Managing a team of plumbers can be more complicated than some might imagine. No doubt, you know this well. Many master plumbers and plumbing business owners suffer through the same aggravations. You can start making it easier to manage your plumbers by finding the right plumbers. Qualified plumbers are worth the investment in payroll. There is a lot of time and consideration involved in hiring the right people, but it will save you time and headache later.
We’ve put together some information, including facts and statistics, that will help you make better choices in your hiring process, as well as how to streamline your communications and day-to-day business operations.
What to look for in your perfect journeyman plumbers.
Be sure to hire only high school graduates who have completed their apprenticeship and meet the minimum journeyman qualifications. Hiring in this manner will lower your stress levels immediately. A licensed journeyman plumber will cost more per hour to have on staff than an apprentice, but you’ll know that they’ve passed the written tests, done their apprenticeship, and are qualified high school graduates. Don’t forget to be 100% certain that they’ve been certified in your state because the qualifications for a journeyman status can vary slightly from state to state.
Becoming a journeyman plumber takes a long time. A journeyman plumber must have graduated high school or have a GED, met experience requirements as determined by the state, and passed their journeyman’s written exam. While each state is different, most states require four years of apprenticeship before a candidate may even sit for the journeyman’s test. Some states count classroom time toward the four years of experience while others do not. A journeyman plumber is allowed to work alone in most states. When you employ apprentices, they can be paired with a journeyman plumber for supervision in most states.
To become an apprentice, a high school graduate must study for and pass an apprentice test before working as an apprentice plumber in most states. A college degree is not a requirement to become a plumber, which draws many to the career. Once hired as an apprentice, they must have four years of experience as an apprentice before they are allowed to sit for a journeyman’s test. Experience is how a plumber’s apprentice moves forward in their career.
Once a journeyman plumber, the plumber may work without supervision. He is expected to work without any direct supervision and must do this for at least two years of experience before being eligible to advance.
To become a master plumber (the highest level), most states require that a candidate has worked as a journeyman plumber for at least two years, but some may require more experience. Some states require an additional written exam, while some states do not. All states require that a candidate applies for a master plumber permit.
Skill sets journeyman plumbers should have
There are many skills that a journeyman plumber should have, but there are also specialties in which they may have superior knowledge. For example, many resumes listed 24.3% of journeyman plumbers included pipe systems, while 13.4% of resumes included hand tools, and 11.8% of resumes included drainage systems. All of these skills are important to a plumber’s career. You may choose which journeyman plumber you hire based on the type of jobs you tend to specialize in as a business. Look for a journeyman who excels in your company’s type of work or one who is very well-rounded. This will give you more confidence in your crew. Don’t let salary dictate who you hire. Saving money by employing one licensed journeyman plumber and expecting him to supervise a team of apprentice plumbers will cost more in the long run.
Manage your plumbers with proper communication
Some companies rely upon calling each other or text messages all day long. Not only is this confusing, but it also causes extra work. Imagine being able to communicate with multiple people simultaneously, being able to forward a message from a customer to a journeyman to get him on the way to a job site. A journeyman plumber can be on the way, provide an ETA, and have an idea of the problem before he even arrives on site.
Utilizing a communication app or program can streamline your entire workday and ensure that your crews are in touch with each other. Consider using a communication platform, such as Podium, to put your crews and client communications all in a simple, easy to manage place.
Improve customer satisfaction with internal training for journeyman plumbers
Consider doing some training that goes over how you want your customers treated, how to handle angry customers, and all the training that doesn’t necessarily come from plumber’s training classes or exams. Soft skills, dealing with people, can always be improved upon. Teach your crews how you want them to behave in a customer’s home, handle the occasional confrontations that happen, and how best to represent your company.
For new employees, ensure that you do onboarding training that is clear from the start on payroll, uniform, holidays, company mission statement and rules, and expectations. When employees get excellent onboarding training, they tend to stay longer! You might even want to simply do a video chat once per month so that your crew doesn’t have to come to the office for training. Consider using a video chat platform where you can do a quick meeting with your crew no matter where you are all at. Podium offers this service as well. Check it out here.
In truth, the companies that keep customers for life are those companies that go above and beyond, with excellent customer service. Well-trained employees are the face of your company, and it’s worth taking some time to teach them the skills to shine. You can also use these training sessions to go over new products and stay on top of changes in the industry, including techniques or changes to local building codes that your crew will need to be aware of.
Be the place journeyman plumbers want to work
A company is only as good as its worst employee. You don’t want to be known as that place that everyone uses as a stepping stone. Not only will they not stick around, but they also won’t care about the quality of the work they do either. When you value employees, and they feel it, they want to stay. Treat them like they are essential. Offer them the benefits they deserve and create a family feeling within your company. It’s a fact that employee turnover costs time and money. When you constantly need to hire someone else, you don’t have time to do other things. It costs money to run an ad, to pay to train someone new, and it impacts your bottom line every time it happens.
Recognize your people for good work
It seems like a simple thing but surprisingly, many employees, regardless of industry, cite being underappreciated as the reason they leave jobs. When people don’t feel appreciated, they grow restless and disgruntled. They eventually leave for greener pastures. Take the time to set-up recognition programs for length of service, remember people’s birthdays, know their names, spouse’s names, children’s names, and ask about them! This goes a long way.
Offer bonuses when the year passes without an accident. Show people that you notice when they get compliments from customers in the field. Make it a monthly contest to see who gets the best reviews and give them some sort of recognition for that month. Send a message out in the middle of the workday, recognizing the employee of the month and their prize by sending it via message to all your crews via TeamChat. Tell your winner to come into the office after work to collect their prize – perhaps a gift card for Subway? It means something to be recognized by your boss. They’ll respond by doing the best work every single day.
As a manager, whether you are the owner or a master plumber, you can make your workplace more streamlined and build a better business when you make better hiring decisions. Hiring the right journeyman plumber is part of the process. Being an effective people manager is part of the puzzle as well. Spend less time repairing bad work or repairing customer relationships.
Utilizing tools that make your life easier by streamlining the processes, even making it easier for customers to leave you reviews and pay their bill, consider checking out all the perks that Podium has to offer with a 14-day free trial. While it may seem challenging to find the time to implement these changes, it will pay huge dividends later.
When you hire the best people, you’ll spend less time cleaning up the messes they make. You’ll have fewer upset customers to deal with when your crews are credentialed and well-trained in more than just building codes and regulations. Teach them to be effective managers, as well.
Empower them to make customers happy and make it worth their while to do so. Then do what it takes to keep them with you for as many years as you can. Your life will get easier every year that goes by. Your business will be more profitable with lower employee turnover, better customer retention, and your business will grow with all those great reviews that you’ll be receiving.