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advertising for a new plumbing business: what works?

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  • advertising for a new plumbing business: what works?

    hey guys,
    I'm in the very beginning stages of becoming self-employed in the trade. I do good, well-functioning, neat work, I'm polite, I give quotes for each job on official letterhead and stick to those quotes, and I show up on time. I'm clean cut and I don't show up in sweatpants. I'm proud of my plumbing & pipefitting skills and I think I could have a good thing going here.
    But like I said, I'm at the very beginning stages. I'm working a generic warehouse gig to pay my living expenses and bills while the profits from my plumbing work goes back into buying tools, equipment etc for the biz. When things pick up, I can adjust the hours of my warehouse job accordingly, with the eventual goal of eliminating it and working full-time at my business.
    I average about one customer a week. I'd like to have way more than that, so I'm thinking about advertising. Word of mouth is great and everyone I know, customer or not, gets a handful of my business cards. I feel like I need to "chase" customers though, not just wait for someone to refer me. I'm eager.
    What has worked for you guys when you were beginning your business?
    So far I've been thinking of a few ideas:
    - flyers distributed in mailboxes to various neighbourhoods (almost free)
    - business cards like I've been doing (again, very cheap)
    - approaching realtors or insurance companies who might need to refer their clients to a plumber

    I'm working with almost zero budget here....anybody have any suggestions, constructive criticism,etc ?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: advertising for a new plumbing business: what works?

    Three main areas will generate the bulk of your business and they are virtually free. First, make sure you have a strong Internet presence. Not some high-priced website designer, but there are many people who will generate one for a reasonable price and the domain and hosting are available through GoDaddy. I had a very nice lady create mine for pennies considering the amount of work it has generated. If you need her contact information let me know. Yahoo, Merchant Circle, and Google business are all free advertising so make sure you get on them. Second, make sure you get on a referral list anywhere that homeowners might purchase plumbing supplies (big box stores, hardware, plumbing suppliers). Your local plumbing retailer is probably your best bet, as the big box stores are not allowed to refer one company over another and the plumbing wholesalers may offer a good price but they do not deal with the consumer. Once you have more work than you can handle from the other two sources then you may purchase through a wholesaler and let the next little guy have the referrals from the retailer. In short, find a local store dedicated to selling plumbing supplies to homeowners and purchase a large amount of product from them. Third, make sure you are giving your existing customers excellent customer service and let them know you appreciate any referalls that they may send your way, but never offer to pay or give discounts for them. Word of mouth travels fast. I am adding one to two new customers a day via these three methods. Good Luck!
    Last edited by Devine Plumbing; 07-22-2010, 09:52 PM.
    Distractions are everywhere, don't lose sight of your dream.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: advertising for a new plumbing business: what works?

      I would focus your attention towards the online world. People are simply not picking up the phone book anymore, and since I've had a website built, I noticed a significant boost in calls. Even though our business has been around for almost 40 years, we still needed a new way or 2 to generate more calls. A buddy of mine built it for me and, got me hooked up with Google "key words" for when people search my area.

      Websites can be very expensive if you're just starting out. But then again..there is so much competition out there, I'm sure you could find a price to fit your budget. Check craigslist for guys who are offering their website design services..you will most likely find a good deal there, or someone who wants to barter work with you.

      I would say post a free ad on Craigslist, but you have every handyman under the sun posting there that offer Plumbing. Plus you will attract every single tire kicker in your area. I had a buddy that did this, and while he got some work through CL..a lot of bull crap he had to weed out to get to that work.

      But with that said..1 good customer from craigslist, could turn into 10 customers from their word of mouth.

      I know most church's have some type of directory for contractors and other venders.

      I would take the free listing from the Phone book and leave it at that. I wouldn't sink a ton of money into the phone book, but they all offer some type of online advertising.

      I would do the easy reasonable stuff first. Only take a few good customers to totally take off.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: advertising for a new plumbing business: what works?

        No matter what you do it is going to take at least five years before you build up enough cliental to pay you a reasonable amount I would put a small add in the locality guide in your yellow pages and a small add in your local papers get a simple web site where you can change the content yourself from your computer at home.
        Have advertising on you truck have brochures printed so when you are working at a clients place put one in next doors letter box saying that you have been working next door at your neighbour and saying what you do but remember it is going to take time to build your business and reputation and most importantly your word is your bond.

        Tony

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: advertising for a new plumbing business: what works?

          Thanks for the feedback boys, keep it coming!

          Most of this can work within my budget. I'm getting lettering put on my vehicle very soon, possibly this week. Brocures I can design and print right here on the computer.
          I looked into "flyering" certain neighborhoods. The postal services charges an arm and a leg for this, so I'll probably take the shoe leather express on a slow day and distribute them myself.

          I was also thinking that realtors or insurance claims reps might have referral lists. Anybody have good/bad experiences with this idea?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: advertising for a new plumbing business: what works?

            does anyone feel deja vu ?
            or it must be the lack of sleep.......
            the only dumb question is the one that is not asked!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: advertising for a new plumbing business: what works?

              Originally posted by HWS View Post
              Thanks for the feedback boys, keep it coming!

              Most of this can work within my budget. I'm getting lettering put on my vehicle very soon, possibly this week. Brocures I can design and print right here on the computer.
              I looked into "flyering" certain neighborhoods. The postal services charges an arm and a leg for this, so I'll probably take the shoe leather express on a slow day and distribute them myself.

              I was also thinking that realtors or insurance claims reps might have referral lists. Anybody have good/bad experiences with this idea?
              Just my opinion..I really don't like working for Realtors at all. It's rare for us to keep a realtor as a client for very long, as they just don't like our prices. I'm not going to get into their prices versus our prices but..we normally weed these people out. (major headache!)

              But then again..if I was in your situation, I wouldn't just sit home and turn down work either, but I also would want my price for doing the job.

              I'm sure everyone who has started a business here will say...they took "slop" work when they started out just to get their foot in the door somewhere. You're going to get jobs no other Plumbers want..so prepare for that.

              But I agree with what was previously said..a good 5 years to build up your business.
              Last edited by Flux; 07-29-2010, 11:07 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: advertising for a new plumbing business: what works?

                Originally posted by HWS View Post
                hey guys,
                I'm in the very beginning stages of becoming self-employed in the trade. I do good, well-functioning, neat work, I'm polite, I give quotes for each job on official letterhead and stick to those quotes, and I show up on time. I'm clean cut and I don't show up in sweatpants. I'm proud of my plumbing & pipefitting skills and I think I could have a good thing going here.
                But like I said, I'm at the very beginning stages. I'm working a generic warehouse gig to pay my living expenses and bills while the profits from my plumbing work goes back into buying tools, equipment etc for the biz. When things pick up, I can adjust the hours of my warehouse job accordingly, with the eventual goal of eliminating it and working full-time at my business.
                I average about one customer a week. I'd like to have way more than that, so I'm thinking about advertising. Word of mouth is great and everyone I know, customer or not, gets a handful of my business cards. I feel like I need to "chase" customers though, not just wait for someone to refer me. I'm eager.
                What has worked for you guys when you were beginning your business?
                So far I've been thinking of a few ideas:
                - flyers distributed in mailboxes to various neighbourhoods (almost free)
                - business cards like I've been doing (again, very cheap)
                - approaching realtors or insurance companies who might need to refer their clients to a plumber

                I'm working with almost zero budget here....anybody have any suggestions, constructive criticism,etc ?

                Thanks!

                Try it ALL and you will get your answer

                Comment

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