A Review of the self proclaimed World's Greatest Plumber

photo by laffy4k 

The weather here in Kansas City can run to extremes, and we’ve seen the rainy, stormy extreme here in the last couple of weeks.  As I’m sure many others have been doing, I ended up needing a plumber…quickly and we luckily found a quality business to help us.

Water can be a real mess

I’ve become a lot more informed about water disasters since I started working with Margaret Tyler of Puroclean as a client of mine.  Her company does a great job cleaning up and restoring after those kinds of disasters, but as much as I like to work with my clients, I would really prefer to avoid a water disaster if I can.

Which is why I was pretty concerned yesterday afternoon when I realized my sump pump had died while we had been out on vacation.  Luckily it must have died after keeping the earlier big rains out – but the forecast for last night was ominous and we were without pump.

Time to call the plumber

Plumbing and Puroclean share a similar business problem in that people are rarely going to call them until things have hit the fan and there’s some sort of urgency / emergency.  This presents some unique marketing challenges – the most likely outcome is to either be referred or to be top of mind and easily found (online, yellow pages, etc.).

We started with a referral to a recommended plumber, but although they were very professional and helpful, they were backed up and couldn’t do anything until at least tomorrow.

That led us to top of mind.  If you live in Kansas City, you can’t help but hear the ads for Bob Hamiliton plumbing (heating and AC).  Although the ads are annoying, I will say they are effective in terms of being memorable and clear to the point.  After a quick look online, we gave them a call.

A professional and well organized experience

I should preface this by saying I don’t know anyone at Bob Hamilton, I’ve never worked with them before and I really didn’t have any strong expectations (other than the plumbing industry generally doesn’t rate well (in my experience) in terms of timeliness and follow-through.

The phone was answered quickly and professionally, asking how they could help us.

After a brief description on my part, they agreed that it was likely a burnt out sump pump and they could dispatch a plumber to help us today.  They explained the fee structure for the visit and if we chose to use them, the Service Call charge would be waived.  They couldn’t give us an exact time, but they did tell us we would get advance warning with a phone call once a Technician was on their way.

We got a call within 5 minutes of talking to the dispatcher, which certainly exceeded expectations.

The lead technician was Tim Edmondson, along with his associate John.  They brought a rug to the front door and put on shoe covers when they came inside.  Not only were they professional in appearance, they were also friendly and helpful the whole time they were here.

They did a quick assessment on the problem, pulled out an operations manual and explained our options, along with fairly clear cut pricing options depending on what kind of pump we wanted to buy.

They gave us alternatives and a few ways to save off of the list price, but there was no real opportunity to evaluate the cost relative to their time versus the cost of the equipment – it was a fixed price for a solution, which I think is extremely smart on their part.

We went with the recommended solution and they had things fixed and installed in less than an hour.

All in all it was an extremely professional, positive experience and I would strongly recommend Bob Hamilton plumbing based on their actions.

Things that stood out

The overall experience was well orchestrated, but there were a few things that stood out from a business model:

  1. Overall appearance and professionalism – perhaps Tim and John are the exception, but I would guess that they’ve had the opportunity for training on how to present themselves and how to take clients through the process – which leads to the 2nd point…
  2. They had a very well thought out process, including pricing options for all sorts of common jobs they run into.  I imagine they end up doing custom work at times, but I would guess that 80+% of the time they can give a quote up front out of their operations manual.  This really highlights their credibility – not only have they done it before, but they understand what it takes well enough to have a fixed price to do the work.
  3. Delivery of what we needed – I purposely left open the opportunity for them to upsell us on something we didn’t need.  Although they clearly explained alternatives and benefits to the higher end models, once we made it clear what we needed and wanted, they steered us towards a more basic option…because that was all we really needed or wanted!  It sounds simple, but how many times has a salesperson tried to push you into something you didn’t want just because it would generate a bigger commission.

Overall as I mentioned, it was a very positive experience.  I don’t know if we significantly overpaid (I’m sure we paid a little more, but I’m okay with that for superior delivery) but when you are in a time crunched situation, you don’t really have the luxury of price shopping and the reality is that we needed to get a new pump before the rains started last night.

What’s your experience with a plumber or a similar service?  Share it here or ask questions on what we learned.

Shawn Kinkade  www.aspirekc.com