Industry Blogs

Individual contractors are forced to build their own brands influenced by their specific industry, this can be an intimidating but equally rewarding process. For small business owners and service contractors, it’s important to not only begin your business adventure but to build your brand. Developing growth for your business can take time, but there are Read more

Individual contractors are forced to build their own brands influenced by their specific industry, this can be an intimidating but equally rewarding process.

For small business owners and service contractors, it’s important to not only begin your business adventure but to build your brand. Developing growth for your business can take time, but there are certain things every contractor can implement to take their franchise to the next level. Use these brand building tips to grow your clientele and to create an organization that is trusted by consumers everywhere.

Develop a Unique Brand Name

In order to build a contracting brand that attracts customers, it’s essential to develop a unique brand name. It’s equally as important to create a name that’s different from any pre established contracting business. There are a variety of options that every contractor should consider, no matter the industry.

For starters, coming up with a brand name that can act as an acronym makes it easier for customers to remember. To name a couple, brands like UPS (United Postal Services) or NBC (National Broadcasting Company) are great examples.

A common name tip in the contracting community is to incorporate your name or last name to make it your own, for example *Paul’s Plumbing Company*. Additionally, using a specific nickname can also create a more unique, personalized feel to your brand name without using your original surname.

Another reliable way to create a recognizable brand name is by mashing up industry ideas or words to create a catchy name. For example, Netflix is the combination of “internet” and “flicks”. Depending on your industry, mash up two words that are relatable to your services or you can use a business name generator to help you.

Establish a Budget

After developing your ideal brand name, you’ll want to put your growth ideas into action by establishing a budget. Depending on the size of your business, using your savings for your startup is a reliable way to jumpstart your business, but sometimes it isn’t enough. If you don’t know where to start, there are a couple of financial options that can provide coverage for your business growth.

A reliable funding option that has grown in popularity over the years is online lending. Some reliable online lending companies include LendingClub and Sofi. Online lenders can present a more streamlined application process while also providing lower rates. However, you’ll have to manage the loan online along with addressing any additional needs from the lender after the loan.

Another financial option to consider is a SBA guaranteed loan, the Small Business Administration connects with lenders to guarantee loans for business owners looking for additional capital. In comparison to a small business loan, they take a little longer for approval but have lower interest rates.

If you’re a homeowner, a reliable funding opportunity is to use a home equity loan. This financing option is a safe way to fund all of your business building necessities. An equity loan is provided in a lump sum, while also having a lower interest rate than a credit card or personal loan.

Implement Physical Marketing Tactics

Traditional marketing methods include an array of physical tools that contractors can use to spread their business. Depending on your budget, you can implement a number of useful tools consumers can recognize throughout your community. Here are some tools you can use when trying to build a buzz.

A marketing tool that most businesses use, no matter the industry are posters. Crafting an attractive poster with details including prices, images and services is a considerable way to grow your organization. Posting these posters in local hot spots, like a coffee shop or even a tattoo shop are relevant places to gather the attention of potential customers.

We’ve all seen the use of lawn signs to display a variety of messages over the years. Whether they’re used for voting on an election, or for a high school graduation, using yard signage is a reliable way to advertise locally. In the construction, home improvement, and landscaping communities this tactic has become more prevalent. Like any advertisement, you’ll want to provide your brand name, cell-phone number, as well as the services you provide.

Another physical marketing tactic that stands the test of time is the usage of business cards. These are a fantastic way to connect with potential customers in real life while also giving yourself opportunities to grow your own workforce. Similar to a poster, planting your business cards in high traffic areas throughout your community will gradually increase your consumer outreach.

Utilize a Digital Marketing Plan

An element of marketing that can really separate your business from the rest is by using a digital marketing strategy. Like it or not, we are living in a more digital world and your presence online is fundamental when growing your company. Customers are becoming much more savvy when trying to find the information they need on the internet.

