Friday, December 2, 2016

Time Doesn’t Fix Fires…..It Only Fuels Them!



Mrs. Smith just called and is very unhappy with the service your company provided.
She asked for the owner but you told your Customer Service Rep you were “unavailable” but you would get back to Misses Smith tomorrow after you spoke with the Technician.

Several days pass and the note about Mrs. Smith’s problem is now way down in the “to do” pile. Several more days pass and since you have not heard from Mrs. Smith, you decide to pitch the note. Guess what, Mrs. Smith has not forgotten about her problem. In fact she is seething mad! She may not be a computer genius but she can find several review sites to express her dismay! You may be total unaware of the posts but other customers and potential customers are reading her blasts at your company. Do you think they are going to totally dismiss her comments? Probably not!

Unattended Camp Fires Result in Forest Fires
Why isn’t the phone ringing? When homeowners or business owners look for a contractor, they check the review for your company. With many options for them to choose from, why would they choose a company with less than stellar ratings? You don’t have that! Oh, Misses Smith isn’t the first to have and issue with your company and she won’t be the last (if you are still in business). Every company has customer issues from time to time. It’s how quickly and efficiently you handle those complaints that matter to your customers. Most customers can see through an illegitimate complaint posted by an unreasonable customer. But you must take each and every complaint seriously, expeditiously, and effectively. Every customer concern requires action and often a written response by the company.

Are You Contagious?
Ignoring customer Concerns is Contagious

What you do as a business owner is highly contagious!  If you elect to ignore the concerns of your customers, so will your employees. You keep asking why the phone isn’t ringing with service calls. You really know the answer, you are afraid to admit your short coming in responding to the customer. Well, it’s a good time to make a 2017 resolution to without hesitation, take care of the customer!

 Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to grow and prosper. 

Mystery of the Toilet


Our daughter, Melissa and Son-in-law, Kevin recently moved into their new home near Orlando. The house is about 3 years old and was a short sale. The previous owners moved out about a month before Melissa and Kevin closed and moved in. It is a larger home since they have 4 children and need some space of everyone.
Lynn and I are in Florida for the fall months. Since we could not move into the home we are staying in for several days, we bunked in with Melissa and Kevin and the 4 grandchildren. I noticed that the toilet in the main bath did not flush properly. Of course being a plumber that was not something that could go unfixed! And as a guy who likes tools and working with my hands, I brought my trusty tool bag properly outfitted with us to Florida. I was fairly certain that one of the grandkids or a child of the previous owner had dropped something into the toilet that should not have been deposited there.
It was Monday morning and the two grandsons left for school thus removing some of the chaos of four kids wanting to know what Grandpa is doing. The toilet was a builder’s model but the other similar toilets in the house flushed well so I was sure I would find a comb, a toy, a jar lid, or some other item in the trap-way of the toilet. I did not have a toilet auger with me (they don’t fit well in a tool bag), so I removed the tank from the toilet and pulled the bowl.
This is where it gets interesting and my point of the story. I gently place the bowl into the bathtub on a rubber mat so I can check the closet bend for the “object”. There is no “object” but there is standing water at the bottom of the closet bend. I immediately thought that the “object” has gotten lodged in the lateral piping from the closet bend to the stack. I stopped and unfroze my brain and evaluated the issue. The trap-way is the smallest diameter of the water and waste pathway so an “object” logically would not make it into the lateral without continuing on its path through the system. My next thought was some sort of construction debris, a rag, a chunk of a 2x4 or something similar was the culprit. But then my brain got into gear and said to me that it would not just be a slow partial flush as the toilet was operating, but a total blockage and a potential overflow of the toilet, which did not occur. Also the water remained in the lateral at the bottom of the closet bend even after several minutes. Being a well-trained Master Plumber for over 35 years, I remembered the basics of plumbing. Hot is on the left, “stuff” flows downhill and payday is Friday. The lateral must be going uphill!
I removed the screws holding the closet flange to the floor and tried to pry up the piping. If it didn’t work, I would need to open the living room ceiling to make a repair and that was not my first choice of solutions. Slowly the PVC closet riser came up but the water was not leaving. I decided that I would continue to pry it up since there was not much to lose. If the line broke or a joint broke that wouldn’t be an issue since I would need to open the ceiling for a repair anyway. The pipe kept coming up. The water began to drain. I continued to pry it up. At four and ½ inches, the water finally drained out completely. Having cleared hundreds of plugged or partially plugged toilets over the years, I had never seen this problem before.
What do I do now? Thinking about the alternatives of opening the ceiling to provide support for the lateral or just cut the riser down and glue a new flange on to the riser to support the lateral, I decided to just depend on the closet flange to hold up the piping. Not the way I would do it if I have access to the lateral piping, but with a substantial gluing surface on the flange I used, I was counting on the flange glue joint to support the piping. With everything put back together, the toilet now flushes perfectly for a builder’s model.
But how did this happen? The installing plumber didn’t support the lateral properly and the finish plumber didn’t test flush the toilet to assure that it was working properly. Perhaps a carpenter or the tile man pushed down the riser and broke the hangers. In any event, the details of a job are as important as the core task of the job. Be sure to remind your technicians of the importance of details especially testing of the finished job whether plumbing, HVAC, or electrical. They too may find a unique problem!