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Plumbing Business Advice

Discussion in 'Small Business' started by No Probs, 18th Jun, 2015.

  1. No Probs

    No Probs Well-Known Member

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    Perth
    Hi everyone,

    I'm a 23 yr old licensed plumber moving from Sydney to Perth. I've spent the past 6 years in the Army but have decided to move back home to Perth and chase my dream of owning my own successful business. The whole process is pretty daunting but I feel that everything is slowly falling into place.

    Does anyone have any tips or advice in regards to running your own business? Any advice on different business structures? What do some tradesmen do that annoy you?

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Dillon.
     
  2. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    • Rock up late
    • Don.'t confirm you're running late
    • Have ridiculous after hours call out base fees
    • Don't answer the phone
    • Wear shorts which expose your post code as well as give away your PIN
     
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  3. Kinnon Bell

    Kinnon Bell Finance Broker

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    Cairns
    Don't return calls or even seem to want new business by quoting for jobs replying to new inquiries. If you're busy - say so.

    Set out a business & marketing plan with what you want to achieve and how you will get there. Do a SWOT analysis. See what other plumbers are doing - the successful and unsuccessful ones.
     
  4. Mick C

    Mick C Well-Known Member

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  5. RPI

    RPI Property Lawyer, Town Planner Business Member

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    1. Use an Entity that limits your personal liability.
    2. register domain name and work hard at getting up the ranks in google
    3. open a separate online bank account for tax and super, every week transfer all the GST collected and any PAYG or Super over- you will have excess left at the end of the quarter, spend at least some of this on yourself as a reward for the extra stress of being in business
    4. See your accountant and setup systems now- Use xero for your accounting. Either scan all your receipts to a cloud storage folder and share with your accountant and VA (step 5) or stuff them in an envelope once a week and send it to the VA to scan.
    5. Hi a virtual assistant in the Philippines (use o' desk etc) full time. Cost you $200 a week, have them filter your emails, take bookings etc. Spend the time you would have on admin going after more business (take property managers out to lunch and tell them how you will provide superior service). This time will repay the cost of the VA in spades.
    6. Setup a booking calendar that is managed by your VA and have specific rules about what and for how long can she book your appointments without you- sync to phone and don't be late.
    7. Have a tablet or laptop so that you can either - create invoices as soon as you finish a job or email your VA with details and make sure they go out within the hour- have no due in 7 or 14 days type stuff on them, they are due on receipt. VA sends reminder at 7 days, and again at 14 days, day 15 you ring.
    8. Use an australian phone answering (can also run your booking calendar if you don't want VA to do it) - like your phones covered. Use a land line number and set a time each day that you will return calls and tell YPC that (eg 1-2pm). YPC can put emergencies through to you but otherwise get them to take messages. Give your mobile phone number to no one, while you are still on the tools you will get nothing done if you take all and sundry calls. Authorise YPC to transfer your key clients (eg property manager through) if it is something they can't handle or they need to talk to you immediately even if not emergency. Control your contact or it will control you. People are happy to get return calls at set times.
    9. Book holidays well in advance and take them (even if you only stay at home but don't work, recharge and revitalise)
    10. Cash flow is king, profit and loss is only relevant for tax (especially in the early years)
    11. Cash flow is king
    12. Cash flow really is king, without you go under and stress constantly.
     
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  6. No Probs

    No Probs Well-Known Member

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    Perth
    I guess I'll have to go buy some new shorts then so my PIN isn't showing eh?

    But on a serious note, I agree with to points about not rocking up late or not calling ahead to let customers know you are running behind schedule and giving them the option to rebook if needed.

    Thanks for the advice, Ill definitely look into SWOT analysis, I've never heard of it before although I think a section of my business plan involves some similar analysis.

    Thanks for that, was a good read/watch.

    Some really good advice and some stuff I will be sure to look into. I appreciate the effort you put into your reply.

    I've registered a domain name and now I need to do some research on how to get to the top of google rankings. I will definitely be setting up a second bank account for tax and super, I don't want come up to tax time stressing because I've already spent money that was meant to be set aside for tax/super etc.

    I've been researching into Xero and MYOB and am struggling to pick which is better suited to my business. I think my next step is to sit down with an accountant and start mapping out the future.

    And thank you for the advice about hiring a virtual assistant and phone answering services. again, something I'll need to look into.


    I hope this thread can help others looking at going into business too, there is so much information to take in and learn. I'm really looking forward to this next challenge in my life.
     
  7. Kinnon Bell

    Kinnon Bell Finance Broker

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    Cairns
    If you've got a business plan template then there should be one there - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. A PEST analysis may help too which are potential Political, Environmental, Social and Technological impacts to your business.