One of the best ways for consumers to find you on the web is by creating and optimizing your website. By building an attractive website that provides news, industry insight and relevant content you can further your outreach.

Another way businesses can build their brand is by creating appealing social media accounts. In the digital age, customers and consumers alike are finding ads or digital flyers on Instagram or Facebook. By creating timely and engaging posts on your social media pages, you can generate a solid customer base on the internet.

If you really want to build a presence on the internet you may find hiring an SEO team or implementing an SEO tactic as being beneficial. SEO stands for (Search Engine Optimization), this means that you’re creating and optimizing relevant content online that will help your website rank higher in Google. If you don’t know where to start, hiring a digital marketing professional can help increase the overall authority of your site.

Create a Positive Reputation

In order to maximize your profit, creating a positive reputation is paramount. When consumers search for contracting services, naturally the companies with the highest reviews and ratings garner the most business. Similar to any industry, the greater the service, the better the reviews, the better your company’s reputation.

One way to achieve positive feedback is by providing quality services to your local customers. Providing proficient services throughout the community is a great way to spread word of mouth while adding new clientele to your business.

It’s equally critical to create a Google Business Profile, while also using Google My Business to your advantage. Much like your digital marketing tactics, you want to create positive impressions online. These days, a lot of consumers use Google search to get a better understanding of what a contracting business has to offer in terms of prices, quality, and efficiency.

Similar to Google reviews, Yelp is another application that consumers can use to gauge what a business offers and how they’ve tended to previous customers. Making sure your Yelp page is up to date with positive feedback and images will contribute to your growth.

When creating your own contracting business, there will always be challenges, but it’s important to use these tactics to your advantage. The quicker the growth, the bigger your brand will become. For additional professional contractor insight visit your friends at the Mechanical Hub for the latest industry updates.

Commercial construction professionals can rely on propane for lower emissions, enhanced resiliency Unplanned outages have become increasingly commonplace as the U.S. demands more electricity from a century-old grid. In fact, the United States endures more blackouts than any other developed nation. And according to federal databases at the Department of Energy (DOE) and the North Read more

Commercial construction professionals can rely on propane for lower emissions, enhanced resiliency

Unplanned outages have become increasingly commonplace as the U.S. demands more electricity from a century-old grid. In fact, the United States endures more blackouts than any other developed nation. And according to federal databases at the Department of Energy (DOE) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the number of U.S. outages lasting more than an hour has risen steadily over the past decade.

A recent article in the Washington Post shows that more than 40 percent of the U.S. population reside in counties that experienced extreme weather events in 2021. As contractors continue integrating backup power, propane should be considered as the energy source to keep buildings operating clean and keeping emissions reduced. Sales of diesel generators have significantly increased due to electric grid disturbances, exacerbating local air quality concerns.

A new study from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) emphasizes the need to accelerate decarbonization today with clean energy sources like propane as diesel generators can negate emissions reduction efforts. The analysis, Power Generation: The Emissions Shifting Problem, examines recent power generation trends and how propane systems can offer a resilient, low-emissions solution for commercial construction professionals and their customers.

The Emissions Shifting Problem

Whether planned or unplanned, power outages can happen at any time. In response to the increase in outages, there’s been a spike in generator sales and use. A significant rise in backup generator sales is seen in storm-wrecked coastal areas, inland tornado alleys, and particularly in places like California. This spike in both sales and use is primarily of power generation solutions that are diesel-powered, which is creating a bigger emissions problem and degradation of local air quality.

Propane power generation equipment, including backup generators and combined heat and power systems (CHP), can help businesses be safer and more resilient, avoid economic losses, and reduce emissions. This loss of power to commercial buildings can impact vital systems like smoke and fire detection, elevators, refrigeration units, heating and cooling equipment, health and safety equipment, communications, and many other applications. Propane backup generation insulates companies from these economic losses.

