Heritage-Editorials

Below is a collection of reprinted editorials authored by the Co-Founder of Sundial Plumbing Services, Jack Smith.  These articles were published in the Georgia Plumbing Supply Insider Newspaper

Scroll down to read the following articles that appear in this order...

  • "I Want to Be a Plumber"
  • "Had Any Customer Complaints Lately?"
  • "Spiders"
  • "Tastes Change"
  • "Visited the Capitol Lately?"
  • "Persistence"
  • "How Important is a Smile"
  • "Got a Light?"
  • "Fishing and Sandwiches"
  • "Desperate for Work"
  • "Could it Be that Georgia Educators are Becoming Interested in the Plumbing Field?"
  • "Early Service Calls to Remember?"
  • "Are You Skittish?"
  • "Summer Vacation"
  • "Learning to Solder"
  • "Super Stars"

 

“I Want to Be a Plumber” by Jack Smith

Reprinted from the January–February 2000 edition of the Georgia Plumbing Supply Insider Newspaper

It is not often we hear anyone in high school choose plumbing as his or her profession.  Yet, one student at South Cobb High School told his teacher, Mr. Art Sommers, of his choice.South Cobb High School’s efforts to prepare its students for jobs available in the existing economy have led them to embark on an ambitious project to build a house.  That’s right; a high school class is building a house.  With thousands of homes being built in Cobb County each year, this seems to be a great way to prepare students for employment in the vast construction industry.

Mr. Art Sommers, who is a  former builder, has obtained a building lot, chosen a home plan, installed footings, installed driveways and porches, framed a house and garage, installed a roof, installed siding, and many other tasks.  All this has been done primarily with s

tudent planning and labor.  My first reaction was, “This is incredible;” however, after thin

king about it, one must ask, “why not?”  These young people are capable of almost anything asked of them.

Sundial Plumbing was contracted by Mr. Sommers to install plumbing for this house.  We arrived at the house to find an attractive, well built house ready for the initial plumbing.  It was a cold day with temperatures around 25 degrees on the morning of Tuesday, January 25, 2000.

The first class of students arrived around 9:30 am and began assisting the plumbers.  Floor joists must be cut, pipe and fittings unloaded, holes drilled – all helped.  At the end of the day, the job was done and we were gone.  Afterwards, one student who helped declared, “I want to be a plumber.”

 

“Had Any Customer Complaints Lately?” by Jack Smith

Reprinted from the Holiday 1998 Edition of the Georgia Plumbing Supply Insider Newspaper

Had any customer complaints lately?  Sometimes it seems as though customers are getting more demanding and harder to please, and yet most experts agree that our treatment of customer complaints provides a good measure of our business success. 

First, we need to avoid as many complaints as possible by making sure our house is in order. 

This encompasses a never-ending list of things including such basics as: is your technician a licensed plumber?  Is he thoroughly trained in the importance of proper documentation on the paperwork to clearly describe the problem, what he accomplished, and what it cost?

Does he “Talk the walk” and “Walk the talk”, i.e., is he properly groomed and dressed, is he polite at all times and under all conditions?

Does he refrain from unnecessary and idle talk?  In short, is he/she just a nice person?  Seeing to details like these will go a long way to reducing complaints.

However, get prepared because you will still receive complaints.  So, if resolving customer complaints is so important, lets discuss some things that work.

Quick Resolution:

It is important that we start with quick resolution.  Never be too busy to deal with a complaint.  Technicians should be empowered to resolve disputes up to a certain dollar amount on their own.  Do not put off a complaint – get it resolved as soon as possible.

Most complaints resolved in this manner will endear the customer to you.  Complaints that cannot be quickly resolved still provide opportunity for your company to capture the customer for future business and referrals.

Listen:

Train yourself or your representative to listen to the person.  Make no statements; only ask questions until you fully understand the complaint.  

Write it down and make sure the customer knows you take his complaint seriously enough to write it down.  Many complaints are not directed to you – they reflect the frustrations of the customer at the situation in which they find themselves.

Empathize:

Show compassion for their problem.

