Management • Marketing • 46 minutes

Modern-Day Chimney Sweepers: Is There a Killer in Your Basement?

September 12, 2023

Episode Overview

Bill Heffernan has always taken a creative approach to marketing his very traditional home service.

He caused a stir and generated business decades ago when he used to wear a top hat and tails while riding a bike to promote Master Chimney Sweepers

And in the early 1990s, Heffernan wasn’t hesitant to send out mailers about carbon monoxide issues that asked: “Is there a killer in your basement?”

These days, Master Chimney Sweepers is a father-and-son business. Bill is the founder; Tom is the director of sales.

Tom is just as aggressive as Bill when it comes to leading a sales and marketing effort that pedals at top speed. 

“If you're not asking for the business at the end of [a meeting], then you're not going to get it,” Tom says. “You can throw all these other things you want at your sales process to try to make it better. But if you're not asking for the business, then none of that other stuff matters.”

From experience, Bill also notes that chimney sweeping is a seasonal business that often leads to diversification.

“What are you going to do from January to September?” Bill asks. “If you don't have an outbound [marketing] program, you're going to have to diversify, which most chimney sweeps do. They diversify into the masonry business, and become masons or gutter cleaners.”

Bill adds that one crucial component of keeping a home services company in the black is not being afraid to raise prices when necessary.

“I’ve been the price-hike decision maker for many years,” he says.  “It takes guts to keep your prices going up. But I always say that if 25 percent of the people aren’t complaining, you’re not high enough.”

A tip of the hat to charging what you’re worth.

Bill and Tom Heffernan recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 8 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included the Heffernans’ thoughts on:

  • (3:42) How the ’70s energy crisis influenced the chimney sweep industry

  • (16:36) Incorporating outside industry tactics into your sales strategy 

  • (23:47) Why direct mail is still a bona fide marketing tactic

  • (31:55) The power of collaboration in a small family business

  • (42:26) Having the guts to raise prices when necessary

To hear more stories from the trades, subscribe to Toolbox for the Trades on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.

About ServiceTitan

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help home service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business.

Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

Ready to learn more about what ServiceTitan can do for your business?

More episodes

Industry Insights • Industry Trends • 49 minutes

How to Keep Profits High When Customer Spending is Low

ServiceTitan's Chris Hunter and Deanna Kawasaki monitor economic changes impacting trades.

Productivity • Operations • 38 minutes

How to Optimize Technology to Scale Effectively in the Trades

Franklin Electric business analyst and ServiceTitan certified admin Juan Lopez is a top sa...

Technician Tips • Industry Insights • 42 minutes

Passion Got Us Here: How to Have a Competitive Mindset in HVAC and Plumbing

Two Elite Trades Competition champions discuss overcoming workplace challenges to become t...

About the Show

Toolbox for the Trades is a podcast where top service professionals share the tips, tricks, and tactics they use to succeed in their industry. Hosted by Jackie Aubel, this podcast is brought to you by ServiceTitan—the leading home and commercial field service software.

Episodes will feature stories and strategies to help contractors grow and scale their service business.

Get on the show!