According to PERC’s data, compared to diesel, propane significantly improves local air quality by mitigating nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, both of which are known health hazards. Propane also emits significantly less carbon dioxide and criteria pollutants than diesel-powered generators. In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), propane is 16 percent cleaner than diesel when it comes to carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit of energy. CHP systems offer both power and heat (and/or cooling), while significantly reducing nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide emissions compared to units using diesel. Propane-powered systems can reduce CO2 emissions by more than 40 percent depending on the size of the unit, according to PERC’s research.

Propane power generation solutions are already creating opportunities for commercial construction professionals to reduce emissions compared with diesel, but as more renewable propane becomes available, propane solutions will become even cleaner. Renewable propane is made from a mix of waste residues and sustainably sourced materials—including agricultural waste products, cooking oil, and meat fats. Because it’s produced from renewable feedstocks, renewable propane is even cleaner than conventional propane—and far cleaner than other energy options. Renewable propane’s chemical structure and physical properties are the same as conventional propane, which means it can be used for all the same applications without any modifications to engines or equipment. In California, the propane industry has pledged 100 percent renewable sourcing by 2030. In PERC’s analysis, it found that renewable propane can lead to at least a 50-70 percent reduction in lifecycle CO2 emissions compared to conventional diesel and can accelerate deep decarbonization. It also found that blends of conventional and renewable propane are additional practical solutions for accelerating decarbonization.

Propane is a reliable energy source

Propane is a stable, portable energy source that can help support Americans when the grid goes down, ensuring continuous operations. Propane does not degrade like diesel, which means when the generator needs to start, it will. Propane does not oxidize, and it won’t varnish or gum a generator engine’s fuel system. For added resiliency, CHP solutions are a perfect fit for commercial and industrial applications, providing not only much needed electricity but also heat and/or hot water (and/or cooling) during power outages. When used in CHP mode, these solutions can be more than 90 percent efficient when converting fuel to electricity and useful heat.

 Propane-powered backup generators ultimately provide peace of mind, especially for commercial operations where refrigeration for cold storage needs or other inventory protections that can fail if utility power is interrupted. Propane is an affordable energy choice capable of delivering efficient, on-site energy during power outages. Replacing diesel assets with propane-powered equipment will continue to push us toward significant air quality improvements and decarbonization.

To see more of PERC’s research supporting the benefits of using propane-powered back-up generators, visit Propane.com/Research.

Bryan Cordill is the director of residential and commercial business development at the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at bryan.cordill@propane.com.

 

 

 

Homeowners in the United States are becoming more inclined to update their residences with the latest smart home technology. Smart homes are the homes of the future and come fully equipped with a range of interconnected devices to offer benefits to the average homeowner. Smart voice assistants, smart kitchen appliances, smart home security systems, and Read more

Homeowners in the United States are becoming more inclined to update their residences with the latest smart home technology. Smart homes are the homes of the future and come fully equipped with a range of interconnected devices to offer benefits to the average homeowner.

Smart voice assistants, smart kitchen appliances, smart home security systems, and smart HVAC systems are examples of smart home technologies that homeowners are looking to adopt. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering how technology has developed over the years and how the consumer market is becoming more tech-savvy.

As American homes are evolving, how will the role of technicians change? Will technicians learn new skills or technologies to earn business from homeowners? Below is more information about smart home technology and how the role of technicians may change in an interconnected digital era.

Smart Homes Becoming More Commonplace

Statista estimates that the number of smart homes will increase and surpass the 350 million mark by 2023.

Many big tech companies, including Apple, Samsung, Google, and Amazon, are releasing new smart home technologies for customers. Smart TVs, sound systems, voice assistants, security systems, lighting systems, and thermostats are some examples of popular smart home technologies.

Homeowners reap a handful of benefits by using smart home tech. Convenience is likely the primary benefit – most smart home tech can be controlled by one device, usually a smartphone or tablet. These internet-enabled devices connect to hubs or applications for ease of use.

Impact of Smart Home Technology on the Role of Home Technicians

Because so many homeowners are equipping their homes with smart technology, this will likely change, if it hasn’t already, how home technicians do their jobs.