Find out what the customer wants:

Many times a customer’s proposed resolution is acceptable and can be resolved immediately.  If the customer asks for something that you are unable or unwilling to give, that is okay – write it down, read it back, and make no judgment or comment.Heritage-Editorials

Fully document the action required from the customer’s standpoint to resolve the issue.  At this point, we recommend setting up a time to get back together (usually the next day).

This gives us a chance to discuss the problem with the technician who was on the job.  Check the facts.

Formulate you response:

Be responsible – accept responsibility when formulating your response.  Go over each item the customer asks for and decide what you are willing to do.

Look for common ground and if there is not too much difference in what the customer wants and what you are willing to provide, then call customer at the agreed to time and make your offer.

Hopefully, the customer will agree and the matter will be resolved.  If the customer wants much more that you are willing to give, then a written response is in order.  Before resorting to a written position, it is important to remember a few facts:

  • An unhappy customer will tell a lot of people about their perceived treatment;
  • A happy customer will tell a lot of people about their treatment;
  • There is a cost associated with gaining a new customer - Consider this cost when formulating your response;

This cost can be a lot of money if you consider the lost revenue over a long period of time.

At the least, it will cost you a couple of hundred dollars to attract and cultivate a replacement customer.

 

“Spiders” by Jack Smith

Reprinted from the August 1998 Edition of the Georgia Plumbing Supply Insider Newspaper

Have you paid any attention to spiders?  Spiders are one of nature’s marvels.  This diverse group contains more than 35,000 species.  In the past 400 million or so years, they managed to inhabit virtually all parts of our planet – although they are most prevalent in tropical climates.  Spiders range in size from .1 centimeters to the tarantulas which can exceed 4 inches.  All spiders have 8 legs and are capable of producing silk throughout their lives.  The groups that produce prey–catching webs are call Orb-Weavers.

Orb-Weavers are prevalent in this area and are also known as a “Writing spider”.  The Orb-Weavers are commonly found around most homes.  They are fairly large spiders, around 1 ½” and have black and yellow stripes on their abdomen. Heritage-Editorials

Look for these spiders under eaves and inside window sills.  These spiders produce both sticky and non-sticky silk strands.  The non-sticky strands are straight, emanate from the center of the web and are used by the spider for safe passage.  The sticky strands form the circle around the radial of the web.  The spider always walks on the non-sticky strands.

I watched one of these spiders build his web under the eaves of our home.  Over a 2-week period, this web captured numerous small flying insects, which no doubt improved the quality of outdoor time spent around our home.  However, observing the construction of this web was the main benefit, keeping me spellbound for 3 hours one Saturday morning.  The magnificence of spider webs can be observed best on early fall mornings.  Look for a field with tall grass.  Cool nights and warm days cause condensation to form on the webs thus highlighting them, especially in the early morning sunlight.  These fields take on a beauty at this time that is appreciated even more when one realizes the quality workmanship displayed by these spider master builders.

 

“Tastes Change” by Jack Smith

Reprinted from the May 1998 Edition of the Georgia Plumbing Supply Insider Newspaper

It has been said that our taste changes every seven years.  This concept, like many “Old sayings”, while not 100% correct, has a lot of truth and wisdom.  For me, this has been true as the older I get, the fewer foods I dislike.  As a child, there was a long list of foods that I would not eat.  Today, this list of “Could-not-eat” foods have been replaced with a long list of “Should-not-eat” foods.

I feel like a misbehaving child when eating anything from the “Should-not-eat” list.  Does this mean that these foods actually taste better or is our appreciation better?  Dixie, my wife, has a memory of tea cakes that her mother made when she was a child.  The recipe was lost when her mother passed away, but Dixie’s quest to Heritage-Editorialsduplicate these tea cakes has gone on for many years.  Even last week I noticed tea cakes from Vermont in our pantry.  We have purchased tea cakes from all over the world looking for tea cakes like Dixie’s mom made.  We have baked tea cakes, we have bought tea cakes and yet the elusive taste of Dixie’s mom’s tea cakes has never been recovered.  Do tea cakes appear on Weight Watchers’ “Should-not-eat” list?

