Plumbing firm's growth strategy targets female homeowners
Lancaster Plumbing and Heating Co. Inc. has been reinventing itself in the past few years, and one of the forms that has taken is a TV show called “Home Matters for Women.”
"We know that women make more of the decisions in the home, and that's very important to how we market our business," said Scott Peppler, the company president. Others in the industry have also been reaching out to women, and he thinks those who haven't been should be.
Demographic data support that perspective. Although the latest National Association of Realtors report says single women represent only 16 percent of homebuyers, single men are an even smaller group — just 9 percent of the total. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, women head about three in 10 American households.
"(LPH has) grown considerably, probably 75 percent in the last two years," said Peppler. The employee count now stands just below 40, and while that's not all due to targeting female customers — the East Hempfield Township company has also been expanding its territory and emphasizing its commercial services — he attributes a good deal of that recent success to hiring "a lot of really good people" in the past five years.
Notable among them is business development manager Michele Weiss, who joined Lancaster Plumbing and Heating Co. in 2011. The company hadn't done anything on television before then, Weiss said, and it was just finishing up a promotion that went like this: "Your wife is hot; better get her AC checked by Lancaster Plumbing and Heating."
Weiss didn't have a master plan to start a TV show. It just happened, she said, because she jumped on an opportunity to write informative articles for a publication in which the company advertised. Then she had a conversation with Diane Dayton, who is executive director of Lancaster Community TV, shown on Comcast Channel 66.
"Diane remarked how much she enjoyed the articles I have been writing," Weiss said. "I explained to Diane that as a single homeowner, I really didn't know what I needed to do when it came to my home mechanicals, and since I work for a plumbing and heating company, it was a perfect marriage of getting the information and passing it on to other women so that they could become empowered with their own home care and maintenance. I jokingly said to Diane, 'We should do a TV show,' and Diane said, 'Yes, you should!' So I did!"
Weiss is omnipresent on the half-hour show, serving as host as well as author and performer of the theme song. And before the cameras started rolling, she spent about eight months lining up guests and sponsors, writing and wrangling details.
"We shot all four shows in two weeks," Weiss said.
A new episode is released every season and shown at various times on LCTV-66, and they can also be viewed on YouTube. The subjects aren't strictly limited to heating and plumbing; in addition to tech tips on home mechanical maintenance, segments feature seasonal home care, bling of the fixture variety, safety tips, and officials who educate viewers on health, life and career issues.
The subject variety and emphasis on education underscores that the show is not solely a promotional vehicle for Lancaster Plumbing and Heating. Part of that is due to the nature of its network.
"We are a nonprofit, noncommercial channel, so we don't air commercials," said Dayton. "People are really enjoying this, because she has a great way of presenting the information and a great rapport with her guests."
Weiss and Peppler both noted that despite the title, the show offers men something, too.
"A lot of men really don't know a lot about their home mechanicals either," said Weiss. Peppler does, obviously, but said, "I even learned a few things."
They don't have hard numbers on how many new customers the show has brought in, but they consider it a successful project. For next year, Weiss said, she's looking into transforming "Home Matters for Women" into a talk show with a live studio audience.