Typically, smart home technology does not have to be maintained or repaired as often as traditional home technology. For example, most systems will alert homeowners in advance of a breakdown, and some will even help homeowners troubleshoot issues.

However, because smart home technology has complex inner workings, technicians may have more difficulty completing repairs. Higher-end equipment often requires more skilled technicians to handle these types of repairs, or those with knowledge of proprietary systems.

What Technicians Need to Know

It will be crucial for technicians specializing in home maintenance or repairs to educate themselves and understand how basic smart home technology works. Service technicians will have to learn how these home devices connect and how each device functions to diagnose and repair issues.

Beyond working on smart technologies within customers’ homes during repairs, technicians may need to rely on these technologies for their own operations. For example, technicians might employ the use of electronic signatures to fuel their business and close deals more efficiently. Or, they may use wearables to capture and improve upon connected data like inventory and location information.

One major reason technicians will need to become more knowledgeable about smart home tech is that homeowner expectations are changing. A technician who has expanded their skillset to repair smart home tech will be in higher demand than those who do not.

As smart homes go mainstream, technicians capable of working on these complex smart home technologies will be well-positioned to offer their repair services, allowing their business to grow and generate more revenue.

Technicians: Keep Your Skills Relevant in the Age of Smart Home Technology

All technicians need to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies. Whether they specialize in HVAC, lighting, or plumbing, modern technicians should be aware of the adoption of smart home technologies to better prepare themselves for these repairs.

Guest Blogger: 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.

 

 

The average U.S. commercial building is approximately 53 years old – including thousands of assisted living facilities – and many of the aging pipes in these facilities are in need of rehabilitation. Traditional total pipe replacement involves removing all old pipes and replacing them with new. This requires contractors to cut and remove drywall, flooring Read more

The average U.S. commercial building is approximately 53 years old – including thousands of assisted living facilities – and many of the aging pipes in these facilities are in need of rehabilitation. Traditional total pipe replacement involves removing all old pipes and replacing them with new. This requires contractors to cut and remove drywall, flooring, fixtures and finishes to reach plumbing systems. Residents are unable to live in their dwellings during this destructive phase and must be placed in temporary housing for several days while demolition occurs, and water is turned off.

Given the physical and mental health challenges many assisted living seniors face, forcing them into unfamiliar and ill-equipped temporary housing can be extraordinarily disturbing for residents, potentially expose them to asbestos and incur dramatic costs. Yet that is what occurs when a senior living community undergoes a total pipe replacement to repair leaking pipe systems.

Today’s modern In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation process offers senior living communities reliable repair of vertical and horizontal piping systems without disrupting residents’ lives or incurring relocation expenses. This non-invasive form of pipe repair is ideal for pipes up to 12” in diameter and allows residents to remain in their familiar surroundings during the repair process.

In-Wall CIPP Rehabilitation eliminates excavation and resident relocation, making it a minimally disruptive cost-effective alternative to total pipe replacement.

This field-proven technique has restored old and new high-rise commercial and multi-tenant residential properties’ plumbing systems faster and more cost effectively with less environmental impact compared to total pipe replacement for more than two decades. It’s effective for mains, stacks, vents and branch lines, which encompasses kitchens, tubs and toilets.

Preparation for In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation begins with gaining access to each stack from the top floor. A basement bypass system is installed and removed each day, which allows residents to remain in their units while the project progresses. The stacks are then descaled and cleaned. CIPP liner is installed from the top floor to the basement bypass system. Once the liner cures, each branch line is reinstated robotically from the top floor access point. Completing one stack each week minimizes disruption and ensures residents have access to their bathrooms and kitchens each night.

Once vertical stacks are restored, horizontal pipes are addressed by reinstalling the basement bypass system to allow pipes under the building’s concrete slab to be descaled, cleaned and lined while each floor remains operational. CIPP Liner is then installed from each stack, moving toward the main sewer line outside the building. When the liner’s cure is complete, each branch line is reinstated robotically.

