Preventing Disaster

Educating customers on proper maintenance is a win-win proposition

The theme of this month’s issue of Cleaner is Residential and Commercial Sewer and Pipe Maintenance. It’s not a topic that sends adrenaline pumping through the veins of the average person, yet the topic is of great importance to virtually everyone.

It’s been said many times and everyone in this business is well aware, underground utilities are typically out of sight and even further out of mind. Most people get up in the morning, use the bathroom, shower, brush their teeth and never give a thought to their wastewater. It flows down the drain, away from their houses and out of their minds forever. That is, until there’s a problem.

You are typically well aware of the worry and panic your customers are feeling when a sewer lateral backs up into their basement. You respond quickly and go about the task of clearing the line and cleaning up the mess in a business-like fashion, even though this is far from business as usual for your customers. You’re really pulling double duty, filling the role of plumber and first responder; these are, after all, emergency situations.

Still, there’s more you can do. Both of the contractors profiled in this issue of Cleaner know a thing or two about backed-up sewer lines and emergency drain cleaning jobs. I Find Leaks, located in Clearwater, Fla., and profiled on page 12, began with a very tight focus on leak detection. As the business has grown, additional services have been added, all focused on the follow-up to leak detection. Since household leaks often cause interior damage, remediation services were added. Now, I Find Leaks might diagnose a problem, fix it and handle all the peripheral repair work caused by the leak.

Southwood Plumbing & Heating of San Bruno, Calif., is also profiled in this issue. Owner Denis O’Halloran says the company responds to quite a few emergency calls. “When we arrive at a job, we are there to do the job, to take care of a problem,” he says.

As capable contractors, you can resolve most emergency situations relatively quickly. Of course, taking proper care of drain lines can eliminate many emergencies before they arise, and that work is just as important – if undervalued by customers – as the proper handling of emergencies.

Prevention is almost always easier than dealing with emergencies, as I write about in this month’s installment of Safety First, but maintenance and prevention don’t instill the urgency of an emergency situation. I suppose it’s that way in most matters, but you, the contractors of this industry, certainly know better. That’s why the pipe maintenance theme is relevant and important; Understanding, recommending and carrying out quality maintenance procedures will save your customers the panic, financial pain and emotional stress of a plumbing emergency.

When a customer experiences a sewage backup in their basement, they’ll quickly realize the value of proper and regular maintenance, and that’s good for your business. So don’t ignore the opportunity to educate customers on what can be done to prevent future emergencies when you’re on site helping them with their current emergencies.

Likewise, use your experience to educate customers about the value of proper maintenance before they experience their own emergency. Don’t use it as a heavy-handed sales tactic, but rather as an opportunity to educate customers on what’s required to keep their system in good working order. You’ll likely pick up some extra business and save them from some unpleasant situations down the road. You’ll both come out ahead, and your customers will thank you for it.

Hopefully the stories in this month’s issue can help you in that endeavor.

It’s all in a day’s work, as they say.


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