...In the news. As featured in the February 2022 edition of the Plumbing Africa Magazine:

“I had no intention of becoming a plumber when I left school and I became a plumber by chance,” says Cane. 

“A relative of mine ran a plumbing business and he invited me to join him. So began my plumbing career in 1995. My parents were not happy, but I forged on. 

“After spending the better part of 20 years in the industry, I have seen the good and the bad. Having experienced both sides of the plumbing coin – maintenance and contracting – has provided me with a broader view of the industry and I have learnt the pitfalls that can befall a plumber, or any tradesperson for that matter. 

Both are tough and hard but worthwhile if you commit yourself to the chosen path and are prepared to learn. “It was these lessons that provided me with the ability to establish a run my own business today. 

“The maintenance side is very face-to-face, and you’re dealing with people that really do not care about the technical side of plumbing, but rather that the blocked drain is unblocked, that the tap stops leaking and the many other issues the consumer is faced with when the plumbing stops! 

“What the consumer wants is to sort out the problem so Ms Jones can have a nice bath and Mr Jones can enjoy his shower, both after a long day of work. 

The everyday dealing with consumers and respecting them as customers is important. Be aware of their space. They have asked you to come and sort out the problem, but it does not entitle you to arrive poorly dressed, dripping oil over their driveway, and treating the customer like you are doing them a favour. 

“Bad news travels fast. It is so easy to believe that once one has a qualification and is working for a boss, which may or may not be ideal, that it is easy to go out on your own. If it were that easy, just think how many plumbers we would have. 

I speak of qualified plumbers, of course. Before doing this ask oneself, what do I know about: planning, pricing correctly, is my time management good, do I have the experience to go it alone, and so on. 

The world is a lonely place when starting a business. “Plumbers are never taught the soft skills of business. As a plumber, one has the technical knowledge, understands the value of quality products and how to do the job, but that is only one part of it. One needs to understand the customers, how people think. Invariably the customer is angry when one gets to the call. 

They are frustrated and not in any mood to dive straight into technical talk until you have listened and allowed the customer to calm down. 

Speak softly and politely, arrive on time or if not, call the customer to show you care, and on arrival check where your vehicle is parked so as not to cause inconvenience to the customer. 

Once you have listened carefully, you will be able to offer the solution(s). Professional service provides the customer with the best service experience which includes tidying up after leaving the customer feeling good and happy. This is what builds up a business. 

“On the contracting side, whilst there is always a customer, this person is not visible because they engage in the bigger side of their business. Here one is dealing with the main contractor and the engineer in some cases. They want the job done according to the contract! This does not mean they are not human, but getting the job done is paramount. 

One’s planning must be spot-on, be prepared for 99% of eventualities to ensure the work is complete, and on time. 

“So, why did I become a plumbing contractor? By chance. But it was the best chance I ever took because in my 20 years I have learned so much from people around me, that I can open my own business fully in the knowledge that I learnt from the best, listened, and applied such guidance and advice. 

“I can now pass this on to my team to enable them to grow and to follow the path before them. “Finally, without passion one is dead in the water. If you cannot be passionate about what you do and have the ability, through your actions, to share that passion, you will limp along a very unhappy and disillusioned person.”