The Residential Plumbing Service Industry Is Under Attack

We had pending legislation back in 2013 in Washington State that would have stopped false advertising of plumbing services to the consumer by those that were not licensed but… we never got it passed. The reason it failed was that nobody but the cheaters had any interest in the bill.

Lack of effective plumber license enforcement in Washington State is transforming a skilled licensed trade into a commercial con game costing consumers and skilled craftsmen dearly.

The Issues Affecting Licensed Plumbers and Plumbing Contractors:

1. Unlicensed Plumbers – ineffective enforcement of plumber licensing

2. Fake Plumbing Companies – General Contractors Advertising Plumbing Services

3. The Cost of Advertising – Is incredibly high due to unfair competition from the unlicensed

4. Lack of Consumer Awareness – They don’t know that real plumbers are a licensed trade. (Drain cleaners are not plumbers)

5. Other trades wishing to perform plumbing services – i.e. Builders, General Contractors and the HVAC trades

The plumbing trade is a regulated industry in Washington State. All plumbing work must be performed by those with a certificate of experience; in other words – a license. Over the years there can been a concerted effort by those not in the plumbing trade to violate the law that restricts who may engage in the trade. The attack on the plumber and the plumbing contractor has come from multiple directions.

There is not one enemy of the licensed plumber, but many. The most significant root cause of the plumber license losing credibility and value over the years is the passivity and inattention of the licensed plumber. As a rule, once we have the license in our hand we don’t think much about it other than to complain about the renewal fees or the imposition of the continuing education requirement.

A plumber license represents years of study, certified training and official permission to engage in a regulated profession. The dictionary defines license as “a permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful”. A license excludes others by law.

If enforcement of a law is weak or ineffective – nobody will obey the law.

Today the plumbing industry is under attack from those that wish to be engaged in the business of plumbing without a license. The sad fact is that there hasn’t been much resistance from those of us that are most affected i.e. licensed plumbers, plumbing contractors and homeowners. The plumbing industry has been invaded by anybody that wants to represent themselves as plumbers without the license because nobody has had a keen interest in the enforcement of plumber licensing.

Who is violating licensing laws? Answer: Anybody who wants to…

The following trades and businesses all advertise plumbing services today – effectively violation of existing law:

1. Rooter companies with no licensed plumbers or only a token plumber

2. General contractors advertising plumbing services

3. Plumber trainees that abandon their training and advertise as contractors

4. Handymen with or without contractor registration

5. Fraudulent website plumbing companies with fake registrations

6. HVAC companies advertising water heater sales and installations

7. Water heater companies advertising installation of water heaters

8. Hardware stores offering water heater installations

9. Building maintenance service companies providing plumbing repairs.

10. Retail Stores – Home Depot, Lowe’s

11. Marketing Companies with fake websites selling leads

12. Third Party Referral Services that promote plumbing businesses with no licenses

13. Website re-sellers

14. Amazon is now selling plumbing services on their website (2016)

It is a long list…

As a licensed plumber for over thirty five years, I have to admit that I had no idea how easily my license could become a worthless piece of paper until I saw my phone traffic drop off and customers demanding that we match quotes from unlicensed competitors. I didn’t realize that the value of a license is based solely upon what others think it to be. It’s like money. Money is just a piece of paper with ink on it. It only has value if you and I agree that it has some representative value. A couple of hundred years ago a dollar was a day’s wages. Today a dollar might buy you a day-old doughnut. That dollar bill is only worth what we are willing to trade it for. My father described Italians during the Second World War hauling lira in wheelbarrows to exchange at the bank for a few US dollars.

My fear today is that our plumber licenses will be worthless soon and we won’t even notice until it is too late. The homeowners don’t know that plumbers need licenses so the license is worth nothing to them. The rooter companies advertise plumbing with a contractor registration as cover (anybody can get a contractor registration) – the public assumes a contractor registration is a license. They don’t know the difference because the rooter companies, and others, have aggressively been substituting “plumbing technicians” instead of plumbers for years.

So what is the solution?

Well, I don’t know. It would help if the consumer knew that any plumber they hired needed to have a license in their pocket. It would also be helpful if there was a local business directory that wasn’t full of unlicensed plumbing advertisements.

Luckily, there is a new local directory in Seattle that actually checks the contractor registration before allowing the listing to be published: www.SeattleOnly.com

… It’s a start

The Most Efficient Technology in the Answer Services Industry

What makes a call center so effective? Because they are a company focused solely on providing telephony – it’s essentially the product they sell – they aim to provide the best service possible. To stand out, they make sure they stay abreast of information communication technology. Currently, most call centers implement what is known CTI, or computer telephony integration, a system that uses high-speed internet connections and state-of-the-art server devices to efficiently handle thousands of daily calls.

The Specs

Using CTI is essentially like plugging a phone directly into a computer, and then using it to control everything that you need to do with the call via your computer screen and keyboard. An automated call director (ACD) routs the call to an agent, where it is displayed as information that the representative can respond to. In addition, the CTI is able to combine information from several sources, namely whatever type of media the customer is using – chat, e-mail, fax, video, etc – into one interface. It coordinates the transfer of data between the agent and the customer, and between other agents. It also provides advanced services, such as: allowing the agent to determine when they can receive calls; ability to re-route calls; preview and predictive dialing; etc.

One of the first large and separate ACDs was a modified 5XB switch used by New York Telephone in the early 1970s to distribute calls among hundreds of 4-1-1 information operators.

