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  • Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

    I have over 11 years of plumbing experience. Ever since I started I always liked the service side of the business. Troubleshooting problems, tinkering, fixing mechanics, etc. I personally found new construction tedious and boring.

    Anyway, as time went on I became more and more focused on service, repair and drain-cleaning. Finally in May 2007, I started my own business doing plumbing service. I started out doing only plumbing repair, no drain-cleaning, since I didn't have the machines. Well, I slowly realized that I was turning away some very lucrative work by not doing drain-cleaning. I researched machines like crazy and bought a nice arsenal of cable machines and even a camera and locator.

    Well, fast-forward to today and I find that I enjoy drain-cleaning even more than regular plumbing repair! I know it sounds crazy, many plumbers hate drain-cleaning since its dirty and nasty and they consider it "beneath" them. A lot of them even refer out their drain stoppage calls to a drain-cleaner, and in trade the drain-cleaner gives the licensed plumber the plumbing work.

    Here I am a fully licensed plumber, with all around plumbing experience and I have decided I want to do mostly just drains all day! I don't know exactly why, but I really like working with the machines, I like the satisfaction of hitting the blockage and watching the water all disappear. I like using the video-inspection camera and locator, and I enjoy repiping old drains and sewers and building them to last for decades to come. Mostly I just really like the idea of being a specialist, and being the best at one specific thing instead of being a "jack-of-all-plumbing." Being a drain specialist would save a lot of room on my truck. I hate having to drive to my shop, to unload an old water heater, then pick up the drain machines and camera for a stoppage call, only to have to take them off again when I have to change another heater, etc.

    Anyway, one idea I had was to change my business name. I figure since I have only been in business for less than two years, I am still new enough that changing my business name wouldn't be too radical. My current business is called "Reliance Plumbing." I was thinking if I want to do mostly just drain work, then this name is a little misleading. I don't want to get calls for plumbing remodels and what-have-you. So I was considering to keep the "RELIANCE" part but change the "plumbing" to "SEWER AND DRAIN." So the new name would be "RELIANCE SEWER AND DRAIN."

    I would then slowly have to change my advertising, business cards, my truck logo, my website, and anywhere my name is registered. I would slowly transition to being a drain specialist. I would still keep my plumbing license and I would stock parts on the truck for plumbing repairs, but I my bread and butter would mostly drain-related work.

    Anybody ever done this? Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?
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  • #2
    Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

    Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
    I have over 11 years of plumbing experience. Ever since I started I always liked the service side of the business. Troubleshooting problems, tinkering, fixing mechanics, etc. I personally found new construction tedious and boring.

    Anyway, as time went on I became more and more focused on service, repair and drain-cleaning. Finally in May 2007, I started my own business doing plumbing service. I started out doing only plumbing repair, no drain-cleaning, since I didn't have the machines. Well, I slowly realized that I was turning away some very lucrative work by not doing drain-cleaning. I researched machines like crazy and bought a nice arsenal of cable machines and even a camera and locator.

    Well, fast-forward to today and I find that I enjoy drain-cleaning even more than regular plumbing repair! I know it sounds crazy, many plumbers hate drain-cleaning since its dirty and nasty and they consider it "beneath" them. A lot of them even refer out their drain stoppage calls to a drain-cleaner, and in trade the drain-cleaner gives the licensed plumber the plumbing work.

    Here I am a fully licensed plumber, with all around plumbing experience and I have decided I want to do mostly just drains all day! I don't know exactly why, but I really like working with the machines, I like the satisfaction of hitting the blockage and watching the water all disappear. I like using the video-inspection camera and locator, and I enjoy repiping old drains and sewers and building them to last for decades to come. Mostly I just really like the idea of being a specialist, and being the best at one specific thing instead of being a "jack-of-all-plumbing." Being a drain specialist would save a lot of room on my truck. I hate having to drive to my shop, to unload an old water heater, then pick up the drain machines and camera for a stoppage call, only to have to take them off again when I have to change another heater, etc.

    Anyway, one idea I had was to change my business name. I figure since I have only been in business for less than two years, I am still new enough that changing my business name wouldn't be too radical. My current business is called "Reliance Plumbing." I was thinking if I want to do mostly just drain work, then this name is a little misleading. I don't want to get calls for plumbing remodels and what-have-you. So I was considering to keep the "RELIANCE" part but change the "plumbing" to "SEWER AND DRAIN." So the new name would be "RELIANCE SEWER AND DRAIN."