 

“Visited the Capitol Lately?” by Jack Smith

Reprinted from the April 1998 Edition of the Georgia Plumbing Supply Insider Newspaper

Over the past 10-12 years, I have visited the capitol many times – usually when the General Assembly is in session.  Each visit I see something new that was previously overlooked.  The halls are filled with statues and pictures of past governors.  Each picture has a small plaque describing their accomplishments.  Reading them is a lesson in Georgia history for the past 200 years.

The halls are also filled with museum-quality exhibits which themselves alone would be worth a trip to view.  Additionally, and not to be forgotten, are the House and Senate Chambers.  To see  the functionality and beauty of the heart of our state government is an experience not easily forgotten.Heritage-Editorials

The architecture of the building, while old, is timeless.  Take your family, walk the halls, read the plaques, view the exhibits, visit the Governor’s and Lieutenant Governor’s offices, enjoy the building and grounds and take pictures.  It will be a visit your entire family will remember and cherish and you will become familiar with your state government.  Oh!  Don’t forget to visit your State Senator or Representative.  They probably have an office in the administrative building across the street from the capitol.

 

“Persistence” by Jack Smith

Reprinted from the January–February 1998 Edition of the Georgia Plumbing Supply Insider Newspaper

One of the most powerful words and the ideas it projects is the word persistence.  Although this is a trait that can be learned, there are people who have been endowed by their creator with persistence as one of their natural traits.  They certainly have something for which to be thankful.

Many people have had a lot to say about persistence.  Earl Nightingale describes persistence as the ability to see or establish a goal and stick with it to the end no matter what happens.  He likens it to a ship setting sail for a distant port which the skipper and crew cannot see.  A course is set and followed with nothing around but water, day after day.  Storms come and go but the skipper and crew hold fast their course, until one day, their port is in sight.  Webster’s Dictionary says persistence is to continue firmly and steadfastly despite obstacles.

One of our former presidents, Calvin Coolidge, made one of the best quotes on persistence: “Nothing in this world can take place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common that unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan “Press on” has solved and always well solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge.

In addition, many books have been written which rely on the concept of persistence as their basis, and I would like to recommend “Think & Grow Rick” by Napoleon Hill.  This book is my all-time favorite and has helped more people reach their financialHeritage-Editorials goals than any other book.

“Persistence Continued”

A few years ago, I was given a gift of a green parrot with a red head.  We named him “Peso”.  After much work, Peso accepted me as his friend and from Peso’s point of view, I could do no wrong.

Peso liked to stay inside his cage at night, but during the day he wanted to sit on top of his cage.  Peso also developed a definite dislike for almost anyone, especially females.  He would sit on his cage and if anyone walked by he would lunge at them, almost falling off is cage in an effort to bite them.  Peso’s bite could cause a grown person to feel faint and see stars, so, as one might imagine, there was great effort  to keep Peso inside his cage.  Any efforts to do so would always lead to failure, and we would let Peso out so he could sit on top of his cage.

Now, one may ask, “How could this be – Peso could get out of his cage?”  Yes, he could.  After much evaluation, I finally concluded that he accomplished this by “Persistence” – I would look at that bird and marvel at his ability to get his way with everyone in the family.  How could he do it?  Well, he may start to roll in his cage.  At first we would pay him no attention.  He would continue to roll until someone opened his cage. 

Or, he may scatter his bird seed or water.  He could somehow get them across almost any room.  Or, he may tear the paper in the bottom of his cage into small pieces.  He could fill his cage with shredded paper so that you could not see him.  Peso may use one or all these tactics and many others to get what he wanted.  After a time, everyone knew that they may as well let Peso out because he would not stop until he got out of his cage.

Persistence is probably responsible for more successes of businesses than any other single trait.  Whatever we strive for, it must be backed up by a large amount of tenacious persistence.  Even Peso knew it!

 

“How Important Is a Smile?” by Jack Smith

Reprinted from the December 1997 Edition of the Georgia Plumbing Supply Insider Newspaper