Running a successful plumbing business can bring you excellent revenue and years of happy customers. But you don’t want your business to remain static. You want to be able to expand with consumer demand and evolve with the industry.
If you’ve ever wondered how to grow a plumbing business, you’ll find a valuable road map below. Learn how to set yourself up for success from the start by improving efficiency.
Then, get expert advice on building a business plan for the future. Apply marketing tips to help you implement your strategies as you scale your company.
Focus on Getting Your Current Plumbing Business Running Smoothly Before You Expand
It’s essential to strengthen your current business before expanding it. Why? Imagine your business is the foundation of a one-story house, and you want to add a second story.
But what if the foundation isn’t strong enough? Upper floors won’t get the support they need. They’ll sag and collapse. The same thing could happen to your business.
If you expand without the proper support, everything you add could fail. Expansion could be a waste of money. It could even hurt your reputation.
Start with efficiency
One of the first places to shore up your business through efficient operations. An efficient business runs smoothly. It keeps both customers and employees happy.
An efficient plumbing company runs on minimal overhead. That doesn’t necessarily mean a skeleton budget. It means spending only what you need for items like:
- Office space
- Trucks, fuels, and maintenance
- Tools and equipment
- Staff (technicians and office)
- Technology and communications
- Marketing and advertising
- Insurance and credentials
Those elements have to run like clockwork. You won’t waste money when you keep a tight business and manage your budget. This improves your profitability, meaning you have more money left over at the end of the month.
When you have higher profits, our business can weather ups and downs in the economy. You can channel extra money into business growth.
Field service management
For a business like a plumbing company, field operations are a major source of expense. It’s also where you’re most likely to fail regarding efficiency.
A cohesive field service strategy dictates how you operate when seeing customers.
To utilize field service management correctly, you must have the right tools. With these tools, you can:
- Improve efficiency in the field
- Boost service call productivity
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Reduce employee frustration
- Grow revenue and profits
How do field service management tools work to help you? They automate many manual tasks with software. Implementing plumbing field service software is one of the best ways to run an efficient plumbing business. It keeps everything in one central location.
You can reduce human error and eliminate repetitive jobs. You also stop wasting resources, including manpower and fleet services.
Field service management benefits
What can automated field service management offer your plumbing business? Look for software that lets you:
- Create estimates and submit bids
- Schedule appointments
- Access customer information and job history
- Dispatch technicians
- Visualize all ongoing jobs on a map or grid
- Provide customer notifications and surveys
- Submit invoices
- Sync with other software like payroll or inventory
Cutting-edge systems use cloud solutions. There are no installations required, and data stays secure. In many cases, users can use an app for greater convenience.
Field service management case study
Let’s look at a hypothetical case study. How might an effective field service management platform work for your plumbing business?
Step 1: A customer contacts you about installing home water filtration. You use your field service management dashboard to create and submit a proposal.
Step 2: Use the dispatch board to schedule the project and send a technician.
Step 3: The technician completes the job. They use the software to update inventory.
Step 4: You submit a bill to the customer using your software. Then use the app to send the client a customer satisfaction survey. You can also send a link to leave an online review.
Step 5: The customer would like to add to their filtration system. They schedule an appointment online.
Step 6: Technicians access prior job information and arrive fully prepared.
Step 7: The customer is thrilled with your efficiency. They leave a five-star review online and refer you to a neighbor upgrading their bathrooms.
FROM ONE OF OUR PARTNERS: 4 Ways Automation Can Improve Your Business
Expert tips for better field service efficiency
Looking for ways to improve your company’s field service efficiency? Here are three pro tips you can implement right now:
Group calls geographically whenever possible.
Send technicians from one appointment directly to the next. This lets you squeeze in more calls, which means more revenue. It also reduces fuel use and vehicle wear and tear.
Don’t assume all service calls have to be in person.
Try to handle some fixes remotely, like adjusting a new water heater. Diagnostics can often be done remotely too.
Stock commonly used parts on every truck.
Techs have what they need without waiting. Update inventory immediately when a part is used, so a new one can be restocked.
Put Together a Business Plan Focused on the Plumbing Business You Want to Become
Now your plumbing business is running efficiently. Congratulations! You’re ready to create a business plan.
A business plan is a roadmap for how you plan to operate in the future. Rather than just trying to grow without direction or goals, it helps channel your efforts.
You wouldn’t set out for a cross-country drive without a map or GPS, right? A business plan helps your company in the same way. If you want to fund an expansion, your lender will require a business plan.
