Industry Blogs

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT) and the complexities of smart home appliances and products. However, it’s never too late to educate yourself on the smart HVAC features and products that are sought by today’s customers. Before the dawn of the smart age, HVAC controls were synonymous with Read more

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT) and the complexities of smart home appliances and products. However, it’s never too late to educate yourself on the smart HVAC features and products that are sought by today’s customers.

Before the dawn of the smart age, HVAC controls were synonymous with a simple thermostat that provided comfort from a system designed to focus only on heating or cooling a space. Functionality and practicality were the most vital roles of an HVAC system. With the increased role that technology plays in our daily lives, a lot has changed.

It’s no secret that smart home technology has reshaped the way consumers interact with their homes on a day-to-day basis. Now more than ever, consumers demand the ability to change their home’s climate with the push of a button or a simple voice command – without ever touching the thermostat and from anywhere, whether sitting on a couch or away on vacation. The focus has gone from practicality to the accessibility and convenience that come with an integrated smart HVAC system. Simply put, consumers demand more from their HVAC systems.

Considering this smart home revolution, technology advancements have allowed for HVAC systems to evolve faster than can be absorbed by those in the field who must explain the functionality of the systems they are selling.  How can one fully learn and understand the value of today’s smart HVAC?  Dedicated time to learn about this rising tide of technology is important, but equally as helpful is to install and use similar HVAC-connected smart products within your own home. First-hand experience and determining how it can benefit your life will simplify explaining the value proposition to customers.

While the smart home revolution has markedly changed the products, services, and accessibility HVAC dealers can offer, making the sale comes back to the homeowner’s perceived financial outlay and return on investment. Knowing how to explain the value in energy savings and diagnostic capabilities throughout the life of the product can help make the case for the more costly, higher efficiency system.  Similarly helping consumers understand the value of convenience from a connected systems, such as voice interactions through Alexa, or even Geofence-based set points through the app, are paramount to moving customers up to a connected system.

It also provides an avenue to become a trusted advisor for your customers while building lifelong relationships for not only yourself, but also for the brands you’re selling.  While a robust consumer value proposition is key to making the initial sale, the long term value to a contractor of a connected customer is even more impactful. Using remote diagnostic capabilities, servicing dealers can better maintain the customer relationship over time, deliver more efficient service when required, and be in the best position for a proactive replacement at the end of the product lifecycle.

By being transparent and showcasing factors such as energy savings, user experience, cross-device capabilities, etc. dealers can leverage the smart home revolution to position themselves as knowledgeable and trustworthy.

Because smart home technology has reshaped the way HVAC systems are viewed within the greater home ecosystem, it should be noted that not everyone (or every home) is right for a smart HVAC installation. Consumers often do their own research before consulting dealers about whether a technologically advanced HVAC system is right for their home. In the end, an educated consumer can be the best barometer for whether upgrading to a smart HVAC system makes the most sense.

George Land, Connected Home Solutions General Manager for Ingersoll Rand Residential HVAC

Why You NEED Marketing to Generate Plumbing Leads, Doug Stine, Stine-Nichols Plumbing, plumbing, marketing

Marketing is everywhere. When you’re scrolling your Facebook feed, there are companies marketing their products to you based on your search history. When you’re driving down the interstate, companies are taking a broader approach by putting their offer on a billboard. Simply put, if you’re not allocating part of your budget to marketing each year Read more

Marketing is everywhere. When you’re scrolling your Facebook feed, there are companies marketing their products to you based on your search history. When you’re driving down the interstate, companies are taking a broader approach by putting their offer on a billboard. Simply put, if you’re not allocating part of your budget to marketing each year, then you’ll quickly get passed by. No matter how amazing you are at your craft, it will happen!

Why You NEED Marketing to Generate Plumbing Leads, Doug Stine, Stine-Nichols Plumbing, plumbing, marketingTo introduce myself, my name is Doug Stine, Stine-Nichols Plumbing, North Kansas City, Mo., and I’ve been in the plumbing industry for more than 40 years. Throughout that time span, I’ve seen the industry change course a number of times. From adapting to new plumbing technology to making the transition from employee to business owner, there’s certainly been a fair share of adjusting. Going hand-in-hand with this, I always like to share this quote with colleagues and friends. ​“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” This comes from one of the leading thinkers in the management world, W. Edwards Deming.​ ​In nearly every industry (plumbing included), not that many companies survive long term. A huge part of this is directly correlated with willingness to adapt to change. Even within your own business, you’ll notice certain employees shy away from change. They’re used to doing things one way and are hesitant to disrupt their daily routine. In the end, it isn’t easy to change, but it’s mandatory to truly survive and thrive as a business.

