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Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

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  • #46
    Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

    I agree totally -

    Ive been in business three years now, I did on average last year 60 jobs per month (and growing), about 90 percent drain cleaning, 10 percent plumbing.

    I have three plumbers who recommend me to their customers for drain work. They know I have no interest in taking their plumbing work. In turn I give them water heater jobs, under slab work, etc.

    Also I have rental property owners, 2 hotels, 3 condo associations, etc. who know that since I'm not bogging myself down with large plumbing jobs, I can get to them quickly.

    I keep renewing my LA state masters license but it's a little dusty.

    I started my business in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. I did drain cleaning from the beginning but also did three renovations. The third and last renovation owed me 2000.00 which took me 7 months to collect. I got paid on the others and could have taken more renovations, but decided I prefer small jobs. It's easier to collect money from people after they see that toilet flushing.

    Eventually the building boom that is still taking place in the greater new orleans area will stop. When the dust settles I want a large customer base to falll back on. I get that with drain cleaning.

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    • #47
      Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

      Bump thread.
      I am still thinking about this subject heavily. It seems a lot of sewer and drain guys get there business from other plumbers. As a licensed plumber who also does plumbing repair, I doubt that I am going to be able to rely on that avenue, but it would be great.
      Anyway, currently I stay very busy with referrals, repeat customers and the local phonebook display ads I run. Though they are quite expensive. I am wondering how you guys who do mostly drain calls stay so busy? Any particular advertising, etc... I really have thought about it for a long time, and I definitely want to make the transition to a drain specialist, I just have to figure out how to get more exposure and more drain calls.
      Currently I do about 25% drain calls, maybe even less. I want that to be more like 80% if possible.
      I am currently in the process of writing up a new marketing plan, and any advice would be welcomed.
      Thanks.
      Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

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      • #48
        Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

        Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
        Bump thread.
        I am still thinking about this subject heavily. It seems a lot of sewer and drain guys get there business from other plumbers. As a licensed plumber who also does plumbing repair, I doubt that I am going to be able to rely on that avenue, but it would be great.

        Thanks.
        Plumbers might be happy to send you out as long as you don't steal their customers and don't ever run down there work to the homeowner. Seems I get asked for a card most times when I'm on a job for a plumber but I won't leave one. Most plumbers I drain clean for don't want me to bill through them they just say bill it. they know I'm not out stealing customers. Just some food for thought.

        I guess I would rather rely on my own customers completely. For example. If I'm booked but a plumber calls with a sewer or any service they get priority, Thats the down side for me

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        • #49
          Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

          Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
          Bump thread.
          I am still thinking about this subject heavily. It seems a lot of sewer and drain guys get there business from other plumbers. As a licensed plumber who also does plumbing repair, I doubt that I am going to be able to rely on that avenue, but it would be great.
          Anyway, currently I stay very busy with referrals, repeat customers and the local phonebook display ads I run. Though they are quite expensive. I am wondering how you guys who do mostly drain calls stay so busy? Any particular advertising, etc... I really have thought about it for a long time, and I definitely want to make the transition to a drain specialist, I just have to figure out how to get more exposure and more drain calls.
          Currently I do about 25% drain calls, maybe even less. I want that to be more like 80% if possible.
          I am currently in the process of writing up a new marketing plan, and any advice would be welcomed.
          Thanks.
          We use to get a lot of referral drain cleanings from other companies because we generally had whatever it took to get it done. I understand Rick is in the same situation with other plumbers referring drain work to him.

          Mark
          "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

          I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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          • #50
            Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

            I'm not one to give marketing advice, as my yellow page ad is failing miserably. 55% loss in 2008

            I would market yourself to plumbers who either don't do drain cleaning or are too busy with plumbing. Let them know that you're interested in trading work, and not in stealing customers. Some will say yeah right, some will go for it. Then prove yourself.

            I've been lucky to meet three plumbers and I'm looking for more.

            One (one man shop) with a bad back and can no longer lift his machines, so he refers me for drain work. In return I send him the faucet repair work that he likes, and is more set up for (as far as parts) than I am.

            Another one, video inspection (only) specialist, who is part of a larger company, refers me for drain work, because he knows he'll be able to see the pipe after I clean the line. Real estate agents prefer this company because they never upsell since they only do video inspections.

            Another that does every thing but drain cleaning. Perfect scenario. He has a great customer base of 25+ years that love him. He recommends me for drains and I recommend him for plumbing, under slab, water heaters, etc.
            I'm not interested in plumbing and he's not interested in drains.

