Best Advice of 2018: Wisdom From Successful Cleaners

Here’s a look back on some of the best pieces of advice contractors shared in the pages of Cleaner magazine in the past year

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It’s again that time of year that is typically reserved for some reflection. Here we reflect on some of the industry knowledge that has appeared in Cleaner magazine in 2018. A lot of contractors are featured in the magazine over the course of a year, and whether they have decades of experience or are still fairly new to the industry, there is often something to learn from their experiences:

“When you start out, you feel like you have to be the cheap guy (to get established). But I believe that trying to deliver quality, speed and price isn’t possible — you can only have two of those things. You can drive yourself mental trying to do all three. So you have to choose, and I chose quality and speed.” — Ben Smith, owner of Marvel Sewer and Drain, on what he chooses to value in how he services customers

“We take a lot of pride in having our equipment look clean and presentable. We take a lot of pride in what our guys look like. We give them all proper uniforms with company badging and names. ... People see that; they see a respectable company, a professional company, that takes pride in its staff and equipment and in the job that they’re going to do.” — Kris Norris, owner of NCM Hydro Vac Services, on the importance of company image

“The thing that calms the storm very quickly is the camera. The customer is looking at the screen and they are seeing a ball of roots and all the other things involved and how bad things are; and they’re thinking, ‘Man, I’m glad we’re doing this.’ Ninety-five percent of the time, this takes the sting out and they are happy to be paying the bill and solving a big problem.” Mike Leonard, owner of Mike Leonard’s Plumbing, on how camera inspections help sell customers on the cost of work

“When I first started plumbing, the guy that was training me told me that people aren’t going to remember how good of a plumber you are, but they’re going to remember the size of mess you made.” — Ken Beyer, co-owner of Clog Squad, on the importance of prioritizing cleanliness on the job

“Our employees have to be positive and realize they’re working for the customer. They also have to be problem-solvers. We always tell them that they should never say they don’t know something or that we can’t do something. We tell them to always first come back to the shop so we can talk about it.” — Brett Healy, co-owner of Great Lakes TV Seal, on the employee/customer interaction

“It hurts the industry. How are people ever going to take you seriously? How are you ever going to raise your prices if people think you’re a joke? This is a professional industry, and we need to treat it that way.” — Rex King Jr., owner of King’s Sanitary Service, on incorporating pun-filled toilet humor into company names and slogans

“I joined a Facebook group called Plumbing Hacks, which has about 20,000 members. And through that, I was introduced to other groups, including the Sewer Roundtable, which specializes in drain cleaning and drain repair. We post pictures of our jobs, share family events, and discuss various business and work issues. By joining the groups and posting pictures of my work and my thoughts on things such as pricing, I’ve met a lot of plumbers, including local guys I actually didn’t know existed. I’ve learned a lot from these people — received business advice or heard about equipment I otherwise might not know about.” — Linda Hudek, owner of LH Plumbing Services, on the benefits of networking on social media

“We want to keep the quality of our work as high as we possibly can. I tell a crew if a job takes a day or two days, fine. Do the job to the best of our ability. Keep the craftsmanship up. The most important thing for us is our reputation.” — Adam Kuhns, co-owner of R.I.C. Plumbing, on the importance of maintaining quality

“If they say they found me through Google, I ask them to give me a good review if they think I did a good job. Google reviews are huge. They even helped me get calls from plumbers, and I now do drain cleaning for three companies on a weekly basis and get referral calls from time to time from about a half-dozen other plumbers.” — Russell Joe Jr., owner of Quality Sewer & Drain Cleaning, on taking advantage of online reviews

“They’re all large vehicles — big moving billboards. Why wouldn’t I want to put as much information about our company on them as I can so people can see it as the trucks are driving along the road? If I pick up two or three jobs, the wraps pay for themselves. And we do get calls from people who see them.” — Allan Cagle, president of Atlantic Pipe Services, on the marketing power of truck wraps

“After a trainer says an employee has put in the required hours and mastered the skills, then another trainer comes in and gives the employee the test. It’s a good checks-and-balances system. ... We want a different person than the trainer to do the testing. They come in with a different set of eyes. Our goal is to make sure our employees are the most productive hydrovac operators possible and that they also understand the possible dangers and follow safety protocols.” — Guy Rimoldi, co-owner of Southern Hydro Vac, on employee training

“Taking the chance and ordering the trucks before you actually need them, that’s important — seeing that you’re going to need it in six months — because these trucks take six to eight months from once you order them until you receive them.” — Jim Guerin, owner of JG Environmental, on anticipating business growth and adding equipment


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