In the UK, businesses that scale up increase their turnover to an average of £29.5 million and are significantly more productive than businesses that haven’t gone through this process.
If you run a plumbing business, scaling up will allow you to grow your profits and take your business to the next level.
However, taking the next step isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve broken down the key stages you need to go through into 10 top tips.
By implementing this advice you can put your business in the best position for long-term growth and success in the plumbing industry.
So, whether you are a seasoned business owner or just starting out, read on to learn how to grow your plumbing business and achieve your goals.
Hiring the right team members can make all the difference in achieving your growth goals.
Have a clear idea of what your business values are and use that as a framework to hire people who fit your vision. Take the time to conduct thorough interviews and check references.
Where you can look for people who are flexible and able to offer a broad range of skills. Often it might be easier to get in a contractor for highly specialist work, rather than employing someone full-time - unless you know you’re going to be doing that type of work regularly.
It's also important to invest in ongoing training and development for your employees to ensure that they are up to date with the latest plumbing techniques and technologies.
The best way to find new employees that fit your business ethos is to look to your current staff. Use their contact network for recommendations and ask them to post about job openings on their social media.
It’s also a good idea to attend industry events and job fairs to connect with potential candidates face-to-face.
For newly qualified plumbers look to local plumbing colleges that have a good reputation or reach out to organisations your current employees have trained at.
You may even want to look at taking on an apprentice. This can be a great long-term option that allows you to mould a candidate that fits your business.
Hiring experienced professionals can offer immediate benefits to your business. They bring expertise, advanced skills, and an established network, however, they also come with a higher price tag.
Conversely, hiring cheaper and inexperienced employees may save you money in the short term, but they may require more training, supervision, and guidance to develop their skills and knowledge.
Hiring a college graduate could be a good option. Though less experienced, they will be up to date with all the latest standards and practices.
Newly qualified plumbers also provide a fresh canvas to impart your own work standards and expectations.
On the flip side, it can be the case that slightly older apprentices such as those who have retrained from another industry, are more invested in the long-term vision and are less likely to change their minds and career goals. Something that can be an issue with young people.
Contractors can provide specialist expertise for a particular project or a temporary solution to meet increased service demand.
Using contractors can allow you to take on more work without the added overhead expenses of hiring permanent employees.
However, it's important to note that using contractors also has its downsides, such as potential communication issues and loss of control over quality of work.
It’s a good idea to build a network of trusted contractors you can turn to for particular jobs. Establishing this network will allow you to build increased flexibility and scalability in your business.
A big part of growing your plumbing business is having the structures and systems in place to allow your business to grow.
For example, if you are operating at full capacity without the resources to take on new jobs and handle your admin, then you have little chance of scaling your business.
To enable yourself to take the next step you need to get a system in place to enable success.
This starts with investing in a good CRM. If you are unfamiliar with service business CRMs check out our blog on what is a CRM.
This digital system allows you to streamline all your business processes and admin through one software. It adds clarity to your business and allows you to increase efficiency and take on more work.
Even as a small business, it’s a worthwhile investment, but as you grow it becomes essential. All successful large businesses use CRM job management software to organise their processes.
A part of the process of implementing a scalable system involves automating as many aspects of your business as possible.
You shouldn’t be wasting time completing menial tasks like onboarding new customers and sending out communications. Instead, you need to automate these processes.
Investing in job management software allows you to do this. For example, with software like Payaca, you can set up custom automations that will send out confirmation messages to your customers and automatically progress jobs through your calendar.
You can find out more here.
Winning repeat business is built on the back of consistent, quality service.
This should be supplemented by excellent customer service and support. All the best businesses excel in this area and it is a core part of what makes them so successful.
Try to keep in touch with your customers and keep them informed about your services and promotions. Send out newsletters, offer loyalty programs, and engage with them on social media.
You should also consider offering maintenance plans or annual contracts that can help lock in recurring business.
Boiler installs are a great form of high-value repeat business.
This type of work offers a higher return on investment and can help you to establish long-term relationships with your customers.
By targeting high-value projects like boiler installations, you can position your business as a specialist in that area, which can help attract more high-value customers in the future.
Furthermore, this kind of repeat work allows you to sharpen your skills and build a reputation within the boiler installation niche. Once you’ve built up a good reputation it becomes easier to win more repeat work.
