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Starting a Plumbing Business? Here's What to Expect

March 22, 2022
There are many factors to consider before jumping into the world of being self-employed.

By Jordan McDowell

Running your own plumbing business can be a rewarding experience. The industry is growing rapidly, and there is a high demand for new and experienced plumbers. In fact, as of 2021, the plumbing industry is worth $124 billion, a 3.7% growth from 2020. If you're considering starting your own business, there are many factors to consider before jumping into the world of being self-employed. You need to know what to expect when it comes to the startup process.

What are some of the things to keep in mind? Will I have enough customers? How can I get clients? Is my business legal? As a plumber, these questions and more may come up. In this post, we'll answer all of them, and more so you can start and grow your own plumbing business with confidence. Here's what to expect:

Plumbing is a Tough, but Rewarding Industry

The plumbing industry can be demanding and stressful. The professional can be technical, requiring you to combine skill, creativity, and hard work to succeed. It takes a lot of physical work, but if you do your research and prepare yourself for what to expect when starting your own plumbing business, there are many benefits to this profession.

●     The median salary of a plumber is $55,050, but many top plumbers earn more than $100,000 annually.

●      Professional plumbers enjoy the independence of working on their own.

●      You get to solve lots of day-to-day problems in homes and other properties, providing safety and peace of mind for homeowners and business owners.

●      Be more creative when solving plumbing problems

●      Learn a lot in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving

●      You also get to appreciate the impact of your work on your life and your customers on days like National Hug a Plumber's Day.

Startup Budget

You'll need a good amount of money at the beginning to get your company off the ground, so ensure you have enough saved up before taking on this venture. Set up a business budget that includes everything you'll need to get your business started. Your startup costs will include things like:

●      Your  van

●      Tools and equipment

●      Office supplies like a computer and printer

●      The cost of renting business space

●      Licensing and insurance costs

●      Marketing costs

You'll also want to set aside some funds for your personal expenses during the first year or so of business.

Licensing and Insurance

Before you start your own plumbing business, you'll need to make sure you're licensed and insured. You may need personal liability insurance, worker's compensation insurance, and state contractor licenses depending on your location and whether or not you have workers. When starting out as a small company owner, expect to do a lot of paperwork and research in the licensing and insuring process as well as plumbing standards to ensure you’re compliant with service requirements. Don't hesitate to ask your city government for any help you may need.


Ask yourself whether or not you want to specialize in certain plumbing services like clogged drains, sewers, toilets, or broken water heaters. If you do, then figure out what specialty areas there are within the plumbing industry. Research which types of issues come up more frequently in the different specialties in your location to decide where you would like to focus your efforts. Don’t forget to clearly outline your services on your website and other marketing channels so that customers know exactly what to expect from you.

Tools and Equipment

You'll also need a reliable vehicle and all of the necessary tools, equipment, and supplies to run your business. From work gloves, pants, helmets, boots, saws, and drills to plumbing snakes, plungers, wrenches, hoses to fittings & couplings,  you'll need a variety of equipment and supplies to get the job done. Without the professional tools and equipment, you'll be working with subpar quality. No one will want to hire a plumber if they can tell the tools aren't professional grade.

The kinds of supplies you need depend on how many projects or installations your business takes on each day/week/month, so it's good to have an idea of what kind of demand you might see and plan accordingly. While you don't need to invest in the most expensive tools on the market, it's important to have quality tools so that you can complete each job properly.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

If you're planning to venture into the plumbing business, be ready for emergencies that might require you to work at any time. Emergencies don't only happen during the day but also in the middle of the night and during holidays. This is because it's a home-based business, so there will always be someone needing help with their clogged or leaking pipes. You need to be well prepared to deal with these emergencies and have a plan to conveniently and efficiently serve your customers in times of trouble.

Branding and Marketing

To succeed as a new plumbing business, you'll need a strong branding and marketing strategy. Building your brand from the ground up requires time, effort, and money. But it's worth every bit of work you put in to make sure people recognize your business name when they need quality services, fast. Consider local directories, online marketing, social media promotions, and offline advertising. You can also consider collaborating with other business owners to gain more exposure for your brand.

You'll also need a mobile-friendly website that displays your business name, logo, services, and other helpful information to customers. Without an online presence, you won't be able to reach anyone beyond your immediate area. This will make it tough for people to find you and give them a reason to call when they need help quickly. Managing your online reputation is also crucial to your success. You can do this by monitoring online reviews, responding to them in a timely manner, and giving customers the best experience possible every time.

Focus on the Customer

Know your customer's expectations. Ensure you're always meeting every one of your clients' standards and exceeding them where possible. If a client calls with an emergency that requires immediate attention, provide information or service assistance that might help resolve the issue if it's within reason. Your customer service is what will set you apart from the competition, help build lasting relationships with your customers, and ensure your business thrives.

Stay Organized

When starting out, you'll need to get organized and efficient in your operations. Otherwise, you're going to have a hard time staying on top of things. Set up an efficient plumbing schedule so that customers know when they'll be able to get in touch with you or get the services they need. Also, set aside a time of day for administrative work and paperwork, so it doesn't interfere with your service hours. You don't want to find yourself overwhelmed with work. 

Stay Competitive

Setting up and managing a plumbing business is not the end of the road, especially when your competition is at its best. You have to continuously work on the effectiveness of your services by optimizing them for better results each time. The more satisfied customers you get, the more business will come in through word-of-mouth referrals and positive reviews online. Here are three things you need to do when starting your own plumbing business.

●      Hire the best people and focus on expertise and reliability

●      Offer multiple services to win over customers and gaining their trust

●      Take the right marketing approach to get your name out there


Of course, many other things go into building a successful plumbing business. You'll need to keep your trucks and equipment well-maintained. Also, ensure you and your workers are regularly updated on new industry standards and regulations. Putting the right processes in place is key to ensuring success when starting your own plumbing business, but you can't lose sight of what's most important: customer experience.

Whether it's a simple service call or an extensive renovation project, partnering with customers to ensure they're satisfied with your plumbing services is critical.

Jordan McDowell is a writer and content strategist. He specializes in technically-oriented B2B and B2C content for a number of digital companies.

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