Listen in as we interview Kayla Stevenson, marketing manager at Polestar Plumbing, Heating & Air.
She shares some amazing insights on how they are leveraging the internet, social media and online marketing in general to keep their phones ringing, their 20+ truck operation running & business booming!
On this video Kayla shares her experience working with our team:
This is Josh Nelson with the plumbing and HVAC marketing podcast, and today I’m super excited to share an interview with you of Kayla Stevenson from Polestar Plumbing, Heating and Air. They’re a full service plumbing and HVAC contractor serving the Greater Kansas City Market. And on this interview, they share some amazing insights into how they’ve been able to grow it over 20 trucks, how they’ve developed over 960 Google reviews, and some really interesting insights on how they’re leveraging social media to interact with new customers and engage with their existing customer base. Great interview. Check it out.
Hi, everybody. Thank you for joining in with us today. My name is Alison, and I’m interviewing Kayla over at Polestar Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning. Kayla, you are the marketing manager. Is that correct? Yes, that’s correct. Awesome. So if you can just introduce yourself to everybody, let them know what you do there and give us a little bit of a background on Polestar.
Okay, so hi, guys. I’m Kayla. I’m the marketing coordinator here at Polestar Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. A little background on Polestar. So we’ve actually been serving the Greater Kansas City area for almost 36 years now. We’ve been around a long time since 1984. And we have about 40 employees and 20 trucks. And the thing about the Greater Kansas City area is, we’re on state line of Missouri and Kansas. So we service the entire area on both sides of the state. So a pretty vast area.
How is it to market that? Isn’t a little bit hard to try to say, you know, you service one state and also another at the same time?
Yeah, I mean, I don’t think the marketing is where the the issues come into play, because it’s still that area. I mean, it’s it’s a large amount of people. So you do want to broadcast as, you know, as much as possible and be omnipresent everywhere. In front of their faces. So what the issues get into is more getting licensed for service in different sides of the states. That’s something that other people might not have to worry about. But not only do we have to get, you know, licensed to do business in Kansas, we also have to in Missouri, and Missouri works completely different than Kansas does. So that’s where it gets a little crazy.
That’s where it kind of like juggles on you.
Yeah, other companies may not have to worry about that if they’re in a rural area and other states.
So right. I mean, there’s some people who service, you know, quite like a tri state area, or something like that. So you’re not alone in that side of the business. But I know that it’s not as often that you see something like that. So it’s pretty cool that you’ve been able to kind of master both different states.
And so we’ll go into quick question, because you said that you’ve been around since the 80s. So how long have you been with the company?
So I’ve been with the company since last May. So a little bit over a year. And I actually started out as a customer service rep. And then I think it was the end of January is where I kind of transferred into the marketing area. So I went from a customer service rep to marketing. So how that happened was, I started helping out with the social media. And as a millennial, they’re like, oh, she probably knows how to do social media, because it just comes naturally to us. So I started helping out with that. And then the guy that was in marketing before he wanted to go a different route in sales. And so they were we’re going to hire someone and they’re like, well, how about you do it? And so I was like, okay, and so I just completely dove into it. And I love it. I’m trying to learn everything I can. And you guys have helped me out a ton as well with the marketing. And I do think that starting out in the customer service rep position was really helpful, because it helped me with the industry language. You know, that’s something that is beneficial. Like, it’s not necessary, I’d say, but it definitely is beneficial whenever you’re trying to market to that specific industry. So I think that was awesome that I got to start there and then moved in this position.
Yeah, I mean, that happened pretty quickly for you. So congratulations. Thank you. And I can understand I mean, as millennials, we are like the younger generation, we’re the the youngest working class right now. And so I’m sure there’s a lot of business owners out there who may have some co stars that are willing to step up to that plate. So could you say anything to maybe a business owner that may want to, you know, hand off marketing to someone?
Yeah. So I think that obviously, there’s a lot of trust that goes into that. But if you see a hunger, and then some people look at millennials as lazy, but what I have noticed about our generation is, we just want to feel value. So if we’re looking for a company, and where we see growth potential, we will want to stay there, we’re not going to want to hop around because we feel like we’re a part of the growth process. So I just say for business owners that maybe we’re looking for those millennials, there’s hungry ones out there. It’s just if they see value in a roadmap for success, then they’ll want to stick around. And they’ll definitely put their heart into it. Like it was their own company. So that’s, that’s it.
