Hire a Salesperson?

A company owner is the most motivated sales professional, a poster is told. And the discussion turns to the effectiveness of phone book advertising.

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This feature in Pumper reports noteworthy conversations that take place at the Pumper Discussion Forum, an online forum for industry professionals found at www.pumper.com. Pumper Discussion enables exchange of information and ideas on septic and drainfield installation and maintenance, trucks and equipment, portable sanitation, chemical and additives and much more. Information and advice in "Overhead Online" is offered in good faith by industry professionals. However, readers should consult in depth with appropriate industry sources before applying such advice to a specific business situation.


I have been in the plumbing business for 10 years and just bought my first full-fledged septic service truck. (I previously had a 1,000-gallon tank on a trailer using a diaphragm pump.) The truck has a 3,800-gallon vacuum tank with a Masport 400 pump. I am looking to get out of the plumbing and work on getting the new pumping business up and going. I have named the business and I'm hoping to pick up some grease trap and car wash pit accounts. I'm not a very good talker when it comes right down to it and I think it would help to hire a salesperson. I'm mainly wanting to do commercial pumping like restaurant grease traps, cleaning sewer lines and jetting, and some residential septic cleaning. What do you think of hiring a salesperson?


I disagree with hiring a salesperson. You're not going to find someone who will put the umph into it that you will. It's your business. You've got a lot more to lose if it fails than a salesperson does. I did the same thing you're doing some years back, with a commercial plumbing business and wanting to get into grease and septic. I started shaking hands and doing the best job we could. And I didn't cut anybody's prices. That's very important. Charge what you're worth. We've been growing steady ever since. Good luck.


Thank you for the reply. I really never thought of it from that perspective. The idea was to get someone out there talking to customers while I was on the job. I went out today and set up a day to get the lettering put on the truck. I hope that will help get people to know we're doing this kind of work now.

I'm really getting tired of the Yellow Pages advertising. It is very costly and I don't seem to pick up a lot of work from it, but we have to get the name out there somehow.


I'm a one-man band. The driver, salesman, secretary, etc. I like the salesman role. I like talking to people and getting the jobs. What you need to say and how to act will come over time. I'm not in the Yellow Pages and I still seem to get the work. Word of mouth is the biggest thing. I also have yard signs I put out (while on the job).

As has already been said, scrap the salesman plan. Believe it or not, the guy who doesn't look or sound like a salesman is the best salesman in this business. If you've made it 10 years at plumbing, I promise you don't need a hotshot salesman. You're him!

Don't hate the Yellow Pages game. Play it to win. The Internet will make the phone ring with price checkers, but if you dominate the phone book, you will get better customers. If you spend peanuts on advertising, you get monkeys. Spend like the customer you're looking for.

Also, as said earlier, never cut a man's price to take his job. There are plenty of customers looking for someone to replace the cheap company they aren't happy with. In my area, there are more than 25 companies. I'm the most expensive because my overhead is much higher, but I'm also the busiest because my customers are happy.


I bailed on the Yellow Pages this year. I renegotiated, reworked my ads, changed placement; everything and anything short of shelling out for the front page. The big guys don't mind pulling out all the stops and I simply cannot afford that. But I enjoyed placement toward the front of my headings for many years. I have not been seeing return on my investment for the past five years and maybe more. The last two or three years I only received a 30 percent return. I get a consistent 300 percent return on my
Internet advertising.


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