Wherever you live, there are probably multiple plumbing companies vying for customer attention. Every small business owner comes into contact with competition at some point.
Are you competing with a plumber who’s been around for twenty years or a new company with a strong marketing game? If so, you may need to step up your marketing strategy.
We have worked with many plumbers and plumbing companies over the last 7+ years. We have come to understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing for the plumbing industry.
There are common marketing ideas that most plumbing companies already use. Things like marking service vehicles with company logos and contact info or advertising annually in the local phone directory. What’s that anyway? ?
We will focus on ideas that are less known in the plumbing industry. We won’t only give the idea, but our thoughts on implementing the ideas.
Here is our expert advice on the best marketing ideas for plumbing and HVAC companies just like yours.
1. Quarterly Furnace Filters
Most people know that you’re supposed to change your furnace filters every few months. But really, who remembers? I know that I forget to do it from time to time. I remember when I notice my furnace making more noise when it cuts out due to the pressure caused by a half plugged (or fully plugged ?) furnace filter.
So what do you do? If you haven’t collected emails or cell phone numbers from your customers yet, start today. Then set up with a texting platform like Twilio or an email marketing platform like MailChimp.
MailChimp is free for under 2000 subscribers and 12000 emails per month. The only downside is you have their branding on every outgoing email.
Twilio is roughly $0.0075/SMS message sent, which is fairly affordable.
Import your customer information to your platform of choice. Schedule a message that reminds your customers to replace their furnace filter. Make sure it will repeat the same message every three months and you will not have to touch it again.
This may not generate much in the way of immediate business, but it will definitely put you in front of the customer frequently. Your messages will be appreciated by most, but make sure that there is a way for those who don’t want them to opt-out.
Alternatively, furnace filters are something that could be provided as a quarterly service. Similar to a “package-of-the-month-club”, you would send a furnace filter to their home every quarter (three months). They could have a choice of furnace filter—good, better, best with a price point that matches.
Hire a high school student to deliver furnace filters city-wide once a month (quarterly per customer). Should the customer want the filter installed, charge a little extra. It may be cheaper than shipping or hiring a courier and will allow for the upsell or installation of other products.
Customers may be willing to pay in upwards of $30 to have a premium furnace filter installed in their home every three months. When you market it, make sure to present information about how changing a furnace filter protects and increases the life of their furnace.
2. Ongoing Draw
Another creative marketing idea for a plumbing company would be to run a quarterly draw for customers and potential customers. The prize could be a high-end faucet or touchscreen thermostat. You could even offer a prize like a residential furnace cleaning or free furnace filter replacement for a year.
Make sure to provide info on your website and Facebook page with details on how to enter. Don’t have a Facebook page? Read: What Social Media Platform is Right for Your Business?
All people subscribed to your email list are automatically entered. Anyone who uses your company for service gets five free entries for the next quarterly draw. This gives a benefit to those who are loyal and already support your business.
Of course, you can use other techniques to encourage more entries and sharing on social media channels to get the word out. Facebook ads are also a great way to spread the word about your contest.
When it comes to setting up the draw, MailChimp has options to embed an email subscribe form (aka entry form) on your website. You can even add a tab for it on your Facebook business page.
When it comes time for the draw, take all the entries from your email list and place them on a spreadsheet, one per line. If you are using MailChimp, there is an option to export your list directly to a spreadsheet.
Then add the additional five entries per customer for those who patronized your business in the last quarter.
To choose a winner, go to www.random.org and use their random number generator. I recommend recording the whole process with a smartphone or video camera for proof and credibility if someone were to question the legitimacy of the draw.
This is also a great way to grow an email list, which will allow you to try the marketing idea listed above.
3. Leave Your Mark
This is a more well-known marketing idea, but I feel that there is a lot of grit to it so I will mention it here. For decades, companies have been leaving promotional items with customers after the work is complete. Things like mugs, pens, and calendars are common, but I am speaking more specifically of fridge magnets.
Today, fridge magnets have become mostly useless because they have become so thin that they barely support their own weight on the fridge.
Forget supporting a photo of the kids, a coloring picture, or the grocery list. If you leave them with a cheap, thin magnet you will only annoy them and leave a bad impression.
Also, some modern fridges don’t even have a magnetic front, which means that it’s no longer a central billboard for the family.
I definitely recommend a fridge magnet with your contact info and website, but if it’s going to be wimpy, FORGET IT. Only hand out magnets that are strong enough to hold a few photos on a fridge.
A thick magnet says “I want this to be useful for you” where a thin magnet says “I want to advertise in your home.” See the difference?
Another option is to leave a magnet on the water heater, furnace, or air conditioner that you serviced. This magnet doesn’t need to be thick because it’s not in an area that will be used as a message board for the family.
