7 Startup Tips for New Plumbing Business Owners

Just getting started in the plumbing industry? Here’s some advice to help.

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As the owner of a 25-year-old sewer rehabilitation and drain cleaning business, I’ve learned the ins and outs of growing a company from the bottom up. Here are some tips that may save you some stress and allow your business to flourish and grow the way you want. 

1. Do what you do best

Make certain you are getting into something you love. You will be married to the business so be sure it is where you want to be. Every individual has a gift, if yours is running a drain cleaning company, it’s just common sense to ensure you are in a business you enjoy. 

2. Business is not about technology, it is about people

Your job is to create relationships. Customers buy you, not just the services you’re selling. If you have the right people, you will have the technology. Surround yourself with the best people you can afford in all areas of your business, including advisors. Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link. 

3. Keep on selling

Everything you say and do is a move toward or away from a sale. You are always under the spotlight, so act accordingly. With today’s technologies and social media, you are being watched, so make certain that everyone sees and hears the correct messages. 

Everyone in the business becomes a salesperson, and your job is to make your salespeople aware of that. Even the delivery person becomes a part of the sales team. When my father passed away — he was our first delivery person — I got a great message from a customer. He said my father brought joy and laughter to their company every time he made a delivery. The message? All employees, regardless of job title, represent your business and should be aware of the influence they have on customers. 

4. Think big

As a leader, if you do not paint the big picture for customers and employees about the company’s focus, you will be selling yourself short. You can’t expect employees — who you have promised to take care of — to be at their best if you don’t explain the purpose of the company.

They need to understand how the operations they perform on a daily basis benefit the whole company. Your job is to lead with the big picture. 

5. Take time to plan

You are in this business for the long haul, and it takes time for plans to mature. Get your ideas and visions for a successful business down on paper. You don’t have to tell the world right now, but make your plans and start to share them with the people closest to you.

By writing them down and talking about them, the plans will change from a concept on paper to reality. That excitement will breed more excitement and you will begin to believe that anything is possible. 

6. Your word counts

Make certain you follow through on your promises. Good referrals are your best method to building a business, and the best way to get them is to do great work. Again, you are in this for the long haul, and without hard work and honesty, you have nothing to build on. 

7. Money

There is never enough. What you have to start is probably not enough; I know because I ran short a few times. You have to save, be a good salesperson, borrow (and maybe mortgage), and sometimes beg. Try to secure twice as much as you think you’ll need. It’s difficult and expensive to get and keep good people, and one easy way to lose them is by not making payroll. 

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, improper financial planning and lack of capital are a few of the main reasons small businesses fail. Spend the time to figure out what your needs are and focus how you’ll reach those. 

Owning a business can be fun and rewarding. If you are persistent enough not to quit and welcome advice from others, you can achieve levels of success that will surprise you. Make it work. 

About the Author


Kim K. Lewis is chairman and CEO of LiquiForce Services in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. The company develops specialized processes for the sewer rehabilitation industry. Lewis helped create and chaired the North American Association of Pipeline Inspectors to provide video inspection language for contractors and municipalities across North America. Contact him at www.liquiforce.com.


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