As I See It

How to become a Top Dollar plumber

My apologies to Ti Sutherland and Sid Sutherland since I’ve owed them this book review for a long, long time. The two have published a book titled, “Top Dollar Plumber,” with the subtitle, “Top-Secret Tips Guaranteed to Increase Sales for Service Plumbers.”

Sid and Ti are father and son. Sid is a marketing exec and Ti is a plumber. A lot of the stuff in the book isn’t secret as much as common sense, although it’s a common sense that eludes many.

The book starts with Ti talking his way into a home on a Saturday. Turns out the lady had gotten the runaround from the office and didn’t even know when a plumber was supposed to show up; she had made other plans. Ti smoothes things over with her and gets in to look at her malfunctioning toilet. The toilet is junk, a low-end builder model and he easily sells her an upgrade, the same toilet that he has in his own home. Then he mentions that there’s a $150 discount for a second toilet since he’s already there, and she buys it. Then he replaces her blistering and bulging washing machine hose. It said on his work order that she was interested in an instant hot water dispenser. Bang, done. He ended up selling her more than $2,000 in replacement plumbing products.

This is all the proverbial low-hanging fruit. There are still millions of 3.5-gpf and 5.0-gpf toilets out there.

As the lead man in his shop, Ti saw that most of his guys were selling 10-12 toilets a month but one guy was only selling three. He told the guy how to recommend a replacement toilet. The next month, the guy sold eight. You have to ask.

Sid and Ti cover image. Is the truck clean with good signage? Is the plumber groomed, clean, and not stinky and does he wear shoe covers? Does he ring the doorbell and stand back or does he start pounding on the door?

Plumbers should be salesmen, they say, and life will become better. Plumbers will amaze their wives by listening to them. They will gratify their bosses by remembering the instructions they’ve been given. They’ll ask questions and probe for answers. They’ll learn not to be argumentative. People skills are crucial for success.

Selling for plumbers should be easier than most sales. After all, the customer called you. It’s not a cold call.

The Sutherlands get into the nitty gritty of how to sell. They even give sample sales pitches for products, like, “This hot water dispenser is something my customers consider a necessity once they have one.” They tell you how to describe features and benefits of products and get the customer to agree. When the customer starts agreeing that a product will be beneficial, it’s time to close the sale.

They also provide extensive advice on how to answer objections on price. They present a persuasive case for flat rate pricing including that it is moral. If you read the book, they explain it, at great length, far better than I can.

The Sutherlands also get into supervisory issues, how to train your boss to be Top Dollar if he’s not and, if you’re the boss, how to train your staff.

You can order the book from Top Dollar Press, 18413 NE 184th St., Brush Prairie, Wash., 98606, or at topdollarplumber.com.