Stories We Tell: Learning From the History of Buffalo — and Your Own Hometown


Dave Thiemecke
VP of Learning & Development
July 16, 2019
minutes to read

Get to the Point: 

  1. Two Videos Tell Us Much About the Story of Buffalo — Both show the way we view our history, our present and our future.
  2. Big Chunks of the Home Service Industry Grew From Buffalo — The plumbing, heating and cooling, and electrical fields are still here, and still flourishing.
  3. Think About What You Teach to Your Team and Your Homeowners — That may make all the difference in who you hire to serve.

Drop what you are doing and watch these two videos — both well-made considerations about Buffalo, NY. The titles tell you a lot. The first, from VOA News, is titled “Buffalo: City With a Magnificent Past Fallen on Hard Times.” The title of the second, by a local filmmaker named John Paget, is “Next Things Now.”

Both videos recite facts. One accepts the challenges as they are, and sees them as likely to continue. The other views those setbacks as life lessons paving the way to a fertile future. At Pointman, our POV aligns with the second video. Big-time. 

The videos both play with some key questions: How do you tell the story of your hometown? And what does it say about the way you view your history, your present and your future?

We ponder these questions quite a bit in Buffalo. That’s the hometown of Pointman, a city that both stresses over and celebrates its past. Today, July 16, is all about the latter. It’s “716 Day,” a date chosen due to Buffalo’s area code — 716. (WKBW-TV discussed the unique history behind that area code back in 2016.)

Buffalo, of course, is a Rust Belt city, the No. 2 city in New York state, not the snowiest city in New York (seriously), but certainly the best flavor a wing could have. It’s a city that smells like Cheerios, has suffered through notable Super Bowl defeats and is a gateway to Canada. 

If you’ve never been here before, you probably have an idea of what Buffalo is — and some of that is accurate. Much of it is not. 

OK, so what does all of this have to do with your hometown, and home services? A lot, actually. 

Wherever you live, and whatever your industry, you face the question of how to tell your hometown’s story. Which way do you choose — the one that draws the same line, or the one that says we can draw a new line starting today?

Personally, I feel both. I see generations of my family bound-up in the story of Buffalo. My grandparents told me what it felt like to live when the decline was not a forgone conclusion, and to see it lost. As a father myself, my viewpoint is about what’s been found, and where we’re going. 

At Pointman, we tell our children how big chunks of the home service industry grew from Buffalo at the turn of the 20th century, and what that means to the world today. Yes, more than a century later, these fields — plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical — are still here, and still flourishing. Just like in your town. 

Yet there is a problem, and that’s attracting the next generation of blue collar workers. We look closely at this issue at Pointman, and it impacts how we tell our own story and the story of Buffalo. 

Pointman itself is a story of people who stayed and convinced more to join. We took knocks and setbacks that taught us the most important things to attend to. We give that back to you as our highest calling every day.

How do you live your story every day? In your business, what do you teach to your team and your homeowners? That may make all the difference in who you hire to serve. We hear all the time about the struggles in attracting employees. If that’s your biggest problem as a business owner, it might come down to how you’re telling your company’s story. 

Think back to your children. When you tell them the story of their hometown, do you frame it as one of negativity or positivity? My own dad told me not to go into his business. In some ways I'm still catching up to him.

Interestingly, the Buffalo of today has not forgotten the history of the home services industry. Just a few weeks ago the new Explore & More — The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum opened its doors, and it highlights the city’s early use of electric street lights, Nikola Tesla’s alternating current and the birth of the air conditioner.

The spirit of always forward lives on, and it drives us here at Pointman. Do you have big dreams for your business? We’d love to show you our software in action, learn more about your business and help you tell your own story — the right way for you.

4. Add-On or Upsell Count and Amount

Here, we’re looking at repairs sold beyond the original reason for the call. Every time you enter a customer’s home your techs have the chance to sell value added work, beyond the repair itself. If you’re training your techs to sell add-on products, don’t you want to know who's doing it well, and who may need a training refresher?

5. Agreement Opportunities/Sales

Maintenance agreements are the key to a consistent client base and essential for keeping your team busy during the shoulder seasons. Every time your technician is in the home of a non-member there is an opportunity to sell. Are they delivering? You need to know.

6. Future Opportunities

Are your technicians talking to customers with forced air heat about the improved comfort that comes with a humidifier? How about the benefits of water softeners or whole-house surge protection? If the customer is interested, but not now, you need to be able to follow up on those opportunities.

How much money do you think gets left on the table just by failing to make a follow-up call to reintroduce an offered product or service? Tracking these opportunities can be the secret to putting more of that money in your pocket. These opportunities are the gold dust that’s hiding in your business. With a little work, there’s a lot of money just waiting to be panned for and earned.

7. Replacement Opportunities/Sales

Repairing a capacitor on a 17-year-old condenser, or the pilot on a 12-year old hot water tank? These are opportunities for replacement, and your techs should be offering that as an option along with the repair itself. You can determine what you consider a replacement opportunity in your business. But regardless of the conditions you establish, you want to know which of your techs is making the most of them. 

And if they didn’t sell? See the previous item. You should be setting this as an opportunity for a follow up.

Have any recommendations for additional information you’ve found to be essential? How do you make sure your team shares these details after each visit? We’d love to know — drop us a line here.

Pass Along these Points

There's more where that came from.