Listen to the audio version of this post here.


You know that task you’ve been meaning to get around to? Consider this a nudge to get on with it.

I so wish I’d done exactly that.

We woke up Sunday morning to discover we had no hot water. Not upstairs, not downstairs, not in the shower, not in the sink. I’ll tell you, the cold shower was a shock!

It was not, however, a surprise. I’d been warned.

The plumbing inspection, nearly three months ago, turned up a few things that need attention. Among them, a water heater that’s maybe 22, 23 years old? I can’t even remember exactly when it was installed.

Turns out that’s a long time for an appliance with an average life of 8 to 12 years. My plumber told me the clock was ticking and suggested we replace the old water heater pronto.

And then there was Christmastime. And Covid. And getting back to business after Covid. And I just didn’t get around to dealing with the water heater. Does this sound familiar at all?

It’s easy to put off a hassle like replacing a water heater that’s still heating water. It’s a lot of hoops to jump through, and a lot of money to spend, and it isn’t an emergency, after all.

Of course, it can always turn into an emergency. This did.

It strikes me, as I sit here listening to the plumbers hard at work in our basement, this applies to my business too. And maybe to yours?

  • What’s waiting in my inbox right now? What emails need my attention, what replies do I need to get around to writing?
  • What events are on my calendar? What calls do I need to be making so there are more events on my calendar a few months from now? What groups would benefit from my work?
  • What audiences do I need to research? What talks should I be outlining? How many handouts should I create before that gig a few weeks down the road?
  • That new coaching client—what does he need now, before our first session, to get our work together off to a good start? And what about those people who aren’t my clients yet, but they clearly should be? What am I doing today to nurture those relationships?
  • What research have I been meaning to do about other people’s approach to the issues I speak about? How much can I learn from other experts in business communication? Should I be reaching out to them?
  • And what crisis is brewing? What difficulty is developing under the surface, ready to break out into the open any minute and throw a wrench into my day?

I’ll bet you could ask a similar series of questions about the work you do, the people you serve, the other professionals you could learn from.

I don’t know about you, but when I ponder those questions, I come up with a lot of answers.

So, I am committing to jump on some of those things I need to get around to today. You can add a comment below if you’re ready to commit with me.

First, though, there’s one other business lesson from this episode that might benefit both of us.

Professionals often talk about “relationship marketing,” or “relationship sales.” We might not think, off the top of our heads, about relationship plumbing.

But I do have a relationship with my plumber. It wouldn’t even occur to me to call anyone else; these are my guys when it comes to showers and sinks and yes, water heaters.

And money has nothing to do with it.

I know from experience there are plumbers who charge less. I also know from experience their work is worth less. (Don’t get me started on that subcontractor who installed our new shower—whopper-jawed. I should have insisted on “our” plumber for the project.)

Early Sunday morning, with no hot water in the house, I wasn’t going shopping for a bargain. I called experts I can rely on. And by 6:24am I had an appointment booked with plumbers I trust. Now, I like a deal as much as anyone else. At the same time, I’m happy to pay for high-quality work. And I know that’s what I’m getting. How do I know? Because of our relationship.

Maybe your fees are higher than some others in your business? Or maybe they should be!

If your clients or customers can rely on you, if they’d call you in a pinch, if they have that kind of trusting relationship with you, you’re worth every penny. Charge it proudly.

And if you’re in the Chicago area, save this name for when you need it: John Baethke & Son Plumbing