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How to become a better plumbing contractor

Know the trade

A successful plumbing contractor business seldom consists of a single employee, and it’s exciting to be so busy that you need to hire workers. Things change once you become a business owner.

Know the skills of the trade inside and out. Although you won’t be performing plumbing duties directly, you need to know every aspect of each process and service. That means, don't give up your day job as a plumber until you have enough hands-on experience to run your own business. You need to provide guidance and training to your employees, be current on building codes and how they change, and learn from your fellow tradespeople before you open your own shop.


Think like a businessperson

Even though your jobs may place you in dirty roofs, you are no longer a plumber once you are in business for yourself. After you hire workers and begin to build up your business, remember that you're a businessperson.

If clients ask you why your rate is high, you need to answer that you can only work for about 10 months of the year because of the long holidays and because staff have to take leave, and your workers can only work for about four to six hours a day if they are servicing a wide area, to allow for travel time. Your rates have to include training your workers on the new technology that comes out. Administration, finances, staff and marketing, should be the main areas of your focus when you hang up your wrench.


Understand your costs

You can't cut costs until you know what they are. If you enter a price war, you might gain market share in the short-term, but your business is unlikely to sustain itself in the long term.

Know what it costs to run your business. If you don't capture the costs involved in providing plumbing repairs and service, you can't set an accurate pricing and you won’t make a profit. If you don’t make a profit, you won’t be in business very long. Examine your overhead costs thoroughly, taking into consideration depreciation of equipment such as vans. Know how much work you need to get and how much to bill each other to cover the cost of your labour. Don't forget about material and tool costs – some of your inventory may be inexpensive but it all adds up. Hire a bookkeeper to keep track of your expenses.


Offer niche services

All plumbing services offer drain cleaning and pipe repair, but if you want to find a spot in the market where competition isn't so fierce, offer niche services, such as specialty construction where customers are prepared and willing to pay more for your work. When your workers complete a custom-made bath and your client receives compliments on the work, she's likely to refer her friends to your company.


Stay passionate

Stay passionate about your industry. It is hard to do so if you stay closeted up your office with only your workers. Grow with the flow by going to events and exhibitions and to learn about new technology and trends. If you lose clients, you must continue to grow your business. Engage in continuing education to keep on top of the changes in business. When new materials come onto the market, you need to invest in your workers by training them in how to use them. The most important thing in your business is not your clients, it’s your workers – if they are valued and looked after they will treat your customers properly.


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