That’s awesome. Okay, so then back to the business. So you’ve been with them for about a little bit over a year. And you guys started with us earlier this year, if I’m not mistaken, with Deanna. And she has amazing things to say. We actually had the pleasure of meeting in person. Yeah, earlier this year, March. So that was pretty cool. But um, so how did the company itself start?
So our CEO, Mark, he is actually third generation. So his grandfather, he loves tell a story but his grandfather, he started out his own business a long time ago, I don’t know the exact date but. And then his father did it. He had his own plumbing, heating, cooling business, so and then he did it as a 22 year old. So he went right into it, he, he went to college for it, and then he graduated early. And the economy, I think that was in the 80s. So the economy at that point was not very good. But the thing about plumbing, heating, cooling is everyone needs you. Whether you know you already have that foundation, because whether they want you or not, you know, they’re gonna need you regardless. And so that’s, that’s the good thing about it. And yeah, he’s done this for his whole life. Like, whenever he had his dad and his grandpa, he’s, were having their own businesses. He’s been in the shop with them. Right from the trenches. He was a technician. And so it just runs in his blood.
Yeah. So then, is there a fourth generation on the way also?
Yeah, so actually, his son just started in, I think, the end of May, as a business developer, so he’s helping out with all of our organization thing. So whenever you ramp up your marketing, a lot of times you see things come up that in house that you need to fix those processes before you can, you know, ramp it up if step farther, especially when you’re in a growth spurt, like we are. And so he’s helping out with all those organization, and just the day to day operation, things that we need in order to grow. So it’s really exciting. And we’re, we’re in the right direction, for sure.
That’s awesome. That’s amazing. And so you mentioned a growth spurt, do you mean, you’re running 20 trucks? Is it but you weren’t running this these many not too long ago, or even starting to bring on more additional people?
Yeah, so and I think the way that we’ve grown is we have a really solid foundation really good customer base. And we’ve just, you know, we as we grow, bringing more people, you know, as we grow, bringing more people, but now, our goal is to become the greatest, the biggest company in plumbing heating cooling company in Kansas City. That’s our goal in our mindset here, across the board and the company. So yes, we’re bringing in more people, we have more trucks than usual, we’re trying to get more creative. I mean, bringing in companies like you strategic partners to help us grow, things like that, that they had never done before. Because the mindset wasn’t to, at that point, wasn’t looking at, oh, let’s become the biggest plumbing heating cooling company in Kansas City. But now that’s where we’re headed. So we’re really excited. And that’s the growth spurt that we’re going through right now.
That’s, that’s great. I mean, 20 trucks is a lot of trucks. I know that’s hard to manage. So congratulations on that. I mean, just off the bat 20 trucks. It sounds like you’re not too far away from becoming the biggest plumbing and heating company in Kansas City. I can wrong. I’m not sure you know how deep that competition can be. But 20 trucks, you can’t be too far behind.
Yeah, or our market is very saturated. That’s the thing, because we’re on that state line there. Even Deanna, she said that, whenever she looks at our market, she’s like, it is a crazy amount of plumbing, heating and cooling companies. I don’t know off the top of my head how many. But there’s tons. And it’s just it’s kind of crazy how many there is and some of them come and go. But there are those monsters.
Well, I understand. I mean, bigger cities like that. That’s where you see such, you know, saturated markets. It’s a little bit more expensive of a cost per click. And so that kind of speaks to why it’s so important to have a marketing manager in house overseeing all of the data, and not just having the owner kind of juggle all of the hats. But with something as big as 20 trucks? I’m sure you guys have at least four CSRs, if I’m not mistaken. How many in the office would you say?
How many people in the office all together?
Out of those 40 there’s probably about 15? in the office? Yeah.
So it’s a big staff. I mean, overall, a huge staff.
And we’re growing and growing as well.
Yeah. And so it takes a lot to manage such a big staff. And so what trainings have you guys gone through? Do you bring anybody in house to train? Or do you seek that, you know, through the internet? How is it that you can get you know, a leader in every single department to kind of pull this company forward? I mean, it does take a lot for a company as big as yours?
Yeah. So I mean, it all comes down to organization, and just trying implement things that are simple that everyone can know how to do, you know, because whenever you’re growing, sometimes you have to wear more hats than, you know, your actual position. But, and as far as training goes, we did for a while we used Power Selling Pros for our CSRS. Sso that really helped out and they give really good feedback on the CSRS to train them how to sell and be empathetic, even to a customer, you know, the human side of these customers that whenever they’re calling in, and they’re plumbing, heating, cooling, we just think of it as the job. But these people are going through the heat and the cold and all that. And so, you know, those kind of processes as well. I’d just say making everything as organized and simple as possible so we can all, you know, be on the same page and everyone knows how to do everything.
