By Dorothy Skinner
Gary’s Quality Plumbing is not the new kid on the block, but we are fairly new at using social media to promote our business.
We have been in business since 1971, starting out with new home construction plumbing, moving on to larger projects such as restaurants and apartment buildings. We decided to focus our business on service work in the middle of the 80’s. There were some trying times in new construction back then and getting paid was usually a long ordeal, that at the time, we couldn’t afford.
We met a man by the name of Art Adams through a mutual contractor, and he had started The Neighborhood Referral List. After checking our references and referrals, he placed us on the list that he mailed out to specific zip codes. Our service business was off and running. He was an honest man, and contractors were on the honor system to pay him 5% of every completed job. We liked interacting with the customers and getting repeat business and referrals – and that is how we continued to carry on with our business.
Only word of mouth and the referral list!
But times have changed, haven’t they? The referral list business was sold after a few years and eventually fizzled out. Other referral list business popped up, but they could not compare to the original, even though they required a larger take of the receipts.
Many of our wonderful customers passed away, moved to a retirement home, or moved out of the area as they aged. Obviously, your business name is no longer passed on the same way at that point. We are still on many of the local neighborhood lists, and appreciate so much the people that have felt we did a good job at a fair price for them and have passed our name along.
These days, so many people are busy morning till night, away from home, and not really talking to their neighbors. Some don’t even know the neighbors on either side of them.
They are, however, on their smart phones and computers checking their social media several times during the day. This is the now the way to communicate with potential customers and be recognized as a solution for their needs, but we were very resistant.
The biggest question we had was, “what do we say on social media?”
The second biggest question was, “who is going to do it?”
Two of my daughters are in marketing, and have trained us to look at what we want to accomplish in a year’s time. In a family business, it’s hard to delegate those kinds of tasks when no one wants to take on the responsibility. Knowing what we all want to accomplish makes it easier to participate, and exciting to watch our progress.
We’re on Twitter and Facebook, but primarily using a Facebook business page. Our newsletters and blog posts send out automatically to our social media now, which saves us a bunch of time and keeps us in front of people. We routinely get emails from our subscribers who hire us for local work. We always ask, every time the phone rings, “Would you like to get our newsletter?” The response is overwhelmingly positive, and our list continues to grow. It’s today’s version of our own referral list!
What to say on social media? Well, that’s a little trickier. We want people to know about us, but we also want them to want to know about us, and that means we have to answer the things our customers ask us all the time. It feels redundant, but actually, it’s those repeated messages that make them comfortable with us before they ever call.
My husband, Gary, and I started this business on our own. We were blessed with 6 children that are all involved in one way or another. Gary passed away last year, but not before he had trained his three sons, Steve, Danny, Jason, and son-in-law Adam to be the best plumbers in the field. Knowledge, honesty and integrity is built into these men. Debi is our youngest daughter, married to Adam. You will hear her cheerful greeting when you call. She has a wealth of information from growing up in this plumbing family. Chances are if you call with a problem she will let you know what you are dealing with and know what it will take to solve the problem. She will treat you right every time and make sure you have a convenient time for your service – respecting that your time is valuable.
We service churches, realtors and property managers, restaurants, condos, beauty salons, doctors, lawyers, retail stores – and service their personal properties, too. We’ve had to adapt, and as uncomfortable as it initially was, we’re glad to be recognized online as a trusted brand.
Dorothy Skinner is the owner of Gary’s Quality Plumbing, serving the north Dallas area. Read the Ask The Plumber Blog to learn how to protect your home or place of business, and find beautiful fixture options for your next remodel. Contact Info@GarysQualityPlumbing.com or call 972-424-6479 for your gas or water plumbing needs.