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Discussion Starter #1
A brief history. In the Bathroom remodeling/ plumbing business. I am licensed plumber and have been doing it since 1987. My remodeling business sort of evolved into a plumbing business over the last 8 years, as I end up doing a lot of plumbing in the home outside the bath for my customers. I also have friends who are GC's who know me and use me for commercial and other types of plumbing work.

With the economy doing what it is doing I am in the process of seperating the two and have formed a new LLC for plumbing. In remodeling I spend a geat deal of time focusing on marketing and tracking what works for us and what doesn't. I know the service business is the one I want to be in and I am going to start with residential sevice and drain cleaning.

I hate phonebooks. unfortunately they are a staple in our industry, but I think the priceing has become rediculous over the past five years and you can't convince me there isn't other ways to be as effective as they are and not be locked into thousands.

So here are some ideas I am looking at from some research I have done. I would like the input from others. I believe in business plans and I am working on my marketing plan this weekend. I love healthy debate, I am not thin skinned so pick them apart, I would rather have that from a person who has been there done that, than blaze a trail of expensive disaster.

Idea 1- To get the name out there on shoe with out strings budget, I thought I would start with home shows. My number one source of new customers with bath remodeling. I have seen other plumbers have great success with "Free home Plumbing Inspection". my thoughts are to work a booth at the homeshow with a nice brocures, and give away free home plumbing inspections. I can also book the appointments at the show. This way it satifies me that no one gets me and my TOOLS for free. But they still get me for an hour. I am going to develop some nice PROFESSIONAL home inspection form on the computer have them printed and along with that a nice folder, with a copy of license, insurance, refernces present them with a free inspection and cost to repair or update if needed.

Idea 2- I like homeshows as you can see. I have seen plumbers have great success with maintaining repeat customers doing service plans. Perhaps develop different levels as the program evolves. The guys I know that are doing it love it and get paid for the plans. Paid by a customer to be a repeat customer. To kick off my Service business I thought it would be great to start by giving away free service plans at homeshows. Print up cards registration numbers, have attorney review, and set up data base in office of plan members. I was first thinking the first year free. Now I am thinking that three years is the first hurdle in business, then five. The two hardest for me to get over in past. So I think start by giving them away for the first two years and have 3 year expirations on them. Develop pricing for plan members and seperate priceing column for non plan members. Spend some weekends at the home shows giving away free plumbing service plans. I would then set a database geared to call each client annually and probably do the following every year this part is still in the works. Flush water heater, change water filter, complete all points inspection, and camera mainline. Give free estimate if needed and then give them a plan member free annual inspection report complet with dvd of camera inspection.

Idea 3- Give away a nice grohe or kohler kitchen faucet via a drawing at the show. Take the sign up sheets from the give away for those that did not win and mail them discount offers for a "kitchen tune up". To me those that sign up are those raising there hands and saying I do not like my kitchen faucet.

So, what do you think? Any ideas you could share?
 

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One of the cheapest advertising we ever did was to install yard signs in the yards of homes we were working on and have kids hand out fliers in the same neighborhood. It never fails that the neighbors want to know what is going on and sometimes they would just call the office to ask. I remember one repipe we did at a home which lead to twenty others on the same street. That was the exception not the norm but we would generally get at least one or two jobs out of each time we did fliers.

Mark
 

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Idea number 3.
It is only my opinion, but everyone will enter for draws for free anything.
You are better off selling faucets at near cost at the show and offer a discounted install. Those are the people that are unhappy with their faucets. Using free draws to build a mailing list just pisses people off, many couldn't afford anything anyways and are "dream shopping".
At least if you can get into their homes you have a shot at "upselling", its too easy for a person to ignore the "junk mail".
 

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Please don't be mad, you asked for it and I have strong opinions.

"I am going to start with residential sevice and drain cleaning." - That is what we are doing and we would like to do more bathroom remodels, so maybe you can help us with that.

Phonebooks - I'm certain there are other ways, but I believe they are a necessary evil. If a customer forgets your number and looks in the yellow pages to find you and you are not there - they start looking at the ads and you risk losing a customer.

Home shows - we have only done one home show located in the mall for one weekend. Our display had a water heater with a recirc pump hooked up with a big sign "Tired of waiting for hot water" - Big complaint in our parts. Also, had a standard round front toilet next to a comfort height elongated with the sign "Bad back, bad toilet" "Right height, right toilet." Had a lap top showing a video of the Evolution Essential garbage disposal in action. Also, had a very attractive female manning the booth along with a give away. Results - one service call and no other business generated as far as I can tell. Handed out a ton of flyers and business cards.

