Industry Blogs

No matter what kind of job sites you run, having a power source for the work you do should be a top priority. However, each workplace and job site is different. And whether you should rent or buy your generator might be a very specific choice that you need to make for your business. Wherever Read more

No matter what kind of job sites you run, having a power source for the work you do should be a top priority. However, each workplace and job site is different. And whether you should rent or buy your generator might be a very specific choice that you need to make for your business.

Wherever you are in your journey with your business and equipment, there are pros and cons both to renting and buying, and each serves businesses in its own way. Here’s your guide to the pros and cons of renting or buying a generator for your job sites.

Pros of Renting

If you’re considering renting a generator, there are a few reasons why that might be the right choice for you.

For starters, renting a generator is a much cheaper initial investment than buying, so it’s great for businesses that are just starting out or are working with a limited budget. You also don’t have to worry about maintenance and upkeep, which can be great for those who don’t use generators often.

Cons of Renting

However, renting a generator isn’t the perfect option for everybody, specifically because if you use it frequently, it might become more expensive than simply buying one. Additionally, if you rent a generator every time you need one, you may not be able to adjust to the different types and how they work.

If you want a standby generator, for example, which offers near-constant power on a consistent basis, buying might be the best option for you so you don’t need to go through any hassle to get the power you need.

Pros of Buying

If you’re leaning towards buying, there are a few advantages that it might be pertinent to know about. Specifically, you can make a larger investment that pays off more from consistent use than renting and save money in the long run.

But beyond the financial benefits, there are other pros to owning rather than renting a generator. For instance, you have more control and consistency with the model you choose, you have the option to have your own staff handle maintenance, and you have more control over power availability.

Cons of Buying

Of course, there are both pros and cons to everything, even owning a generator for your job site. The initial investment might not be seen as a con overall to some, but for businesses that don’t have the capital to invest yet, it might be a bit much to stomach.

Additionally, purchasing the equipment puts you on the hook for maintenance and commits you and your staff to one model and brand, which might not be great for those who are just starting out or if you find yourself taking a variety of job types or wishing for a wider range of tools.

Which One Is Right for You?

When deciding whether you should buy or rent a generator for your job sites, there are quite a few factors you can consider to make your decision. From the initial investment to the maintenance and upkeep, each business and site will be different and demand different things. Ultimately, the decision is all yours!

April Miller is a managing editor at ReHack.com who specializes in engineering and construction technology. You can find her work published on sites like Open Data Science and The Society of Women Engineers.

Employee satisfaction and motivation is a topic that has been discussed since the creation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Employees are the backbone of any organization and an essential part of a company’s ability to be successful and grow. Maintaining a level of satisfaction is key if you want to have any measure of success Read more

Employee satisfaction and motivation is a topic that has been discussed since the creation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Employees are the backbone of any organization and an essential part of a company’s ability to be successful and grow. Maintaining a level of satisfaction is key if you want to have any measure of success as a business owner.

Keeping employees feeling satisfied and motivated remains a pain point for many in the mechanical world. Technicians are currently in high demand across the home service industry, creating little downtime in an environment that is suffering from a labor shortage. The COVID-19 pandemic created a perfect storm that resulted in more HVAC unit breakdowns and longer days for technicians.

During the apex of the pandemic, many employees across multiple industries had to work from home. Units that would normally get a break while the house was empty were now working an additional eight hours a day. That is the equivalent of driving a car 75,000 miles a year. With the added wear-and-tear on units, service calls increased dramatically.

The combination of more service calls and a limited supply of professionals attributed to workers in the mechanical world feeling stressed and unsatisfied. More service calls also meant long drive times while combating both the physical and mental elements that come with the job – working in the hot sun or communicating with an angry customer.

When it comes to our profession, employees rarely get stressed over the actual repair process. Oftentimes, the stress comes from all the outside factors that would put a mental strain on the worker. But there are ways to help motivate and encourage employees to perform their tasks while remaining engaged.

The Employee Experience

In our line of work, we tend to put our primary focus on the customer experience and making the customer happy. While these actions help drive revenue, we don’t need to forget the importance of employee satisfaction. Our team members are the greatest assets we have. I discovered a long time ago that if you take care of the employees, they will in turn take care of the customers.

