Contractor Views Lack of Expertise as a Learning Opportunity

In his work, Raymond Gray doesn’t shy away from what he doesn’t know. Instead he embraces it — seeking out help or learning new skills — all in the name of good customer service.

Contractor Views Lack of Expertise as a Learning Opportunity

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Raymond Gray, owner of A-1 Total Service Plumbing and A-1 Total Service Construction in Los Angeles, has a favorite quote from billionaire business magnate Richard Branson:

We don’t hire smarter people so we can tell them what to do. We hire smarter people to run our companies so they can tell us what to do.

“Following that philosophy is how I’ve been able to overcome any downfalls or challenges in my business,” Gray says. “Hiring people who are better than me at certain things so I can focus on what I’m good at.” 

Gray says he is not afraid to admit what he doesn’t know and then brings on the right experts to help. Such was the case when he and his team were doing a pipeline rehabilitation project for a hotel in Los Angeles.

In the middle of the CIPP relining process, the hotel’s maintenance manager asked Gray if he could help with a boiler that had just broken down. Never one to let a customer down, Gray offered to take a look, though he admits he was thinking, “I’m not a boiler guy and I’ve never worked on a boiler. How do I tell my customer that I can’t work on it?” 

Having purchased many boilers in the past from a local supplier for other building development installments, Gray reached out to see if he could obtain a referral for a local service provider who could respond to an emergency call. Gray called all of the contacts the supplier provided, but no one was available, no matter how much Gray offered to pay.

He called the supplier back and learned that the company had just posted a step-by-step video on YouTube on how to troubleshoot and repair the exact model of boiler that had failed. The supplier encouraged Gray to watch the video and give it a try, knowing that he had the proper mechanical skills and stood a good chance of fixing it himself. Gray followed the advice, and as promised, the video provided all the information needed. He was able to secure the necessary parts the same day, and within eight hours, the boiler was operational once more. 

“Nothing replaces field training and experience,” Gray says. “How-to videos are perfect-world scenarios, but they can still be a great learning tool and, in some cases, help you to help a good client in need. Be confident and always be willing to look for ways to learn new skills from experts offline and online to go beyond your comfort zone.”

Read more about A-1 Total Service Plumbing in the February 2020 issue of Cleaner magazine.


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