Failure – To Quit Or Grow Are Your Two Choices

facing-failure“Don’t be afraid to fail!” That’s what everyone tells you. It sure doesn’t feel good to fail. Failures usually cost you something, money, pride, status, credibility among other things. All of those things that cost you can be replaced, but the bigger question is whether or not you have the will to continue. If everyone in the plumbing or drain cleaning industry quit after a failure, there wouldn’t be many people in the industry.

Years ago, I watched a plumber bury a “closed loop” ground water heat pump system that consisted of 4 parallel 3/4″ HDPE pipes manifolded into a 2″ header and connected to a circulation system. He connected everything and got the unit up and running, collected for the job and left. Two months later he got a call that the system had stopped working and he went out to investigate. He found the water pressure in the circulation system was down to zero, so he added more antifreeze, pumped up the pressure and started the system, only to watch the pressure slowly fall to zero. Out to the field where the loops were buried and he observed several gopher holes over and around the area. He excavated one particular area that had lots of gopher holes and found that the gophers chewed on the pipe with some obvious holes in the pipe causing it to leak. Bewildered, he didn’t have the will to fix the problem, gave the customer his money back and left. The guy who fixed it acquired a great customer who referred business to him and the guy who chose to quitgeothermal-heat-pump-geothermal-cooling left the plumbing industry altogether as the word of mouth story of how he left his customer out in the cold spread and his plumbing business declined. Guess my folks were right, “no one likes a quitter”. The real lesson here is the growth that the original plumber could have enjoyed and prospered from was how to solve the gopher issue so it wouldn’t happen again. Instead of tackling the problem and learning from the failure, he chose to not learn and chose instead to let a growth opportunity pass him by.

Over the years, I’ve watched similar challenges in the lateral lining industry. My job for the past few years has been to help contractors overcome failure and learn from those  failures to become first rate lateral sewer rehabilitation contractors. You can find failures in virtually any industry. You can also find folks who are more than willing to help you solve the problems the failures caused as well as technics to make sure those failures don’t recur. The other side of that coin is the contractor who makes the same mistakes and failures over and over again. This observation goes along with my folks’s “no one likes a quitter” to their added advice to “learn from your mistakes”.

I have several customers who call me to discuss a job that may be a little different from what they’ve done before. They’ve learned that planning and consultation before the job begins will help them manage their risk and give them a greater chance of completing a successful job. Something must be working as there was only one job that went badly and it was a job that we didn’t discuss or plan before they tried executing it. There were lots of turns and bends in the line as well as elevation changes. Once the liner cured, portions of it were not expanded to the wall of the host pipe and many spots pinched down at those turns. 30 seconds was all that was needed to make this job a success. The field installer said he knew orangeburg_repair_vahow to do the failed job, and pushed ahead before discussing it. He’s not there anymore, but that particular contractor is still there and hasn’t had a failure since.

Ask for help. Plan your jobs. If you still have a failure, do a complete review of what went wrong and what you could have done differently to prevent the loss. The choices are yours, quit or learn. The rewards come to those who learn. Failure will dog you from one endeavor to another if you quit every time you fail.

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