Taking care of the employee means more than just offering them a decent paycheck. It encompasses a wide range of areas. It means providing the necessary equipment to ensure safety as well as giving the job a purpose. For example, a heating and air company I worked for purchased an ice machine so team members wouldn’t have to purchase ice to fill up their coolers every morning. We also made healthy snacks and drinks available throughout the day. That was just one small gesture we made to keep our employees satisfied.

All of these items help create loyalty. A team member will not want to leave if they feel like they are being taken care of regularly. The moment they feel differently, they will become disengaged and leave you for someone offering a dollar more per hour.

A Path to Success

One of the best ways to motivate an employee is to give them a purpose. That includes providing an individual career path. Many individuals working in the mechanical world don’t have a real career path. Their life revolves around a continuous cycle that includes doing similar tasks daily. So, if business owners can discover what success looks like to the employees, they can help them achieve their goals through a detailed career plan. On the flip side, this allows owners to hold the employee accountable to key performance indicators.

In addition to a career path, business owners should help inform employees financially. While compensation is a great motivator, it isn’t the only sticking point for most people. Providing tools that allow team members to be educated about financial matters shows that you care about their future outside of work. Teach employees how to set money aside, save and invest in their future.

The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Another mitigating factor in motivation is determining what motivates the entire team. It is important to communicate with team members about what they want and what can encourage them to perform at their best. More times than not, the team members will be honest in their responses. One example I have pertains to the use of contests and prizes. One company I was working with in Florida had a big special going on to see how many service agreements they could sell. For each agreement that was sold, the employee got to put their name in a raffle for some great prizes. The reward for selling an increased amount of service agreements greatly outweighs the cost of the prizes, and it got team members motivated to go out and sell, sell, sell.

Creating a Positive Culture

I believe business is a function of its people. You’ve got to take care of your people. We need to stop focusing on what we are not getting right and start focusing on the 99% of the things we excel in. We can still talk about the things that need improvement or can be done differently, but we’ll have that conversation in a private one-on-one setting. As a team, we need to celebrate the wins. It’s about enforcing the behavior that you want to see in your company. I’m always trying to create a positive culture, and all my actions reflect that. For business owners, the majority of their focus should be geared toward creating the desired behaviors they want because that’s where they will get the results.

Stephen Dale is director of training for Power Selling Pros. Stephen brings over 20 years of experience as an operations manager in the home services industry working for two large MEP companies in the Dallas area. He has been a coach and trainer with Power Selling Pros for six years, working with hundreds of companies and vendors during his tenure. His passion for the industry illuminates through his ability to discover client’s pain points and offer solutions for success.”

Creating a perfect solvent weld is an important skill that will come in handy while working on PVC, ABS or CPVC plumbing systems. What is a solvent weld? When you join PVC, ABS or CPVC pipes and fittings, you aren’t gluing them together. (You’ll often hear solvent cements referred to with terms such as PVC Read more

Creating a perfect solvent weld is an important skill that will come in handy while working on PVC, ABS or CPVC plumbing systems.

What is a solvent weld? When you join PVC, ABS or CPVC pipes and fittings, you aren’t gluing them together. (You’ll often hear solvent cements referred to with terms such as PVC glue, pipe glue, cement glue, plumbers glue, etc., but these terms are actually incorrect.) Instead, the pipe and the fitting are softened and chemically fused together creating one piece. Once they are joined, they cannot be taken apart.

Watch the video below for a simple tutorial on solvent welding. In addition, be sure to avoid the common mistakes listed below in order to get the best results.

Not choosing the right cement for the job

Make sure you’re using the right cement for the job based on pipe material, pipe size and job conditions. If your project uses CPVC pipe, be sure to use CPVC cement. For PVC pipe fittings, use PVC cement. For ABS pipe fittings, use ABS cement. If you use the wrong cement, you won’t create the weld you need.

Solvent cements should also be selected based on the pipe size. The larger the pipe, the thicker viscosity you need. For example, if your pipe is 6” in diameter, you can use medium body cement, but if your pipe is 8”, you should be using a heavy body cement. You can find the maximum recommended pipe size listed on the cement can. Finally, make sure that your cement is rated for the conditions of the job site. If you know you’ll be working in temperatures below 40°F, select a cement that is formulated to fully cure in those temperatures.

