If you have worked a day as a plumber, you know that it is a demanding job that takes a lot of expertise. You might be a master of your craft and even considering starting your own plumbing business.
What it’s worth remembering is that a good plumber is not inherently a good planner as well – speaking from the perspective of managing the business and making sure it runs smoothly. If you are planning to open your own plumbing business, here’s what you need to know before you start!
Buy The Right Equipment
To the untrained eye, it might seem like every plumber is qualified in the same thing. But you as a plumber know that this is a wide area with a lot of different fields of specialities.
Before you even set your plumbing business up, you need to invest in equipment that will serve you well. The equipment is usually not very expensive as you don’t need big machines but rather things such as pipes, fittings, and tools.
You don’t need to go over the top but also make sure you are paying for equipment that will provide good quality both for you and your customers.
Register as a Business
The registration process mainly depends on the place where you are registering your business. Each state and each local governing body has different regulations so you would need to get informed on what criteria you need to meet.
Mainly, few things are the same everywhere: a registered address for the business, appropriate training, qualification and certification and a business bank account through which you will be regulating your taxes.
Create a Pricing Structure
Same as with any other business, you are there for your customers. Without loyal customers, a business ceases to exist.
One of the most important things you need to do is devise a fair pricing structure. At least in the beginning, you will operate locally. In order to make yourself competitive, you need to research the businesses which are already on the market and get at least a rough idea of how much they are charging.
Clearly, no two jobs are the same so sometimes it will be difficult to determine a price by simply looking at other businesses. What you can do is set fixed labor and call out prices and stick to them.
Having big flexibility in how much you charge is not good. People talk, especially in local areas so if you charge customers different labor rates it might come back to bite you and you may lose customers.
Set Up Your Office
Working as a plumber means that you will be out to customers’ locations constantly. However, admin work is also important and if you are running a business you simply can’t skip it.
In the beginning, it might be a good idea to set your business up as a family one and have members of the family do the admin work for you. Set up a home office, find a member of the family who has the time and the will to take on such a job and hire them in your business.
You don’t need a lot to start with just: a phone, a computer, and an email.
Alternatively, you can be a one-man-band and have a mobile office. All you need is a good smartphone. You can obviously take calls while you are on the move and by using a job management software you can have your office in your pocket the entire time.
Using one such software means that your customers can receive updates in real-time, you can always keep on top of your daily tasks and send invoices as soon as the job is done.
Additionally, even if you start a business with a few plumbers and someone in the office, one such management software can still be beneficial as the office staff can efficiently despatch workers to a job by determining who is located the closest, track any outstanding jobs and ensure there is little downtime.
Become Active Online
Even for local businesses, being online nowadays is important. Simple websites don’t cost a fortune and they can be a deciding factor for customers. Search queries such a “plumber near me” can work for your benefit but only if you put yourself out there.
Invest in a website, list your business on popular listing websites such as Yelp and Google My Business and don’t forget to set up your social media business pages and even invest a small amount of money in PPC (pay per click) ads.
Follow The Industry Trends
As with every skilled job, things are not standing still. For example, compared to only a decade ago, plumbers now need to have more qualifications, especially on the health and safety side for their own sake. Keeping up-to-date with any new courses and qualifications is a good idea. It will make you more competitive and they are a nice thing to showcase on your website and on social media.
The industry standards are constantly being improved so the more skilful you are, the better you will be able to do the job and make your customers happy.
Ask For Testimonials and Reviews
If you are good at what you are doing, customers will be happy to write a good review – but you need to ask them. Our human nature usually prompts us to write negative reviews when we are disappointed but less often when it comes to positive things. That’s why simply asking a happy customer to spend a few minutes and write something about their satisfaction will get you a long way.
Starting your own business can be a very important decision you need to make. But before you take the leap, it is important for you to understand all of the aspects involved in running a business. Start off small but invest in the right things like qualifications and systems. This will make you more valued and will facilitate your job.
Marie Erhart is a Success Manager at FieldPulse, creators of field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. She works with contractors to help them grow their business using best practices.