Here comes your healthy debate proud plumber -

IMO - homeshows work well for the big sales - full bathroom remodels, porch enclosures, hot tubs, swimming pools, decks, new A/C systems etc.

Shoe string budget idea - Contact local realtors, Most have weekly meetings and will invite guest speakers to give a 10 minute presentation on their business. I did a presentation for 20+ realtors and it worked well. It only cost two boxes of donuts. My presentation was geared toward changes that can be made to help sell a home fast. Updating faucets etc. Realtors are always meeting people and they are a good source of referrals.

"Free home Plumbing Inspection" - Bad idea in my opinion. You live in an area with an older population and they won't feel bad using your "Free home plumbing inspection." Older people love the company, but a lot do not buy. How wealthy are you that you can offer so much for free? You may be so busy chasing "free" work that you won't be available to do real work that pays.

Shoe string ? - Brochures/folders will be taken by the hundreds and thrown away by most. When someone walks pass a booth, they feel compelled to take literature whether they need it or not.

I can also book the appointments at the show - you will need a lot of people to man the booth. Also, you will need to contact after the show to confirm or risk showing up and HO saying they changed their mind.

"they still get me for an hour." - You are worth something. Free doesn't work for me. There is little value to Free. It catches attention, but most people don't value what they get for free.

Idea 2- I have seen plumbers have great success with maintaining repeat customers doing service plans. - We just started offering Service Plans, however, we do charge for them.

You are way overthinking and are overlooking the obvious! You already have a reputation with past customers. Start with sending them a letter with your new business cards. Ask for referrals! Better yet, offer a reward for a referral. $10.00 off your first service call, refer a friend and they receive $10.00 off. Let your GC's know you want service work.

BNI - This is a great networking group. We belonged to it our first two years in business and it was a great boost. Has it's pros & cons, if you are interested PM me and I will give you some inside info. on this group.

Give away a nice grohe or kohler kitchen faucet via a drawing at the show. - WOW, you really like that FREE thing!

"To me those that sign up are those raising there hands and saying I do not like my kitchen faucet." - Sorry, I disagree. They are responding to FREE. Elderly people will take a free condom because it's FREE. Service is completely different than bathroom remodels.

BTW - I had what I thought were GREAT marketing ideas just to have my husband shoot them down. We advertise "Old-fashioned customer service" and when we first opened I wanted to blitz the radio with an ad saying "ABC Plumbing just opened up and is bringing back old-fashioned customer service. For a limited time, they are bringing back old-fashioned pricing from the 1950s. Give them a call today!"

Remember, we were brand new, no YP ad, no one knew we even existed (we just moved here), so I was desperate just to have the phone ring.

My husband said "Absolutely not! I am not working for cheap!" So we never did do it.

For the record, I still think it may have created a lot of buzz/publicity and may just have worked. I'll never know. In my mind it worked, in my husband's mind, it didn't.

I would have LOVED to try it! Go with your gut, but be careful with all the "FREE"
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Please don't be mad, you asked for it and I have strong opinions.

Mad, never. 1- this is an internet posting site, 2- Debate is a great way to take your thinking to the next level.

"I am going to start with residential sevice and drain cleaning." - That is what we are doing and we would like to do more bathroom remodels, so maybe you can help us with that.

Thats easy, High end only. Currently SW florida is broke. however the affluent and wealthy are still spending money. High end products are the only thing going right now, unless it is financed 12 mos. same as cash type sales. REALLY SLOW.

Phonebooks - I'm certain there are other ways, but I believe they are a necessary evil. If a customer forgets your number and looks in the yellow pages to find you and you are not there - they start looking at the ads and you risk losing a customer.

Agree phone books necessary but rediculous, I will not give in to full page ads.

Home shows - we have only done one home show located in the mall for one weekend. Our display had a water heater with a recirc pump hooked up with a big sign "Tired of waiting for hot water" - Big complaint in our parts. Also, had a standard round front toilet next to a comfort height elongated with the sign "Bad back, bad toilet" "Right height, right toilet." Had a lap top showing a video of the Evolution Essential garbage disposal in action. Also, had a very attractive female manning the booth along with a give away. Results - one service call and no other business generated as far as I can tell. Handed out a ton of flyers and business cards.

I do 20-25 events a year mostly home and garden. I have dome one mall show and never again. They are terrible no matter where they are. Malls have become a daycare for teenagers, wrong crowd.

Here comes your healthy debate proud plumber -

IMO - homeshows work well for the big sales - full bathroom remodels, porch enclosures, hot tubs, swimming pools, decks, new A/C systems etc.

My idea for homeshows was due to my experience with them, I have gotten good at doing them and felt If I took the right concept I could make it successful. just as a side note I have sold everything from 125.00 tub chip repairs to complete home repipe at homeshows. I used to say my market is easy all I need is people who take a bath. Now I am more excite all I need is people who take a ***you get the point> I feel face to face works good.