Definitely. So when it comes to marketing, are there other channels that you guys utilize besides our services as an internet marketing company?
Yeah, we do, we do quite a bit of different areas. So one thing that we just started up is TV and radio. And so as far as TV and radio goes, I think that the way we have it set up is they complement each other really well. So like we’ll do, we’ll hit like Sunday night news. And then we hit really heavy Monday morning on radio. And so the people that may be at solace, and like, in the back of their mind Sunday night, they’re getting ready to prepare for the week. And oh, you know, I did need to call plumbing heating cooling company because I had this issue. And then they hear my hear us on their way to work Monday morning, and it just, it kind of like hits them back to back
Right. It clicks. It’s like oh wait, I just heard about them.
And, and what we really like, just like, how you guys are exclusive to certain areas. So I’m for radio, that’s kind of what we look for. Because obviously, we don’t want to be doing the same things our competitors are doing, especially when we’re growing. And so on our radio show, we’re the only one that does a sponsor for that show during the day. So he doesn’t sponsor any other people during his show. It’s almost like a word of mouth referral, like he’ll say, you know, you plumbing, he’ll do our campaign and say, You need to call Polestar Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning. He doesn’t do that for any other company. So we really like that about it as well.
Okay, that’s awesome. I mean, exclusivity is so important, especially with such a saturated market as yourselves. I mean, it’s impossible to use someone’s services, and then have them also be assisting your competitor. It’s just unethical. And so that’s something that I love about, you know, the company that I work for, and I love working with my clients. So although we don’t work personally together, Deanna, she works closely in your market, she understands your market. And I guess, I mean, I assume that that’s probably one of the most valuable things that you guys get from us. I’m sure you have have many other things to say. But with Deanna, knowing your market, in specific, it does help us when it comes down to the type of leads that we’re trying to get you, the conversion on that, and the return on investment that you’re seeing on your end. So, again, I mean, that obviously, hands down is very important. So then a couple of questions. You had mentioned that you first started with the social media? Are you continuing to work in that avenue? How important would you say that social media is in today’s day and age?
I think it’s all about the way that you do it. Because of our industry, I think that sometimes we can get caught up in thinking that everyone’s super interested in plumbing, heating, cooling, like, or we throw out these brand names that homeowners, they might not be as excited as we are about them. And so I think it’s all about the way that you do social media. So it can be really huge. So if you just relate more to like, what are your customers wanting to see, they’re not wanting to see, like, little memes or, you know, like, things like that, that they might not even understand. So what we do with our social media is, and I think we’ve gotten pretty good at it is doing like the technicians, they’ll send me pictures, like selfies of them in the field. It’s more lifestyle, like, what are we doing here? Like, I just think that our customers relate to that more. And then like, yeah, so and then we just started up today, actually, our first we did like a Polestar live. That’s what we call it in. It’s a live YouTube video. And I interview a technician and he goes over like different things that homeowners want to know about. Like today, we went over air filters, and we can post that on our social media and just get more engagement with that.
Yeah, and I mean, it takes no time on on your end to do that. I mean, it’ll probably take no more than five minutes to interview a technician. But it does bring so much value to your profile. And although, I mean, social media is free, I mean, we don’t have to necessarily advertise on social media to have a presence on there. And so it costs us nothing, as you know, companies to go on there, do a quick live, and then it’s good content for someone to reference in the future, and kind of give you a homey feel, right. So it makes you more relatable for the person searching. And so that’s a good idea. So that’s actually something that I’m going to keep in mind for my clients when I speak to them. Um, yeah, an interview like that. That goes a long way.
Yeah. And what we suggest to the people that tune in to our show is like, they can comment videos, because obviously, we don’t want to sit there and talk about things that they don’t want to hear. So if they comment, like suggestions for future videos of different topics that we want to cover, so that way, we’re not just talking and they’re like, we don’t care about that.
Yeah, and they log off, right? You want to keep them engaged in the content that you’re producing.
Yeah. It’s all about the engagement. And I think that if they see us, you know, what are we doing as a company? And how’s the, you know, what’s the culture like, and all that kind of stuff. That’s what customers want to see out of us, or even contests. We do contests as well on our social media, and we try to do video because I know whenever I try to think about what I do, and whenever I’m on Facebook, and I see a video, even if it’s the dumbest thing, like I’ll sit there and watch it. So you know, those little videos that, maybe only take 30 seconds. Those those are what gets engagement.