    I would then slowly have to change my advertising, business cards, my truck logo, my website, and anywhere my name is registered. I would slowly transition to being a drain specialist. I would still keep my plumbing license and I would stock parts on the truck for plumbing repairs, but I my bread and butter would mostly drain-related work.

    Anybody ever done this? Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?
    I would be careful not to limit yourself. There should be room to do all the work that comes in and as things get busier you add another truck and an employee.

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

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

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

      Originally posted by ToUtahNow View Post
      I would be careful not to limit yourself. There should be room to do all the work that comes in and as things get busier you add another truck and an employee.

      Mark
      Yes, that is one angle. The thing is, I don't want to grow it into a large company. I want it to stay relatively small. So "specializing" is one way to "grow" without adding a lot of employees. I could focus my resources onto specific tools and specific advertising to get specific work, and become more efficient.
      Kind of like doctors. You have "general practitioners" and then you have "specialists." I want to go more of the specialist route.
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      • #4
        Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

        IMHO, too much time has passed to risk confusing your customer base with another name. I do believe in the power of saying what you do in a business name. Consider this:

        Reliance Plumbing, Sewer & Drain

        Just do a DBA with the extra two words on the end and then slowly start transitioning to the new name. You don't even have to change invoices until you run out.

        In a year or two you could remove Plumbing from the name without anyone noticing and without a loss of clientèle.

        But, consider trying to keep your options open in your name. Plumbing may not be your favorite gig right now, but who knows what the future will bring. Just as a name can effectively tell people what you do, it can also tell people what you don't do a (just about the time you don't want them to think that anymore).

        Keeping plumbing in the name is also good for the commercial front. Commercial property managers do not like calling multiple vendors for similar but different trades. They like the convenience of one phone number that solves their problems.

        One more thought, to you plumbing, drain cleaning and sewer are separate entities. To most of your clientèle, it all qualifies under "Plumbing".
        spodelee

        Until lions have their own storytellers, stories of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

          carl, i eliminated remodels and re pipes 8 years ago and new construction in 1994.

          with a truck the size of a small moving truck, 14,000#. i still carry just about everything i need for the jobs.

          i don't carry water heaters or toilets in the truck as this is a waste and I'm not there to sell on impulse.

          but what i do carry, i use.

          i was under the impression that you kept the new 7500 in the truck along with your camera. if this is your everyday bread and butter, you need to make room for it. going back and forth is not how you save money or make money.

          i get to the supply house maybe once a week and my shop 2 times a week.

          you either need a bigger truck being a 1 man show or you need to limit your variety of calls. driving is not a money producing trade.

          if drain cleaning is your forte, you need the machines in the truck.

          a k-60 can ride shotgun and take very little space

          rick.
          phoebe it is

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

            Thanks Spodelee. Yeah, I am not sure the name change is even necessary at all. I think just changing my advertising and my business cards would be enough to "specialize". I am still not sure. "Reliance plumbing, sewer and drain" is too long imo. I need to think this one over for awhile. Good input though.
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            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

              Reliance
              Plumbing, Sewer & Drain
              "The Drain specialists"
              http://www.all-clear-sewer.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                i was under the impression that you kept the new 7500 in the truck along with your camera. if this is your everyday bread and butter, you need to make room for it. going back and forth is not how you save money or make money.

                i get to the supply house maybe once a week and my shop 2 times a week.

                Rick, roughly 80% of the time I keep the drain equipment on the truck. But like I said in my original post, when I have to change a water heater, or a couple of toilets, etc. Then the machines come off to make room.

                You are absolutely right here:
                you either need a bigger truck being a 1 man show or you need to limit your variety of calls. driving is not a money producing trade.
                Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                  Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
                  Thanks Spodelee. Yeah, I am not sure the name change is even necessary at all. I think just changing my advertising and my business cards would be enough to "specialize". I am still not sure. "Reliance plumbing, sewer and drain" is too long imo. I need to think this one over for awhile. Good input though.
                  I recently changed our name of 27 years from Lee's Accu-Tech Service, Inc. to Lee's Air, Solar, Electric & Plumbing.

