Morgan Miller Plumbing opened its doors 22 years ago in Kansas City, Missouri, with the goal of providing high-quality service for a fair price and in turn restoring trust in the industry. The first eight years were a slog, but as the digital age blossomed, so did the company’s fortunes.
The 17-member team used technology to find customers, tell their own story, manage the team and recruit new employees — not an easy task in an industry with a limited labor force. The more the brand showcased its people and personality, the more the business flowed. Morgan Miller Taking various aspects of the business digital cut paper use by 70 percent.
“We would not be in business without digital tools,” CEO Stella Crewse said. “It would be so hard to stay profitable without them. We wouldn’t be able to help our customers as much.”
Digital tools are central to the business and storytelling processes at Morgan Miller. Google Drive and YouTube are great for sharing job photos and videos with clients; Verizon Connect streamlines fleet management; and Virtual Supervisor enables communication between technicians in the field and their supervisors. The company also uses an online bank to protect against check fraud and runs payroll through a local human resources platform.
Advertising on Facebook and Google has been a boon to the budget. Crewse said the company spent more than $60,000 on Yellow Pages ads in its early days but still struggled, and the ad prices climbed about 30 percent a year. Investments in flyers and mailers didn’t generate great returns, either. Moving the ad dollars online saved money and increased the brand’s reach.
The value of technology manifested itself in another way for Morgan Miller two years ago. The company lost power for three days after a tornado hit near the shop, so the team just relocated to a temporary location. They did $25,000 worth of business they could have lost otherwise.
Crewse has a message for Congress as lawmakers consider proposals aimed at big tech firms: “If you hurt these companies, it will be passed down to small companies like us,” pricing entrepreneurs out of the market instead of helping them.