In this article, I wanted to discuss why you’ll need to be top-notch on your marketing to maintain your market share of new leads. For some, making this transition might be a major adjustment. Just remember, if you don’t adapt now, the gap is just going to get bigger between you and your competitors. So, without further ado, let’s look into a few main reasons as to why marketing will help you generate new leads and grow your brand!

Everyone is There

If all of your potential customers are on social media, don’t you think you should be too? Well, the answer to this question is short and sweet: of course, you should! Referrals are huge in plenty of businesses. In fact, I’ll go into the topic of reviews later on to give you a hint at that. However, you can’t rely on referrals to be your only source of new business. Eventually, you’ll spend your days cold-calling old clients to see if they know anyone that needs plumbing help. And in an industry that has projects typically pop up out of the blue, this isn’t going to be too fun of a process? (Not to mention the fact that you may get some annoyed former clients!)

Why You NEED Marketing to Generate Plumbing Leads, Doug Stine, Stine-Nichols Plumbing, plumbing, marketing

You need to tap into another avenue to generate some leads. Lucky for you, there’s plenty of them waiting on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. With this, we have a couple tips: ​(1) Don’t just post to post​. Consistent content is critical. You have to post relevant content to keep your audience engaged. However, once you start posting just to hit a certain number of posts for the week, you start losing your audience. Keep it plumbing focused, but at the same time there’s a happy medium in making it fun and relevant material. ​(2) Paid ads can work​. Most people are under the impression that plumbing is tough for which to market. Not true! If you don’t believe me, take a look at your top competitors. Are they posting regularly? Maybe (if they’re big enough) they are even running commercials on TV? Well, if this tells you anything, it should be that they are spending money. Remember the old adage: you have to spend money to make money? If you don’t already know it, this saying is without a doubt applicable in running a small business!

Only Way to Scale

No matter what industry you’re in, every small business owner starts out by wanting to grow their business as big as possible. You have big dreams of expanding your team, being an industry leader and ultimately making more money on your bottom line. Scaling a business like this requires you to be able to acquire new customers and then do a satisfactory job with those clients. In most cases, this two-step approach encompasses the entire production side of a plumbing business. So, you’ve got the technician part of the puzzle complete (assuming you’re a trained plumber and have experienced professionals on your team), now you just need to keep new prospects walking through your door. The only way to keep a constant flow of leads is through marketing. Social media management, SEO strategies (both local and general), web design, and so on. All of these hold the keys to scaling your brand!

Makes Your Life Easier

Personally speaking, one of the most stressful aspects of running your own business is all the many financial factors. Particularly in a small business, chances are you’re wearing many hats. On top of managing everything, in the back of your head, you’re thinking about whether or not you have money to make payroll on Friday. When a truck goes down, you’re thinking about how to get it fixed asap to keep your team rolling, while not breaking the bank to get it repaired. Simply put, it can be a lot! Perhaps, nothing can be more stressful than getting to the point where you only have a handful of new jobs on your project queue. You can be the best boss in the world, but if there are no leads coming in, your employees are going to have to leave (and probably go to one of your local competitors). An effective marketing strategy can put this to rest easily.

Reviews are Everything

Take a look at the Google listing for some of the top plumbing companies in your area. Now look at how many reviews they have. I’m guessing they all have at least a couple hundred. Obviously, some of the newer companies are still building up their portfolio, but for the most part, all the established businesses are going to have plenty of reviews to back up their stellar work.

Customer testimonials represent a wing of marketing called “Reputation Management.” Essentially, this shows the public that you’re a reputable business. You know what you’re doing and your past clients will vouch for your professionalism. For smaller everyday plumbing jobs, potential customers are going to want a business that shows up on-time, fixes the problem correctly the first time, and doesn’t charge an outlandish amount of money to do so. Reviews are your way to prove that you’ll do just that.

Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource

For the past 40+ years, I’ve been a plumber and for part of that time, owned my own plumbing company. I’ve seen everything from flooded basements, water main breaks, you name it. Ultimately, I feel fairly confident saying that I’ve nearly seen it all when it comes to plumbing and know how to troubleshoot through new situations. To be completely honest with you though, I would not say I’m an expert marketer. Nor after 40 years in the plumbing industry do I want to become one. With that said, I’ve quickly found the benefit in outsourcing tasks that you’re either not trained to complete or ones that you simply don’t have time to do.

