- Plumbers are often their own worst enemies in explaining their importance to customers
- It’s become taken for granted that if one opens the tap or flushes the toilet, it works, that everyone takes it for granted rather than seeing the magic of it
- To raise professionalism, plumbers must first see themselves as worth investing in
The role of plumbers in society is frequently misunderstood – and plumbers themselves could also do more. They are often the worst ambassadors and don’t communicate properly with consumers. Many of these PIRB articles are aimed at helping them understand the contribution they make and to effectively communicate the real worth of their skills to their consumers.
Brendan Reynolds, executive director of IOPSA, encourages plumbers to instruct their clients that unless they are not competent and qualified in plumbing they may not touch it. If one is not licensed or registered in plumbing, then they may be breaking the law if they perform that type of work.
As for plumbers themselves, all plumbers should regularly undergo extra training. Skills have never been more obtainable and accessible. The broader their shop front, the better they can service their consumers and the less likely they are to fall short on a job. Plumbers must ask themselves what they are doing to stay current. Are they looking at magazines, websites and making an investment in themselves? As an industry, plumbers don’t rate well at that. Some do, but this is one area where the individual has to make the effort. Once they have set up a few networks that work for them, it is not that hard. Information is more accessible than ever – plumbers just need to learn to tap into it.
“You first need to see yourself as worth investing in,” says Reynolds. “I think the vast majority of plumbers do not really understand the value of investing in themselves, and don’t impart to their customers how important plumbing is to human health. They don’t get it, and with that can come a lack of self worth among a lot of plumbers out there. Because plumbers themselves don’t really don’t understand how important they are, don’t communicate this to customers, consequently our society also doesn’t appropriately value them.”
In recent centuries it’s been so normal to just open the tap or flush the toilet, that everyone takes it for granted. But ordinary people don’t know where their waste goes or how it goes and maybe don’t give a second thought to how their water gets into the tap. That filters down into the way that plumbers are valued and whether or not they’re viewed as professionals by society, compared to a stockbroker or doctor.
“It’s got to start with us, as the plumbing community, really valuing what we do, and valuing how important that is to society. That society cannot live the way it does without plumbing – it is physically impossible and people would literally die. Society really starts with a plumber and with that plumber’s self image and whether they view themselves as professionals,” he says.
This may not be the case among some of the bigger plumbing companies, a lot of whom are run by successful business graduates.
“Of course, there’s a lot of plumbers out there that really do understand, exhibit their self worth and portray themselves as being professional. These firms are going a long way to changing society’s perception of what a plumber is. But sadly, the vast majority of plumbers still don’t see themselves in that way. It’s revealed in the way they present themselves, the way they speak, and the way they run their businesses. They don’t create the impression in a customer that they’re engaging with a professional trades person. Though it’s changing, there’s still a lot of work to do,” says Reynolds.
Written by Eamonn Ryan