Similarly, if you’ll be working in wet or damp conditions, it’s important to choose a cement that is formulated to cure in damp conditions. You should also consider whether you’re working on a potable water system or a non-pressure DWV system and select the correct cement for that application.

Not preparing the pipe properly

Preparing the pipe properly before making a solvent weld helps reduce the opportunities for failure to occur. To properly prepare the pipe, you must:

  • Cut the pipe square – This ensures maximum surface area to create fusion and joint strength, ensuring the strongest bond.
  • Deburr the pipe – If you don’t deburr the pipe, pieces of plastic can break free and move through the system, which can lead to blockages in items like aerators. Burrs can also catch certain types of debris which could eventually lead to a blockage in the DWV system.
  • Chamfer the pipe – If you don’t chamfer the pipe or bevel the outside edge, the sharp edges can scrape the cement off the walls of the fitting as the pipe is being inserted. This could potentially cause a blockage or leak paths.
  • Clean the pipe – Make sure there’s no dirt or grease that may interfere with the cement’s adherence to the pipe and reduce its ability to create proper fusion and joint strength or scrape the interior of the fitting creating leak paths.
  • Test the interference fit – Before primer or cement are applied to the pipe or fitting, ensure there’s resistance at 1/3 to 2/3 into the fitting hub, to ensure a good interference fit. The fittings are slightly tapered and designed to fit together very tightly. If the pipe and the fitting are not a good match, it can lead to a weak joint, pipe separation or a poor bond.

Skipping primer* or applying improperly

Primer must be used to create a solvent weld on PVC and CPVC pipes. The solvents in primer soften the pipe and fitting, making it more porous and allowing the cement to form a stronger bond. When applying primer, ensure that you’re applying it aggressively to the fitting, the pipe, and the fitting once more, being sure to re-dip between each application. Once you have primed the pipe and the fitting, you have 5 minutes to apply cement and finish the connection. Waiting too long will affect the creation of a good solvent weld.

*ABS pipe is the exception; never use primer on ABS pipe.

Not waiting the appropriate set and cure time

After the joint is assembled, it should be left undisturbed for the recommended set time period. Set time is the amount of time needed for the joint to achieve the strength required so that the bond is not compromised if small movements occur.

Cure times are based on pipe material, pipe size, ambient temperature and humidity. In humid areas, allow 50% additional time for the solvent weld to fully cure.

View our overview document for more information on all our cement offerings and their cure/set times.

Not having adequate airflow

For the same reason you need to wait the appropriate cure time for your project, there needs to be airflow in the plumbing system where you’re completing your solvent weld. Without adequate airflow, the solvent will not be able to evaporate. This could lead to pipe or joint failure as the solvents continue to soften the pipe and fitting surfaces.

With our tips for creating the perfect solvent weld and knowledge of how to avoid common mistakes, you’re all set to create long-lasting, leak-free connections.

Guest Author: Erin Bullock is Applications Manager, Oatey Company. He can be reached at technical@oatey.com

 

 

An Air Admittance Valve (AAV) is a one-way mechanical valve that is installed locally at the site of a plumbing fixture, allowing proper venting to occur without a connection to a larger venting system and stack vent. There are several different AAVs on the market today that all slightly vary in design; however, they each Read more

An Air Admittance Valve (AAV) is a one-way mechanical valve that is installed locally at the site of a plumbing fixture, allowing proper venting to occur without a connection to a larger venting system and stack vent. There are several different AAVs on the market today that all slightly vary in design; however, they each perform the same function.

AAVs present various benefits for contractors and homeowners, particularly when you can’t connect to an existing venting system or are looking to reduce roof penetrations for aesthetic purposes. When installed correctly, they’re a great way to save time, money and frustration.

Before you can effectively select and install an AVV, it’s important to understand how drain-waste-vent systems, known as DWV, work. If you’re a seasoned plumber you might not need this explanation but if you are a new pro entering the industry you might find value in understanding how DWV systems work in relation to venting.

Understanding drain-waste-vent systems

DWV systems consist of drain pipes that provide a network for the removal of waste, as well as vent pipes that prevent unwanted gas from escaping inside the building. Vent pipes also maintain the necessary balance of pressure to allow water to flow.

