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.

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!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Biking for Water!

Saturday Training Ride
Water is life…and hundreds of millions of people around the world are suffering today because they do not have access to clean water. Hope Water Project is committed to providing clean water by partnering with communities and drilling deep water wells in some of the world’s neediest areas. Our current project is to provide 1,000 new water wells for the Pokot tribe in northwestern Kenya.

As you may know I have been an active participant in raising funds for Hope Water Project ( ). I have run 2 half marathons as fund raisers over the past 2 years. On August 21st, I am attempting to complete the Assenmacher 100 mile bicycle ride. I have not been a long distance bike rider in the past. Lynn and I have just done some 10 -15 mile rides here in Michigan and in Florida for pleasure. The training is challenging and kicking my butt! That’s a biking joke! Fortunately, we conveniently live right off Hines Drive where I have been doing most of my training.

I am asking you to team up with me and Hope Water Project to partially fund drilling a well for fresh water in Africa for a tribe of people who have never had access to water that is clear, sanitary, and disease free. I am asking that you donate, it is a tax deductible contribution, and you will know exactly what it will accomplish. Here is a link to video that shows what Hope Water is working to provide And over 85% of all money raised goes directly into drilling and installing new wells.

Here is the process:
Click on: Donate tab and scroll down
Select:  Assenmacher 100
Select: Kensington Church
You will see some pictures of participants. If you don’t see me, click on: Show All or Show More tabs at the bottom of the pictures displayed.
Make your donation.

If you have other great causes you support and are unable to provide financial support to Hope Water, I understand. But if you have been Blessed this year and can help, I Thank You!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Are you the same person you were as the New Year started a WHOLE year ago, but you WANTED to change?

Let’s talk a little about that issue. Same old, same old, different day! I’ll bet the year flew by and you ran out of time to make the changes to your life to become “who you wanted to become.” Life moves quickly, daily emergencies come up; insignificant tasks are on your lists, others use up your time and on it goes until the day is over. Then the week is over, then the month is over, and finally it’s a new year and you haven’t become “who you wanted to become.”
As a businessman, you have a list of things you need to accomplish each day you arrive at your business. That list could be on paper, on your cell phone, on your computer, in your head, or in a planner. Of course the list is long and daily you have a number of items you just don’t get to start or finish. Those items seem to keep rolling forward to the next day, the next week, or the next month. These often are the things we need to be doing to become “who you want to become.”

You also have a calendar with things scheduled for certain datesand times.These could be meetings, seminars, conventions, vacation, kid’s ball games, a social event or perhaps a golf outing. Most of these are based on outside influences and demands. When you take a close look at your calendar, you find that there is little or no time left for “who you wanted to become.”

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right."
Henry Ford

Schedule less about what to get done than who you want to become!
To become “who you want to become”, requires a commitment of time, energy and perhaps money. Let’s look at a couple of possible examples. We’ll look at a business related scenario and a personal related scenario.

You would like to grow your business but since you came up as a Technician, you really don’t really understanding of the financial side of your business. You have said you need to do something about that but another year has gone by and you’re not making any more that you did when you worked for someone else. Then another year goes by and the same thing all over again! Time for a timeout! Time to put a couple of hours aside (your business won’t fail if you do this). You need to analyze the options. You could go a local junior college and take classes in finance and accounting. You could take some online classes in finance and accounting. This is not the best option since it’s too easy to sluff it off and never get the financial understanding you need to improve your business. You could hire a business coach to work with you in your business and teach you the fundamentals of finance and accounting. These are just a couple of options. Surely there are more.

Now comes the hard part. You must change your life in some way to accomplish this goal no matter which choice you make to move forward. To truly become “who you want to become” you will need to put a much higher priority on understanding the financial side of your business than you might have in the past. If you take classes at a junior college, you will need to attend the classes (time), do the studying and assignments (energy), and pay for the classes (money). The same would apply if you took online classes with the exception that it would require a lot more energy to learn what is needed that a classroom setting. If you hired a business coach, time, energy and a lot more money would be involved to get the understanding that you need. The upside is there would be someone right there with you as problems and concerns arose. Change is required to become “who you want to become.”

There is one more issue to keep in mind and that is balance in your life. You still need time, energy and money for your personal life of family, friends, home, and recreation.

You enjoy playing golf with some friends and you’re able to play 9 holes 2-3 times a month with
them. Your handicap is 25 and has been for years. In fact a couple of years ago it was 23 so you have slipped a little. Some weekends you’re able to watch an hour or so of the PGA Pros play and deep down you would like to play more like them. You realize you’re a contractor and not a golf pro but a score in the low to mid 80’s would be a dream for you. For this dream to come true, you would need to commit a heck of a lot more time, energy and money to achieve that dream!

This will require ongoing lessons and coaching for as long as several years to change your game on a consistent basis. This is a real money, energy and time commitment. It would also require hours and hours at the driving range to practice what you have been taught, more time energy and money. And it will also require playing much more frequently to maintain the consistency and feel to shoot the lower scores and become “who you want to become.”

Here also there is another issue to keep in mind and that is balance in your life. You still need time, energy and money for your personal life of family, friends, home, recreation and your business. 

It's a New Year

So as we start a new year, are you going to become “who you want to become” or are you going to repeat last year and the year before and the year before that? You decide!