Yeah. And so when you say our show, I mean, can you speak a little bit more to that? It sounds intimidating for someone who may be listening in like, you know, I have a company to run I already have so many things to do. I can’t imagine starting a show on social media. Can you just speak to that real quick? I know I mean, it doesn’t take much time. Maybe just one person in the in the staff can be in charge of that. And so can you maybe discuss how you guys got that started?
Yeah, so actually, one of our CSRS, he does like a lot of digital stuff for us as well, because he’s really into that. And he came up with the idea. And so I said, Yeah, sure, I’ll host it. And, you know, it does, people might think that it takes a lot of time. But really today, all I did was I got the technician that I knew would speak well about that certain topic. And then I just cut him a break during his jobs that he’s going to that day. And then I prepared a couple of questions to go over with him. And it took literally 10 minutes. And so we just sat in front of the camera. And the thing about live is, you don’t want to keep redoing it. As soon as you put it on, you know, it’s on there. So it really doesn’t take much time. And that’s something that will be on your YouTube, and you can stream it on Facebook. You know, you can put that anywhere and use it multiple times. So it’s not something that you have to keep redoing, it will be on there for as long as you want it to. So it really didn’t take much time, we’re probably going to do that once a month now that we started it. And we saw a lot of engagement on it today. So I think it’s beneficial.
Yeah, I mean, at once a month, it doesn’t take too much time out of your schedule. And so for anybody listening, I think this is a fantastic idea. Just get with your staff and listen to all of their strengths. I’m sure there’s somebody on staff that can be willing and able to do something like this. And I think that even a small 10 minute interview with one of your technicians will really go a long way. So Kayla, thank you for that awesome insight and little nugget, I hope someone else replicates because again, I mean, it’s a great idea.
And real quick to add on to what you said, I completely agree. And also, I just thought of this as you were talking. The way that it makes the technician feel special that just helps out immediately with culture. And yeah, you know, he’s gonna feel special, like, oh, wow, they asked me to be a part of this, because they know, I’m knowledgeable in this area. So like, if you think about it from that aspect as well, that’s something that can help the company’s culture as well.
Yeah, and culture. I mean, especially in nowadays, it’s so important, it’s very hard to find technicians, and then it’s harder to keep them. So as long as the morale is up in the office, the culture is there, and you’re recognizing your technicians for you know, anything small, even as simple as an interview, or just hey, you know, you did a great job, we saw that review come in. I mean, that keeps that you know that morale up. And so, in the long run, it’s only going to help you.
Yeah, and that’s something that I know some companies struggle with because even we have. So whenever your technicians are just out in the field all day, and we’re here with all the day to day processes in the office, you know, just simple things like that can connect the two because sometimes you just feel like they might feel isolated. And that’s just a way to bring them in and feel a part of the growth of the company. So if you look at it from that it’s very beneficial.
That’s awesome. I mean, you’d never want to just send them out there and kind of forget them and say, “Oh, thanks for doing the job.”
Yeah, we wouldn’t be here without them.
Right? Yeah. And so then kind of piggybacking on to the reviews side of things, how is it that you guys generate your reviews? Do you ask for views? Do you make it a competition internally with your technicians? Give us a little bit of insight on how you guys do that.
Okay. So as we know, reviews are huge nowadays. Like, it’s basically like word of mouth. I even before didn’t really give reviews myself. But I know, whenever I’m going to search for a product or a restaurant, I don’t move forward with anything unless they have good reviews on it.
I know, there’s so many people like that.
It’s crazy. And so yeah, it really is like it’s more valuable than a referral. And obviously, with SEO and all that we know, we understand that side of it. But in house, so right now on Google, we’re sitting at a 4.8 with about 930 reviews. And so we’re pretty close to 1000, which is exciting.
That’s a lot of reviews.
Yeah, that’s a milestone, right. I’d say for our company, everyone here understands the value of them. And we’re really passionate about them. So we put a lot of emphasis on it. So every day we bring in the technicians for their meetings, and they go over, you know, the importance of reviews, but even I’ll send them (they probably get annoyed with me), but I’ll send them little motivational reminders. I have them all in a group text and I’ll throw things out there about, like the importance of reviews and I always congratulate. So, if I saw a technician got a five star review the day before, I’ll throw their name out there in the text. So they get a shout out. And I think that they like that they’re like, oh, cool, you know, they shouted out my name because I got a five star.
