Drum Machine Key to Plumber's Growth

RIDGID drain machine drums up revenue, boosts word-of-mouth referrals for Cleveland plumber

Drum Machine Key to Plumber's Growth

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To keep growing his plumbing business, Chris Sbrocco — the owner of Pro Service Plumbing in Cleveland — invests in durable, revenue-generating equipment; turns up the volume, as in serving as many customers per day as possible; and aims to generate word-of-mouth referrals, the best form of advertising.

His RIDGID K-6200 drum drain-cleaning machine he bought a few years ago helps him pull off this trifecta on a weekly basis. It’s a durable unit that amps up sales. It gets through clogs quickly, allowing technicians to make more service calls. And after the machine proves its mettle, grateful customers refer the company to friends and family, he says.

A good example is a root intrusion in a lateral line that had thwarted Pro Service Plumbing technicians’ efforts to remove it with another drain machine the company owns. Sbrocco had just purchased the K-6200, so he was “licking his chops” to get out on a job and use it, he says.

“I knew it was a root intrusion because there was a huge tree by a corner of the house, near a recently remodeled basement bathroom where the line was clogged,” says Sbrocco. “The first-floor powder room, located right above the basement bathroom, was blocked, too. The cable on the other machine was stuck, and the guys were nervous it would happen again. It was the perfect situation to break out the new machine. I got out there and slowly worked at it and got the line open. The roots were about a half-inch thick, but the K-6200 cut right through them. I was impressed by the power. This machine is a beast.”

Sbrocco decided to invest about $2,750 in the drum machine for several reasons. One was its compact footprint (29 1/2 inches long, 18 3/4 inches wide and 43 1/2 inches tall), which is an asset when trying to maneuver through homes and operate in small bathrooms.

“Most times, if we can’t find an outside clean-out, we have to bring the machine into a house, and that small footprint makes a big difference,” he says. “It also comes in handy if we have to pull the toilet (to start drain cleaning) and we can’t take it out of the bathroom because there’s carpeting outside the room that we don’t want to get dirty. But the K-6200 still is small enough to work in close quarters.”

Furthermore, Sbrocco wanted a machine that was small enough to be maneuverable but big enough to handle tough clogs. “I want to have confidence — be able to tell customers we have the right equipment for the job,” he says.

In addition, investing in new technology serves as a technician-retention tool in an industry where scarce labor is a constant challenge for contractors. “I want my guys to be set up with the best equipment and the right materials for jobs,” he says. “And I’m willing to pay more for the best equipment. No technician likes to work with machines and tools that break down on the job.”

Then there’s a little thing called productivity. Sbrocco believes that to be successful and achieve growth, Pro Service Plumbing needs to provide as many services as possible. As such, getting to the next job quickly is a high priority.

“We have a lot going on — we’re getting pulled in a thousand different directions every week,” he says. “So we want to get in on jobs and get out. Some guys want to park on a job — we don’t. The more jobs we do, the more customer interactions we have and the more people we have talking about our services.”

The K-6200 aids productivity because the cables and heads can be swapped out quickly and easily. And so far, the machine has proved to be durable and reliable. “We haven’t had any downtime,” Sbrocco says. “And that’s very beneficial. There’s nothing worse than getting on a job and finding you can’t cable the drain.”

As his company grows, Sbrocco plans to keep buying K-6200s. Designed to clear 3- to 6-inch-diameter drainlines, the unit features 100 feet of 5/8-inch-diameter cable, a 5.6-amp reversible AC motor (4/10 hp, 285 rpm), direct-drive technology, an audible alert that sounds when the blade encounters a blockage and autofeed cable control. “It’s the perfect machine to keep on buying as we grow in scale,” he says. “It’s big enough to handle anything but small enough to work in close quarters.

“My philosophy is let’s be professionals and invest in the right tools for the right job. Customers hire us to get jobs done, and the K-6200 helps us do just that.”

Read more about Pro Service Plumbing in the October 2021 issue of Cleaner magazine.


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