Ideas For Running A Successful Plumbing Business

Written by Laura Cocker

As a small business owner it can be hard to compete against the big guys. Your secret weapon is your personal touch. The fact that you are a local, community business is your unique selling point, and you need to exploit it to make your plumbing business a success.

When clients are looking for a plumber, who are they going to choose: some guy out of the phonebook, or the ‘community plumber’? The community plumber is the go-to plumber for the whole of the local community. He is the plumber that is most recommended by friends, family and respected local businesses. He is a man whose face and vehicle can be recognised. He will always do a good job, and always charges a fair amount.

This article gives a few ideas about how a small plumbing business can raise its profile in the local community. The key to a successful plumbing business is building loyalty and trust so you can get regular, repeat business.


Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Plumbing Business Idea #1: Recommendations

Every plumber knows that word-of-mouth recommendations is the most effective promotion for his business. But have you considered the importance of who is recommending you?

Recommendations from the most respected people in your community will have a greater impact than the recommendations from your regular customers.

Identify the most influential people in your community. These are the people that you need to win over first. Make contact with the local school and ask to quote next time they have work that needs doing. Name-dropping is fine when carrying out a job. If you worked at the Town Hall, mention it to a customer. It all helps build your profile as a plumbing operation that is respectable and can be trusted.


Plumbing Business Idea #2: Networking

All entrepreneurs need a solid network of contacts who can help their business thrive. Write a list of potential contacts that could benefit your business. For example, realtors and builders will have information about homes and business where plumbing work may be needed. They will also come into regular contact with potential customers, so the could win you new business by recommending your services.

Once you know who you need to network with, you need to establish how you are going to do it. Are there trade fairs in your area? What community events can you attend? Do you have friends that already get along with a potential contact? Work slowly to establish a relationship with each of your potential contacts. Then, don't let them go. It may be harder to re-establish a relationship that has gone cold, than it was to make the contact in the first place.

If you can make these people care about you, then they will care about your business. When they see a good opportunity for you, they will contact you. If they hear someone needs a plumber, it will be your service they recommend.


Plumbing Business Idea #3: Collaboration

The other plumbers in your neighbourhood are not your competition, they are your team mates. Together you will be stronger. There will be times when you are asked to attend an emergency and for good reasons you won’t be able to. Instead of disappointing your client, put them in touch with another plumber who can help, and you trust. That client may call you again in the future, instead of just scrubbing you from the address book. And one day the other plumber may return the favour. Similarly, there will be times when a job is too big for one person.

Your unique selling point is that you are a local service. But that can be your downfall, since large nationwide companies have the resources to be open 24/7, and to staff large projects. Don’t let that work go to a huge national plumbing company. Join forces with another local plumbing business and deliver the project together. Better to have half of something, than all of nothing.


Reputation Is Key

The key to running a successful plumbing business is your reputation. It can be tough to find the time to reflect on your business, its achievements, and how it needs to develop. Continuous improvement is essential to maintain and further your plumbing business' profitability. By building the reputation of your company in your local community, you can establish a brand people can trust, and with that will come a stream of profitable work.


The Drain Team profile image

The Drain Team 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

I like the thought of working with instead of against competitive plumbers in the area. It would be hard to do that with everyone but we can find a few.

Let me know if you have any recommendations on training the customers service staff or any ways you have compensated based on performance so they their only goal when at work it to clock out.

Business Buddy profile image

Business Buddy 6 years ago Author

Hi Drain Team, thanks for reading the article. You are right - it would be tough to work with all the local plumbers, but if you can build links with some of them you'll get a chance to see if this type of collaboration will help your business.

When you ask about customer service staff, are they office based or out in the field? Do they actually have face-to-face contact with customers, or are they more of a support function?

The Drain Team profile image

The Drain Team 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

The customer service I am talking about are the ones who answer the phone. Many of these callers are apprehensive about trusting a plumber and don't want to spend money so I need my staff to be consultative sales people and not just order takers who are bothered by the phone call.

Thanks for the follow up.

Business Buddy profile image

Business Buddy 6 years ago Author

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you- my laptop died and it's taken me a while to get a replacement. I shall think over your dillemma and get back to you.

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freedom1234 6 years ago

For good small business help you should check out They have a free ebook on their website right now that is helpful for plumbers.

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Hereford Paul 3 years ago

Whilst I agree that word of mouth is The Holy Grail of advertising I have to disagree with a couple of points. Certainly from my experience and many others builders are the last people you want to be working for as a plumbing and heating engineer. Builders want to pay for the lowest possible wage and in general they care little about craftsmanship. The nickname for new build homes in my part of the world is "Smash and grabs". House builders throw up the houses with little regard for quality. It is only months further down the line that the homeowners start noticing defects with their homes. By then it is too late the builders have made their profit and disappeared into the night. Also builders do not want to pay weekly or even monthly. Many of them have 90 day terms and default on paying that. So not only are you working for 90 days on your own savings you are also giving the builder massive credit terms as you have invariably run up huge material bills with your supplier.

I do not understand your point about winning over influential people either. For the one man band plumber this is nonsense. I suggest working for everyday normal people and charging them a reasonable cost for a quality job. This is a surefire way to ensure repeat and word of mouth business.

Paul the Plumber - (20 years experience in the plumbing & drainage industry)

Joe the plumber 19 months ago

As a small plumbing bussiness owner I will say that 95 percent of customers are looking for the cheapest price to have work done and with no idea of a really good job or a decent job or a poor job. In order to be profitable you must charge a price that most people feel is to high so with that said in my opinion it is really tough to be a successful plumbing bussiness

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