And also whenever customers complete jobs, I always send out review reminders, even though we do the automatic review request as well. I always send out just a one time email that they get about the review and our review contest.
So I’ll go into that. We have a once a month, I do a drawing for our reviews from our customers. So we also involve our customers in it, as well as our technicians. So they get a chance to win $100 Visa gift card whenever they submit a Google or Facebook review for us. So I put them into a drawing. And then what we do is, we do a video whenever we’re picking up the winner. And so that’s on our social media. So our customers can be a part of that and see us actually drawing the winner. And then we always bring the customer in and give them their gift card and we talk with them and thank them, obviously. And we always get a picture for our social media as well. And so we involve our customers, and then I’ll text the technicians like hey, that was your customer that won the $100 Visa gift card, and then it gets them all excited. And then they can use that to tell their other customers like hey, my customer won last month, like so I must be pretty lucky.
Yeah, I mean, it’s just like a fun, hey, you know, give us a review you have this chance. You know, engaging the client with the technician. So that’s great. That’s another good idea. So definitely have a couple of great insights. You’ve only been there a year, but I’m sure that that the company has felt the impact, the positive impact since you’ve stepped into this role.
Yeah, and I have really good people around me that, you know, help me out. Like our owner, he’s so creative, and he’s he’s constantly sending me like emails of like, different marketing things. And so if I have time, I can look through them and get ideas in my head. And so or jot them down and save them for later, even if it’s not something we want to move forward with yet. And so I just have really good people around me as well to help this and get everyone on the same page, like and understand the importance of this kind of stuff.
Definitely. So then two questions left. The first thing about the owner. So you are the marketing manager, but can you speak to how important it is, even if the owner, you know, isn’t necessarily in the office every day, but how important it is for them to be very, you know, involved in the business, and how that helps with you and your job. And then you know, others in the office and your technicians?
Well, what I really like, if I just connect it to the owner that we have here, I really, I just feel value whenever he’s so interested in what I’m doing. Because when I go share with him an idea some people might be intimidated if their owner, you know, might not care to move forward or care about the marketing side of it. But because our owner is so open and excited and passionate about this marketing side of it, and he understands the importance, whenever I go with go to him with an idea, he gets me excited about it. I mean, he’ll definitely tell me if he doesn’t think it’s a good idea. But he’ll always be there to listen and get me excited about it or even give me feedback. Because if I just told him everything, and he’s like, yeah, move forward with it, you know, it would end up running the show. Yeah. So the fact that we can kind of bounce ideas off each other, and he’s so creative as well, you know, that definitely, definitely helps out.
Awesome. And so my last question, which really is a free for all, do you have anything else you’d like to say to anybody who may be listening in?
Yeah, so I’d say, as coming from a business owners perspective of this, I’d say what our CEO, he says, You can’t be an island. I mean, you can’t just think that you can reinvent the wheel. And that’s something that some of them do, and they get stuck in their ways. And they don’t want to do the latest technology, or they let their ego get in the way. But there is you know, round tables like next our service round table that you can reach out to and share ideas with other plumbing, heating cooling companies, because if it’s working in another state, it’s definitely going to, it’s not just like you need to recreate everything, you just need it learn how to implement it in your own way. It might not be the same way they implement it. But the creative side of it, you know.
Right, these building principles that you can just reference while you’re building yours.
Yeah. And as far as like some I know, some people, or some business owners, let their ego get in the way. So just do more, just being more open to it and not being afraid of failure, because that’s just how you learn is through, you know, we’re all going to fail. Not everything’s going to go smoothly the first time, but just that’s how you learn and grow. So and then just also taking, taking what you’re good at, and looking at even like analytics will show just what you’re good at and just not dominating that area and going harder on it. And otherwise, you’ll just be average if you don’t do that, so. So I think that’s definitely beneficial.
Definitely. Well, Kayla, thank you for jumping on with me on this interview. Thank you for speaking to the millennial generation, to a business owner. You had some really good ideas, I hope that some of these people can replicate, you know, even just the social media into their day to day activities with their office. I mean, I think that would be great. So again, thank you.
All right, thank you.
Well, I hope you get amazing value from that interview. If you’d like more ideas, strategies and techniques on how to more effectively market your plumbing HVAC our home services business online, go to plumbingmarketing.net. There you’ll find interviews just like this, and the opportunity to schedule a time with us to just kind of talk about your business and how we can help you implement similar strategies in your business. So plumbingmarketing.net, head over there now and I’ll talk to you soon.
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