            Rental property owners (and every other customer that you tell) will love you knowing that they can get you on short notice, because your not tied down on another customers plumbing job.

            I currently have two hotels that I do work for, and I want to start marketing to restaurants. Lots of repeat business.

            The only good advertising I've done is refrigerator magnets and my newspaper ads. YP and internet, well, I might as well donate the money to charity. One problem I'm thinking is that people can not separate drain cleaning from plumbing. Sometime people call me from the YP and tell me they need a gas line run. The word "gas" is nowhere in my ad.

            Average last year 60 jobs per month, 80 - 90% drain cleaning.

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            • #51
              Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

              Originally posted by ToUtahNow View Post
              We use to get a lot of referral drain cleanings from other companies because we generally had whatever it took to get it done. I understand Rick is in the same situation with other plumbers referring drain work to him.

              Mark

              I have a similar situation. I've developed a reputation with my customers and the guys who recommend me, that if I can't get it unstopped, no one can.

              Experience helps but won't do anything without the right equipment. I carry at all times a sewer machine, two drain machines, a portable jet, a seesnake that I just bought, extra cables. Everything I need to tackle 99% of drain and sewer calls. I also carry enough parts to rebuild commodes, re-pipe a kitchen sink or lavatory, just the small jobs.

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              • #52
                Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                I have read this whole thread with great interest.

                I could not imagine limiting myself to only one aspect of plumbing especially with the size of the areas I operate in and the current state of the economy. I have always specialized in service and repair and everything that it entails, I enjoy the challenge that each day brings and the variety of the full spectrum of the business.

                I am a full service plumber though, I stock on my truck stems, seats, and bibb washers to repair almost every faucet from 1950's to current, also over 1000 o-rings, friction rings, rubber gaskets, usual toilet parts etc. My 3 snakes ride 95% of the time in my truck, unless I need to do a water heater, and I am currently working on a design to solve that problem.

                Today I had lunch at the local Senior Center to get re-aquainted with my strongest customer base, I picked up one job while I was there and one more about an hour later, sucks to be my competition.

                I admit that I am territorial like a dog, I know I will ruffle some feathers with this statement but... I have no use for unlicensed individuals (roto-rooter types) mucking around in the drains, and I feel the same about the handyman types doing faucet replacements etc. They should all be licensed, bonded, and insured.

                I realize that the members of this board, so far as I can tell, are professionals, but there are many out there doing work under the guise of handymen or drain cleaners that do not do work up to standard.

                Quick story,
                I was working in town a while back just before I went back into business for myself, I passed by an older building in town (remodled historic landmark) and noticed one of the new rooter outfits there about 3 in the afternoon, I mumbled a few choice words as I passed an went on. About 5 pm I pass them again on my way home still there. At 8pm the bozo ( no concept of servicework) that was signing my bouncing payroll checks calls and... you guessed it he's down there with them guys trying to help them out and wondering if MY snakes were in my service rig.
                So I puts my boots back on and heads to town, when I get there these morons are all dolled up in steril bunny suits with slippers on, the carpet in the building is sopping wet with sewage water and they are confused. I ask what the problem is, they broke their brand new main line cable after the third hour in the cleanout, pulled the toilet and proceeded to try a jetter even though the water was within 6" of the flange.

                It was 45 minutes from the time I left my driveway( I live six miles from town ) hit the obstruction and returned home, the maintenance guy that called them idjits was fuming, I killed them with kindness.

                Come to find out the head rooter guy is a hay farmer, I'm doing my best to keep him at the farm.
                Last edited by U&I Plumber; 01-22-2009, 10:29 PM.
                sigpic
                www.uandiplumbing.com

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                • #53
                  Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                  When I started in 1995 I trained for 2 months and was out running drains. I learned a lot through trial and error, unfortunately for many customers.

                  Eight years later, after being fired from a rooter company, I took a 60% cut in pay and became a plumbers helper. Learned new construction and service plumbing. Got my journeyman and then my masters license. Started my own company, did some "Katrina" gutted homes remodels, and decided, I prefer doing drain work.

                  Water goes down + relieved customer = Money in hand

                  I'm now an over-qualified drain cleaner.

                  It's how I started though. The big "rooter co's" take anybody off the street, hand them a machine and an invoice book and charge outrageous prices.

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