Posted by Alex, CPI Products Team Member on Dec 9th 2019

Simple Success Strategies for Independent Plumbing Contractors

This is a follow up to our previous article "3 Tips for the Self-Employed Plumbing Contractor" In our previous blog on success strategies we introduced 3 areas:

1) Grow to Your Comfort Level

2) Be Honest

3) Specialized Services

In this blog we will dig a little deeper, to give you some practical tips on how to grow to your comfort level. We will look at the other two in later blogs.

Most independent contractors – in any line of business – tend to either try too hard to grow too quickly or they don’t grow enough, and begin to stagnate. It’s not about ‘a happy medium’ it’s about using sensible, workable success strategies for independent plumbing contractors with a proven track record.

Keep it simple and keep it practical and you will succeed.

Everyone has a comfort level, a motivation level, and a danger level. Imagine it as a 3-step ladder. When you just do what you know and what you are good at, you are at your comfort level. Stretch too far, do too much and you finish up at your danger level. It’s natural to pull back from danger, and get back to comfort.

The successful independent contractor moves up to their motivation level - and stays there until they are comfortable, then they can move up again.

Being motivated leads to being successful. Motivation is about knowing what you want, knowing you can do what’s needed to get what you want, and sticking at it until you get what you want. Then you do it again. Here’s how.

  1. Decide on where you want to be in a sensible period of time. You can measure that by income in the next quarter, by the number of jobs you do in a week or a month or by new areas of work. That can be a geographic area (working in the next town along, instead of just this town) or a customer type (becoming a sub for a general contractor, doing apartment buildings, not just single family homes, etc.)
  2. When you know where you want to be, and you know where you are now you can decide how to fill the gap. Let’s say you want to earn $1400 a week ($67,200 a year), not the $1000 you earn now ($48,000 a year) and you want to be there in three months. If $1000 equals 20 hours of paid work ($50 an hour) and that breaks down to an average of 5 customer jobs of 4 hours each, that averages out to 1 paying customer a day. You can earn the extra $400 by getting paid another 8 hours a week. At an average of 4 hours work per customer, then you must work for 2 new customers every week.
  3. To get into your motivation zone, you just have to focus on getting those 2 customers. How can you get 2 new customers? You could:
  • Run ads in the local paper
  • Send out flyers to a neighborhood where you already have customers. Ask your existing customers for recommendations to put on the flyers
  • Send out flyers to neighborhoods where there are older homes, not new homes (older homes are more likely to have leaks)
  • Make sure your flyers and ads highlight a benefit to the customer. Say something like “We find leaks other plumbers can’t” or "No leak is too small. We find it. We fix it." You know that you use the Universal Roller Skid Product for your push camera, but an ad that reads “Use us we have a Roller Skid Product” means nothing to a customer – what does mean something is they have a leak, they want it fixed, you will find it, and you will fix it
  • Ask your existing customers if they can give you names of people they know, so you can contact them
  • Contact established plumbing contractors you know, in case they are overwhelmed and need more help
  • Contact general contractors, in case they need extra help with plumbing jobs
  • Join some of the ‘Next Door’ social sites – people often ask ‘neighbors’ to recommend contractors
  • Speak to painters, handymen, etc, and agree to refer customers to each other, if one of their customers needs a plumber, and one of yours needs a painter
  • Contact management companies who handle multi-family apartments, and see if you can become an ‘approved contractor’ for their residents – because you fix leaks other plumbers can’t find!

So if your goal is to find an average of 2 new customers every week, make a list of ways that you will be happy use to get them, then spend a set number of hours a week doing the things that will help you to find those new customers.

That is how you move from 'comfort level' to motivation level' and when are used to that new level you can move on again. In the next blog we will look at specialized services. That way you will be able to offer customers what they want, and you will be doing something most plumbers don't do. As a specialist you will discover a higher 'comfort level' that will earn you more money than the average plumber. If you would like to learn more about some specialist products, that will help you to move up those levels, please feel free to click here to contact us.