A comparison of a total pipe replacement and non-invasive In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation project immediately demonstrates the advantages of the in-wall pipe rehab process. A retirement community in Washington State consisting of three multi-story buildings underwent a total pipe replacement. The cost to relocate the community’s residents during the pipe replacement totaled over $1 million alone. In contrast, another Washington State retirement community that employed the in-wall pipe rehabilitation process using Vortex’s Quad-Cure® 100% Solids Epoxy Resin and Liner didn’t require residents to leave their units, saving the exorbitant relocation, demolition and reconstruction expenses. Additionally, the in-wall pipe repair project was completed in roughly half the time of a total pipe replacement.

Depending on pipe diameters and conditions, there are several non-invasive in-wall pipe repair options that are significantly less expensive than traditional total replacement. A broad range of Quad-Cure Epoxy Resins and Liners are used in In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation systems. Whether the repair involves main lines, laterals, branch lines, verticals, sectional repairs, cold weather or environmentally-sensitive areas, these materials stop leaks, improve flow and  restore structural integrity. Brush-in-Place-Pipe (BIPP) uses 100% solids epoxy lining material to reline pipes as small as 1 ¼-inch diameter and corroded cast iron pipes. CIPP utilizes epoxy resins to restore structural integrity to cracked or physically compromised larger diameter pipes. UV CIPP, a superior cost-comparable alternative to vinyl esters, employs methacrylate resins that fully adhere to vertical plastic and clay pipes, such as stack and vent pipes, for an impregnable bond.

In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation provides reliable, durable pipe repair communities and residents can depend upon. Shown: Vortex Companies’ Quad-Cure Epoxy Resin and Liner.

It’s common for a variety of materials to be required for a trenchless plumbing and sewer pipe rehabilitation project. Sourcing materials from multiple vendors can take time, extending a project’s duration and cost. Vortex’s ability to be a single source for all needed materials – including customized materials – expedited the completion of an Oregon retirement community’s In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation. With 10 floors, 18 stacks and more than 2500 linear feet of deteriorating cast iron pipes, In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation was an ideal choice for the project to avoid disrupting and relocating the community’s 150 elderly residents. This project required multiple materials, which Vortex provided to eliminate sourcing delays and enable the expansive undertaking to be completed in just five months while residents remained in their units.

Traditional total pipe replacement requires more manpower, time and materials than modern CIPP and pipe relining methods. It also incurs more costs as excavation damage to drywall, flooring and more must be repaired forcing resident relocation due to the inability to access water.

In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation maintains residents’ quality of life while providing durable, reliable pipe repair. As the in-wall pipe systems in high-rise and multi-story buildings age, this modern trenchless pipe repair approach represents an optimal, cost-effective option that benefits tenants and building managers alike.

Caption: Quad-Cure® Epoxy Resin creates a structurally sound pipe within a pipe during non-invasive In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation projects.

In-Wall Pipe Rehabilitation provides reliable, durable pipe repair communities and residents can depend upon. Shown: Vortex Companies’ Quad-Cure Epoxy Resin and Liner.

In-Wall CIPP Rehabilitation eliminates excavation and resident relocation, making it a minimally disruptive cost-effective alternative to total pipe replacement.

Author: Andrew Gonnella is President, Products Division for Vortex Companies. In this role, he oversees the development and expansion of Vortex’s existing product line, identifies new products and develops new distribution channels. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Maryland College Park and a Master of Business Administration from University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business.

If you’re like many other business owners in the trades, you know that recruiting is a constant challenge. In fact, for some businesses, recruiting and keeping talent is the top issue in the company! Finding people to maintain your company’s current size or to grow is vital; after all, even if your company is overwhelmed Read more

If you’re like many other business owners in the trades, you know that recruiting is a constant challenge. In fact, for some businesses, recruiting and keeping talent is the top issue in the company! Finding people to maintain your company’s current size or to grow is vital; after all, even if your company is overwhelmed with calls, you can only do the amount of work you have employees for.

