In the Seattle, WA area Matt Groesse has been operating his business Matt The Plumber for about 10 years now starting back in 2010 and his business only continues to grow. Matt had previously been working for another company for 5 years that he felt had passed him up for promotions and then was hit with a layoff before taking a leap of faith and going into business for himself.
The hardest part about getting his business started came down to 2 things; upgrades and people. Every time he needed to go get any type of new tooling, for example, he only had so much money to work with causing him to be broke after making some major purchases that he had to invest in. When it comes to people it was just all the different personalities of customers and trying to hire others for his staff. Plumbing seems to normally be a trade for older individuals anymore as the younger generation doesn't want to do the physical labor that is required, though theirs definitely some exceptions to this.
Every company has a couple of things they wish they done differently from the beginning, whether it was taking a big job they were too scared to take or maybe a few small decisions that could have greatly impacted them for the good in the long run and Matt The Plumber is no exception to this. If Matt could do it over again, he would have not hired friends when starting out as it’s a whole lot harder to yell at family for example than it is someone with strictly an employer-employee relationship. It was also scary in the beginning to take on jobs like remodeling entire bathrooms as Matt didn't want to chance to overextend himself and tried to stick with routine service calls as he paid for everything with cash and still does but looking forward knows he will have to use credit to expand.
The hardest part about running his business today though is the taxes because you get taxed for everything twice. The gas that's needed to do a job, any supplies and tools needed, the gas to travel to and from and the vehicle itself that's needed to travel is all taxed and then whenever he finishes a job he is then taxed again for the money he has made. In his opinion, the taxes should only be on the consumables and not how much money he makes.
When asked what makes Matt The Plumber stand out from its competitors Matt stated their company motto is to be fair and honest. He does not claim to be the cheapest company, but he is fair, and you will get personal attention from his company compared to the other larger companies and he isn't out to gouge the customers just make a living.
How they bring in new customers is simply by word of mouth advertising Matt believes he is an older soul in a younger body and words are powerful. He never had any formal sales classes just learned as he went but found out little things to help with service. His company tried Yelp but didn't need it as he already had plenty of work and had a hard time canceling it afterward.
Going forward his goals is to start stepping away a bit and doing more management, hiring another employee where he can have 2 in the field with him running day to day but says that will be tough because repeat customers already ask where's Matt with just the one employee. He would also like to get another van out in the field with the new employee as well as he is booked up 2 to 3 weeks in advance right now and has plenty of work to get through but would need to ride with the new employee for a couple of years first to make sure they are ready to handle it. Matt The Plumber had recently just started doing more commercial work and would like to do more of that going forward as well.
At the end of it though, the most rewarding thing to Matt is when he gets to see how happy people are after he has fixed whatever issue they had. It might be something simple as unclogging a sink and watching the families' reaction whenever they walk in and see its working and the gratitude they show makes it all worth it. Some jobs may not be that way as he is dragging himself through the mud and they are asking for a discount but the good outweighs the bad for Matt as he has turned what was a job into a career and his own business.
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