Running a successful plumbing business takes dedication and a little luck, but it mostly takes thorough planning and a willingness to adapt as the industry evolves. If you’ve just started your business or have been active for a while but not doing as well as you’d like, this guide is for you.

We will tell you how the following actions can empower you to run a successful plumbing business:

  • Getting the right insurance
  • Choosing a specialism
  • Writing a clear business plan (or reviewing your existing one)
  • Developing a focused marketing plan
  • Using modern accounting software like Countingup

How to run a successful plumbing business

Here are a few things you can do to help your plumbing business run smoothly and become more profitable.

Get the right insurance

A lot of things can happen when you’re working, so it’s always wise to ensure your business is protected in case something goes wrong. As a self-employed plumber, you might want to get the following insurance covers:

  • Public liability insurance: This covers you if a member of the public gets injured or emotionally harmed during your work and makes a claim against you. 
  • Property insurance: This could be very important for a plumber to have in place since it protects your tools, equipment, supplies and parts against accidental damage or theft.
  • Contract works insurance: This type of insurance policy protects your tools and any hired equipment you’re responsible for if you’re a contractor on a work site. Sometimes called Contractors All Risk insurance, it also covers injury or accidents that were out of your control as a contractor on a site. 
  • Personal accident and sickness insurance: This insurance is for when you are unable to work for a period due to injury or illness. If you’re recovering for a period of months or years, the payout will usually be a weekly sum to cover bills and living expenses. If you’re not able to return to work at all, you will get a lump sum instead.
  • Employer’s liability insurance: You’re legally required to have employer’s liability insurance in place if you ever pay someone to help you out with your plumbing jobs.

You can find out more about these insurance covers in this guide.

Choose a specialism

Choosing a focus will allow you to make the most out of your skills and resources and will help you attract clients and jobs that will help you reach your business goals. For example, do you want to focus on day-to-day issues homeowners face or on larger commercial jobs? 

Choosing to only take on commercial jobs for businesses instead of individuals might pay better, but you might need more experience than if you focus on home jobs. Working for businesses as a contractor also brings the risk of falling inside IR35, which could end up costing you more money. You can learn more about the IR35 and how it can affect contractors in this guide.

Write a clear business plan (or review your existing one)

Your business plan acts as a roadmap for how you’re going to reach your goals as a self-employed plumber. If you already have a business plan and business isn’t going as well as you’d like, you might want to make some changes.

When drafting your business plan, make sure you think about:

  • Your ideal customer: do you know what clients you want to serve? If none of your customers fit into the description of your ideal client, you might need to refocus your efforts.
  • Competitor analysis: Look at what other plumbers in your area are doing, including how they market themselves and package their services. Try to find out what makes them successful and see if you can adopt any of their methods.
  • Budget and cash flow: Take a look at how much money you have to work with at the moment and what you expect your costs to be in the future. Make a plan for how to budget your cash effectively to have enough for all your operations.
  • Pricing structure: do you charge clients by the hour, per task, or per project? And how much do you charge? If you’re not making as much money as you should, you might need to increase your prices or change your pricing model.
  • Marketing plan: How do you market your plumbing business and sell your services? If you’re not getting enough business from your marketing efforts, you may need a different approach. We’ll discuss this in more detail in the next section.
  • Revenue goals: How much money do you want your business to make in the next year? 

Creating a detailed business plan will give you a clear picture of where your business is now, where you want to go in the future, and how you’ll get there. Find out more about how to write a business plan here.

Develop a focused marketing plan

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, and is a great method for creating focused marketing goals. Your marketing goals should be well defined (specific), useful in the future (actionable), connected to your business (relevant), and achievable within a short time frame (timely).

Once you have your marketing goals, create a plan for how you’ll bring them to life. 

How to market a plumbing business

Create and maintain a professional website where people can find information about your business. Systems like WordPress or Wix have free templates you can use. 

Ensure your website looks professional, is easy to navigate, and clearly lists what services you offer. Everything you write and show on your site should be benefit-focused to demonstrate why customers should choose your company over others.

If you want, you can use Google Ads to get word out about your company. People search on Google to find potential solutions to their problems. Using Google Ads essentially means you pay to be at the top of the search result so customers can see you.

You can also use social media to promote your brand and find new clients. For example, you can create ‘How to…’ videos where you demonstrate how to fix minor plumbing issues so clients can do it themselves. Upload the video to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms to showcase your skill and expertise. 

Save time on financial admin with the small business super app

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

With the Countingup app, you can create invoices in seconds, get notifications when you’re paid, and receive automatic invoice matching so that you don’t have to worry about bookkeeping admin.  

With automatic expense categorisation, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances and save yourself hours of accounting admin, so you can get back to doing what you do best. Find out more here.