Generate a flood of add-on sales

May 1, 2011
Boosting add-on sales should be a focus of every plumbing company.

A plumber's greatest cost on a service call is showing up. The expense is marketing to attract the customer and positioning a fully stocked vehicle with a trade professional at the customer’s door. Thus, anything you can do to generate higher revenue on a service call dramatically boosts profitability. Boosting add-on sales should be a focus of every plumbing company.

But what do you sell? What makes sense? Your greatest results will come from products that add enough gross profit to be lucrative for you, but are not so expensive homeowners will think twice. A Service Roundtable employee found a product that hits the sweet spot when he was looking for a solution to home flooding problems from overflowing toilets and sinks. The product is FloodStop.

The Floodstop product was developed by entrepreneur Scott Walter after he suffered a $15,000 flood because of a malfunctioning washing machine. I talked with Scott about his product. It works by sensing moisture and electronically shutting off a ball valve in the water line.

Floodstop comes with point of use models for washing machines, water heaters, dishwashers, and sinks or a whole-house model with multiple sensors. While everyone knows that every plumbing job is different, as a rule, installing the product is simple. Most of the time, we're talking about a half hour. On a water heater replacement, it's not even that long.

It's a nifty, proven product. Hundreds of thousands have been sold. Reader's Digest named it one of "America’s 100 Best New Discoveries." Insurance companies are starting to require it's installation following a flood claim if the homeowner wants the policy renewed. At least one is offering a discount on their rates.

We all know that water damage can occur at any time. I know a family with upstairs bedrooms in their home. One night someone left the water running in the kitchen sink with dishes blocking the drain. The next morning their entire first floor was flooded. The damage was incredible. Drying out the first floor, removing and replacing the carpet, baseboards and a portion of the drywall took weeks. While insurance paid for most of the repairs, the family was still stuck with the deductible and weeks of inconvenience. A product like FloodStop would have prevented the damage.

The risk is even greater when no one’s home. A lot of damage from a burst pipe while everyone’s at work. And for vacation homes, a product like this is essential.

In short, the market exists. The presence of an industry devoted to water restoration speaks to the need. The only reason more people don’t buy these products is they aren’t aware they exist and are so affordable.

Think about it. You can offer a product to your customers that they need and want when informed it exists. It’s a perfect add-on for replacing water heaters or on service calls. It’s the type for product consumers talk about to their friends and neighbors, generating word-of-mouth business for you. So why aren’t you selling these?

Train your plumbers on the product, why it’s necessary, and how to install it. They’re inexpensive enough for you to put one on every truck. Give your plumbers a flyer explaining the need, risk for the homeowner, and solution you offer. Tell the plumbers they have to hand it to homeowners on the start of a call. In fact, the plumber can even tell the homeowner, “They make me give this to you.”

Given that this is add-on business where the gross profit drops straight to the bottom line, spiff the plumber well. All he was to do is pass out the flyer and answer any questions the homeowner has at the end of the call. Your add-on sales will increase. Try it.

You can find the FloodStop product in most supply houses or order them at a discount at Service Roundtable members who participate in the free Roundtable Rewards buying group get additional rebates.

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable, a business alliance of plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and service contractors. Learn more about the Service Roundtable at, or e-mail Matt at: [email protected].

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