If I can offer you one piece of actionable advice, it’s to focus your time and energy on what you’re best at. This piece of advice is something that’ll allow you to grow your business and essentially become more profitable!

Any Questions?

I’d like to thank the team at Mechanical Hub for allowing me to do this guest blog post on how marketing affects plumbing. Running a small business is certainly no walk in the park. However, having the lead generation process under control can definitely make it a little less-stressful. If you have any questions about marketing, feel free to reach out to me through ​our Facebook page​ or email dstine@stinenichols.com​. If I can’t answer it, I’ll have someone from our marketing team help you out!

The difference between cast iron soil pipe and plastic is easily understood when it comes to sound. Cast iron drain waste and vent pipe systems are superior when it comes to sound attenuation. For commercial office buildings, hospitals, high-rise condominiums or high-end hotels, no one wants to listen to the flowing of fluids when a Read more

The difference between cast iron soil pipe and plastic is easily understood when it comes to sound. Cast iron drain waste and vent pipe systems are superior when it comes to sound attenuation. For commercial office buildings, hospitals, high-rise condominiums or high-end hotels, no one wants to listen to the flowing of fluids when a toilet is flushed from the floor above.

Specifying cast iron for waste piping provides a plumbing system that is up to 11 times quieter than an all-plastic system. This is how it got its name – the Quiet Pipe®.

A primary factor in cast iron’s sound-dampening quality is its microstructure. Graphite flakes absorb and dampen vibration applied to the iron. The microstructure isn’t the only advantage when it comes to noise.

Cast iron installation plays a primary role in sound attenuation. The use of neoprene rubber gaskets to join sections of cast iron pipe provides additional sound dampening. Sections of pipe do not touch as the rubber gasket creates a buffer, and so contact-related sound is eliminated. In contrast, plastic systems are installed as rigid systems that are solvent cemented. Noise is created as the rigid system expands and contracts with heating and cooling.

A frequently used tactic attempts to create a solid barrier between the pipe and the wall: wrapping plastic pipe in insulation to muffle the sound of rushing water and fluids through pipes. An insulated plastic pipe, however, can be sound-enhancing rather than sound-deadening. The “fix” results in additional installation costs incurred for both product and labor.

Specify cast iron soil pipe and enjoy the benefits of the Quiet Pipe®.

Check out cast iron soil pipe’s other benefits.

Dave Parney is the Executive Vice President of the Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute (CISPI) and a former Master Plumber in the Chicago area.

 

One of the things that keeps contractors up at night is worrying about where their next qualified hire is going to come from. The shortage of skilled workers in the trades is severe and getting worse. Seventy percent of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding qualified workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of Read more

One of the things that keeps contractors up at night is worrying about where their next qualified hire is going to come from.

The shortage of skilled workers in the trades is severe and getting worse. Seventy percent of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding qualified workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

And if Congress ever does approve a much-needed infrastructure package, the need will be even greater.

We in the trades can hope parents will stop pushing the necessity of a four-year degree to every child, regardless of interest or qualifications, but there are more practical measures we can take in the meantime.

Last year, Viega LLC launched the Viega Trades Education Network (VTEN) to boost the ranks and skills of students studying the design, installation and function of plumbing and hydronic systems. Viega is partnering with trade schools, community colleges and the UA in the United States and Canada to subsidize and provide training on mechanical systems.

VTEN is about providing a better education for those already enrolled and supporting the schools and instructors that are training the next generation of workers. Like all educational institutions, these schools don’t have the budgets and resources to deliver everything they’d like to give their students.

As members of VTEN, schools get comprehensive curriculum modules that easily integrate into existing programs. The modules include Hydronics 101, Piping & Controls, Radiant Design, Trades Math, Blueprint Reading, CAD and BIM, and more. In addition, Viega provides functional demonstration units supported by lesson plans and projects and a complete tooling package.

Educators receive admission to an annual VTEN conference in Colorado or New Hampshire, including hotel, airfare, food and admission; Viega and direct vendor support of BlueVolt® eLearning platform; hands-on tool demonstrations and LoopCAD® license options and instructor training.

The LoopCAD package includes on-site orientation to the network and a Zoning Demonstration Board and Mixing Demonstration Board to give students hands-on experience in troubleshooting systems.

And, of course, VTEN offers credentialed classes for Viega products, including ProPress® and MegaPress®.

But the program doesn’t stop there. Schools also receive a RIDGID®  RP-340 tool or Milwaukee M18® Force Logic Press Tool with a set of jaws for metal and PEX, as well as samples of various types of pipe and couplings for each student.