    To expand on RPI's 7th point. A couple of the banks now are doing mobile merchant terminals so you can collect payment on the day instead of having to invoice then chase up. Being a business owner cash flow is king. The sooner you can get paid the better.

    Find a point of difference that can set you apart from the other plumbers - why should I pick you to do the work instead of another plumber.

    Form partnerships with complimentary businesses such as property managers and become their 'go to' plumber.

    Get your brand out there to create brand awareness and stay front of mind for when those plumbing mishaps happen.

    Get in the local directories such as True Local, have a FB page and post to it regularly.

    Look into other advertising avenues - letterbox drops, shop-a-dockets, radio, FB and google ads etc.

    Stick a magnet on the fridge when you go to people's house. I have a local trade 'directory' on the side of my fridge.
     
  8. Jamie Moore

    Jamie Moore MORTGAGE BROKER - AUSTRALIA WIDE Business Member

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    Hey Dillon

    Congrats on the new venture - I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes. I'm sure you'll kill it!

    Kinnon mentioned partnerships - and that's hugely important. If you can build a network of allied tradies and become their plumber, you'll generate a stream of business.

    Service is hugely important - be efficient, punctual and professional. Do a great job and the word will spread.

    Best of luck!

    Cheers

    Jamie
     
  9. No Probs

    No Probs Well-Known Member

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    All very good advice, thanks! So much good advice from someone who's clearly talking from experience.

    I've looked into those mobile merchant terminals and will be sure to get one once I get back from my well earned holiday and start up this business properly. Getting professional facilities in place from day one is a must and I'm sure it'll help with the bookwork too.

    Cheers.

    Thanks Jamie!

    I'll be sure to keep you informed on how it goes, If (or when?!) everything goes well I'll be in touch to get some help financing my next IP purchase!

    I'll be doing my best to get work from property managers as maintenance is my preferred work.

    Cheers mate.
     
  10. willair

    willair Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Not on the business structures,but from the trade side,who is going to answer the phone?,to make serious money you would have to tool up in a big way,maybe employ a apprentice in her or his 3-4 year ,learn the mindset to quote unseen on the phone,that's the time waster quotes,but with time you learn very quickly,
    and what area of Plumbing will you target,as their is only so many lic plumbers in Perth..
     
  11. Kinnon Bell

    Kinnon Bell Finance Broker

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    Cairns
    No worries :)

    Yes, been there done that (not plumbing though!) Started up and run a couple of business' in the past and currently.

    I went to a lunch that one of the banks held the other day where they spoke about their business banking side of things and mobile terminals and that kind of thing. By the end of it I wanted to start a business where I could use one. Technology has come a long way of late.
     
  12. Daine

    Daine New Member

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    Australia
    Awesome thread and some valuable information. I intend on doing much the same with an electrical business within the next 18 months.
     
  13. wombat777

    wombat777 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Service Seeking and other similar quoting websites are worth a shot. Unsure how widely they are used in Perth. Build yourself a profile and good reviews ( not fake reviews - people can spot them a mile off ).

    Don't throw your money down the drain lol
     
  14. Jess Peletier

    Jess Peletier Mortgage Broker - Australia Wide Business Member

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    Perth WA
    List in HI pages and when you quote, ring the client to follow up! Most register interest in your job but can't be stuffed ringing you. The phone call wins every time :)
     
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  15. HD_ACE

    HD_ACE Game-Changer Premium Member

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    - Use Hi pages to get yourself out there.
    - Don't quote ridiculous prices. Start fair and make sure the quality is there. People aren't stupid, most will get more than one quote so you will loose that job every time.
    - Don't under estimate the power of repeat business and positive recommendations.
    - Don't give ridiculous time windows ie ill be there between 8am and 6pm. try to limit it to a 2 or 4 hour window and a phone call if you will be late or that you are on your way does wonders.

    In other words don't tell me you'll be there by a certain time and i ask for a phone call before you leave the last job, then you call me that your at my house 2 hours after the agreed time, so I race home and you complain you had to wait 10 minutes.

    Happens more than I would like, last week in fact so you can guarantee you wont be asked back. Bit of a dent when you pull this one on a few people with large portfolios and word gets around pretty quick especially on propertychat :D

    But I'm sure your all over this.
     
  16. tomlemke

    tomlemke Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Newcastle
    Is the army plumbing your only experience?
    the real plumbing world is a lot different have
    you got any maintenance experience ?
    this is coming from a plumber so don't feel i'm
    talking down to you.
    I have a mate that did his plumbing apprenticeship
    with the army and wouldn't be near ready to run his
    own business. If your only experience is from the army
    i would suggest getting a job for a local perth
    maintenance plumber first.

    Good luck mate I'm about to go down a similar path!