2014 November – December

By Robert Hall There’s no way around it: Running a business in the plumbing industry means a lot of time on the road. You and your personnel drive to and fro between jobs in order to service different locations. On any one day, you may have several plumbers out at the same time, and keeping Read More

By Robert Hall

There’s no way around it: Running a business in the plumbing industry means a lot of time on the road. You and your personnel drive to and fro between jobs in order to service different locations. On any one day, you may have several plumbers out at the same time, and keeping track of everyone’s location and projects can be tough. That’s where GPS comes in. Designed to seamlessly, conveniently track your vehicles’ locations and travel times, a Global Positioning System gives you real-time information on where your plumbers are and when. Consider some of the top benefits that come from GPS tracking for plumbing companies like yours:

Streamlined Travel Times

  • When you’re constantly driving from one job to another the way plumbers do, you can’t afford to waste time getting lost on back roads or turned around in a new area. GPS
    gives you step-by-step directions that ensure services can be provided faster and more efficiently. What’s more, streamlining travel means you can save on wasted fuel costs, too.

Better Appointment Estimates

  • It’s much easier to tell a customer what time a plumber will arrive when you have built-in technology that can pinpoint his or her location at any moment. With GPS, saying, “We’ll be there in 20 minutes,” is a promise you can make with confidence, backed by technology.

Monitored Activity

  • GPS puts you in the know about where your vehicles are at all times. Want to know which plumbers are taking the longest on jobs and which ones are working most quickly? Ready to see firsthand when employees are missing jobs or wasting hours? GPS gives you real-time insight into your plumbing business.

Validated work hours

  • When a client disputes the time spent on a job, GPS gives you a simple, convenient way to prove hours of service. Simply pull up the tracked time that you or one of your service people arrived and left the job site, and you have evidence to back up your work.

Prevention of theft or loss

  • Your vehicles and the assets they carry can be some of your most expensive investments, so finding ways to prevent their theft, loss, or damage is crucial. With GPS you have a built-in way to track your cars or trucks, so that it’s easier than ever to recover vehicles from theft. What’s more, you can see where your vehicles have been and are going, making it easier to track down where damage occurred or the location of a missing vehicle.

The fact is, GPS offers all kinds of benefits to plumbing businesses. From less wasted time on the road to more productive employees to the prevention of vehicle theft, these benefits add up to significant cost savings. This means that GPS is about more than tracking trucks and cars; it’s about boosting your bottom line. By implementing GPS in your company vehicles, you set your business up to be as effective, efficient, and successful as poss

Robert Hall is president of Track Your Truck, a privately held company that provides service businesses with fleet tracking solutions.

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A good trend for Plumbing contractors in 2015 An expected increase in residential and commercial construction in 2015 will be good news for plumbing, heating and HVAC contractors throughout the country. Other positive signals as the New Year gets underway include continuing demand for remodeling projects and technology upgrades, such as energy-efficient HVAC and water-conserving Read More

A good trend for Plumbing contractors in 2015

An expected increase in residential and commercial construction in 2015 will be good news for plumbing, heating and HVAC contractors throughout the country. Other positive signals as the New Year gets underway include continuing demand for remodeling projects and technology upgrades, such as energy-efficient HVAC and water-conserving plumbing systems

“Single-family builders are feeling good,” said David Crowe, chief economist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) at a recent Construction Forecast Webinar. “This is mostly due to significant pent-up demand and steady job and economic growth that will allow trade-up buyers who have delayed home purchases due to job insecurity to enter the marketplace.” Overall, the NAHB is forecasting single-family home production to rise 2.5 percent in 2014 to 637,000 units, increase an additional 26 percent to 802,000 in 2015, and reach 1.1 million units in 2016.

Meanwhile, a growth in rental demand from young Millennials who can’t yet afford to purchase homes will keep the multifamily market moving along. Multifamily starts were projected to increase 15 percent in 2014 to 356,000 units and hold steady in 2014. “Low housing inventory and the sizeable demand for rentals will continue to spur multifamily construction as well as keep rents rising above inflation through next year,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist, National Association of Realtors® (NAR) in a recent forecast.

