How serious is Patrick Grogan about providing the best possible customer service?

Serious enough that his own son had to interview twice for a summer job with his company. “If I didn’t think he was qualified or if my office coordinator didn’t think he was qualified he wouldn’t have been hired,” said Grogan, owner of Pat Plumbing Heating and Air in Topeka, Kan.

Placing customer satisfaction and service above all else has helped the company grow steadily since its founding in 2005. Pat Plumbing Heating and Air now provides a full range of residential plumbing services in greater Topeka, including drain cleaning, sewer line replacement and water heaters, as well as the heating and air conditioning services he added three years ago.

The company could be bigger, but Grogan will not sacrifice service quality for growth. After working for several other plumbing companies, he struck out on his own in order to be able to do things the way he thinks they should be done.

And that means using RIDGID® tools. While they’re not the cheapest available, they’re worth the investment, Grogan said: “We’re out here making a living and supporting our families every day with these tools. We can’t afford to have them fail.”

For example, the company once re-piped a car wash where the copper lines had frozen and burst. Using the RP 240 Compact Press Tool meant the job was done in half the time and with a 5 percent higher profit margin, Grogan said.

And great tools make it easier to provide great customer service. “Every single customer matters. I mean, every single customer. One of our core values is making ecstatic customers,” he said. Not merely satisfied, but “ecstatic. 

“Ecstatic customers are evangelists for your company. And they will defend your company when you’re not there because they think you’re so great,” Grogan said. 

How does he ensure that performance? The 45-year-old Army veteran puts his faith in these processes and procedures:

  • Hire the best. Pat Plumbing Heating and Air is constantly hiring and will bring on the right candidate, regardless of demand. Wait until you need someone and you might be forced to settle for an inferior candidate. Grogan said he hires only the top 10% of applicants.
  • Hire for core qualities and culture. In addition to the usual background checks and drug screens, Grogan looks for integrity, honesty and other qualities. He also makes sure they’ll be a good fit in the small, high-performing company.
  • Look professional. Technicians wear blue pants and white shirts with buttoned-down collars and a flag on the shoulder. Not only do they wear booties in the house, they bring their own piece of carpeting on which to wipe their shoes beforehand.
  • Get to know the customers. The first thing technicians do is talk to the customers, not only to learn about the problem, but to get to know them. Before visits, the company emails a picture of the technician as well as some personal information about him or her so the customer can readily identify them.
  • Price jobs up front. The company never uses time-and-material billing; it quotes jobs up front and sticks with that price, regardless of the time involved.
  • Provide choices. Many companies choose the option for the customers; having a range of high-performing and versatile RIDGID tools allows Pat Plumbing Heating and Air to present a number of options and let the customer choose.
  • Use technology. Technicians have iPads and iPhones and use ServiceTitan software to manage operations.
  • Clean up. “People forgive a lot of things, but they don’t forgive when you leave a mess,” Grogan said.
  • Follow up. All customers get surveys and anything less than a perfect score prompts a contact to determine why. If there’s a problem, it gets fixed. “If we didn’t deliver, we want to know why, if there was a disconnect somewhere. We have such a great process that all of our customers should be ecstatic when we’re done,” Grogan said, adding that the company has a 69% repeat customer rate.

In addition to the RP 240 Compact Press Tool, Pat Plumbing Heating and Air has three RIDGID SeeSnake® camera reels with monitors, a SeekTech SR-20 Locator and four K-50 sectional drain cleaners, as well as pipe cutters, saws, drills and wet/dry vacs.

“One of the reasons I like RIDGID tools is because they’re durable. They’re made to be beat up. It’s very rugged, well-built, durable equipment,” Grogan said, recalling once when he dropped a RIDGID Press Tool. “I about wanted to cry when it fell off the ladder, but I picked it up and it didn’t affect it in any way,” he said.

He also praised RIDGID’s speed at repairing or replacing broken tools: “If we don’t have the tools we can’t generate revenue. Plus, we have to put off our customers and they might have an emergency.”

The company will continue to grow by doing things the right way, Grogan said, adding, “There’s always an opportunity to improve our process.”