You could also consider offering promotions or discounts for repeat business or referrals.
Marketing can help you reach new customers and increase brand awareness, while SEO can improve your website's visibility and drive more traffic to your site.
An effective marketing strategy will allow you to become an established industry leader in the plumbing space.
For more information on how to improve your marketing and establish your business presence online, read our blog posts on advertising for plumbers and plumbing SEO.
High-value customers are those who are willing to pay a premium for high-quality work, particularly repeat customers who value a premium service.
These customers might include commercial clients, property managers, and homeowners with high-end properties.
To target high-value customers, start by identifying the types of services that these customers are most likely to need and then specialise in those areas.
For example, if you are targeting high-end homeowners, consider offering services like custom plumbing installations and eco-friendly plumbing.
A big part of winning these customers over is in how you market your business.
Consider your branding and the messages that you are sending. If you want to win high-value customers you need a website that reflects this. You should also consider the tone of the content and images you share.
If your business is Bob’s boiler business for example, consider rebranding to Bob’s premium boiler solutions.
Expanding your customer base can help you diversify your revenue streams and reduce your dependence on a few key clients.
To reach new audiences and markets, start by identifying potential new segments that may need your services. This can include new geographic regions, niche industries, or demographic groups.
Then, develop targeted marketing campaigns that are tailored to these segments. For example, if you are expanding to a new geographic region, consider partnering with local businesses or sponsoring local events to build awareness.
If you are targeting a specific industry, tailor your messaging and services to address their unique needs and pain points.
Additionally, consider offering new services or products that can appeal to these new audiences.
By reaching new audiences and markets, you can expand your customer base and increase your revenue potential, positioning your plumbing business for long-term growth.
Excellent customer service can help you retain existing customers, generate positive reviews, and attract new clients to your business.
You should ensure that your team is responsive to customer inquiries and is able to resolve issues quickly and professionally. You may want to consider investing in technology that helps you with this - again finding a good CRM is the way to go.
You can also consider implementing a customer feedback program to gather data and identify areas for improvement.
Most importantly, make sure that your team is knowledgeable about your services and able to provide helpful advice and guidance to customers.
Good plumbing customer service is all about meeting the needs and expectations of your clients. This can include providing timely and professional service, communicating clearly and effectively, and going above and beyond to ensure that your customers are satisfied.
Some specific examples include:
Combining customer service with marketing is a powerful strategy for scaling your plumbing business.
Try to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews or provide testimonials. You can then feature these reviews and testimonials on your website and social media channels to build credibility and trust with potential customers.
You could also consider offering promotions or discounts to customers who refer new business to your company. This not only incentivises customers to refer others, but it also helps to build loyalty and repeat business.
Customer feedback can also be used to guide your marketing efforts.
For example, if customers frequently ask about a specific service or have common concerns, you can use this information to create targeted marketing campaigns that address these needs and pain points.
Cash flow is a critical aspect of scaling any business, and plumbing businesses are no exception.
One way to manage cash flow is to establish clear payment terms with your customers. This can include requiring a deposit upfront or setting clear deadlines for payment. By establishing these terms upfront, you can avoid cash flow issues that arise from late payments or unpaid invoices.
Another strategy is to manage your expenses carefully.
This can include negotiating with suppliers for better pricing, finding ways to reduce overhead costs, and investing in cost-saving technology or equipment.
In addition, it's important to maintain accurate and up-to-date financial records. This can help you monitor your cash flow, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions about your business.
Consider developing a cash flow forecast to help you plan for the future.
By estimating your future cash flow, you can make strategic investments and plan for any potential cash flow issues in advance.
By taking a close look at your expenses, you can identify areas where you may be overspending or where you can make strategic cuts to free up cash flow for growth and expansion.
Look at reducing overhead costs. This can include looking for opportunities to save on rent, utilities, and other fixed expenses. You may also want to explore the use of technology or automation to reduce the need for manual labour or administrative tasks.
It's also important to review your staffing costs carefully. This can include analysing your payroll expenses, assessing employee performance, and identifying areas where you may be able to streamline your workforce or reduce labour costs.