Digging into the national numbers, Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, noted the housing recovery in 2015 will vary by state and region. “We are getting back to the point where economic conditions are dictating the strength of local housing markets,” said Denk. “It is very clear that those states with higher levels of payroll employment or labor market recovery are associated with healthier housing markets.”

Energy-producing states such as North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, Montana and Wyoming are at the forefront of the housing recovery while Iowa and other farm belt states supported by agricultural commodities are also running above the nationwide average. However, states such as Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Alabama, Rhode Island and New Jersey that are coping with weak labor markets are struggling to get their housing activity back on track.

Housing nationwide bottomed out at an average of 27 percent of normal production in early 2009 and the gradual recovery now underway across the country will bring single-family housing starts to 68 percent of normal by the fourth quarter of 2015 and 90 percent of normal by the end of 2016, Denk added.

 

Commercial projects

The commercial real estate sector is also poised for broad-based growth in 2015, according to projections from consulting firm Deloitte. Improving property performance, a strengthening economy, easy financing, and increased domestic and international investment activity are all positive signals for the contracting trades. “What’s really going to be a driver in 2015 will be the strengthening real estate fundamentals,” said Bob O’Brien, U.S. real estate services leader at Deloitte.

Continued economic momentum in the U.S. should keep commercial real estate activity on firmer footing in the coming year, according to Yun. “Job growth is the catalyst to improved demand for commercial real estate leasing and new construction projects,” he said.

However, Yun added that the global economy is softening, which could impact U.S. markets in the next year. “Although GDP will likely climb to near 3 percent in 2015, the current pace of job growth could slow and ultimately impact commercial real estate activity if sluggishness in the global economy persists,” Yun said.

Turning to the major commercial sectors, Yun made the following projections:

  • Office vacancy rates are forecast to decrease 0.5 percent over the coming year due to job growth exceeding inventory coming onto the market.
  • Improved manufacturing activity should lead to a declining vacancy rate for industrial space (0.4 percent),
  • Retail space is forecast to decline 0.2 percent behind a boost in consumer spending from personal income gains and lower gas prices.
  • “Low housing inventory and the sizeable demand for rentals will continue to spur multifamily construction as well as keep rents rising above inflation through next year,” says Yun.

 

Remodeling sector

Plumbing, heating and HVAC contractors will also find new business opportunities in the remodeling sector in 2015. The NAHB Remodeling Market Index (RMI) matched its all-time high of 57 in the third quarter of 2014. An RMI above 50 indicates that more remodelers report market activity is higher (compared to the prior quarter) than report it is lower.

Overall, residential remodeling activity is expected to rise 2.7 percent in 2015 and an additional 1.3 percent in 2016. “Most remodelers remain confident that the market is improving as home owners undertake renovations, large and small,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Paul Sullivan. “The consistency and longevity of positive RMI readings are in line with the gradual recovery of the housing industry.”

The RMI’s future market conditions index rose to 58 from 56 in the previous quarter. All four of its subcomponents—calls for bids, amount of work committed for the next three months, backlog of jobs and appointments for proposals—increased or remained level with the previous quarter’s reading.

“The major headwind to a stronger recovery is a shortage of qualified labor and subcontractors in some parts of the county, making if difficult for remodelers to employ carpenters and finish projects as quickly and economically as many of their customers expect, added Crowe.

 

An upbeat forecast

Across the nation, contractors will continue to meet the residential and commercial customers’ demands energy-efficient HVAC systems. In many cases, the costs of purchasing a new system can be partially offset by local or state incentives, while lower operating costs translate into ongoing monthly savings for the owner or tenant.

In states and regions where water supplies are limited – including much of the West and Southwest – plumbing contractors may be able to install new fixtures and systems in homes and commercial properties, especially if the owner is planning an addition or remodeling project.

Summing up the outlook for 2015, NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, said, “The markets are recovering at a slow, gradual pace. Continued job creation, economic growth and increasing consumer confidence should help spur pent-up demand for housing.”