For large companies, such as one providing answer services, a “third-party” version of CTI is used with a dedicated telephony server. This server allows interaction between a phone network, such as a PBX, and the computer network. Instead of the phone being plugged into the computer, vast numbers of calls are captured in the server and distributed between the stations in the call center. The agent receives the information from the central computer, instead of directly from the call itself, but the interface is basically the same.

A Look in the Past

To help support CTI, most companies use their own private phone network, known as a private branch exchange, or PBX. PBX’s initially became popular when businesses realized they saved money handling their own calls, compared to using the local telephone service. Soon other functions were developed for the PBX, which were not available to the general operator network, including call-forwarding and extension dialing. It was further revolutionized in the 1990’s, as companies began relying on a more efficient process of relaying digital information – the advent of packet switching. Data networking capabilities increased, and with internet providing a way to easily transmit data around the globe, even more possibilities were opened up.

The term PBX has been around from the days when switchboard operators ran company switchboards by hand. Now it refers to any type of complex telephony setup, whether or not they are “private, branches, or exchanging anything.”

A new cousin method was developed, called VoIP (Voice over IP), which is used widely today in call centers. Voice communications are delivered over IP networks, like the internet, instead of using the traditional phone networks like the PSTN. The benefits of using VoIp over PBX include conference calling, automatic redial, and caller ID features – and once again, it reduces the cost because of the way internet usage is billed compared to regular phone calls. These methods are able to support the demands of customer service, and have paved the way for Denver answering service to develop.

Growth of FMS (Facility Management Services) Industry

The Concept of globalization and privatization has forced companies to face keen competition and bring expertise in its own field of work. Thus arises the need of out-sourcing the supportive functions or non-core activities like transportation and house keeping services. Hence, a wide scope to clutch on the new filed of industry and provide specialize services to corporate clients.

How FMS Software does provides full support services to FMS business?

1. FMS companies have clients to endow with services spread over large geographical region. Depending upon the scale of business one carry out, could go unto national level to. As centralizing reporting process is considered to be an vital feature for continues enhancement process and combat intense competition.

2. FMS Software solution which is web-enabled makes the task simplified, Accessible and organized than ever before.

3. Web-Enabled software makes the registering, reporting and analytical process centralize, effective and handy.

An effective tool that can be used in promotional and business development department.

4. Makes house keeping services quicker and provides better communication between clients and house keeping staff at every facility.

5. Permission controlled system maintains transparency within Inc.

SaaS (Software as a Service)
SaaS concept is fast catching up among the SMEs as there is huge potential of reducing cost and risks associated with implementation of any business application.

In SaaS the software is provided as a hosted solution on the internet which has the following advantages

1. Nothing to install and no hardware requirements to keep up with and maintain.

2. Bug fixing and Upgrades are taken care of automatically.

3. Backups are done automatically.

4. Deployment is simple – you are up and running in minutes instead of days! No installation required. Only a internet connection and you can start using the system.

5. SaaS scales easily to match your organization’s growth pattern. You don’t have to hold and pay today for what you think you’ll need tomorrow. Users have instant, secure access to critical data 24/7/365 regardless of where they are physically located.

Cost Savings:

* Capital Expenditure:

* Zero Hardware (Storage space)

* Zero Setup

Operating Cost:

* Zero Hardware Maintenance

* Zero Personnel

* Zero IT facilities

Pricing Models:

1. In SaaS one can buy the software for a one time cost and the recurrence cost will only be the support and hosting charges.

2. The other famous model is to go for per user per month/Year basis. This considerably helps to reduce the risk of the buyer in case he doesn’t find the software according to his expectation and wants to discontinue using it. Also the company pays for the software as and when it grows rather than investing in the software beforehand. But this is generally more expensive as compared to the one time price paid.

How To Stand Out In The Merchant Card Services Industry

Most commercials bore me, but recently I saw one that caught my interest.

The spokesman gave the usual spiel, selling his brand and talking about how things are run today, but then he finished with something different. He said, “Why do we continue to do things the same way and never try anything different?”

Why did this statement stick with me? It’s simple. For a long time, his statement has been my business philosophy. I believe if your competition is doing something, you need to do something different.

A Copycat Industry
Merchant credit card processing is a business of copycats. There isn’t much to differentiate the various players. And there’s an entire group of players selling merchant card services that have been dubbed “me too” companies because they offer the exact same services. Often, the only thing that they differ on is cost.

Start With The Sales Call
Don’t be a “me too” company. Differentiate yourself from the copycats, starting with your sales calls. When you introduce yourself to potential clients, don’t lead with the standard line, “Show me your statement, and I’ll show you how much money I can save you.”

Instead, take a softer approach. Say something like, “I heard about your business, and I just thought I’d stop by and see if we’re a good fit for each other. Maybe we could be partners.”

If the merchant hands you his statement automatically out of habit, fend it off and take control of the situation.

Say something like: “Don’t show me that just yet. We don’t really know each other, and I’m not sure we should even do business together yet.”

Do you see how that approach is different? You’re doing something unexpected, and this puts you in complete control of the sales call. And because you’re doing something that your competition doesn’t do, you’ll be memorable, too.

Few sales managers teach this approach, mostly because we’re creatures of habit. We do things the same way over and over, and eventually we forget that another way even exists.

Because you’ve been approaching sales calls the same way for a long time, it may be hard to adopt this new approach. The easiest way is to keep in mind that no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to sign every merchant. You can only explain your services and take them through the sales process step by step.

If you can do that, you’ll see that it stops many merchants short–but not in a bad way. They’ll see that you’re not the same old merchant card services salesperson that they always deal with, so they’ll open up to you. This will make everything easier.

Do you have other ways of separating yourself from the pack in the merchant credit card processing business?