When will this situation end? I have bad news for you: it won’t. As older technicians age out and retire, they’re not being replaced by younger technicians as quickly as they’re needed. The only road to salvation is acknowledging that society will not fix your problem. YOU are going to have to save yourself!

Here’s the good news, however: you can train your own employees and solve your recruiting woes. And it’s not as hard as it sounds. Plenty of businesses are training their own workforce and finding great success!

Why attempt an in-house training program?

The benefits of creating your own technicians far outweigh any challenges that an in-house training program might foster. Training someone from the ground up eliminates bad habits that most experienced new hires carry in the door. Homegrown techs are prepared to do things the way you want them done. Best of all, there’s no shortage of training options for any trade. Online and virtual reality training curricula have come a long way.

Refine your search

Years ago, a hiring manager could list specific skills, traits, or abilities they were looking for in candidates and then choose from a variety of applicants. While that was once an effective staffing strategy, it doesn’t necessarily work in these challenging recruiting times.

Hiring today is about attitude, behavior, character, and work ethic. Think about this: you can probably teach anyone technical skills, but attitude? Character? These characteristics are more challenging to instill. Removing the technical aspect from a candidate search then leaves you open to individuals who have great character and simply need to be taught technical skills.

Opportunities everywhere

If you’re looking to fill your training rolls, you should always be recruiting, and there should be opportunities everywhere. If you went about your day with the keywords “attitude, behavior, character, and work ethic,” how many individuals might you encounter who embody some or all of those words? You might be surprised. Think about a service desk clerk you saw dealing with a difficult situation.  Consider the hustle of the barista at your coffee shop or the stocker at your local grocery store. You can spot talent when you see it. What if those people could be your next great technicians? They could be!

Build relationships with local youth

The service and replacement industry is about building and maintaining relationships with customers.  Why not apply the same principles to creating and maintaining your talent pipeline? What relationships do you have with your local high schools? Have you participated in any recent career days? How about offering to be a guest speaker?

If your local high school doesn’t have any shop classes, it doesn’t matter! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) has seen an enormous push in nearly every level of public instruction in the last decade. The plumbing, HVAC, and electrical trades are involved in all aspects of STEM. Imagine a discussion that explains scientific principles the kids are learning about in class and a demonstration of real-world applications inside the trades. Talk about a fertile ground to grow your workforce!

Clubs and organizations are significant pipelines for talent as well. Think about the 4H or FFA chapters near you, or Scouts troops.

Now, you might be saying, “But I need someone now, not kids!”

Let me ask you this: Where would you be now if you had started doing all this five years ago? Kids grow up and graduate, and not all of them are going to want to enter a four-year college. Some of them might be a great fit for your company’s training program; some of those kids might become some of the best technicians you have.

Consider veterans and career jumpers

Veterans moving from active duty to reserve status, or those discharged into civilian life can be good candidates to fuel your company’s growth. Another group of people to look at are career jumpers. Career jumping is when those already established in a career decide they want something else and move in a different direction. You already know what the trades can offer – great pay, great work environment, and a great career. Your company might be exactly what someone who wants to change careers is looking for!

When you open in-house technical training to a wider pool of potential candidates, you help yourself solve the challenge of today’s recruiting environment. The time to start is today. You’ll never know the vast opportunities surrounding you if you don’t start taking action.

Guest Blogger: Jeff Atwell started in the plumbing trade the first business day after his high school graduation. He has more than 30 years of experience with residential and commercial service, as well as with residential new construction, and discovered a passion for teaching as an instructor at his local apprenticeship school. Jeff was the first technical coach hired to work on Nexstar Network’s NexTech Academy program. Since then, he has been working to create the best program focused on residential plumbing service. He can be reached at jeffa@nexstarnetwork.com.