The DWV system uses gravity and air displacement throughout the piping network to properly function and breathe. In a simplified example, think about the tiny holes on a to-go coffee cup lid that allow air into the container. Without proper air flow, there wouldn’t be enough pressure in the cup for the liquid to flow out evenly, making it very difficult to sip. In order for a liquid to come out, air must come in.

All DWV plumbing systems require at least one vent penetration through the roof line, which allows air to enter the system, while also permitting sewer gas to escape. Connecting all plumbing fixtures in a building to existing venting systems can be complex and limiting. So, you might be asking yourself if there’s a way to bypass this process (and the need for numerous unsightly and expensive roof vent stacks)…cue Air Admittance Valves.

How does an air admittance valve work?

AAVs allow air to enter a plumbing drainage system when negative pressure develops in the piping system (because of the flow of water). When pressure in the system is equalized (indicating that no water is flowing), gravity closes the vent terminal, preventing sewer gases from escaping into a building.

Remember, all buildings must still have at least one stack vent that’s directly penetrating the roof – an AAV doesn’t take the place of that requirement for the building as a whole.

When do you need an air admittance valve?

When you can’t connect to an existing venting system: AAVs are a great alternative if you can’t connect to an existing venting system due to complex pipe routing issues or obstructions – an ideal venting solution for island sinks, remote bathroom groups, home remodels and additions that would otherwise have to be tied into a stack vent utilizing specialized venting techniques. In other words, AAVs allow installers and homeowners more flexibility in the layout of plumbing fixtures.

To reduce roof penetrations: AAVs open and close in conjunction with normal DWV system operation, which eliminates the need to create another roof penetration. Many homeowners prefer not to vent through the roof line for design and aesthetic purposes, too. Additionally, having less roof penetrations can reduce the risk of leaks over time.

To save money: For these reasons, using an AAV requires less labor and supplies, making it a more affordable option than running vent pipe in new construction applications.

Key Considerations when selection and installing an AAV

Local Code and Manufacturer Requirements: Before heading to your local supply house, be sure to check with local municipality codes and manufacturer requirements to determine if an AAV is approved for your particular application. If the use of an AAV is not permitted, the fixture or drainage system will have to be vented traditionally through the home’s existing venting system.

Sizing: You can determine which size AAV you’ll need based on the Drainage Fixture Unit (DFU) load of the fixture(s), such as an island sink or bathroom group, it will vent. An AAV’s ability to breathe is measured in DFUs. The higher the DFU rating on the valve, the greater the amount of air that can enter the Drain-Waste-Vent (DWV) system.

DFU loads are assigned to plumbing fixtures dependent on the volume rate of discharge, the duration of operation and the time between operations. Common fixture load ratings are shown in the table below.

To ensure proper breathing capability, determine all fixtures to be vented and calculate the total DFU load, then select the appropriate AAV for the application. Proper AAV sizing is critical because under-sizing will not allow the plumbing system to operate properly.

AAVs are typically available with 1 ½”, 2”, 3” and 4” adapter connections. The adapter size is based on the diameter of the vent pipe it is being installed on. Generally, a vent should be sized to be half the pipe diameter of the drain it is serving (refer to local codes for specific vent size recommendations).

Pipe material: Additionally, you should verify what type of pipe material you will be connecting the AAV adapter to ensure compatibility. In other words, AAVs with PVC adapters should only be paired with PVC pipe, and AAVs with ABS adapters with ABS pipe.

AAV location: An AAV should be located within the maximum developed length permitted for the vent. It must be located a minimum of 4” above the horizontal branch drain, 6” above any insulation material and within 15 degrees of vertical. AAVs cannot be permanently covered and should be installed in an area that allows air to enter the valve. They must also be accessible, should the need for replacement occur in the future.

Be sure to check with your local municipality before installing an AAV in your plumbing system to confirm the installation will be approved for your particular application.

Guest Author: Jeremy Gattozzi is a Product Manager at Oatey Co., with expertise across a range of rough plumbing products and applications. He is responsible for product research and the delivery of innovative solutions to serve customers’ evolving needs.

