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19 things successful plumbers do

Oct. 17, 2017
1. Successful plumbers see plumbing as a profession, not a job.

1. Successful plumbers see plumbing as a profession, not a job. They take pride in providing an essential service all people need and recognize that they truly do protect the health of the nation.

2. Successful plumbers realize that turning a profit is just as important as turning a wrench. A plumbing company cannot succeed without either. Thus, successful plumbers, whether they still use their tools or not, are businesspeople.

3. Successful plumbers are not afraid or ashamed of charging what is needed to pay their people well, to equip their companies with proper tools and equipment, to take care of their customers, to fund future growth, and to generate a fair return for the investors who risk their capital. 

4. Successful plumbers utilize flat rate pricing because it not only allows them to charge the prices needed to be successful, but it is the pricing method overwhelmingly preferred by consumers. Consumers hate the uncertainty of an open ticket and flat rate provides them with the reassurance of a fixed price.

5. Successful plumbers control their lead flow. They know that leads are the lifeblood of any business. Plumbing is no exception. Successful plumbers actively market their company. They may accept leads from third parties to help fill in slow times, but they never allow themselves to become dependent on someone else for lead flow.

6. Successful plumbers hire above themselves. They hire people who will make their teams perform better. Often, this means hiring people with more talent and ability than the owner because doing otherwise holds back the organization’s development to the owner’s personal limitations.

7. Successful plumbers recruit continuously. They know that the limit to their ability to grow lies in their ability to grow their field service force. Want more sales? Put more trucks on the road.

8. Successful plumbers incent the behaviors they want. This includes performance pay because they know that paying for hours results in hours and paying for desired outcomes results in more of the desired outcomes.

Successful plumbers look the part. They manage a fleet of professionally wrapped vehicles with excellent graphics, knowing that their trucks are their single greatest marketing vehicle.

9. Successful plumbers train frequently, very frequently. To paraphrase Zig Ziglar, training, like bathing, doesn’t last. That’s why it should be done frequently. Some of the top plumbers in the business train as frequently as every day. That’s right, they train every day.

10. Successful plumbers do not limit their training to technical skills. They also train on soft skills, including how communication, listening, presentation, and so on. The most successful go beyond that and include life skills, such as personal financial management, being a good spouse and parent.

11. Successful plumbers also invest in their own personal training. They attend seminars on finance, management, marketing, and leadership. They read. They listen to podcasts. They practice personal growth.

12. Successful plumbers are process centric. They know a plumbing company can be people centric or process centric. People centric businesses must reinvent themselves whenever a key person leaves. Process centric follow documented processes regardless of who is on the team.

13. Successful plumbers know their numbers. They understand and study their financial statements. They have identified the key performance indicators for their business so they have an early warning signal when corrective action is required.

14. Successful plumbers delegate. They know they cannot do it all and know it all, but with processes and KPIs, they have management controls in place that allow them to focus on the business strategy and growth with the day-to-day details in the hands of competent managers.

15. Successful plumbers look the part. They manage a fleet of professionally wrapped vehicles with excellent graphics, knowing that their trucks are their single greatest marketing vehicle. They go beyond their trucks to ensure their team looks sharp and dresses sharp in company uniforms.

16. Successful plumbers join. They join their local trade association and national organizations like the Service Roundtable so they can mix with the best plumbing professionals on a local and national basis.

17. Successful plumbers are involved in their communities. They not only join professional organizations related to their trade, but local business organizations like service or civic clubs, the chamber of commerce, and leads clubs. They know that their personal promotional efforts can have a huge impact on the success of their business.

18. Successful plumbers give back. They recognize that their community and profession have given much to them and feel an obligation to give back in turn.

19. Successful plumbers have an exit strategy. They know that one day they will leave their business. They only question is whether it will be by choice, so they develop a plan to pass along the business to others by sale or inheritance.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable. For help in becoming a successful plumber, visit It’s the professional plumber’s greatest and most affordable resource.

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