This article originally appeared in NARI’s Tuffin’ It Out series.
Noticing that customers often asked the same questions about using the products he installed, Ward Gilbert, owner of Gilbert Plumbing in Mesa, Ariz., developed a much-needed customer service tool known as Plumbpedia™. It is an online resource hub, filled with how-to videos, information and manufacturer links of the products he installs. The tool also has the capability to be uploaded onto a device through the Apple iTunes store.
Gilbert and his employees wrote out a list of the most popular questions from homeowners. They prioritized them by frequency. Then, he called the manufacturer rep and asked them if they would be willing to shoot a how-to video, addressing the very issues people were calling about.
“Our first video was with a rep from Delta, and it was about adjusting the temperature setting on Delta single-handle tub and shower valves,” Gilbert says. “I wrote a script and put a green screen in one of our construction trailers, set up cameras and audio and used Final Cut Pro to edit the video.”
The tool addressed a business concern Gilbert encountered six years ago—when his company was much larger—but over time it has evolved into something very different.
The tool was successful in addressing the customer service issue Gilbert was having. In the height of the development of Plumbpedia™, Gilbert was averaging one to two videos per month. He saved time servicing and answering questions about things that didn’t require professional assistance, and even the contractors were happily using the tool as a selling point to homeowners.
“Plumbing as an industry makes more scheduled stops (as in, customer visits) than any other trade,” Gilbert says. “So if we can solve the problem through a video, it saves us a lot of time and money.”
Today, Gilbert’s company is much smaller, and his core business now comes from repair and maintenance of existing plumbing systems, which means he no longer is interested in reducing visits to customers.
Despite the economic change, the tool has proved to be a huge asset to Gilbert Plumbing in that it sets him apart from his competition by being an online example of his company’s expertise.
Over the last six years, Gilbert has produced 18 videos ranging from maintenance of specific products to general plumbing how-to topics like garbage disposal maintenance.
And people are watching. “The first Delta video has 48,975 YouTube views,” Gilbert says.
In terms of SEO benefits, the videos have knocked the Gilbert Website traffic out of the park.. “I would say six years ago, we had no contact to clients through our Website and that was probably because we were involved heavily in new construction,” he says. “Today, 40 percent of our clients make the first point of contact through our Website, and 60 percent research our site and call us as the first point of contact.”
Gilbert believes the videos have positioned his company as an expert and Plumbpedia™ as the most reliable source of information in his area.