If the customer has a furnace or water heater emergency, where will they go first? To the appliance that’s causing the problem. When you have a magnet with contact info fixed to the side of the furnace or water heater, who do you think they will call?
We recommend a fridge magnet that’s 0.035” (0.8mm) or thicker and the size of a business card. If it’s going on the furnace or water heater, a thinner magnet or sticker will do the job.
4. Appear on the Map
If your business is on the internet with a website, you need to make sure that you are also found on the map with a Google Places listing (aka Google Business).
Google may have your business on its map already. If it’s there, it’s a good idea to update it yourself with the photos, services, website address, and contact information that you want.
Need to add your business to Google? Read: 7 Easy Tips to Rank Higher on Google in Less than 50 Minutes
Maybe adding your business to Google Places is an obvious thing and you’ve already done so, but I bet you’ve never done this…
If you are asking your customers for reviews, and you should, get them to do this one thing that will have you appear on the map every time they search your city.
If they were satisfied with your products and services, have them “save” your listing to their Google Maps. If they have a Google account, and most people do, it will save your listing on their map!
It is unclear whether this will help your Google ranking but it keeps your business in front of your customers’ eyes. It’s a great way to “advertise” without advertising.
Ask them to google your business and click the “save” button below your business name on the right of the search results. That’s it.
An alternate way to have them “save” you on their map, is to have them check into your business on Facebook. You don’t have to be at the business location to check into it, but you do need a Facebook page and have the check-ins option turned on.
To check in the customer needs to open the Facebook app on their smartphone and search for your business name. Once they open your page, they click the […] button and select “Check-In”. This is how it works on my Android phone but it may be different on an Apple phone.
5. Replacement Contest
This one may take a little bit of investment, but I believe it has the potential to have the biggest impact.
Run a contest to give away a replacement furnace. This includes the appliance, parts to install, and labor of installation.
Your supplier or manufacturer may offer a large discount in exchange for displaying their logo in the marketing for the contest.
The contest would be open to those who have an old furnace that needs replacing. Run the contest for three months to get the biggest bang for your buck.
To enter, have the qualified entrants complete a form on your website. It could ask for their contact information, age, furnace model, and a photo of a heating bill between Dec-Feb.
You may want to have a lawyer draw up some contest rules.
After two months, close entries, compile the qualified entrants, and post them in a photo gallery on your Facebook page. Get people to vote on their favorite by clicking the “like” button. Close voting after two weeks.
Choose the top ten liked Facebook photos and create seven packages with each of the ten entries. Give these packages to seven (impartial) local business professionals to pick the entry they feel needs the furnace the most.
Get news media involved and market, market, market. The success of this contest is dependant on entries. Facebook ads are often the best bang for your buck.
You have not only given away a great prize and got your name out in front of potentially thousands of people, but you also gained a marketing list of warm leads.
Now is your chance to offer everyone who entered but didn’t win, a promotion. Market a special to these leads and help recoup your cost. You already know that they are in need of a furnace or they wouldn’t have entered.
Alternatively, if you want to save a little, you may choose a water heater replacement instead of a furnace.
6. Proximity Drop
Here’s another great marketing idea that isn’t well utilized by plumbing companies, but worth mentioning.
When you serve customers in your city, keep note of the areas and services that you are providing. If you are replacing a furnace or water heater, chances are that there are other homes in the same neighborhood that need similar services.
Have a graphic designer create a door hanger with a promotion targeted at the neighbors of the area. Mention that you worked on a neighbor’s home and are offering an exclusive promotion. Get them to call within the next 30 days to receive a 10% discount. Create your own promotion that fits the budget and rings your phone.
Have your plumbers place these door knockers on the doorknobs of adjacent homes. If you want to reward your plumbers for following through, have them write their initials on the back of the door hanger.
When a new customer calls from the door hanger promo, make sure to get the initials on the back of the card to track the leads. Run a competition between the plumbers and reward the plumber who got the most leads.
7. Courtesy Pack
Take a hint from real estate agents. Leave a package of goodies after you have replaced a water heater, bathtub, etc…
In the bath courest package, include things like bath salts, a loofa, lotions, soaps, facecloth, etc. You could even include a mug candle with your logo on it. After the candle is burned up, it becomes a mug. If your customer purchased a furnace, make a tropical courtesy pack with some Pina Colada mix, coconut tiki cups, and Hawaiian leis. Explain that you have done so because their new furnace is going to keep them toasty warm!
Using any of these effective marketing ideas will get your plumbing company noticed and remembered by your customers. When you do what everyone else is doing, you will only blend in. Make your company stand out!
We have other great marketing ideas to help you increase sales. Check them out on our blog.
Have an idea that you have tried in your city that worked amazingly for your business? We’d love to hear it. Comment below or send us a message.