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by Jim Hinshaw I was listening to Zig Zigler this week in something called “Automobile University”. That is where you listen to a CD that will improve your mind while driving back and forth to the airport. Zig passed away in 2012, but his thoughts and instructions are timeless and still current. On the CD Read More

by Jim Hinshaw

I was listening to Zig Zigler this week in something called “Automobile University”. That is where you listen to a CD that will improve your mind while driving back and forth to the airport. Zig passed away in 2012, but his thoughts and instructions are timeless and still current.

On the CD, he tells the story of a woman who reaches out to him, saying he is the only one who can help. She is miserable at work, everyone is an idiot and she hates her job and co-workers. So she tells Zig’s secretary she must meet him. He agrees, and on his next trip through her part of the world, he meets her behind the curtain, a few minutes before he is to go on stage to discuss his sales program. She was exasperated and apparently thought she would get a couple of hours of counseling that wasn’t going to happen. Zig is clear with her, he is not a therapist, but he does understand human nature.

So he asks her if she brought a notebook to take notes. She did and Zig responds with “Start taking notes.” She says, “Right now, here, behind the curtain?” He replied, “Yes, now.” He tells her that in 100% of the people he talks to, if you don’t take the first step, you won’t take the second! So she reluctantly pulls out a notebook and starts writing. He asks her to list the positive things about her job. But she says “That’s a short list and I can’t think of one thing.” He keeps on pushing: “Do they pay you regularly?” “Yes.” She says. “Is it a fair wage?” “Actually, above the market for my tasks.” The woman replies. “Do you have an insurance plan?” And again she responds “Yes.” Zig asks her yet another question “How about holiday pay?” And again she says “Yes.” By the time they were done, she had a list of over 20 items that were positive about her job.

Zig tells her to look at that list every morning, to read it out loud, every day, and see what happens. A few months later, she is sitting in the front row of another one of his meetings, smiling big. She tells him that the most wonderful thing happened, those people she works with have changed! She says “They are not so bad afterall, in fact, they are wonderful.”

Zig’s point is simple. When we want to change our spouse, kids, parents, bosses, co-workers, employees, and even our customers, the one who really can affect that change is us! It’s so simple yet profound. We are in charge of everything that happens to us, good and bad. Yes I hear many say “Jim, we can’t control the weather, the economy, and our employee’s actions.” That is correct, but we can control our response to all of those. Did you know that sailors can navigate across the water in a sailboat no matter which way the wind is blowing? To be clear, I am not a sailor. However, if I were on a sailboat, I would want the person sailing it to understand how the wind works, and be able to get to our destination no matter the weather.

So the message is simple but hard to do. When you are faced with a uncooperative person, perhaps one you work for or one that works for you, or if you’re just not happy with your job, plan on concentrating on the positive aspects of the relationship and the work. We all want to blame the economy, the weather, or any other outside force for our trials and tribulations. When has that ever helped? It turns out what we think about becomes the course of our actions, the actions become habits, and the habits become our character, our DNA in a way. The very element that moves us to do what we do.

This became clear to me one evening after we had great family time and shared a couple of birthdays with a huge crab boil. It was not anything specific that happened, but the time I had to reflect on how great it is to have a family that can talk and share feelings together. After dinner, I discussed this with my sons and it became clear that I should share this timeless advice about focusing on the positives. I have no idea what any of you are going through personally, but in the last couple of weeks I have seen multiple requests for prayer from my Facebook connections. Most have been from from family with several about jobs, and employment. So I am sending this out with my thoughts and prayers for your success both in family, work and health to give you encouragemnent. One of the other speakers on my CD is a man named Jim Rohn. He says that evidence has shown that what we think about has more effect on our health than exercise, diet, or even our genes. That’s powerful stuff. So consider an assignment for yourself this week, to dwell on positive things. Anything positive counts and simply stuff those negative thoughts aside by replacing them with positive ones.