The first students in VTEN will graduate soon and we welcome them to the ranks of the trades. We invite other companies to follow suit and join us in building the workforce of the future.

Lino Santoro is Viega Trades Education Network (VTEN) Manager. 

We are approaching the end of the 2018-2019 heating season in North America, although homeowners in the colder northern sections of the United States and throughout Canada will likely need their heating systems for another two, maybe even three months. As you know, our long cold seasons can take a heavy toll on hydronic heating Read more

We are approaching the end of the 2018-2019 heating season in North America, although homeowners in the colder northern sections of the United States and throughout Canada will likely need their heating systems for another two, maybe even three months. As you know, our long cold seasons can take a heavy toll on hydronic heating systems. Here’s a rundown on some of the more common boiler and component problems facing home and business owners and what can be done to remedy them.


Radiator cold spots

If your home’s or business’s radiators are not uniformly hot throughout, the following could be the culprit:

  • air in the piping and components;
  • a malfunctioning component or part, such as a circulator or a valve; and, finally, our “favorite” villain —
  • rusty or corroding system pipes that ultimately fill the radiators with magnetite.

What is magnetite? As air and water mix inside the pipes of an untreated hydronic heating system, an iron oxide sludge, called magnetite, forms. As these small (.0003-micron) particles circulate and accumulate inside the system, they begin to adversely affect heat-transfer rates and boiler efficiency. Eventually, iron oxide buildup can lead to equipment damage and/or failure, resulting in costly repairs. Just how extensive is this problem? A recent study analyzing returns to European pump manufacturers found that nearly 70 percent of circulator returns consisted of failures triggered by iron-oxide buildup. The study also showed that more than 95 percent of the debris in hydronic heating systems consists of iron oxide*.

The fix? To eliminate air in the system, first try bleeding your radiators. But if the cold-spot problems persist, bring in a professional plumbing and heating contractor to:

  • conduct a full system inspection;
  • upgrade failing parts;
  • fully cleanse the system with a magnetic dirt filter, as well as a chemical cleaner, such. This maintenance should remove not only the rust, but also all the other debris.

Noisy system

Maybe your boiler rattles every time it rolls into action. Maybe you are routinely treated to a chorus of bangs, gurgles, whistles and rumbles from elsewhere in the system. Regardless, such noise goes beyond mere annoyance; it might indicate more serious problems. Once again, air as well as a buildup of limescale are the most common culprits.

The fix? To eliminate the pipe noise, get rid of any trapped air by bleeding your radiators. If that doesn’t work, call a professional to flush the entire system of limescale and air. If the noise originates in your boiler, your service technician will work to remove limescale in the heat exchanger.


Leaks and drips

Water leakage from your boiler is never a good sign. Leakage usually means a breakdown is imminent. It’s a simple problem to spot. Is there any water beneath the boiler or around its pipes and tank? Causes can range from broken parts to corroded pipes.

The fix? Whether the problem stems from a damaged component or simple wear and tear, there’s only one answer for leaks and drips: Call a professional to check your boiler.

On the subject of leaks, it is often questioned whether cleaning chemicals cause leaks within hydronic systems. The answer to this is — no, if, of course, you are using correctly formulated chemicals, which includes surfactants, dispersants, and inhibitors that make it pH neutral. The surfactants and dispersants help dislodge, lift and move the corrosion, while the inhibitors protect the vulnerable metals during cleaning.


Complete protection

The rising popularity of high-efficiency boilers and the increased use of high-efficiency ECN (electronically commutated motors) pumps with these boilers, have helped lower fuel bills. That’s the good news. The downside: both of these positive trends can also create system-performance headaches for home and business owners. We will explore the why behind these problems in a future blog. For now, understand that both trends can lead to premature system and component failure because of the buildup of iron oxide sludge (magnetite) and other nonmagnetic debris. Both can rob hydronic heating systems of their high efficiency and superior performance.

The solution is magnetic dirt filtration, along with regular and proper system cleansing and protection. This is the only way to prevent the buildup of magnetite and the costly problems it can cause.

GUEST BLOGGER:  Brian Salem, ADEY Western/Central North America area sales manager.

Growing up in his Dad’s plumbing company, Brian has a wealth of experience within the HVAC/P industry. Professionally, Brian has been in the industry since 2004 and joined ADEY in 2017 – his role began as OEM Manager for North America but due to ADEY’s growing network of North American Reps, Brian has now taken the reigns as ADEY’s Western/Central North America Area Sales Manager. Brian Salem: brian.salem@adey.com, (847) 440-6665