we get pre-empted on one of the stations, people call in asking where we’re at.”
He believes niche, or specialized, shows is the way talk radio is moving. That’s why shows like Home Improvement USA (srnbrd.com) are on the air.
Rising Star: Yets has tied himself to a rising star. However, a lot of ideas Yets suggests on the show can be controversial to the average contractor.
“As plumbers, we have to realize people are going to try to do things themselves,” says the 36–year–old Yets. “We have to regroup and look at the way we do business. We have to work with the homeowners and use the Home Depots to our advantage.”
Yets encourages his customers to go to home centers and buy their supplies first before he comes over to install them.
On the show Yets and the co-hosts refer listeners to hardware stores and home centers to find products, and then call a licensed, insured plumber to install the product.
“We use the home centers to our advantage,” Yets says. “There’s no reason to carry large inventories because you have home centers on almost every corner. It’s an excellent showroom.
“A lot of people view home centers as the enemy,” he says. “We view them as an asset.”
Since he decided to aggressively market his company and build his reputation, Yets has seen business grow 20 percent.
“If you were to have a deck builder building a deck, and you had a choice between Fred the carpenter or Bob Villa, which would you choose?” Yets asks. “I want to be the Bob Villa of plumbing.”
Yets hopes television is in the future. He says he put together a pilot training tape with his wife — who is general manager of CY Plumbing (cyplumbing.com) — and tried to market it. He hasn’t received responses from anyone wanting to pick the tape up — yet.
“I want to teach what I’ve learned through my grandfather and father,” Yets says.
And he’s currently doing that at Bensenville High School in Bensenville, IL. Yets says the students are diverse — which is good for the industry — and look forward to coming to class every week.
“When people started recognizing me on the air, they thought I was the authority,” explains Yets. “Being a licensed plumber is one thing, but teaching a national radio show is going to separate me.”
It already has.