Creating trust in trades is my vision. Being a local Calgary Plumber, and Founder of Aquality Plumbing & Heating Inc back in 2004 has taken me on quite the journey. Honestly, where I have seen our industry move with business models of countless plumbing companies is so disheartening, yet it created an opportunity to build a business with integrity.
These business models would have the cast at “Shark Tank” or “Dragon’s Den” licking their chops as they see all the different revenue streams, and how they can be maximized. So what’s the catch? Sounds like I could have the most incredible, profitable business. What part of this is so terrible that it keeps me up at night?
Before I answer that question, it is important to understand more about YOU. A business that is focussed on listening to what their clients want, has an opportunity to design services that aim to satisfy their client’s wishes. The unique part of trades, and being a plumber is as an industry, we have one of the scariest traits in the public’s eyes. We can’t be trusted. We cannot be trusted! I’ve heard this so many times in my life, and I’d like to tell you a personal story about how I experienced this first hand.
Growing up, I watched and learned from my parent’s, grandparents, friends parents, basically as a child we learn from observing our elders and how they move through life. This is why you catch yourself at times, or someone who knows you well, saying “You are just like your ________. (I am sure you can fill in the blank with a parent or sibling easily there!) Sometimes it is a complement, and many times we take it negatively. My point is, like it or not, we do repeat many things our teachers showed us, whether we wanted to follow their lead or not.
When I saw my teachers of life, I clearly recall all trades being under the microscope. Whether it was the car in for repairs, the air conditioner not working, or a leak on a pipe. I saw this by the trade being watched, over their shoulder when possible, and conversations like “I could do this myself, but….” or “Simple fix, should be done in 15 minutes right?”
Well, actually…NO! This shows such a lack of respect of the skilled person who was hired to help you. And on the flip side, it is totally acceptable because our industry has done such a poor job of creating steps that ensure trust is not only plausible, but successfully attained. In the past, we have not had our industry expose people to the expenses of our businesses. They do not know how much our Technicians are paid, how much the parts were, even further, if the parts were even needed. We used to just give a bill, with a number, and say pay this now. Luckily we have gotten better at this and over time, we are starting to show more of what our businesses do, so that you, the customer, can feel the fees at the end of the work are absolutely justified.
At Aquality, we tell stories on our invoices in a language that we hope can be understood by people who are not plumbers. What is important is they go through a 4 step process. Not 3 but 4 steps.
- Assess and confirm the issue.
- Explain how we can get this resolved.
- Resolve the problem.
- Go over the fix and show how the issue has been resolved.
Above these steps, we must also be up front with rates, and costs involved and then honor those rates. This step, like many others in our history as an industry, has left people lacking trust.
Want to know something else I still do, as recently as today with our invoices? I read them. Why do I still take time to do this? Well, although I can’t read every invoice, I still to date read every invoice our office produces that our Technicians could not or did not produce on site. I do this to read it as if I am you. Does this story make sense? Does the charge reflect what I was told prior to Aquality Plumbing and Heating starting the work? I pretend I am you, because this way we know that you will be more than happy to pay your invoice, as you received everything you were expecting.
So, thanks for reading my story, now back to the question, why does the business model of most plumbing companies in Calgary keep me up at night? In short, they focus on taking advantage of opportunity, and of people who are not experts, and shouldn’t have to be experts in our field. You know how your car got fixed by the Mechanic installing the “dobedeebop” or “whatchamacallit”. Plumbers are in the same boat, as our industry has so many parts, so many products, that we could tell anyone what they need, even when they don’t.
What motivates people to be dishonest typically starts with monetary incentives. And the business model of today’s plumber feasts off this, as they have Technicians working on commission to ensure their top earnings. This is a lethal combination, and one that I will never implement at Aquality.
To ensure there is no coincidence, plumbing technicians spend time, typically weekly in courses and training on their sales skills. Personally, I’d prefer our technicians spend time with new products and their troubleshooting or installation skills.
At Aquality we don’t sell anything, we need products to help us resolve your problem, or update your home or business. And yes, we get great pricing, and we place margins on those products, we are not a non profit organization. We are, however, honest about what you need, and will never upsell to ensure our own growth in revenue.
There is one more important item to be wary of and that is Menu Pricing. It is a bible-like booklet that is full of every situation we will face in the field. It outlines set pricing, to feed off your fear, leaving you saying, “OK for $395.00 this will be fixed, and no games can be played to take advantage of me.” This logic is powerful and true in many cases, if it wasn’t for these 2 nuances.
Forgot to mention the dispatch fee, admin fee, or travel fee, was not included in the pricing, AND those fees are due whether we do the work or not.
- That $395.00 is the worst case scenario, and likely could have been dealt with and resolved for under $300. You overpaid for security because like so many, you don’t yet trust the trade you are hiring.
Remember, all up front costs or rates should be disclosed prior to arranging a call out to your home or business.
When we hire plumbers, we are finding so many that are tired, because they are not sleeping from working within these models. They are relieved to come and work with a Team that lets them educate, earn a really good wage, and be honest in every situation. Although we are super busy, and they work lots of hours, they are finally sleeping better because their soul is at peace. If that is how they feel, perhaps there is a chance we can create trust with you as well.
To find out how you can start building trust, give us a call when you next need help. It may just be a question, or an emergency, or a planned renovation. Whether a full home Poly B replacement, or you just want to ask for advice, we are here. We want to listen to your needs, at that moment, and help you move forward at your pace. We look forward to hearing from you, and perhaps working with you if you are looking for a change in how you work in our trade.
I truly believe through communication, accountability, and integrity we can build trust. I love the thought of 1% better each day will yield incredible results. These steps we take, intentionally every day, will build trust one person at a time. This will then transfer and grow throughout our journey to create trust in trades.