RecognizeGood: As a founder, how have you found your personal ethics or values cascading down to everybody who works for you?
Chris : Well, from the beginning, when the recent ice storm went down it was very important for me, for ethics to be very high up on the list of priorities. If I don’t feel good about it, then it’s not happening. So for me, it’s very simple – you treat your employees very well, you treat your customers very well. I come from a restaurant family, so service has been ingrained since I was a kid.
You lead by example, take care of your people, listen to your people, hear your people and take time with your customers. Sometimes I’m on a phone call that some companies may keep to one minute. I might spend 10 minutes on that call ’cause I think it’s important to get to know your customers and get to know your people. So for us, it’s pretty straightforward – we treat people really well, and that is the most important thing because to me, it’s about people ultimately. Whether it’s customers or employees, it’s about the people.
RecognizeGood: Well, without setting up anyone – we’re not throwing anybody else under the bus – is that common in your industry?
Chris Siebenthaler: I have never gotten into the game of grading other companies. If somebody calls me and says how is so and so? And I say, well, they do their business differently than we do. I think my background lends specifically to that type of attention a little bit more. My previous employment was with another plumbing company for over 20 years and you know, I get calls and it’s like “Oh Mrs. Johnson, how are you doing? How are the grandkids?” It’s just an extra added level of knowing your customers and enjoying those experiences.
It becomes something a little bit more than calling a plumber to come out and fix a toilet. It’s more of a relationship and it’s the development of those relationships that really drive me.
RecognizeGood: Most homeowners aren’t really going to know what the actual problem is until you explain it to them so transparency becomes really important. Why is transparency so important for you in your industry?
Chris: Transparency for me, ultimately makes you sleep better. It’s always easier to be honest and upfront with people and out in the field it’s the same way.
Sometimes you have to have uncomfortable conversations with people, and in plumbing, those conversations can lead into relatively embarrassing situations for some folks. But, like a doctor, you don’t make it embarrassing. It’s strictly plumbing, and so for us, we’re just honest across the board. We don’t candy coat things, we’re just honest with people about their systems and expectations and that just helps you sleep better at night, being transparent, being honest. Let us show you what’s going on – that tends to help out quite a bit.
It’s when things get brushed under the rug where it starts to go foul, and that’s not a place that we ever want to be at Redbud Plumbing.
RecognizeGood: I love that sentiment. What are some other specifics on how you try to treat people well?
Chris: Sure. I’m generally the first person to get to the show and, I go around and I say good morning to every single person that’s present. It’s all about greeting and asking them if they have everything they need to do their jobs and and facilitating if necessary. I just want the employees specifically to be very open and honest about what they need because we are there to help them do their jobs better and if they need something and want to come to me or vice versa, having those types of open relationships and conversations makes it easier for people to bring up things that might be less comfortable.
Like, “I overlooked this item.” No problem. I will call the customer and let them know we’re not perfect, but it’s how you respond to those situations that cleans everything up nicely. I like to talk to all of our customers and I’ve always liked the phone to come through me primarily because I like to make first contact and talk to people about their issues and flush everything out. Treat people with respect.
“Thanks, ma’am, Mrs., Sir, yes please, thank you,” – general service things like following up with people and asking them how their service went. Do they see any room for improvement on our side? So it’s about open dialogues with both customers and employees. I mean, as far as employees are concerned, I get into their lives. If you need to go spend a day with your grandma if she’s sick, go ahead. You know, it’s all about the human experience, and for me, that’s the way it’s always been in life.
There is so much more above the mighty dollar. Money is great. We’re all in this for money. I mean, it’s that’s plain and simple, but it’s the human experience that touches me. I want to have impact on our employees’ lives.
There is so much more above the mighty dollar. Money is great. We’re all in this for money. I mean, it’s that’s plain and simple, but it’s the human experience that touches me. I want to have impact on our employees’ lives. The younger generation, I want to be open for them. I want them to draw on my experiences in life and anyway I can help them out because I want everybody to succeed in their personal lives and professionally as far as our employees are concerned. So that’s the company that we want to have and that we do have.