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Contractormag 13171 Sad Plumber

9 Reasons it Sucks to Work for You

July 23, 2019
If it sucks to work for you, do not despair. You can fix it, but not all at once.

There is no question the labor market for plumbers is tight. Yet, there are plumbers available and someone is hiring them. If not you, then chances are good that something about your company sucks in the eyes of a prospective hire.

1. Your Pay Sucks

Do you pay at the top of the market? No? Why not? All things being equal, wouldn’t you work for a company that pays better? Raise your pay and raise your prices to cover the increase. Beyond hourly pay, make sure there’s an opportunity for go-getters to get more through performance pay, spiffs, bonuses, or other incentives.

2. Your Benefits Suck

There was a time when it was rare for plumbing contractors to offer any benefits. Times have changed. Not only do you need to offer benefits today, you need good benefits. Pay 100% of the employee’s health care contribution instead of 80%. The difference is less than you think and makes it much harder to leave your company. Do not stop with health care.

Consider other benefits you can offer, including some that are outside of the box, such as offering breakfast at the shop. Most plumbers, especially younger ones, do not eat well in the morning. A good breakfast results in better performance, making this benefit free.

3. Your Training Sucks

Plumbers universally want training. They want more than 15 minutes of awkward training by the owner in a weekly service meeting. They want to attend full day classes from time to time put on by manufacturers or third parties.

Training today extends beyond technical skills. It includes soft skills, such as interpersonal communication. This alone will boost your average invoice. Throw in life skills, such as personal financial management (which most plumbers have never learned) and they stop living paycheck to paycheck, which further reduces the incentive to job hop.

4. Your Collateral Sucks

Do you have a recruiting brochure? Why not? Explain why your company is a great place to work. List your benefits. Show pictures of happy plumbers. Offer employee testimonials. If you want an example, call the Service Roundtable at 877/262-3341 and ask for a free copy of our Culture Book.

5. Your Brand Sucks

People prefer working for companies others have heard of and that are respected in the marketplace. In short, they want to work for companies with strong brand presence. How is yours? Are you driving around in white trucks with minimal truck ID or fully wrapped vehicles? Do you have a unique selling proposition or advertising tag line? Do you market? Does your company participate in community service projects so that it is seen as a valued part of the local community?

6. Your Shop Sucks

Other than your office, is your shop a place people would want to hang out? Why not? Why not add a break room or lounge for your plumbers? Have a large screen TV, some video games, fooz ball, a refrigerator with free soft drinks and snacks.

7. Your Future Sucks

Is your company growing or coasting? If it is coasting, it is headed downhill. Like the plants in your backyard, companies are either growing or they are dying. Who wants to work for a company with no future?

8. Your Vision Sucks

Where will your company be in five years? What will it look like? How will it be different? How will it make a difference? Do you have a compelling vision that people want to be part of? Can you articulate it succinctly? Is it written down? Do you talk about it?

9. Your Culture Sucks

What kind of culture do you have? Every company has one, but not every company owner is aware of it. Do you manage like it is 1939 with an unemployment rate north of 17%? No one wants to work for a guy with a “my way or the highway” philosophy. People want to work in a positive culture where appreciation, celebration, and flexibility over the work/life balance are ingrained. People choose companies that offer pats on the back over those offering the crack of a whip.

When You Realize You Suck

If it sucks to work for you, do not despair. You can fix it, but not all at once. Pick one area at a time and work on it. Do this and you will become the employer of choice for plumbers in your area. You will be the guy who selects, instead of recruits plumbers.

For a free copy of the Service Roundtable’s “Culture Book,” call 877/262-3341 and ask for a copy from the Success Team. Visit to learn more about plumbing’s most popular and most affordable business alliance.

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