According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the plumbing industry is growing at a much faster rate than average. Many business owners in the field are reaching retirement age, leaving opportunities for more entrepreneurs to break into the industry.
Steps to Start a Plumbing Business
If you’re looking to start your own business as a plumber, here are some of the steps you can take to get started.
Plumbing requires you to have a strong foundation in math, science, and tech. However, you don’t need college degree — a high school diploma or GED will suffice to get you into a trade school or certification program. These vocational training programs help you gain the necessary skills and stand out to consumers as a trustworthy professional.
Serve as an Apprentice
Many certification programs or trade schools will also help you connect with professional plumbers who you can work with as an apprentice. This allows you to gain on-the-job training so you can hone your skills in a real world setting.
Choose a Specialty
Of course, there are plumbers who offer a variety of services. But as you train and work as an apprentice, you should consider which tasks you’re best suited for and what types of jobs you enjoy working on. You could serve as a residential plumber that fixes leaky pipes or clogged drains. Or you could perform sewer line inspections, complete large scale projects for home renovations, or work mainly with commercial clients.
Invest in Equipment
Depending on what specialty you opt for, you may be able to start a plumbing business fairly inexpensively. You’ll need pipes, fittings, and a variety of basic tools. The main expense is likely to be a van or truck that you can take to jobs and use to transport all of your professional equipment.
Register Your Business
To get your business officially up and running, you need to comply with state and local laws for operating such a business. Each state has different licenses, permits, and requirements, so check with your Secretary of State or licensing board to obtain and file the necessary paperwork.
Create a Service Agreement and Pricing Formula
Before you actually start working with customers, you should have a selection of services all with set prices, or at least a formula you can use to determine the cost of each job based on labor and supplies. You should also have contracts or agreement templates created to ensure a consistent experience.
Keith Glass of The Plumbers Coach writes, “Consistency in pricing means a lot to your business. Neighbors do talk with one another and they will compare what they paid. It needs to be consistent or they will be a thorn in your side with bad online reviews and constant complaints.”
Set Up an Office
Admin tasks are also important when starting a plumbing business. You need a place where you can field phone calls from clients, keep important documents and run your marketing campaigns. At first, you may be able to save money by simply working out of a home office.
Patricia Bonacorda of Spartan Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning shared on the Grow Plumbing blog, “If you want to keep expenses as low as possible at the beginning, consider a home office where you can set up a telephone, desk and filing cabinet. Or, rent a small space where you can take care of paperwork if you’re not comfortable working out of the house.”
Start an Online Presence
Most businesses understand the importance of creating a website and some social media accounts. These are important for plumbing companies as well. But for local service businesses, it’s equally important to focus on review sites like Yelp, HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List.
Create a Referral Program
Word of mouth can also be an incredibly powerful tool for local service businesses. You can encourage growth in this area by creating a program where you offer discounts or other perks to people who refer other customers your way.
Keep Up with Training and Industry Advancements
Plumbing has been a viable career path for decades. But the tactics and tools have changed throughout the years. So it’s important to keep up with innovations and new techniques that could help you deliver better service to your customers.
Jim Olsztynski of Explore the Trades writes, “Plumbers today work with tools and equipment that render obsolete the old stereotype of “wrench jockeys.” A plumber of today may peer into a sewer using computerized cameras that pinpoint a blockage to the inch. They sometimes install toilets that flush automatically and pamper the tush. They may learn to fix a broken sewer line with advanced lining techniques that eliminate the need to dig up lawns.”
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