 

“You called the right place! How can we make you smile?” See how easy it was to catch your attention with a simple greeting? You would be surprised how often a simple acknowledgment of the customer will improve an online review. When working in the home service industry, customer service is your brand. It’s what Read more

“You called the right place! How can we make you smile?”

See how easy it was to catch your attention with a simple greeting? You would be surprised how often a simple acknowledgment of the customer will improve an online review. When working in the home service industry, customer service is your brand. It’s what people remember about you long after a job is completed. It’s the thing that can help drive your business to the next level.

As service providers, it is important to realize that, in today’s world, communicating with your customer directly, has become a necessity. With people finally getting a chance to converse face-to-face after a long period of strict social distancing guidelines, the customer wants to get to know you. No longer can we as service providers hide behind the bag in 2021. Which means it’s the perfect season for sharpening our soft skills such as controlling voice patterns and body language now that we are spending more time face to face. These skills are vital when communicating with customers.

Communicating with a customer is about building professional trust. When a customer feels that you have listened to them and understood what they need, they trust that you can accomplish the job and that expectations are clear. That is when the skills we’ve mastered as service providers come into play, and we follow through with what we promised our customers. This allows your team to ask the customer for additional and referral business, as well as that five-star review that will help create credibility online.

The Wow Factor

The No. 1 rule of any service provider is to go above and beyond expectations. We call this the “wow factor.” The wow factor is doing something extra without expectation; meaning don’t tell the customer you’re going to do it as part of the job. Instead, tell them you did it to say, “thank you.” These don’t have to be major jobs either. It can be as simple as changing air filters when repairing an HVAC unit. The key to this is to start the job the customer paid you to do, add something extra to the deal and then let the customer know at the end. Effectively communicating this is also paramount. Don’t make it look like the extra job was a hassle. Use proper body language and tone to show the customer you were excited and happy to do the job. The technician needs to list this “wow factor” on their invoice at full price then discount it off showing the customer that you are saying “thank you” by going ahead and covering that expense today.

The Good, The Bad, The Lost Customer

It’s funny. Research shows us that the No. 1 reason a customer leaves any company and finds a replacement is a lack of customer service. When there is poor communication, the customer doesn’t feel that he or she has been truly heard. Customer service is about communicating with the customer in a simple form and ensuring they know you’re listening. Using soft skills to keep the customer engaged is key. Not only will it reaffirm they are your No. 1 priority, but it will also help avoid potential conflicts with the customer. If they feel listened to and acknowledged, they will become customers for life and begin to send referrals your way.

The Golden 3

So, after all this discussion, you are probably wondering what are the most important soft skills a service provider should understand and master to improve customer service and satisfaction. In my experience, there are three:

  • Listening to the customer: Listen to the customer’s whole question before thinking about how you are going to respond. If a customer finishes their entire question and you already know the answer, then there is a good chance you didn’t actually listen. One thing that we have learned is most field staff stop listening to the customer in the first 10 words that are said. Most customers don’t say what they mean until the last 10 words. So, oftentimes technicians think they are working in the right direction, and they’re working on the completely wrong thing. Following this rule helps ensure all parties’ expectations are clear.
  • Skillset training, both technical and communications: We are creatures of regression. We automatically lose things that we don’t practice or sharpen. Making sure you are setting time aside as a company for all your field staff to sharpen their technical and soft skills multiple times a week (even if it’s only 15-30 minutes) helps to limit their loss of knowledge.
  • The ability to shut up: This is probably the most important skill a field tech can learn. When you ask a customer a question, STOP and wait for their response. When a technician asks a question, they tend to get uncomfortable with the silence. So, the tech ends up asking another question to break the silence, which in turn completely breaks the customer’s train of thought. It’s important to know that when you ask a question and then SHUT UP it may be uncomfortable for you, but it’s not for the customer. It doesn’t register as silence to the customer because they are still processing the information you just presented. So, learn to shut up and let them finish their process…respectfully.

If you can follow these three simple rules and processes, I’m confident you will improve your customer service skills and help retain customers while gaining some new ones, too.

Matt Koop is Vice President of Training and Implementation for The New Flat Rate, a home service menu-selling system designed to put profit directly into the hands of plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors. For more information visit www.thenewflatrate.com or email info@menupricing.com.