And by the way, this is the Christmas season. A perfect way to be positive is to do something special for someone else this season. And better yet if they cannot offer anything in return. Perhaps by visiting a nursing home, calling a loved one miles away, thanking a veteran, or visiting someone in need or a friend at a hospital. If want to see someone light up with joy, surprise them with a hospital visit. You can even visit and bring joy to someone who is without a family to care and love them, especially during Christmas. I have gone into hospitals and asked a nurse, who is lonely this time of year? They will gladly direct you. If you are not able to pray with a patient, you could even simply thank the nurses and doctors you see and let them know you appreciate them. They probably did not want to work on Christmas day, but someone has to. It will be a blessing. Thanks, we will talk later.

FYI – On Zig Ziglar’s web site you can buy yourself or a friend a book.

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The Plumbing Contractors Association hosted their annual South Florida Plumbing and Mechanical Trade Show & EXPO on November 20, 2014, and once again the show was a huge success for both exhibitors and attendees. This year, the number of exhibitors at the show broke an all-time record with over 80 booths for attendees to visit Read More

The Plumbing Contractors Association hosted their annual South Florida Plumbing and Mechanical Trade Show & EXPO on November 20, 2014, and once again the show was a huge success for both exhibitors and attendees. This year, the number of exhibitors at the show broke an all-time record with over 80 booths for attendees to visit. It was a clear sign that the economy is definitely improving and construction is picking up once more in South Florida.

Gloria Salazar, Executive Director of the Plumbing Contractors Association says she spends most of the year planning the show. Her goal is to feature everything at the show a contractor may need in the course of their business that’s easily available from local suppliers up to manufacturers. Most contractors do not have the time to see individual vendors at their place of business or are unable to stay up-to-date with the latest products available but by attending the show, they are able to do all this in one evening. It’s also a great benefit to the exhibitors to be able to meet the decision makers as they canvas the show as opposed to trying to catch them individually at their place of business. Over 3,500 invitations were sent to licensed contractors in southeast Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties producing a spectacular turnout making this the largest plumbing trade show in Florida.

In an interview with Josh Aberman, General Manager of Lehman Pipe and Plumbing Supply said, “I have had the privilege of exhibiting at the show the past 6 years”. He added “Every year this show has gotten much bigger and much better. The exposure we get here is second to none”. New to the show and exhibiting for the first time was Stuart Berke, President of Action Plumbing Supply, who said, “I was impressed with the show. Gloria did an amazing job putting it together and the turnout’s amazing. We were glad to be a part of it”. Other exhibitors also found the show beneficial such as Andy Faza, with MOEN, who said “It’s an excellent show, highly attended, I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in doing business in plumbing and construction in South Florida”. While Jorge Megias, of Viega, said, “I would not miss exhibiting at the show for anything!”

As attendees made their way into the show, they were given the opportunity to view live demonstrations from exhibitors such as Liberty Pumps, Viega, and Milwaukee Tool. Viega, who has a traveling exhibition truck, exhibited their product and gave attendees the opportunity to walk through and view their products. Milwaukee Tool had tables of tools to exhibit giving attendees a great opportunity to compare what is available. SpaWorld, a local manufacture of high-end tubs, brought out a few tubs to exhibit. Growers Equipment had mini bobcats and bulldozers on exhibit. You could even find the Nissan dealer who brought out 3 of their latest commercial vans they say are in high demand by contractors. Many other well known names such as MOEN, Kohler, Grohe, and Delta were also exhibitors.

Attendees such as Manny Alonso, Jr., President of Manny & Lou Plumbing quoted, “I have been attending the show the past 15 years and by far, this year’s show was the best show I have attended so far”. And Joseph Mokher Jr., President of Mokher Plumbing stated “I see the show as very beneficial to business owners such as myself to be able to see the latest products available. The ability to meet face to face with his suppliers is of great benefit”.

Next year’s show is already in the works. Registration will commence January 5, 2015, with the show taking place Thursday, November 19, 2015, at the Miami Airport Convention Center. For more information, you can visit www.pcamiami.com.