Whether you have worked under another plumbing company or just want to get started being a plumber with your own business, you must consider the needs in your area to decide if plumbing would be a good business to start! For instance, is plumbing a good business to start in Australia? Let’s consider all of the factors of this question and work through some of the details you’ll need to figure out.
Starting a plumbing business in Australia would be a wonderful idea if you know what you are doing and are confident in yourself, your skills, and your business model. If you are able to provide competitive prices, a unique skill set, and a captivating brand, then you can succeed.
So what makes a business successful, especially when it comes to a service like plumbing? What can you do differently to stand out from the other plumbing businesses in your area? Below we have some tips on how to create a successful plumbing business and the steps you need to take to start your own.
Tips for a Successful Plumbing Business
The first thing to do is to find your niche! You don’t want to be just another plumber with no competitive factors. This will make it hard to stand out against other plumbers in your area. You first need to decide what kind of plumbing situations you’d like to take on. This might include residential jobs such as homes, apartments, townhomes, new houses vs old houses, etc.
It could also cover commercial jobs such as hospitals, warehouses or new constructions etc. It might be helpful to research the other local plumbing businesses to see what their “niche” or specialty is so you can possibly choose to focus on something different!
Next up, evaluate the value of your services and establish pricing for everything! Don’t sell yourself or your skill set short. When considering this, consider factors such as your qualifications, experience, quality of materials you will be using, and your fixed and variable costs. It might also be a good idea to reach out to potential clients in the area you have chosen to see how much they would pay.
The next thing to do is advertise. Create a website and be different from your competitors so you can draw customers to you. This includes creating good visual branding like an eye-catching logo. You may also want to consider creating a Facebook page, Instagram page, and other social media platforms to reach more customers. You could also take an ad out in a local paper and hang up flyers/business cards in local businesses. Other ideas include getting commercials in the local TV stations and radio stations and getting t-shirts with your logo on them.
You’ll also need to invest in the right equipment! You can check out this website for some pointers on some of the highest-rated tools and equipment for plumbers.
It’s also a good idea to set some business goals. Consider things such as if you just want to fly solo for a while or hire more employees.
Finally, you’ll need to stay up to date! Just as in any industry, the plumbing world is constantly growing and changing. It is important you stay up to date with these changes so not only can you compete with your competitors but have the latest tips and tricks so you can be the best in the business.
Start Up Costs
This is a huge factor that you need to consider, especially when starting your own business. Transportation is a huge expense you’ll need to account for, so start thinking of ways to get around. You will also need a uniform to wear, supplies and money set aside for your business licensing, insurance, and an advertising budget. You’ll also need to account for some business staples such as a sign on your vehicle, business cards, a website etc.
Overall this can be estimated at around $15,000 just to get started (that’s without a vehicle included if you didn’t have one). If you break all of those costs down it goes something like this:
- Vehicle: Around $25,000-$60,000 (unless you already have one or found a cheaper used model)
- Business cards: $50 (depending of quantity)
- DIY website and domain purchase: $200 to $500
- Uniform: Around $200-$400
- Tools: $1,000 to $3,000 (can be a more depending on work performing e.g. jetting)
- License and application fees: $200 to about $1,500 (depending on state and work being preformed)
- Insurances: $1,000 up to $4,000 (depends on insurance type required and level of protection required e.g. car, tool, public liability, professional indemnity, accident)
- Xero set-up: $400
- Business name registration: $37
- Business structure: $500 to $3000
- Miscellaneous supplies: Up to $5000
An important consideration that is commonly overlooked when starting a business is having personal funds in reserve to pay personal living expenses until the business generates enough profit for the owner to make drawings or take a wage sufficient to meet personal needs. This amount required will vary significantly depending on personal circumstances and the growth of the business.
How to Start a Plumbing Business
At this point, you probably have your education/licensing as well as some actual work experience. Now it is time to get to the next steps:
- Get your documents ready and in order. You will need documents such as notice of work, certificate of compliance, completed sewer service diagram and required council documents.
- Set up your business structure. This includes deciding your business structure such as sole trader, partnership, company etc. Seek advice from your accountant or solicitor for this. This will need to be co-ordinated with the registration and licencing step as structure may depend on licencing requirements. Setting up structures can be expensive so you may want to research into licencing and registration before setting up the structure to have a level of comfort that if a structure is set up that you will eligible for the relevant licences and registrations.
- Apply for registration and licences in the applicable state you intend to work. For example, for Victoria you can do that here: Apply for a plumbing registration | Victorian Building Authority (vba.vic.gov.au).
- Register for a Australian business number (ABN). You will need this for taxes and other business activities, you can register for that here. Commonly done by accountant when setting up structure.
- Register for GST (if applicable). We recommend you seek professional guidance from an accountant or bookkeeper to assist you navigate the registration thresholds and timing of registration.
- Join an association such as Master Plumbers. Joining one of these groups will help you gain credibility in the community and will provide resources and useful connections. Within this plumber community, you’ll have more opportunities to learn, ask questions and network.
- Get insurance. This is mandatory in Australia due to all of the risks and high-liability circumstances plumbers can find themselves in. The most common type of insurance for this industry is public liability insurance. You may also want to consider getting additional insurance for things such as your supplies if anything were to happen or get stolen. Also since if it is your business, you will be self-employed so you may want to consider getting personal accident insurance to cover all of your bases.
- Take care of the administrative tasks such as setting up your business phone number/email/website. Also decide how you will take payments, how you will keep track of your schedule, how you will book appointments etc.