Trade secrets: We asked so you don’t have to

 

At PlumbedIn we’re all about finding tips that will genuinely help you when it comes to having a successful career in plumbing. Having skills in business can be as important as the ability to replace a boiler or fix a leaky pipe.

We caught up with industry legend, Ryan Mills, at GD Mills Plumbing and Heating to get his top tips on running a plumbing business.

 

Can you tell us a little about your company?

 

GD Mills Plumbing and Heating is a family run business started by my dad in 1983, and I took on a more strategic role focusing on the day-to-day running of it in 2005. Operating a small business keeps me busy, especially as dealing directly with customers means delivering immediate results, which can be demanding. As a company we do everything from installing taps to fixing boilers, with plenty of accounts and paperwork on the business side of things. There is a lot of variation, but that’s what makes the job so interesting!

 

Top tips for…dealing with customers.

 

Keeping our customers happy is one of the most important parts of the job, because positive reviews and word of mouth are vital to the success of any small business. Adding a personal touch to your service can really help, and how you decide to apply that will be down to you as a person.

I have two tips that I would always recommend:

  • Use automated emails to remind customers of upcoming appointments. This means you can avoid any awkward surprises and wasted time on your part
  • Get a work mobile, and keep it on loud. This will ensure that you’re more accessible, even if you are on another job, and stops a potential customer from calling someone else if you haven’t answered

If you’re looking to use your experience to start your very own business, my suggestion is to focus on building a solid customer base and reputation right from the beginning – this can be done through getting in touch with people you’ve worked with in the past and asking them post recommendations and reviews.

Another effective way to gain customers is by working on new build properties. There’s always work to be done and it’s a great way to get your foot in the door to build long-term relationships with housebuilders and homeowners. If you’re someone’s first experience of hiring a plumber, you have the chance to have a customer for life – so make sure you’re upfront, friendly, and professional.

 

Top tips for…admin.

 

The admin side of the business isn’t exactly exciting or glamorous, but it’s crucial. It’s how you get paid after all. It sounds simple, but keeping on top of the invoicing and paperwork is the best way to stay ahead. I tend to send a reminder on payments after day 10 and 18 after the job.
 

Having a digital platform can also be really helpful in staying on top of things – we use Gas Engineer Software, but there are loads out there. I can upload gas safety certificates immediately, send out estimates, quotes and invoices all from one place. Going digital has been a game changer for the business, the day-to-day running is far more streamlined now and helps us keep on top of things.
 

Top tips for…a work/life balance

 

Being a plumber is very rewarding, I’ve been doing this since I was 18, but at the end of the day it’s a job and you need a work / life balance. I try not to work weekends, which in this line of work is difficult. That’s why managing your time effectively has to be a priority.  
 

I make the effort to put my phone down and spend time with the family after the workday is over. Once the kids have gone to sleep, I’ll catch up on emails and admin. A work/life balance can be challenging sometimes, but it’s an absolute must for your long-term health and career goals. 
 

Starting your own business will be different for everyone, it’s a personalised experience. But if you lead with a customer focus, have a strong grip on admin, and keep everything in perspective by maintaining a good balance, you give yourself the best chance of having a successful plumbing business.