We trust our homes to many professionals in the service industry. The best we can hope for is that they are good at what they do and that they will take good care of what is to most, our biggest investment.
Stuart Schwartz, Owner, Founder, and Master Plumber of Schwartz Plumbing Company takes particular pride in the work that they do and the people he employs. It is a part of the Schwartz Plumbing Company to train technicians’ to follow-up with customers and do what they say they are going to do, then to go above and beyond what they’re expected to do. Stuart Schwartz believes that a good reputation in the service industry is essential.
Stuart Schwartz began his career after graduating from Wake Technical College in Raleigh, North Carolina. After graduation, he took a position with a local residential plumbing company for a year before moving on to a position working for a commercial plumbing company. He was in commercial plumbing for eight months when his father suggested that he go into business for himself. His father financed a loan for him to open his business. He was able to repay the loan within two months.
Schwartz became a marketing genius with an insatiable thirst for finding new business. The technology at the time was not as developed as it is today. He used two-way radios and direct mail advertising using the county’s microfiche as a mailing list. Later, the list was available on CD. He had the insight to use whatever technology was available at the time to stay ahead of the competition. He was one of the first plumbing websites in the area at the time.
Stuart Schwartz has expanded his business and employs a total fourteen technicians. He has built his business with a solid strategy. He believes that people appreciate a good reputation, and strives to deliver on his reputation. His technicians won’t just do the minimal amount of work, they will go above and beyond at a fair price.
Under Stuart Schwartz’s leadership, and jovial manner, the Schwartz Plumbing Company will take good care of our biggest investment.
Where did the idea for Schwartz Plumbing come from?
I was working in sales at the time and living in a townhouse. We called for a plumber, when the technician got there, he was rude and disrespectful. He did a horrible job on the plumbing. Then, he charged a huge amount of money for the work. I knew he made pretty good money. So, I went to speak with the largest plumbing company in the area. The gentleman I spoke with told me that if I was well educated and clean cut I could do well in the service industry. He is the person who inspired me to go back to college and enroll in plumbing technology.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
When I first get to the office, I hand out plumbing assignments and we discuss the problem that has to be addressed for each customer. I go out in the field and conduct the estimates for the client. I also help the guys in the field if they need me. I answer any technical questions the client may have. I do whatever it takes to support my team. In addition, I was appointed by the governor of North Carolina. I am on the board of examiners for plumbing, heating, and sprinkler contractors which also takes some time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I get my best ideas when I am laying in bed watching the ceiling. When I have a great idea, I think it through from all angles. I will ask my team for their opinions on any ideas I have. I am very resourceful. If it is a good idea, I just make it happen through perseverance and dedication.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that excites me is seeing more and more people turning to energy-efficient products and solutions. They are purchasing products that do not consume as much water, such as, an energy-efficient tankless water heater for example.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One habit I have is to follow through on projects. I have a lot of self-discipline. I have the where-with-all to get it done.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to become an entrepreneur much sooner! There was a big sacrifice working 24/7 as my kids were growing up. I feel bad about missing time with my oldest son. As I expanded the business, I was able to be home more often.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I am a really honest person and I am not looking to rip anyone off. A lot of people accuse the plumbing industry of that, and I take it personally. I bend over backward to keep everybody happy. Some of the younger homeowners are disrespectful and don’t appreciate the work that you do for them. They expect everything to be free. Then, they’ll get on Facebook and tell their side. I do my best to give the best prices and still be able to eat. They just don’t care. It’s just wrong. But some people might not agree.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I would recommend that everyone follow-up and do what you say you are going to do. Follow-up with your customers and your employees. If you have a problem, nip it in the bud, don’t let it fester. A lot of people get into trouble when they ignore a problem and treat it like it will go away. Address the problem right away, don’t wait. Be proactive in this business. Go above and beyond.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Customer service is the key to growing any business. If someone calls, be attentive and answer all their questions. Follow-up and do what you say you are going to do. Go above and beyond what you’re expected to do. You have to build a good reputation with your customers and partners. People appreciate a good reputation and they will recommend Schwartz Plumbing to their friends and family.
We have a culture at Schwartz Plumbing where we don’t do the minimal amount of work. Most of my guys have been with me for over ten years. We look for a certain type of person when we hire. Once they are hired, they don’t leave. I pay them well and they are each respected members of the Schwartz Plumbing team. I treat my staff like I would want to be treated. We have a good work environment. I am proud that once they are hired they stay.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I tried to expand the business it was difficult to find the proper funding. Banks were hesitant to fund a small business. I was disappointed. But, I overcame the disappointment and used my own funds for the expansion.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Someone should create a field technician’s customer service self-check app. The best business advice I could think of is to always treat your customers as though they are your only customer. The app could incorporate self-check questions to assure that field technicians are treating customers as they would treat family.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best hundred dollars that I’ve spent was to buy my first pair of prescription glasses and the eye exam at age 53! It is great to be able to see properly again.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The application that we use is I-Fleet-Service. It allows the technicians out in the field to have vital data and information on the customers. If we go to a call we have serviced we can pull up their history. If it is an issue that we’ve dealt with before and the customer says we have a leaky toilet, we can ask which bathroom? We can see if it is a warranty issue. It also allows us to enter brands we install so that we have the right parts for the job. It is also great with billing.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I read trade magazines. I read Home Mag. It has remodeling tips and products. It is a higher-end magazine.
What is your favorite quote?
“If You Are Working On Something That You Really Care About, You Don’t Have To Be Pushed. The Vision Pulls You.” – Steve Jobs
● Always treat your customers as though they are your only customer.
● Be proactive. If you have a problem, nip it in the bud, don’t let it fester.
● Follow-up and do what you say you are going to do. Go above and beyond what you’re expected to do.
● If you are in the service industry, address problems right away, don’t wait. Be proactive in this business. Go above and beyond.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.