A business plan for a plumbing company should include the elements listed below. For a framework, consult these references, where you’ll find templates and information:
- Tradify template
- Free templates
- Small Business Association (SBA) templates
- Local Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
- American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE)
- Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
This is an overview of your business. It includes your services, your target market, and what makes your business unique.
You should mention things like how many employees you have. You also want to discuss the geographic area you serve.
This section includes three key elements:
- The owner and what type of background they have
- How much money the company needs to start up or expand
- Specific plumbing services the business provides
This part of the plan outlines the customers you serve or expect to serve. It should include important data points such as:
- Number of households in your service area
- Type of services the market demographic requires
- Competitive advantages you can offer customers
- Market estimates and growth predictions for the next five years
This is your chance to discuss how you plan to bring in customers. What types of marketing or advertising do you intend to do? What types of referral systems do you have in place?
Talk about pricing strategies in this section. Do you plan to offer discounts? Do you have a high-end market? How does volume affect your business?
This section reviews the nuts and bolts of how you will make money. It should include at least these three components:
- Break-even budget. How many services do you need to sell to stay open?
- Profit and loss statement outlining your income, taxes, expenses, etc.
- A balance sheet showing assets and liabilities
Use graphs and charts to enhance the written content in your business plan.
Make your business plan a roadmap for success.
Too often, plumbing companies write out business plans only to stick them in a drawer out of sight.
But making your business plan work for you must be part of your daily operation.
Use these tips to better leverage your business plan. You’ll have a much better chance of getting from where you are now to where you want to be.
Drill down your business plan into your day-to-day operation.
For example, how many customers do you need to see per day/week/month to hit your financial goals or pay off loans? How are you going to stay on top of that? What daily steps do you need to take to hit bigger milestones that indicate you’re on the right track?
Decide how often you’re going to evaluate your progress.
Are you hitting your monthly goals that contribute to yearly change? Maybe a quarterly evaluation would show your progress better.
When you evaluate, you have two choices:
- Continue on your current path
- Make adjustments
It’s okay to veer slightly from your plan. Sometimes market changes throw a wrench in the works (no pun intended!). Smart business owners are agile and can adapt.
Update your business plan periodically, even if things are going well.
You may find you’re doing better than anticipated, and you can set even higher goals. You can use your old business plan to create a newer, more ambitious one for five years from now.
FROM ONE OF OUR PARTNERS: How To Scale Your Home Services Business
7 Tips for Growing Your Plumbing Business
No company wants to stagnate. Growth is how you stay competitive and sustainable. There are many ways to pursue that growth.
Expand or shrink your services.
Wait, don’t those concepts conflict with each other? Not if you pick one based on your location and business model.
Say your plumbing business is in a large city. There is probably tons of competition. That’s where it might pay to specialize.
Become the plumbers who excel at apartment kitchens and tiny powder rooms. Or make your reputation for being at the forefront of trends like plumbing connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).
What if you’re in a small town or a rural area? In that case, you’re likely better off providing a full menu of services. You want every customer you can get. You can expand by adding extra services. Consider things like pipelining and repair technology or winterizing vacation properties.
Keep existing customers happy.
You want to keep your current customers satisfied, even as you add new ones. Remember the golden rule about 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers.
How do you keep current clients satisfied? Start by checking in a few months after doing work for them. Make sure everything is still functioning well.
FROM ONE OF OUR PARTNERS: 5 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Customer Feedback Strategy
You could also offer specials for regular customers. Give a discount on kitchen drains and garbage disposals around the holidays. Check outdoor fixtures at the start of the spring and provide winterizing in autumn.
Do you have a membership program? Give customers a deep discount on a fourth service when they pay for three plumbing services, for instance.
Some customers prefer to try DIY repairs before having a plumber come out. Or perhaps you’ve recently installed something, but it’s not quite working as expected. Remote service calls may be a good solution.
Using video technology, you might be able to solve the problem without going to the customer’s home. You save money on truck rolls, and the customer isn’t inconvenienced.
They may even pay less for a virtual service call. And you can schedule more appointments in the day with no travel time.
Annual service agreements are another benefit for existing customers. These are contracts for routine maintenance. Usually, annual or biannual service calls are part of such an agreement.
What can plumbing businesses offer with annual service agreements?
- Discounts on labor and purchases
- Price locks
- Priority servicing
- Automatic reminders
Set up an active referral funnel.
Use current customers to help you find new ones. The goal is to make every one client into at least two via referrals. You can keep track of your funnel with customer relationship management software.
