Let's describe a familiar scenario.
You’ve got a great plumbing business, you offer high-quality plumbing services and top-notch boiler installs. Your prices are fair and competitive and you’ve got a competent team.
The only problem is, you’ve not got enough customers.
This is an all too familiar scenario for many plumbers starting out. Even for more established setups, finding high-quality leads can be hard.
Methods that may have once been effective are no longer yielding results while new and unfamiliar avenues are opening up.
So what can you do to gain new plumbing customers, how can you improve the value of those you recruit and how do you know where to focus your efforts?
Read on to find out.
If you want to gain more high-value leads for your plumbing business, the first thing you need to get right is understanding who your customers are.
If you haven’t got a very clear picture of what these customers look like, it’s going to be very difficult for you to go after them.
Before you do anything, take the time to note down the qualities of your target customer. Where do they live, where do they work, what kind of property do they live in - or are they a landlord? What is their age and demographic and what are their spending habits?
Once you’ve worked out the answers to these questions you can’t start planning how you are going to attract these customers.
Doing your research is important.
For example, it might be easy to overlook a group such as millennials, when actually a recent stat from 2018 revealed that 21.6 million households are now headed by those from this generation.
Knowing this, you may want to look at using methods such as social media to appeal to this new home-owning generation.
Furthermore, if you want high-value customers you need to think about how you can attract this demographic. Is your business presenting itself as a professional and premium outfit for example?
This is one of the most important techniques you can use to win more leads. If you’re new to SEO and marketing it may seem a bit complicated, but it’s actually relatively straightforward to implement.
The core principles of these lead generation techniques are about offering value and convenience to your customers.
This means having a good website that speaks directly to your target customers, with landing pages that address their specific queries and needs. Alongside this, relevant articles that address wider topics your customers will find useful will also create more leads.
For example, if you want to focus on boiler installs, create a landing page on your site about the boiler installations you offer in [target area] and write a blog on a topic like “10 signs your boiler needs an upgrade”.
We explain how to use these techniques in much more detail in our article on SEO for plumbers.
Applying these methods will allow you to attract pre-qualified, high-value customers that you don’t need to win over as they have already self-selected.
This is a timeless old-school method for winning customers.
In fact, in a poll run by our partners at The Boiler Business Community, it was found that 34% of plumbing business owners rank word of mouth as the most effective method for gaining new customers.
The principle is simple, do a good job and your customers will recommend you to their friends and family.
While that’s great in principle and can be effective, it will only get you so far. To really get the most out of this method, you need to incentivise recommendations.
Rather than hoping the customer will recommend you, give them a reason to. This means offering incentives such as discounted repeat services and making it as easy as possible to leave positive reviews.
This approach will be doubly effective as it allows you to gain recommendations while also increasing the lifetime value of the initial customer by encouraging them to return for repeat work.
Reviews and testimonials are the word-of-mouth recommendations of the digital world.
In fact, nearly half of potential customers consider reviews to be as trustworthy as personal recommendations from friends or family. This means getting good reviews can be a powerful tool for gaining new customers.
A great way to do this is to make sure you follow up with a customer either by text or email asking for a review after the job is complete. Up to 77% of consumers agree that they would leave an online review if prompted by a local business. If you don’t do this you’re missing an open goal.
The key is to make the process as convenient and easy as possible, which greatly increases the likelihood of the review getting written.
One way to maximise the reviews you receive is to automate review requests. With a CRM like Payaca, you can do this super easily, saving yourself a load of work and allowing you to win far more customers.
Having a strong social media presence is an essential addition to your lead-finding toolbox.
Platforms such as Facebook, X (Twitter), LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok, all offer their own USP that you can harness to reach more potential customers.
Facebook is a great place to start as it allows you to set up a dedicated business page with all your relevant information and details. Including images, recommendations and a link to your site are all essential.
One of the big benefits of Facebook is that it allows you to create an instant communication channel with potential new clients.
In 2023 many people prefer to make contact via more informal channels such as text. With Facebook, you can receive instant messages and give fast responses and support.
It also makes it easier for those using phones to reach you as it’s more convenient, making it more likely you’ll win the customer.
Other social media platforms such as TikTok, can also yield great results. We explain how you can use these channels and provide you with some great post ideas to generate interest, in our article on social media for plumbers.
One common method to get more footfall through your business is to turn to lead gen platforms.
Although many tradespeople use these services, they’re not always held in the highest regard. This is because they can often be expensive and do not always offer the highest quality leads.
However, it’s important to realise that not all lead generation platforms are made equal. If you use the right service, then they can be a great tool for gaining new customers.
A platform like Boiler Guide provides high-quality, fully qualified leads. This means rather than paying for disinterested potential clients, leads sold by Boiler Guide have been highly selected to ensure they’re genuinely looking for boiler services.