Shoe string budget idea - Contact local realtors, Most have weekly meetings and will invite guest speakers to give a 10 minute presentation on their business. I did a presentation for 20+ realtors and it worked well. It only cost two boxes of donuts. My presentation was geared toward changes that can be made to help sell a home fast. Updating faucets etc. Realtors are always meeting people and they are a good source of referrals.

With 17,027 homes in foreclosure in my county alone realters are serving omelettes at the local greasy spoon. however the base idea is there and a new realtor based industry is coming alive, perticularly for plumbers, water heaters have been sitting for a couple years now and so have plumbing systems, hence they need licensed and insured plumbersto get them ready for sale after the banks finally take them over. BEWARE OF RECEIVABLES realtors are in bad shape and some of them lost there check books during all fo this. However it is going to be a good source of work for the next couple of years.

"Free home Plumbing Inspection" - Bad idea in my opinion. You live in an area with an older population and they won't feel bad using your "Free home plumbing inspection." Older people love the company, but a lot do not buy. How wealthy are you that you can offer so much for free? You may be so busy chasing "free" work that you won't be available to do real work that pays.

I have to agree, Free work is not good. In remodeling you would do free estimates, A plumbing inspection to me is nothing more than a chance to give an estimate. I don't care what business you are in salesmanship has to come into the game.

Shoe string ? - Brochures/folders will be taken by the hundreds and thrown away by most. When someone walks pass a booth, they feel compelled to take literature whether they need it or not.

Agree. I used to do nice full color brochures, now a simple pample size rack card. We do not pass them out we let people take them.

I can also book the appointments at the show - you will need a lot of people to man the booth. Also, you will need to contact after the show to confirm or risk showing up and HO saying they changed their mind.

We book appts now at shows and it works well, This I wouldn't change. My salesman simply call people the day before and confirm. Very few no shows.

"they still get me for an hour." - You are worth something. Free doesn't work for me. There is little value to Free. It catches attention, but most people don't value what they get for free.



Idea 2- I have seen plumbers have great success with maintaining repeat customers doing service plans. - We just started offering Service Plans, however, we do charge for them.

My thinking is to eventually do just that charge for them. lets face it... the reason they exist is two fold the customer knows there is a better rate for them to call when a problem arises, and you know as the contractor that something is going to be wrong in the bulk of the homes you go to for annual maintenance. i felt it was a geat way to plant seeds. So if you give them away at the begining it plants seeds for the future

You are way overthinking and are overlooking the obvious! You already have a reputation with past customers. Start with sending them a letter with your new business cards. Ask for referrals! Better yet, offer a reward for a referral. $10.00 off your first service call, refer a friend and they receive $10.00 off. Let your GC's know you want service work.

I overthink everything you got me there. Great idea

BNI - This is a great networking group. We belonged to it our first two years in business and it was a great boost. Has it's pros & cons, if you are interested PM me and I will give you some inside info. on this group.
.

Give away a nice grohe or kohler kitchen faucet via a drawing at the show. - WOW, you really like that FREE thing!


"To me those that sign up are those raising there hands and saying I do not like my kitchen faucet." - Sorry, I disagree. They are responding to FREE. Elderly people will take a free condom because it's FREE. Service is completely different than bathroom remodels.

Free giveaways have worked wonders in my world. However this is where i have to defer lack of experience in marketing. The plumbing industry is a little different than the remodeling industry.

BTW - I had what I thought were GREAT marketing ideas just to have my husband shoot them down. We advertise "Old-fashioned customer service" and when we first opened I wanted to blitz the radio with an ad saying "ABC Plumbing just opened up and is bringing back old-fashioned customer service. For a limited time, they are bringing back old-fashioned pricing from the 1950s. Give them a call today!"

Remember, we were brand new, no YP ad, no one knew we even existed (we just moved here), so I was desperate just to have the phone ring.

My husband said "Absolutely not! I am not working for cheap!" So we never did do it.

For the record, I still think it may have created a lot of buzz/publicity and may just have worked. I'll never know. In my mind it worked, in my husband's mind, it didn't.

I would have LOVED to try it! Go with your gut, but be careful with all the "FREE"
Thanks for the response, it raised many questions at my end, I really appreciate it.
 

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Realtors - we work directly for the money source (buyer/seller). Homes need work before selling and new homeowners love to make cosmetic changes.

Homeshows - If you go forward with your idea, I would love to hear how it worked for you. Our mall was filled with a lot of elderly people and it didn't go well.

Referrals - This is our greatest source of business!