In addition to reviewing your expenses, it's important to regularly assess the return on investment (ROI) for any new investments or initiatives.
An accountant can help with various tasks such as bookkeeping, payroll management, tax filings, and financial planning.
They provide a deeper level of insight and analysis into your financials, helping you make informed decisions.
An accountant can help identify areas where you may be overspending or missing out on opportunities to save money. They can also help with tax compliance, ensuring that your business meets all regulatory requirements.
To grow effectively, plumbing businesses need to ensure that their pricing is competitive, profitable, and sustainable.
One approach to reviewing pricing is to conduct market research to better understand the pricing strategies of your competitors. This can help you to identify opportunities to adjust your pricing strategy to better align with market conditions and customer demand.
Another approach is to conduct a cost analysis to determine your break-even point and ensure that your pricing is generating sufficient profits to support growth and expansion.
We go into all of this in more detail in our blog on how to price a job.
Increasing prices can be a challenging decision for any business. However, when done strategically, it can be an effective way to improve profitability, cover rising costs, and improve the quality of service provided to customers.
Here are a few tips on how to increase your prices:
For a more detailed look at how to increase your prices read our blog on why your service business should increase its prices.
A recurring revenue stream may not be something that you thought was possible for plumbing businesses, however, there are options you can implement, allowing you to generate a steady stream of recurring revenue.
By implementing these recurring revenue options, plumbing businesses can establish a stable source of income and build a loyal customer base.
Cross-selling and upselling are methods used to make more from every deal.
When selling a product or service, instead of giving the customer a single choice, you present them with the option to purchase a premium product or add additional items to their purchase.
Using this approach can allow you to make more from every customer and provide the customer with a better product or service. It also works as a non-evasive form of selling as the customer is empowered to choose the upsell or cross-sale option.
As a plumber, there is ample opportunity to make use of these sales techniques. You can present the cross-sell or upsell when delivering the quote or estimate.
For example, if you quote a customer for a new boiler, within the quote you can give them the choice to select a cheaper option or purchase a premium boiler. You could also offer extra features they can add to their quotes such as boiler insulation or other items.
The best way to implement this technique is to use quoting and invoicing software. Payaca allows you to design professional quotes and estimates very quickly. These include images of items within the quotes with the ability to add multiple-choice options very easily.
Investing in this technology is a great way to take your business to the next level and increase profits.
As your plumbing business grows, it becomes more important to shift from a technician-focused role to that of a manager. This means delegating tasks, setting priorities, managing budgets and cash flow, and developing strategies for growth and expansion.
Becoming more of a manager requires a shift in mindset and a willingness to delegate responsibilities to others in your team. You should focus on developing processes and systems that can easily be replicated and scaled as your business grows.
A good way to make this switch into more of a management role is to apply the task pricing method, first described by entrepreneur Mike Winnet in his interview with Matt - CEO at Payaca .
In this method, Mike explains that you should break your jobs down into £10, £100 and £1000 tasks.
Instead of working on £10 and even £100 tasks, you should be delegating and outsourcing these jobs, freeing yourself up to focus on the £1000 tasks. This way you can focus your energy on the jobs that have the biggest impact on your business.
You should look to outsource tasks like bookkeeping, marketing, or IT support. This allows you to benefit from the expertise and experience of professionals in those areas.
Outsourcing also allows businesses to scale up or down as needed, without having to worry about the cost and resources required to hire and train new employees.
It can provide greater flexibility and agility, which is important for businesses that are looking to adapt to changing market conditions or respond to new opportunities.
The 60/20/20 time management approach is a method used to separate activities into three categories: 60% for essential, high-priority tasks, 20% for personal or professional development, and 20% for non-essential tasks or downtime.
For plumbing business owners, you should spend 60% of your time on high-priority tasks like customer service, sales, and operations, 20% should be dedicated to personal or professional development such as training, networking, or attending industry events and 20% is left to spend with your family or enjoy a hobby.
This approach can help to reduce stress, prevent burnout, and improve overall well-being.
By following the 10 top tips outlined in this blog, you can increase your profits and productivity, and position your business for success in the competitive plumbing industry.
Remember to stay focused on your goals and be willing to take calculated risks to achieve them.
With a clear plan and by following the right steps, you can take your plumbing business to the next level.