Be sure to let clients know at the end of every job that you appreciate their referrals. Follow up by text or email a few days later reminding them. Offer them an incentive. Typically, that would be a discount on their next service call.
Increase your service area.
Another way to grow your plumbing business is to serve a wider area. Start with a map. On the map, shade in the territory you cover.
Then, mark where other local businesses provide plumbing in the surrounding area. Are there spots not being covered or where competition is limited? Could you serve those areas too?
Be sure to crunch the numbers to ensure you can actually provide additional services. You may need another truck or two and more plumbing equipment, along with technicians to operate them.
You can also expect additional costs for fuel, tools, equipment, etc. Calculate your break-even point. This is where you start making money on what you invested to expand.
Acquire another plumbing business.
Sometimes buying out another plumbing business is simpler than expanding your own business. Maybe another business is struggling, but you have the knowledge and equipment to make it succeed.
Retiring plumbers are another way to acquire a business. The person retiring doesn’t want to see their hard work wasted, and they can make a profit selling it. It’s a win-win when you get new customers in the process.
You may have to take out a loan to buy another business. Just like with expanding, calculate how much you have to make to break even on this investment. You will also have to figure out how much more business you need to make the loan payments.
Add 24/7/365 service.
Do you only operate during the week or on non-holidays? Consider changing that. Plumbing emergencies don’t wait for convenient times.
When potential customers can’t reach you during an emergency, they move on to other plumbing companies. Don’t push business to your competitors because you’re not available.
If you have followed the suggestions above, you’ve already got an efficient operating system in place. Now it’s time to put it to the test 24/7, no matter what day of the year it is. Ensure you have phone coverage and dispatch 365 days, even if you need to outsource to an answering service.
You’ll be able to add to your customer base quickly by improving your emergency availability. Plus, customers will be so grateful for emergency help that you’ll likely get more referrals and five-star reviews.
Invest in the future.
Are your employees trained in the newest techniques and equipment? If not, make that happen. Trade shows, conferences, and continuing education will put you at the forefront of your industry. That not only brings in more customers, but it also lets you charge more too.
Some hot plumbing industry trends right now include:
- Trenchless repair and pipelining
- On-demand and solar water heaters
- Green technology for water conservation
- Tiny home and RV living bathrooms
- Touchless and disease-resistant fixtures
- Smart technology, like leak detection systems
- 3D printing for plumbing components
- Integrated plumbing and HVAC
Knowing your customer demographic lets you hone in on the best areas to specialize in. If you’re in an upscale community, there may be more demand for luxury kitchen renovations or solutions for seniors to age in place.
What if you serve a younger population focused on sustainability? Green technology and reducing one’s carbon footprint are key.
7 Successful Plumber Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business
A solid marketing strategy is necessary to grow your plumbing business. Luckily, these days there are many clever ways to market home services. Try these plumbing marketing ideas to bring in more customers:
Develop a lead generation system.
You need a pipeline to bring customers to you. Use methods like ads, directory listings, and social media.
Plumbing is a fantastic topic for a YouTube channel. You can also make use of Facebook live events to offer content. Offer to help viewers if they need assistance beyond DIY projects.
FROM ONE OF OUR PARTNERS: Social Media Marketing for Plumbers
Optimize your website.
Another part of your lead generation funnel is your website. It must be SEO optimized so customers can find it easily online. When you use the right keywords and authoritative content, your website will rank higher in search engine listings.
Be sure you’re utilizing a full website and not just a Facebook page or directory listing.
Partner with industry professionals.
Develop a network of fellow contractors and builders who can refer to each other. General contractors often need plumbers to finish kitchens and baths with new construction or remodels. An electrician working on a renovation can recommend you for plumbing needs and vice versa.
Become involved in your community.
Sponsor local teams or charities. It’s usually a good source of advertising. Join local clubs or associations, like the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International or the Lions Club. One recent study showed that consumers are four times more likely to support a business they believe has a strong purpose.
Protect your client’s data and privacy.
Build up a body of authentic online reviews.
Every time you perform a plumbing service, ask the customer to leave a review on a site like Yelp or Google. Follow up with a reminder. Include a link to your preferred review site or sites.
Thank positive reviewers and respond to negative ones. Offer to fix any issues they raise.
Create a reputation as the local authority on plumbing.
Reach out to regional news media. Tell them they can contact you whenever they need a professional plumber for a story. Your plumbing business will become known as the go-to for expert advice.