As technology progresses and competition stiffens, plumbers are finding themselves trapped: they’re stuck between the old-school processes learned as apprentices and the current requirements that the modern tech landscape has brought. Typically, what they’re taught about technology doesn’t translate onto the job site.
This divide creates tension on both sides and creates opportunities for miscommunication, liability, and frustration. The root of these problems is the same: a lack of technology and automation.
As ISA puts it, automation is “the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically.” Automation saves time, provides peace of mind, and grants access to valuable information. Whether you own a business, are a master/journeyman, or are an apprentice who wants to stay informed on the progress of a job, automation is the key to a happier life on and off the job site.
In September, I met with Terence Chan, owner of Impetus Plumbing and Heating, to talk about automation and technology in the plumbing industry. He’s a huge proponent of automation and has automated his business to the point that he’s been able to run successful social media accounts, create his own marketing business, and coordinate content with multiple brands.
From his experience, Terence says automation allows you to “…do a lot of different things whenever you want at the same time. And you can even work away from home.”
He says, “I can do a quick check anytime I want, even if I’m out for dinner, right? I might be up in the middle of the night. Nobody knows I’m checking the next day’s schedule or setting up jobs. That’s what automation’s also great for.”
This sets Terence apart from other plumbing companies. He doesn’t waste valuable time on repetitive tasks that could be spent on finding more jobs. He saves little bits of time that turn into hours of effort put toward opportunities that will make more money for his business.
Time adds up: if you save 30 minutes a day, after a month, that is 10 hours! That’s 10 hours that can be spent elsewhere.
With all the programs being intertwined together, everything can be done a lot easier, and I don’t really have to dip my hands in both things and try to figure out what’s happening throughout the day or throughout my business, because all the numbers are there, all the jobs are there, the schedules are there.
Terence shared that in the past, he went through many businesses with only one staff member on a computer: “Everything else was paper copied, so we had to sign the stupid piece of paper and hand it to the customer.” Terence said, “Then you had a clipboard […] now clipboards are pretty much useless, right?” As Terence started to look into it, he realized it was an issue of automation.
Clipboards and spreadsheets have been replaced by iPads/iPhones and software that streamline old processes of making sales calls, managing customer relationships, and tracking job progress. These programs can do a lot independently, but they’re often better when stacked together.
Creating a software stack is no longer just a perk for plumbing business owners — it is necessary.
At first, it may feel like just another expense in the endless list of things taking your money, but after even a week, the value of automation will change how business is done.
Automation takes all of the guesswork out of a plumber’s day and allows them to focus on what they do best. From lead management and outreach to job management and documentation, automation can protect, profit, and propel plumber’s businesses.
Not EVERY person out there is trying to nickel and dime their contractors. But scroll through Facebook for more than 5 minutes, and a “Karen gets roasted” video will probably pop up.
Plumbers today HAVE to document their job site to protect themselves from on-the-job lawsuits (that cost more than the money from the job itself).
Having a clean, organized system of documented work is the only way to ensure money isn’t leaking from a plumbing company due to a customer with a chip on their shoulder. Terence even talks a bit about his experience with this:
He had a customer who said, “Well, you scratched our countertop.” Terence then pulled out a time-lapse one of his crew members had taken during the project. The video showed “he was doing the plumbing under that countertop. Whenever he had tools, he actually put a cardboard on top, and he put his tools on top of the cardboard, and it literally showed at that angle that we never scratched the table.”
One video away from a $4,000 kitchen claim…
More business means more money — that’s a pretty simple equation. Earlier, we talked about how the simplest of automations can save you 30 minutes daily, which ends up being at least 10 hours a month. 10 hours that could be spent finding new jobs or communicating with leads.
Plumbers don’t just profit financially. That 10 hours could be time that is given back to their families and friends.
Everyone is trying to get ahead. These days, there are whole conferences devoted to how to play the system to game people into working with your company. A clean, concise funnel of information and documentation is the best way to accumulate future business.
Finding a contractor can be a complicated and stressful job for a consumer. There is a lack of trust in most consumers’ minds. Providing a simple, clean, and enjoyable experience from the first Google search will almost guarantee more business.
The plumbing industry is changing every day. The only way to keep up, let alone stay on top, is to find ways for your business to run itself and avoid your business running you.