Service Policies - During the initial inspection only performed by a Master Plumber, a lot is uncovered and fixed. Six months later, we do a cursory inspection and flush the water heater. My gut tells me that selling another year will be difficult due to the plumbing being brought up to standards. We will soon find out! Our Policy now gives our customers the ability to lock in our current labor rate for one year and a 10% discount on parts only (not water heaters or fixtures). The cost of the policy is 2 hours labor (1 hr. inspection, 1 hr. re-inspection & flush) + $15.00.

Preferred customer discounts - We are probably going to offer something less expensive for a two year period to buy an upfront discount. Perhaps $75.00 which gives the customer a discounted price, guaranteed emergency service, preferred scheduling, and a "Free" drain cleaning tool. We are still playing with the details & pricing on this.

Marketing - We ALWAYS thank people for their referral with a personally signed letter from my husband and I on unique stationery. When we get a call, I ask where they heard about us. If they say Mrs. Jones, I immediately look her up to make sure I have the right customer. After scheduling the call, the first thing I do is print the letter and get it in the mail. Many customers have called and thanked me for my 'Thank You.' People love to be acknowledged. When it's unexpected, it's even better!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Realtors - we work directly for the money source (buyer/seller). Homes need work before selling and new homeowners love to make cosmetic changes.

Homeshows - If you go forward with your idea, I would love to hear how it worked for you. Our mall was filled with a lot of elderly people and it didn't go well.

Referrals - This is our greatest source of business!

Service Policies - During the initial inspection only performed by a Master Plumber, a lot is uncovered and fixed. Six months later, we do a cursory inspection and flush the water heater. My gut tells me that selling another year will be difficult due to the plumbing being brought up to standards. We will soon find out! Our Policy now gives our customers the ability to lock in our current labor rate for one year and a 10% discount on parts only (not water heaters or fixtures). The cost of the policy is 2 hours labor (1 hr. inspection, 1 hr. re-inspection & flush) + $15.00.

Preferred customer discounts - We are probably going to offer something less expensive for a two year period to buy an upfront discount. Perhaps $75.00 which gives the customer a discounted price, guaranteed emergency service, preferred scheduling, and a "Free" drain cleaning tool. We are still playing with the details & pricing on this.

Marketing - We ALWAYS thank people for their referral with a personally signed letter from my husband and I on unique stationery. When we get a call, I ask where they heard about us. If they say Mrs. Jones, I immediately look her up to make sure I have the right customer. After scheduling the call, the first thing I do is print the letter and get it in the mail. Many customers have called and thanked me for my 'Thank You.' People love to be acknowledged. When it's unexpected, it's even better!
How long are you service plans good for?
 

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I dont do service work yet but another company in my area did this and almost every home I have been inside I have seen one. Get a magnet with your company logo and phone number on top and below list all the emergency phone numbers for your area police fire ect.., people will be more then happy to stick that on thier refer and see it all the time cost to have made and mailed out maybe a buck a magnet great exposure for very little money.
 

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It'll be a cold day in hell before I ever work for a real estate agent ever again.


The answer is always NO, just like the capital one commercial.


Been hustled so many times..........they know the game too well and I tell them $2000 for winterizations.:thumbsup:



Go tell your furry friends, I don't care.
 

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It'll be a cold day in hell before I ever work for a real estate agent ever again.

The answer is always NO, just like the capital one commercial.

Been hustled so many times..........they know the game too well and I tell them $2000 for winterizations.:thumbsup:

Go tell your furry friends, I don't care.
I agree! And those damn Home warrantee's they give out after their home inspector buddy glossed over everything that was wrong so the sale could go through.

As we get caught in the middle of the new homeowner thinking the home warrantee they were given for free with the sale is actually worth something and you're out in the truck on the phone trying to get approval from them while they are telling you nothing is covered....

Stnking Pond Scum thats what they are!
 

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True story:


I know a guy who made a good dime off realtors every time there was a house for sale..


His wife and her brother would go into a home and distract the agent *mostly unoccupied homes" and would bring a screwdriver and a bag of his finest "poo" and put it in the largest cold air return in the house.


Well, he'd do this in a fast pace, immediately go to the bathroom to disguise the move by performing a #2...that way the smell would be obvious and not unusual.


BUT, as days go on, the smell would sour and get horribly worse, indicating there was something wrong other than someone using the bathroom.


He'd get called in from the realtors, would make up some BS story that there was drain problems in the house and sure enough! He'd make money!!


Every time that furnace or A/C would kick on........it would pull that nasty, fermenting smell into the ducts and circulate it through the house.....horrible! :blink::eek:


Talk about job security for the price of a sandwich bag and a greasy meal from Mo's Tavern.....sheesh!
 
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