The son of an arcade owner, you could say that business ran in his blood. Born into an entrepreneurial family, Terence Chan (@the_impetus), owner, Impetus Plumbing and Heating LTD, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, practices networking and customer service daily to grow his business.
But it didn’t come easy, at first. With a goal of becoming an engineer, Chan found himself in the “slumps,” after dropping out of the local university. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do and my parents told me to try plumbing,” says Chan. “Instead of just playing video games all day and waiting for something to happen, I decided to take on that challenge and try working with my hands,” says Chan.
Chan ended up really liking the trade—more so because he found out how plumbing and heating is so important in everyone’s day-to-day lives—and he was adamant about being the best out there, and his sights were set on owning his own business one day. “My goal was to get all types of experience before I start my business; commercial, residential, construction, service and sales,” say Chan.
In fact, Chan worked in commercial construction, working on high rises, schools and low rises. He then moved over to a sales position learning how to sell, diagnose boilers/heating issues, inside/outside sales and customer relations. From there, Chan moved over to a service company that did commercial service for restaurants and multi-complex buildings. After a stint doing residential construction for custom homes, Chan had the final experience of working for a full-service company doing residential/commercial service to finish his plan of starting a business with the experience he had built.
“Basically, I was able to change jobs each year to get the experience that I needed. Fast forward to this day, I have my own business, freedom, and I challenge myself to change the trade daily,” says Chan.
Six years later and Impetus is a leader in Vancouver area, receiving multiple awards for plumbing and customer service. “Even through all the years, the biggest thing I’d say in running a successful business is customer service. I may not know everything, but I sure as hell know what it takes to provide good service. Service goes a long way—learn and master it!” says Chan.
The Next Generation
According to Chan, the industry should invest more in marketing to the next generation. The industry should continue to create scholarships, giveaways, recognition, anything captivating for plumbing so that younger generations can see it as a feasible career path. “It needs to provide more interest to the next generation so that they want to come into the trade. For the longest time, everyone believes the trade to be butt cracks and the uneducated. That was not true back then nor is it true now, especially now,” says Chan. “There is so much technology and so much change that we need younger people to work on the equipment. Everything can be connected to a phone, everything is automated. So much has changed, a plumbing job is almost like an IT job,” says Chan.
As for taking on the role of being a role model? “100%. I try to be the role model to show them that someone young can make the difference—showing everyone that if someone young can do this, so can they. I want to show that trades can be fun and rewards in all aspects,” says Chan.
And how about attracting more diversity to the trades? “Social marketing would be my answer. The more we get everyone on there and flood the world with plumbing content, the more people will eventually see it. Quantity is key in my opinion,” says Chan.
As for social media, “it has opened an unimaginable number of new doors for me,” says Chan. “From new friends, to learning, to connecting, to networking and to sponsorships, all of that came from the power of social media. It has been an amazing ride and I believe it has just started, there is a lot more to come and a lot more to share,” says Chan.
In fact, Chan says that the closest thing to a mentor would be Instagram. “On the platform, I’ve met so many awesome people and learned so much from others just by watching and observing—accounts like Mechanical Hub, my BC plumbers, people from overseas, there are just so many to mention,” says Chan.
If you’ve followed Chan on Instagram lately (@the_impetus), you’ll know that a lot of his work gets done in the bathroom—not just plumbing. “Don’t ask for more information than that,” says Chan.
A lot of that has to do with work on the phone. “I carry two phones with me, one company and one personal. But both of them impact my day to day hugely. People would think, ‘well isn’t he a plumber: what about wrenches and other things?’ Of course, I have all that stuff and use that from day to day, but I’m more of a business guy,” says Chan.
Chan’s personal phone is for taking videos, answering emails, answering calls from his guys to troubleshoot and editing videos. His other work phone is for taking calls, forwarding calls, taking videos, tracking jobs through his Jobber app, and also acts as an extra battery, in case the other phone dies.
“Without my phones, I wouldn’t be able to operate my business at all, as I start moving up and doing less plumbing work, managing a business becomes crucial. Communication becomes key,” says Chan.
And let’s not forget about his computer. That’s where the quotes happen, that’s where the approvals happen, that’s where the networking happens and that’s where the learning comes from.”
As far as balancing his work with leisure? “I don’t. I let them balance out themselves. I do what makes me happy on a daily basis. It sounds greedy and selfish but my true belief is that you can only make people around you happy by being happy yourself,” says Chan.
But there is some personal time mixed in, and that includes golf, lots of golf. In addition, Chan enjoys hanging out with his friends and his team, going out to eat new food at new places he’s never been before, and shopping for tools or golf stuff. “But all of it revolves around work,” says Chan.
It always comes back to customer service, however. “The most rewarding thing about my job is being able to help a customer with their issue. It always feels like I’m a hero and that I actually made a difference in someone’s life. It’s so rewarding to have a happy customer knowing that you solved something essential in their life while getting paid. It doesn’t get any better!” says Chan.
In the end it’s about being satisfied with yourself and your work. “If I were to enter a business or a job that I don’t like. I wouldn’t be doing it. I’m all about being happy with everything I do. Unluckily, having my own business, I have to do everything so I don’t bother hating or not liking anything because I love what I do every day,” says Chan.