Apartment. House. Hotel. Commercial space. No matter what type of building people live or work in in the United States, chances are, they’re going to have running water—and at some point, they’re going to need a plumber.
The plumbing industry can be an extremely lucrative trade, particularly if you start your own plumbing business.
But, how, exactly, do you do that? What do you need to do to start your small business? How do you get it up and running? And how do you find new customers and drive revenue?
Let’s take a look at how to build and run a successful plumbing business:
Carve out a niche
The first step to running a successful plumbing business? Determining where you and your business fit in the plumbing landscape.
There are a number of different types for plumbers—and if you want your plumbing company to be successful, you need to carve out a clear niche that sets you apart from the competition and appeals to your ideal customers.
So, for example, do you want to build your business around the minor day-to-day issues that homeowners face with their plumbing—or would you rather focus on tackling larger commercial plumbing jobs? Are you framing yourself as an up-and-coming plumber—or do you have so much plumbing know how, you could give master plumbers a run for their money? Do you provide plumbing services to all types of customers—or are you going to hone in on a particular customer base, like property managers with a large portfolio of buildings?
The point is, there are a ton of different opportunities in the plumbing industry—and before you get too far into building and running your plumbing business, you need to carve out your niche and determine which opportunity is right for you.
Draft your business plan
Once you know what type of plumbing business you want to build, it’s time to get a plan in place—or, more specifically, a business plan.
Your business plan acts as a roadmap for how you’re going to navigate the journey from “I have an idea for a plumbing business” to “I am running a successful plumbing business.”
When you’re drafting your business plan, make sure to include:
- Business name. What are you going to call your plumbing business?
- Ideal customer. What kind of client or customer base are you going to target?
- Competitor analysis. What are the other successful plumbing businesses in your niche and area? Where are they succeeding—and where are they struggling? And how are you going to differentiate yourself?
- Budget and cash flow. How much capital do you have to work with in starting your business? What are your projected costs? And how can you budget your capital effectively to build and grow your plumbing business?
- Plumbing services. What types of plumbing services are you going to offer your clients?
- Pricing structure. Are you going to charge customers by the hour? Or are you more comfortable pricing at a flat rate for each service? What does that pricing structure look like?
- Operational strategy. What is your operational strategy for your plumbing business? How do you plan to get things off the ground?
- Staffing needs. Are you going to hire additional plumbers or plumbing contractors to work for your business—and, if so, what’s the plan for hiring them?
- Marketing plan. How are you going to market your plumbing business and sell your services?
- Revenue goals. What are your revenue goals for your plumbing business?
Taking the time to create a detailed business plan will help you get clear on where you are with your business, where you’re going, and how to get there—and sets your plumbing business up for success in the long run.
Take care of the legal side of things
There are legal steps you need to take in order to start any new business—and that includes a plumbing business.
The first thing you’ll need to do is obtain your plumbing license, which will enable you to legally practice business (requirements for licensing vary state by state). You’ll also need to register your business and secure any necessary insurance (including liability insurance) you’ll need to operate.
Once you’ve taken all the necessary legal steps to start your business, make sure to keep all the important documents (like your license, business registration, and insurance paperwork) readily available.
Assemble your tools and supplies
Once you have your business plan and all your legal ducks are in a row, there’s another step you’ll need to take before you can start accepting plumbing jobs—and that’s assembling your tools and supplies.
First, you’ll need any necessary plumbing tools and supplies, like plungers, pliers, wrenches, and saws or cutters. You’ll also need safety gear for yourself and your team, including safety goggles, safety gloves, and heat shields. (As we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll also need masks and sanitizing products, like hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes.)
As a business owner, you should also plan to invest in any tools that will allow you to grow and run your business more efficiently. So, for example, if you want to market your plumbing business, you should invest in business cards—and then hand those cards out to any potential customers, leave them at local businesses, or pass them on to potential business partners or referrers. If you want to give your clients the option to pay for your plumbing services with a credit card, you’ll need to get a mobile payment processor. If you’re going to hire a staff of plumbers or plumbing contractors, you’ll need to invest in a payroll and time tracking tool that allows you to track hours and make sure your team is paid accurately and quickly.
Market your business…
Once you’re fully operational and ready to start taking on plumbing jobs, it’s time to start marketing your business.
There are a number of different ways you can get the word out about your plumbing business, including:
- Building a website. A polished, professional website can help build brand awareness and buzz around your new plumbing business—and it’s a must to effectively market your new venture. Make sure your website looks professional, clearly outlines all of your services, and includes contact information (like phone number and email) so potential clients know how to get in touch. You should also consider hiring someone to optimize your website for the search engines (known as SEO), which will make it easier for customers to find you on Google.
- Social media. There are a number of different ways you can leverage social media to market your plumbing business. You can invest in social media advertising (like Facebook ads), post about your services on neighborhood social media apps like NextDoor, or share your expertise and connect with potential customers on Q+A websites like Quora.
- Traditional marketing. Traditional marketing strategies like newspaper ads, door hangers, and flyers can also be an effective way to drive interest in your new plumbing business.
...and ask your customers to do the same
Clearly, there are plenty of steps you can take to market your own business—but if you really want to build buzz, pass the marketing on to your customers.
Word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective and affordable marketing strategies at your disposal. Social proof is extremely powerful; when a potential customer hears from an existing customer that you provide high-quality plumbing services, were easy to work with, and have excellent follow-up, they’re more likely to believe that they’ll have a similar experience—and, as such, will be more likely to hire you for their plumbing ways.
There are a number of different ways you can tap your existing customer base to find new customers, including:
- Asking your customers to write positive reviews on online review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, or Angie’s List
- Ask your clients to write or record a testimonial for your website
- Ask your clients to recommend your plumbing services to friends, family, and colleagues and send any referrals your way
Get out there and build your own plumbing business
Effectively starting, growing, and running a plumbing business takes a lot of drive, skill, and determination. But now that you know the exact steps to take to build a thriving plumbing business, all that’s left to do? Get out there and build!