NORTH OLMSTED, OHIO — Two recent studies that Moen said it conducted among contractors and homeowners shed light on important issues in today's plumbing industry. Service plumbers say that hiring and training qualified candidates, increasing the professionalism of the industry and business development are major areas of concern. When it comes to hiring service plumbers, homeowners say they are looking for ways to evaluate contractors' knowledge level and professionalism.
Moen said it recently introduced the Moen Certified Service Plumber program to meet the needs of both contractors and homeowners. This training and certification program allows service plumbers to sharpen their installation techniques while also providing service tools to make their jobs easier, complete the job with professionalism and set them apart from the competition, said Mike Schwarzwalder, Moen target market manager.
"We've created a unique program that will help service plumbers grow their business and increase profits," he said. "By providing them with essential tools and training, they'll gain the confidence and experience they need to better meet the needs of their customers."
The program is not a substitute for associations or other groups, Schwarzwalder said, noting that Moen is a member of Quality Service Contractors, an enhanced service group of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association. Rather, he said, contractors told the company that they needed more support from manufacturers in terms of technical and sales training. The contractors also told Moen that they want to differentiate themselves, not from other plumbing contractors but from fly-by-nighters, he said.
After consulting with hundreds of service plumbers throughout the country, Schwarzwalder said, Moen realized that contractors were looking for key selling points such as product and re-pair knowledge to differentiate their services in a highly competitive market. To ensure this high quality service, the MCSP program requires training and continuing education sessions on faucet repair and installation.
Greg Johns, president and owner of Johns Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Greensboro, N.C., said: "If I install a faucet, I have to stand behind it. After all, service is what I sell. Consumers are opening their doors and trusting us in their homes. We not only want to maintain high standards but also a level of trust and confidence for future work and referrals."
In addition to training and to help prepare the technician, Schwarzwalder said, MCSP provides exclusive access to product and technical specialists through a dedicated toll-free support line, which allows the plumbing technician to place onsite calls to obtain immediate assistance with product, re-pair and installation questions.
Service plumbers were also looking for measures to increase professionalism in the industry, Schwarzwalder said. With MCSP, service plumbers who achieve certification receive a kit of customer service tools such as shoe covers, floor mats, Moen product catalogs and product warranty cards.
Brinker's Plumbing & Heating in Waterford, Mich., knows that the so-called little things increase the perceived professionalism of a company, owner Kristi Beno said.
"My team always lays out the mat and wears shoe covers as soon as they visit a customer," Beno said. "Many often comment how impressed they are with the respect we show their home."
Many service plumbers say they appreciate the Moen product catalogs they receive since it allows them to extend their services to include product sales — right in the customers' homes, Schwarzwalder said.
"This gives us a whole new avenue to improve our relationships with our customers," said Chris Sousa, owner of AA Atlas Plumbing in Yorba Linda, Calif.
In Moen's research, Schwarzwalder said, customers listed MCSP's "shop at home" feature as a key benefit, especially for females who want the convenience but didn't feel confident in a male plumber's ability to choose a stylish faucet.
"Now we can offer a quality product selection that eliminates the hassle of driving to a separate store for a purchase and arranging a follow-up service call to install the new product," Sousa said. "We realize consumers want to make their own choices, and having the option to buy a new faucet on-site is just icing on the cake."
Moen's consumer research found that customers want a contractor they can trust, Schwarzwalder said. The program, which includes elements such as uniforms and badges, is designed to create an atmosphere of trust between the customer and contractor. All components of the MCSP program are aimed at helping the service technician stand out in the plumbing field, highlighting both his training and his professionalism.
"Our innovative program blends focused training with professional courtesy tools offering the service plumber the opportunity to exceed consumer expectations while building long-term, profitable relationships," Schwarz-walder said.
To learn more about requirements of MCSP, call 800/321-8809, ext. 2863.