How Radio Transformed His Business

Our thanks to Cumulus Lake Charles, Lousiana’s Local Sales Manager Scott Davis for introducing us to Able Plumbing owner Maury Harrington. Maury’s business is in Lake Charles and he tells Radio Ink that radio transformed his business. Get ready to hit print and head for the copy machine folks because what Maury says in this interview is exactly why we are all in radio. (Our weekly Advertiser Success Stories are sponsored by Sun & Fun Media).
Before he opened Able Plumbing in 2005 Maury was working in the oil fields in Lafayette. His cousin was a plumber and needed a helper but Maury didn’t know anything about plumbing. But his cousin was going to pay $13 an hour, so he learned. A few weeks later he moved to Lake Charles, that was in 1995 and Maury has never looked back. Ten years later Maury decided it was time for him to open his own business. He slowly built a customer base. Then the economy went south. Instead of doing what a lot of businesses do when a recession hits — cut back on everything — Maury turned to radio.
Here’s our interview with Able Plumbing owner Maury Harrington and Cumulus Local Sales Manager Scott Davis.

Radio Ink: What was your philosophy on advertising when you first started?
Maury: I had none. I had no experience and I had not worked for anyone who did any. I never even thought about it until 2010 when things got slow. I needed to try something.

Radio Ink: How did you get turned onto radio?
Maury: From a friend at a plumbing supply warehouse. He told me he works with Scott (Scott Davis from Cumulus in Lake Charles) and told me talking to him might do me some good. I called Scott and said let’s see about doing some advertising. We needed to get our name out there to compete with other companies who had been there for 50 years or so.

Radio Ink: Scott tell us about that first meeting?
Scott: Maury is a character. He’s always laughing. The first meeting we did a client needs analysis to see things from his perspective. We wanted to see what issues he was having and what his goal was. Was it top-of-mind awareness or a call to action? What did people need to know about his business?

Radio Ink: Maury what was your first impression getting involved with the radio business?
Maury: The way Scott laid it out it all made sense. We hear advertisements all the time and you figure they’re not going to be spending all this money if it doesn’t work. We started a little at a time to see where it would go. It has done pretty good.

Radio Ink: Scott, how did you start Maury’s advertising?
Scott: He started with one or two stations. We started slow and small. We graduated into a schedule where he ran one ad per daypart, so five ads a day seven days a week. He’s been doing that for a long time. Maury, to his credit, as he saw return on his investment, decided to use some other bigger radio stations with bigger reach.

Radio Ink: Did you see results immediately?
Maury: Hell yes, it was right away. That’s when we added to it because I saw we were getting our return on investment. It was getting our name out there. People didn’t know we made house calls or did service work. My guys would go to the gas stations and people would ask, “Would you crawl under my house or get in the attic?” They didn’t know because we were a newer company. That was the key with the advertising, to let people know who we were and what we did. There are some funny moments since 2010 to now as to how crazy it went. I didn’t want to wear my Able Plumbing shirt around town. People were dressing up like me for Halloween. It has taken on its own life. The ad was really good and catchy. Scott has done an amazing job. A lot of people know the ad. We have young kids tape it and record it on their phone. Kids dating my daughter and finding PVC pipe with my name on it.

Scott: The ad we are using is pretty different. Maury and I sitting down to have a conversation and we record it and edit it into a commercial. It’s unscripted. He’s talking from the heart. The first time we did it, Maury was messing up and he made the comment “I’m a plummer not a radio guy” and started laughing. We used that in the commercial and still today we use it as his tag line. It just came off so sincere and real and it took off. When he says people were dressing up as a plumber not a radio guy, we have seen pictures on Facebook of people dressing up as a plumber. College kids, bartenders during Halloween etc.

Listen to one of Able Plumbing’s commercials HERE.

Radio Ink: Maury what would you say radio has done for your business?
Maury: Our service business back then we were probably able to run two trucks on service. Now we do six trucks on service. It has really got our name out there. I have had people say to me “I don’t have a plumbing problem now but when I do I am calling you.” It has done a lot. A lot of people ask us about it. It worked and it can work. It has to have the right people and the right ad. For the service industry it definitely works.

Radio Ink: So would you say you don’t have any doubt that radio can be successful for a local business?
Maury: I have no doubt. I am living proof that radio does work.
Scott: We were talking about the number of plumbers he had when we started. It was about four or five. Now he is at 12. Not all those plumbers are dedicated to service work, so at the time we started there was less commercial work and he put more of a focus on service work. Maury came up with a statement we repeat over and over in his commercials which is We make house calls to let people know we do residential work.

Radio Ink: What advice do you have for other businesses across the country who are thinking about advertising with radio?
Maury: If they are looking to boost their business, it is definitely worth it. You have to put the time in. You have to give it a shot. It was mentioned to me through a buddy and I put a small investment into it. It wasn’t long before we put more in because it worked. I have never complained that I couldn’t pay for my radio ads because I didn’t have enough business.

Radio Ink: Talk about the relationship you have with Scott and the service you get from Cumulus?
Maury: Scott and I hit it off right away. He’s a great guy. He’s very sincere about what he does and puts a lot of effort into it. We meshed and that’s how it started. We have a good relationship. We are friends and do business together. The first ad we did — when he came to my office to play it for me and he got that tag line in it — I said, “You’re not putting that on the radio are you?” He said, “Yes, I’m the radio guy.” Scott looks out for us. His decisions and what we do doesn’t always go to his pocket, it is what’s best for my business. Sometimes he steers me in a different direction and he looks out for us.

Radio Ink: Scott why would you say this is working so well for Maury?
Scott: When it comes to the advertising, he’s doing it right. He’s being consistent. We have the right frequency. We’re reaching a lot of people with a great message. The scheduling strategy is right. The message has been a big key. We went with an unscripted message. The guy you hear on the radio is really him. He’s not putting on a character. He’s sincere. It’s the real thing. When he talks about how he treats his customers, that’s how he does it. He’s a very giving guy. Two months out of the year he donates his advertising schedule to help a non-profit. We might take that schedule and use it for the women’s shelter to solicit donations. Then he says here’s where you can drop it off, but if you can’t you call Able Plumbing and we’ll pick it up and donate it in your name. That’s why it works.

Maury: Exactly what Scott says. People want somebody they can trust. We shoot everything from the hip and Scott puts it together. People want somebody that’s not just trying to make a buck and move on. I went to a seminar at my wife’s work for AT&T and the head guy got up talked about service. I told my wife that was Sam Walton’s deal at Walmart. You have to be nice to people and smile. We’re getting back to that now. I think Mark Cuban or somebody said be polite and take care of your customers. I think that’s why people are attracted to us. They hear my voice and believe it because it’s true. I say what I mean and mean what I say.

It’s been eight years. I looked it up on my Quickbooks so I know how much money I’ve given to Scott. We track new customers every month and every day. For this month, we have 66 new customers. The highest it has ever been is around 100 but our average is 50-60. A lot of that is due to radio. We have been tracking that since we started radio. To me that is a big number.



    • Thanks Spike. The 4 Keys to Advertising have been critical to the success of our radio campaign. Maury’s a great guy, very giving, and deserves a lot of success.


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