7 Plumbing Business Management Tips to Streamline and Grow
Managing a plumbing business in today’s digital world requires a few more skills than simply knowing how to tweak a water pressure regulator or install a sump pump. For best plumbing business management, plumbing contractors must also know how to price their services correctly, create effective marketing campaigns to gain new customers, and recruit new hires to fill the technician gap in a highly competitive field.
Simple, right? Not so fast. Pricing and invoicing plumbing field service work can be complicated, from calculating labor rates and overhead expenses to tracking billable and nonbillable hours, as well as selling maintenance agreements. Knowing which plumbing marketing strategies work long-term presents its own set of challenges, and hiring qualified plumbers in the current trade-shortage climate can be downright difficult.
In fact, the plumbing industry shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. According to a recent market research report by IBIS World, there were 121,876 plumbing businesses and 518,031 industry jobs by the end of 2019, and revenue reached approximately $113 billion. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters grew to 490,200 in 2019, with a 4% anticipated growth rate over the next 10 years.
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Position your plumbing company for growth in 2022 and beyond—by taking your plumbing business management approach to the next level with field service management software. Follow these management tips from industry experts to get started on a clear path to streamlined operational efficiency.
1. Market Smarter, Not Harder
Are your plumbing marketing strategies reaching the right audience? If you’re continually searching for ways to grow your plumbing business, focus on improving your plumbing marketing efforts first.
For NexGen Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing Owner Ismael Valdez, marketing remains the most important KPI (Key Performance Indicator) to know, understand, and track as a service business. It’s like the fuel that powers your vehicle, he says, and it’s how he took his blended HVAC-plumbing business in Southern California from zero profitability to $30 million in four years.
“If you don’t know how to make the phone ring, nothing else matters,” Valdez says.
Before the Internet of Things (IoT), plumbing companies could depend on the phone book, direct mail, and newspaper, billboard, or radio advertising to reach customers in their service area. Today, small business owners must navigate a multitude of digital platforms, often guessing at which avenues work best for attracting the most leads.
And what works today may not work next year, next month, or even next week, Valdez says. “It’s tracking what works now—that’s the most important thing,” he says.
Whichever marketing strategy works best for the service industry in your region, keep track of gross revenue per lead source, the number of leads generated by each source, and the closing percentage on each marketing lead. Then calculate ROI to determine true marketing value, and adjust marketing spend accordingly.
2. Train Field Technicians to Sell Like a Pro
Is your plumbing company losing money, despite employing a team of plumbers with stellar technical prowess? Expertise and know-how only go so far in today’s online world of on-demand home services—now, field technicians must know better plumbing sales techniques.
Show your plumbing techs how to combine their skills and knowledge with a plumbing software solution, such as ServiceTitan, to easily present and explain good-better-and-best options on all service calls. Not only does plumbing service software help to position them as true service experts, techs easily increase average tickets by converting more plumbing leads into on-site sales of new products and upgrades.
Online shoppers appreciate instant communication, and savvy consumers want to know they’re receiving good value for your plumbing services. Empower your techs with a mobile app for iOS and Android phones and tablets to give customers information in real time about their specific plumbing issue, ease their concerns about cost and quality, and add extra value to your brand—all from the convenience of their mobile device.
3. Equip CSRs to Turn Calls into Sales
Are your customer service reps properly prepared to make a good first impression with callers inquiring about your plumbing service company? Homeowners and commercial plumbing clients expect good customer service from the first moment you answer the phone, and it’s up to your CSRs to set the stage for building a good relationship.
Give your CSRs the power to impress with business management software that automatically populates customer information as calls come in, instantly showing them an inbound caller’s information before they answer the phone.
With plumbing business software, CSRs know:
Customer’s address and phone number
Customer’s profile (age of home, credit score, and more)
Customer’s complete service history with your business
Marketing campaign that prompted the call
With call recording and custom prompts on every call, CSRs can give potential customers their undivided attention and collect the right information, which prepares your field technicians to get the job done right the first time. When leads turn into sales, the whole team wins.
4. Streamline Plumbing Communications
With mobile workers accounting for 60% of the U.S. workforce by 2024, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), it’s never been more important to streamline your plumbing communications and improve workflow—from the first moment a customer calls to book an appointment with office staff to the follow-up after leaving the job site.
Instantly connect with your entire plumbing team through text messaging, GPS tracking, and work-based social media, or use ServiceTitan’s Mobile App to integrate all information CSRs collect on intake calls directly with your service tech’s mobile tablet, so they never miss a beat.
Clear and timely communication from start to finish improves customer satisfaction, provides better customer management, and shows your plumbing company cares about helping customers save money and time. It also helps employees stay more productive and engaged, and keeps everyone on the same page.
5. Leverage Online Reviews
A well-optimized website design, combined with glowing customer reviews, produces more leads for your plumbing company through organic Google results when a customer in your area searches online for plumbing services. Using a management system to monitor and respond to online reviews is a proven business strategy for many who own a business in the skilled trades.
Travis Ringe, who co-owns ProSkill Services, a full-service air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, water heater, and water treatment home services company in Arizona, focuses his marketing efforts on getting more 5-star Google reviews. He says ServiceTitan’s built-in survey tool helps him customize a personal message, and the plumbing software automates the process for better results.
“We get between 5 and 15 Google reviews per day, on average,” Ringe says.
With 82 percent of customers saying they read online reviews for local companies and more than half saying they won’t consider hiring a company with less than 4 stars, managing online reviews can make or break a service company in today’s digital world.
6. Stay on Top of Plumbing Trends
Knowing trends related to improved operational efficiency for residential and commercial plumbing systems matters to today’s tech-savvy consumers. They want to save money, time, and protect the environment from harm.
Leaking pipes, fixtures, and seals—otherwise known as small leaks—quickly add up to gallons of water lost and wasted dollars, according to Energy Star. Provide better customer support by helping customers save water and energy. They want to know the benefits of smart plumbing products, such as tankless water heaters, drain-cleaning sensors, leak-detection equipment, smart showerheads, and touchless or voice-activated faucets.
By staying on top of new plumbing technology, you can equip your field technicians to offer smart solutions for every plumbing problem.
7. Track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
For best plumbing business management, contractors also must understand which financial KPIs to closely monitor and track so they make smart, data-driven decisions to grow their business.
For Valdez’s blended HVAC-plumbing company, he identifies the top three financial KPIs as: gross profit margin, set overhead, and break-even point. He says it basically comes down to tracking monthly expenses and gross profit to know exactly how much to target in revenue.
Profits and cash flow are the two biggest KPIs to stay on top of, says Ellen Rohr, Chief Operating Officer of Zoom Drain. Just be careful to not overextend your plumbing company in good times and bad, and insist on payment upon delivery to keep accounts receivable in good shape.
Keep clean books using ServiceTitan’s best plumbing software, which offers QuickBooks integration, faster payment processing, and an overall better job management system.