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Old 12-31-2019, 02:02 PM   #1
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Default What Caused you Success in 2019?

Every year when it closes in to the end I typically do a meeting with myself to see what worked, what didnt work so well and adjust business practices and plans as needed.

So how did you do? What were your successes? What are your goals for 2020?


For our business I would have to say the number one thing was focusing on the most profitable task which had the least competition. For us that was septic tank replacement. Larger contractors dont want to mess around with them. There are also not enough people doing this work.

We closed a lot of jobs and made a healthy bottom line doing it.

Some of you may say, I live in a big city theres tons of competition. While this may be true I believe there is always a place to specialize where there is LESS competition.

One example when I was in Los Angeles with my C-36 license, I noticed some companies were doing Sewer replacement liners where you dont need to excavate. At the time there were not a lot of plumbers who owned that equipment and they made a LOT of money doing it.

The other thing that worked for us was to advertise heavily on google for that one task. This eliminated the need to try to learn and manage a lot of metrics on adwords. Focusing on one subject one ad one task was easier and less costly.

I would say an online class or hiring someone to do our adwords will be in the forecast for 2020.

We sponsored a baseball team, and were in the easter parade, along with shirts, koozies, merch, doing to contractor nights at Menards (like home depot). None of which appeared to directly sell jobs. But that kind of advertising never really works like that. So well keep it up and try to grow our local branding.

I would say sponsoring a baseball team with younger kids, like tee ball is better. Just thinking by the time kids are in 7-8th grade, chances are the parents have lived in town a longer time and already have a plumber.

Lastly, and these are the hard ones, knowing what you did wrong. I dont think we answer the phone enough. I am the field guy, plumber, contractor, business owner, advertising dept, and secretary.

When I get busy I dont call prospective customers
back. This is a dangerous hamster wheel I need to break away from.

I am considering an answering service. Or a dedicated time of the day to call customers back.

I would appreciate suggestions regarding the phone answering.

I also probably overspent, on supplyhouse.com year end sale, where everything was 11% off, but so far ive sold two of the 8 sewage ejector pumps i bought. We will see.

I loaded down on a lot of new equipment and tools so hopefully I will do less of that in 2020 and pay some of the bigger loans down faster. I picked up 27k in equipment loans in 2019.

My truck a 99 F350 utility is also probably in need of replacement. I am thinking of a used KUV plumber service body van. I am concerned about needing 4x4 though.

Please share your successes and plans for 2020.


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Old 12-31-2019, 07:33 PM   #2
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Customers tell me all the time that we are one of the few shops who actually answered the phone when they called. That surprises me, because we have at least a half dozen fairly large to very large shops in the area. Still, I hear it all the time, just had one today, and a lot of them tell me that they went with us because of it. We have at least two girls in the office most days. One has the main responsibilty to answer, and I am guessing that it takes 75% or more of her time, based on the limited amount of other duties I see her perform. The office manger jumps in when they are ringing off the hook. Some days we have three girls, but I don't think the 3rd one stays all day. Still, about 25% of the time I call in I get voice mail because all 3 lines are tied up.

I wonder how much business sponsoring a team actually brings in. My boss tends to become friends with the parents since his kids are on some of the teams, and I've noticed that some of the jobs he's sent me on seem to be bid on the low side by him. I would be bad at that too, finding it odd working for friends without screwing myself. IMO buying one of the signs on the baseball field fence or the hocky rink side boards might be a better way to go, and just stay at arms length socially from the other parents. When they put two and two together it might be enough that they know who I am, to give them confidence in me, but we're not quite friends, so no expectations.

