How to start a plumbing business
Starting a plumbing business is much like starting any small business. (Check out the SmallBusiness.com Guide to Starting a Business for general guidelines and suggestions.) However, there are specific state, local and professional guidelines, certifications and licenses that are required in the plumbing trade. A plumbing business can consist of one individual who works independently. Or it can be a contracting or service business that employs many plumbers and support personnel. The business can be independent or can belong to a network of franchised plumbing services or a network of plumbers who cooperate in marketing and advertising using the same brand.
Know the local requirements
In addition to understanding the general guidelines for setting up any small business, you must explore the specific professional, legal and regulatory guidelines that are required to set up and operate a plumbing business in your locality.
Professional licensing and certification requirements must be obtained to start and operate a plumbing business. Each state may have a different name for its licensing agency, but typically they have a name like The Department of Business & Professional Regulation or the Construction Industry Licensing Board. To find your state's licensing board, use the SmallBusiness.com Local Hub.
Seek assistance from local business development providers
Seek assistance from trade groups
Before setting up a plumbing contracting business, find out if there is a local chapter of a national trade association like the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (see link below) who can provide you with information about the requirements of setting up a plumbing business in your area. After being established, a membership in such organizations can provide you access to business and management training, along with professional development resources.
Marketing a plumbing business
It takes time and effort to grow any small business. As is the case with most service industries, plumbers tend to find most of their customers through word of mouth. The key to great word of mouth referrals is to provide great service at a reasonable cost to your current customers.
Traditionally, telephone Yellow Page listings are important to developing business for residential repair and maintenance business. Internet advertising, especially search advertising, is becoming more and more important to any professional service provider like plumbers. You need to know how to make sure that potential customers find your company's name when they search for a plumber in your vicinity.
Franchise and cooperative marketing plumbing businesses
Rather than create a totally new plumbing business, some plumbers consider buying a franchise of a national or regional franchise plumbing company. (Be sure to read the SmallBusiness.com Guide to Franchising for important suggestions and background on things you should explore when considering becoming a franchisee.) In some locations, independent contractors may enter into joint marketing cooperatives that allow them to gain referrals and other marketing services in exchange for a recurring fee or commission.
- Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association - The profession trade association of plumbing contractors provides a wide array of resources to help plumbers set up and operate a plumbing contracting business.