                  Both names are whoppers (an understatement I think) but the second name is so much more powerful I can't believe it. With the name change alone we are running daily electrical calls, solar estimates, and I have one plumber running full time plus myself on a part, of a part, of a part time basis<grin>

                  Our only advertising until now has been in our quarterly client newsletter. I just started talk radio again, so we will begin picking up steam from here.

                  I wish I would have pushed my dad to change our name way back when. The last 25 years would have been easier and we could have spent much less on marketing... I'm convinced of it. You live and you learn!
                  spodelee

                  Until lions have their own storytellers, stories of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                    Originally posted by All Clear Sewer View Post
                    Reliance
                    Plumbing, Sewer & Drain
                    "The Drain specialists"
                    Or to keep it short and avoid the hassle of changing names, I would just change my advertising and business cards to:
                    Reliance Plumbing
                    "The Drain Specialists."
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                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                      Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
                      Rick, roughly 80% of the time I keep the drain equipment on the truck. But like I said in my original post, when I have to change a water heater, or a couple of toilets, etc. Then the machines come off to make room.

                      You are absolutely right here:
                      Consider a Wells Cargo enclosed trailer rigged for planned/larger scale plumbing work (water heaters, drain work, pipe bursting, etc...). We use trailers all the time and it is a great compromise.
                      spodelee

                      Until lions have their own storytellers, stories of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                        Originally posted by spodelee View Post
                        I recently changed our name of 27 years from Lee's Accu-Tech Service, Inc. to Lee's Air, Solar, Electric & Plumbing.

                        Both names are whoppers (an understatement I think) but the second name is so much more powerful I can't believe it. With the name change alone we are running daily electrical calls, solar estimates, and I have one plumber running full time plus myself on a part, of a part, of a part time basis<grin>

                        Our only advertising until now has been in our quarterly client newsletter. I just started talk radio again, so we will begin picking up steam from here.

                        I wish I would have pushed my dad to change our name way back when. The last 25 years would have been easier and we could have spent much less on marketing... I'm convinced of it. You live and you learn!
                        Wow, thanks for sharing your experience. This is exactly the kind of input I need. So, a name change can be a powerful way to get attention. Hmm...
                        Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                          Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
                          Rick, roughly 80% of the time I keep the drain equipment on the truck. But like I said in my original post, when I have to change a water heater, or a couple of toilets, etc. Then the machines come off to make room.

                          You are absolutely right here:
                          Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
                          Wow, thanks for sharing your experience. This is exactly the kind of input I need. So, a name change can be a powerful way to get attention. Hmm...

                          and in an effort not to confuse clients, my transition went like this over a 5 year period:

                          Year 1-22 / Accu-Tech Service, Inc.
                          Year 23-26 / Lee's Accu-Tech Service, Inc. with more and more emphasis on just "Lee's" instead of "Lee's Accu-Tech"
                          Year 27 / Lee's Air, Solar, Electric & Plumbing

                          Lee's Accu-Tech Service is still the parent corporation with a Lee's Air, Solar... DBA

                          Of course I just got my B General Building license, so next year I think we'll be "Lee's Air, Solar, Electric, Plumbing and Everything Else Too"

                          Glad my experience helped. Just checked one item off the ol' new years resolution list!
                          spodelee

                          Until lions have their own storytellers, stories of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                            We have found that working for plumbers gives us a lot of work, like you said most of them don't like drain cleaning. We refer all work back to them in return. So everyone is happy in the end. If you plan on getting work from other plumbers you don't want them to feel like you will take their work having plumbing in your company name so you might want to start Reliance Sewer & Drain as a company to solicit them. You can list plumbing on your web site and other business info but concentrate on the drain cleaning. If you want to keep plumbing in there change it to something like Reliance Plumbing and Rooter service(The oh so well know term)

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                            • #15
                              Re: Plumber transitioning to Drain-Specialist.

                              I thought about the same thing. Thats why this year we are doing a massive ad campaign dealing with the drain cleaning aspect of our business.

                              I look at drain cleaning as a way to fill in the holes when its slow. I dont see it as a huge money maker until the machines are paid for. It IS a plumbers job, and I get livid when people say its not. Somewhere along the way, plumbers lost focus...and lost the majority of rodding to the big name NON-LICENSED companies.

                              It is hard to compete for the drain cleaning around here, when someone wants such low prices.

                              In other words...dont change the name, add to it. Confusion is a terrible thing!

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