Like you say, these types of things are so hard to quantify.
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Old 01-02-2020, 01:30 PM   #3
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First rule is to STOP borrowing money! It is a trap and you will always be in debt. It is hard to make money when you are paying someone else to use theirs.
Facebook is free. Don't be afraid to post a pic a day or every other day. It keeps you in the fore front of peoples memory when they need you. It is the right demographics or age group as well. Have your admin, dispatcher, wife, son or daughter post them, again it is free.
I have all my trucks wrapped. Some plumbers like to not wrap their trucks but at least do the back. The 1-2 mins at a stoplight will ingrain your logo or name in the person behind you.
Thank you letters and gift cards go a long way too.
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Old 01-02-2020, 01:47 PM   #4
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Thank You for the reply. We are not on facebook, we cancelled our accounts. We do have trucks wrapped.

Regarding borrowing $$,$$$.00 I did fail to mention that we did not borrow more than what we have in our business savings account to pay equipment off in full.




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Old 01-07-2020, 08:29 AM   #5
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we have a 24 hour answering service which usually costs about 500 a month more or less....... It really only takes one call to more than pay for this and you dont have some dumbass on the payroll with the servcie..

I put in a water softener in a home yesterday because I plastered my non-removable STICKER on the water softener way back in 2007..... they called me because of the sticker....
Hint.... STICKERS WORK and you ought to think about doing that

stock does not spoil, my family has stuff laying around since the 50s that still is viable if needed.... you just have to find it when you need it...


The most important thing I have found it get yourself a 12--14 foot box truck with a rail type lift gate on the back..... 14,000 lb to 16,000 weight limit .. The truck payment is really noting because the truck it will pay for itself probably 3 times a week or more.....because of the efficiency and keeping from killing off a whole day going for parts....

Load it up with everything you would ever need and you will notice that your drive time and down time getting stuff almost goes away and you are normally done with the same amount of calls 2 hours quicker ,,,, Much faster than you would ever be able to get done in the same time working out of a ****ty utility truck or van

also , if you get the lift gate, your left nut will thank you some day.....and maybe your right will chime in too.




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Old 01-07-2020, 09:59 AM   #6
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we have a 24 hour answering service which usually costs about 500 a month more or less....... It really only takes one call to more than pay for this and you dont have some dumbass on the payroll with the servcie..

I put in a water softener in a home yesterday because I plastered my non-removable STICKER on the water softener way back in 2007..... they called me because of the sticker....
Hint.... STICKERS WORK and you ought to think about doing that

stock does not spoil, my family has stuff laying around since the 50s that still is viable if needed.... you just have to find it when you need it...


The most important thing I have found it get yourself a 12--14 foot box truck with a rail type lift gate on the back..... 14,000 lb to 16,000 weight limit .. The truck payment is really noting because the truck it will pay for itself probably 3 times a week or more.....because of the efficiency and keeping from killing off a whole day going for parts....

Load it up with everything you would ever need and you will notice that your drive time and down time getting stuff almost goes away and you are normally done with the same amount of calls 2 hours quicker ,,,, Much faster than you would ever be able to get done in the same time working out of a ****ty utility truck or van

also , if you get the lift gate, your left nut will thank you some day.....and maybe your right will chime in too.





ill agree with what you sat except for the truck...it depends on 2 things..location and what type of work you do...
I dont do alot of jobbing, so I dont carry thousands of repair parts and working on long island there is a supply house usually within a 15 to 20 minute drive, many times closer and if you add in home depot and lowes that could bring it down to 5 or 10 minutes,

yes I know time is also burned up going in and getting a part..but if you plan your day of jobs I just put some extras on my truck ( chevy extended van) and 95% of the time I have all I need to get the job done..
now my place upstate..where it could be an hour or 2 to a supply house , then a BIG truck loaded with supplies would be a better choice..
it all depends on your area more that dictates the size truck than anything else...
over the years I have built up in my storage sheds, lots of extra parts both new and used for anything I can think of and on enough times that has helped get a job done or person up and running till I can get to a supply house or order the needed parts..
if you do night emergency work then you need to carry extra stock either at the shop or in your truck..
many years ago(2000) they had a few home depots that were open 24hrs a day, so 3am you could go buy what you needed..but not anymore..
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Old 01-07-2020, 12:23 PM   #7
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Well, I really can’t say my company was much of a success in ‘19. Don’t get me wrong, the numbers are up from ‘18, however I had to turn down a bunch of work!