 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. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Until You.......

Yes You
Until you as a business owner decide to change and improve the performance of your company, profitability won’t change.
Until you decide to improve the look of your business and your Technicians, your company will still look like amateurs rather than pros.
Until you begin to understand the financial side of your business, you will continue to operate like a “Ma & Pa” operation rather than a business.
Until you understand that an employee won’t always do the way you would do it, you will micro-manage every phase of your business and limit it’s potential.
Until you expect and strive for the very best customer experience, you will just be another contractor, not memorable to your customer, not recommended by your customer if they even remain as a customer.
Until you enforce your company standards, you will have none.
Until you look at your employees as customers who deserve the best customer service, you will only attract mediocre employees.
Until you improve your marketing, you can expect that you won’t attract large numbers of new customers.
Until you have menu pricing (flat rate) and keep it current, you can expect customer complaints and low profits.
Until you plan and put aside money for retirement, you will be working until you die.
Until you train you Technicians, you can expect other companies to take you customers with better knowledge and better customer service.
Until you set goals, your future will drift like a ship without a rudder.
Until you check costs in each part of your business, you will loss profit by over paying to that friendly salesman.
Until you have your call takers use a script and check on 
them, you will loss opportunities to other contractors.

Until you work with a consultant or a contractor group, you will not grow in knowledge and learn from other’s experiences.
Until you set financial controls in your business, you open your business to employee thief and dishonesty.
Until you decide to change, your business is falling behind and will eventually fail!

Need help with change? Give me a call or email me, I can help if you are ready for cultural change.

You can get more information at our website 

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. Contact him at

Also check out these Posts:

Minor Leaguers

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Are You a Half-Hearted Kamikaze Revisited?

Why Update

Bergstrom - Elder Consulting GroupI find this trait so prevalent in small business today I see the need to write about it again with updates since I wrote about it in 2012. A lot has added to the causes of this disease that has infected small business owners.

A quick review of the term “Half-Hearted Kamikaze”

 It came from Tim Elmore a Christian Pastor and Speaker. I think it is relevant in today’s service business. First let’s look a definition of Kamikaze. As Tim Elmore puts it,” A Kamikaze is someone who (whether for good or evil) puts everything into one purpose.” Wikipedia defines the Kamikaze, literally: "God wind"; common translation: "Divine wind", where suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II. These attacks were designed to destroy warships more effectively than was possible with conventional attacks. Numbers quoted vary, but at least 47 Allied vessels, from PT boats to escort carriers, were sunk by kamikaze attacks, and about 300 damaged. About 14% of kamikaze attacks managed to hit a ship.

The Business Definition

So what is a Half-Hearted Kamikaze? My definition as relating to business is a service business owner who talks the story of improvement, change, and full commitment but does not consistently strive to achieve the goal of an extremely successful business with time for the owner to enjoy life.

BEC Group

So why are so many service business owners half-hearted?

My observations of dozens and dozens of service businesses demonstrate several reasons.
1.             They may great technicians but they are not knowledgeable business owners.
2.              Another reason is the owner just does not have the drive to take the business to success but is satisfied with a paycheck equal or less than they could make as a technician for a successful company. Perhaps their spouse works and provides the additional income and benefits for the family.
3.             Often an owner enjoy technical side of the business so much they shy away from the hard decisions, the “books”, margins, waste, and the changes needed to more the business to the next level. Not necessarily larger but more profitable.
4.             A recent trend I am seeing is business owners dealing with technology. They either get so involved in technology that they forget about the fundamentals of operating a successful business or they fail to grasp the opportunities that newer technologies offer to improve the fundamentals of a business.
5.             Also a recent issue is the red tape and regulations imposed by the government that stifle success these include regulations that do not make sense for a small business, burdensome paperwork, poorly trained inspectors, codes that change often, codes that do work for existing structures, laws that vary city to city, and of course government involvement in employee benefits.
6.             The last one I’m going to mention is marketing. A business owner can no longer rely on a simple “Yellow Pages” display ad to generate business. With websites, social sites, third
party advertising, customer online reviews, mobile marketing, and dozens of other newer marketing places and technics, the business owner is lost so they often give up.

The Consequences

The owner probably has little or no retirement fund when he retires. He may take cash under the table thus compromising his integrity. His business may be supported by his vendors who provide credit too easily. He owes more than the business is worth. He may have stress related illnesses such as heart trouble, high blood pressure, diabetes or another health issue. He retires to a life much less than a business owner deserves, if he is able to retire. Perhaps he works at a big box store like Walmart or Home Depot instead of enjoying retirement, hobbies, and the grandkids.

So what’s the answer?

Either become fully engaged or work for someone who is and avoid the downside of being half-hearted. Today there are dozens of ways to beat the half-hearted disease. Contact me if you would like to discuss this more and move your business forward.

Don't be a Half-Hearted Kamikaze, make the decision today!

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. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I had a Heart attack!

Here is the story in his own words of a young Technician who had a heart attack. Our safety and health training helped him survive and act quickly to prevent severe damage to his heart.

Bergstrom - Elder Consulting Health and Safety Training

Page 2
Need Health and Safety Training for you and your staff? Contact us!

You can get more information at our website, 

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. Contact him at

Also check out these Posts:

Minor Leaguers

Spring Training

If People are Sleeping...