My biggest problem is working for my Master, which I’ve posted about, so I’ll keep it quick. I’m back working for him after he fired the Master who was interested in buying his business. The guy was a joke and a back call king.

However I paid off my camera, paid off my cube two years ago, so I’m down to the pickup and one small credit card.

I lost my biggest customer when they sold all their properties, but picked up enough to replace them.

My core customer base will wait for me loyally because they trust me after being taken advantage of by other companies. Sometimes I get a referral call and just can’t make it for a day or two, but I have two companies I trust and refer if they can’t wait.

Reputation is probably my only form of advertisement. We have somewhere around 20 drain cleaning companies in my small area, but plenty of old clay lines.
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Old 01-07-2020, 02:03 PM   #8
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Well, I really canít say my company was much of a success in Ď19. Donít get me wrong, the numbers are up from Ď18, however I had to turn down a bunch of work!

My biggest problem is working for my Master, which Iíve posted about, so Iíll keep it quick. Iím back working for him after he fired the Master who was interested in buying his business. The guy was a joke and a back call king.

However I paid off my camera, paid off my cube two years ago, so Iím down to the pickup and one small credit card.

I lost my biggest customer when they sold all their properties, but picked up enough to replace them.

My core customer base will wait for me loyally because they trust me after being taken advantage of by other companies. Sometimes I get a referral call and just canít make it for a day or two, but I have two companies I trust and refer if they canít wait.

Reputation is probably my only form of advertisement. We have somewhere around 20 drain cleaning companies in my small area, but plenty of old clay lines.

this is a sign of success , believe it or not..having more work than you can do..now you have to decide if you make more money holding onto your master or parting ways and go 100% you..
if you will make more on your own then thats what you have todo,,,thats business and dont look back...
you can only help someone out for so long before it effects your bottom line..fast forward 5 or 10 years..is your master still gona be plumbing? or even alive? schitty way of looking at it , but you have to look after yourself as noone else is going to...
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:05 PM   #9
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Well, I really can’t say my company was much of a success in ‘19. Don’t get me wrong, the numbers are up from ‘18, however I had to turn down a bunch of work!

My biggest problem is working for my Master, which I’ve posted about, so I’ll keep it quick. I’m back working for him after he fired the Master who was interested in buying his business. The guy was a joke and a back call king.


Quote:
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this is a sign of success , believe it or not..having more work than you can do..now you have to decide if you make more money holding onto your master or parting ways and go 100% you..
if you will make more on your own then thats what you have todo,,,thats business and dont look back...
you can only help someone out for so long before it effects your bottom line..fast forward 5 or 10 years..is your master still gona be plumbing? or even alive? schitty way of looking at it , but you have to look after yourself as noone else is going to...
I agree I don't get it, you turn away business to stay with the guy? The only reason I can see is you prefer the camaraderie with him than making money and completely do your own thing.


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Old 01-07-2020, 05:21 PM   #10
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I agree I don't get it, you turn away business to stay with the guy? The only reason I can see is you prefer the camaraderie with him than making money and completely do your own thing.


.
Strange strategy for sure. He can and does refer me for drains all the time, but working with him at his customers homes on his jobs just secures my referral, I get to meet and know the customer and vice versa.

I have loyalty to him simply for what heís done for me. Iíve run two small plumbing companies in the past, but thatís not all you need to run your own business. Iíve learned a lot from him, and his days in the field are limited. Without going into detail, he might be able to get out of the field by spring/early summer.

We also work both our companies together. Tomorrow I have a main to cable and video. First we have a leaky pipe in a crawl, look at a house, then my job. I just load my equipment on his truck and he drives me to my job.

Itís when we have a whole house rough that messes with my jobs, or a ton of other jobs....
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