Like any lead gen service, it’s important to get in quick, as a lead will be sold to multiple businesses. However, if you are professional and provide a strong proposition you are likely to win.
Using services like this can be a very effective way of getting in new work, especially if it is supplemented with a good SEO and social media strategy.
By providing high-quality customer service and support you will ensure that you convert far more of the leads that reach you. How you present yourself is crucial to securing this work.
It takes just 7 seconds to make a first impression, that means from the very first moment a customer interacts with you they will be forming an opinion of you and your business.
Ensuring that your web presence looks professional and that your in-person and over-the-phone manner speaks of competency, is essential.
This should be followed up with top-notch customer care. Make sure you regularly communicate with your customers and make sure that you are easy to contact. You need to respond to queries and always take complaints seriously.
Even with difficult customers, it’s important to provide the best customer service. Remember a negative review can have a far more harmful effect than spending a little more time and money on a customer.
For some top tips on how to manage your customers read our article on how to improve your customer communication.
We took the time to write an in-depth article looking at the best ways you can optimise for Google My Business, but as a condensed summary, the key is to provide as much information as possible.
87% of consumers use Google to evaluate local businesses. This means if your business does not appear on Google and Google Maps, customers will not find you.
Take the time to set up your Google Maps profile. Even if you don’t have a physical base you can set up an operational area which will allow you to still appear.
Include all your essential information such as your opening hours, operating address, email and phone number.
Your maps profile is also a great place to start accumulating those essential 5-star reviews. By building these up you will help to establish yourself as a trustworthy and reliable business and therefore attract more clients.
There are different forms of paid advertising you can use.
One option is PPC (pay-per-click) advertising which can be used to promote your business website on Google. Via this route, you will be paying for keywords, so that when someone searches for a term relevant to your business your site appears.
This can be a good supplement to SEO and organic search-based marketing, but be careful going too hard on it. It can quickly become expensive and you need to ensure you research the keywords you’re going to go after carefully.
Another option is to pay for in-person ads, such as in magazines, on billboards or at events. This is another good option, especially once you’ve become an established business and are attempting to grow.
These adverts might have a larger upfront cost but they also help to establish your business as an authority in your operating area while reaching new customers.
With any paid advertising it is important that you do your research and carefully measure the effectiveness of your output. The last thing you want to do is sink lots of money into an unsuccessful campaign.
Find out more about how to advertise your plumbing business.
It’s all well and good having a good website, an effective marketing strategy and good SEO, but if you haven’t got a process in place for new customers to sign up then you might still end up missing out.
The best way to make sure you don’t fall at the final hurdle is to set up a sign-up or bookings page on your website. This makes it super easy for potential new clients, all they need to do is sign up on your site and they’re booked straight in.
To make this work to its full potential you need a fully integrated system in place, one that can manage the customer through the full project journey.
Payaca is a great solution for this, with customisable signup pages that can be added to your site or even attached to an email or other page.
And that’s just touching the surface, find out some of the amazing functionality available with Payaca.
You can use email marketing either as a cold outreach technique or you use it to build up an email list and keep hold of your leads for longer.
Cold outreach tends not to be particularly effective, the best method is to provide an email sign-up either on your website or via your blog or social media content. Customers choose to provide you with their email in exchange for the information or value you provide.
To really make this work you should create emails that offer genuine value. This might be in the form of advice, information and resources they can use in relation to plumbing and boilers or it might be special discounts, news and other topics of interest.
Even a very basic email can be worthwhile as it keeps your business in the minds of those receiving it. Every time your address appears in their inbox they will remember you, so even if they don’t read every email, you’re still building a relationship.
This is less about finding new leads and more about converting the ones you do get.
It’s important to remember that, in most cases, your leads will also be popping up on your competitors' websites. This means it’s not enough to just find a new lead, you also need to convert that lead into a paying customer and even better turn them into a repeat customer.
To do this you need to make sure you’re offering more value than your competitors. This doesn’t mean simply setting lower prices (in fact we’d discourage that) but genuinely offering something your customer values.
Part of this is about how you present yourself. As we mentioned earlier if you market yourself as a premium business this is a point of difference, but another good idea is to offer your customers choice.
When you're creating a quote, rather than offer one product, offer a selection of boilers, or attach an optional extra they can add to their quote.
Doing this has double value, as it allows you to make more from every quote and gives the customer the feeling that they’re empowered.
The best way to achieve this very easily is to use Payaca’s quote builder. With Payaca you can save collections of items and set different options to multiple choice or as an optional extra in one click. It really is a powerful tool, so check it out.
When you haven’t got the work coming in, finding new leads for your plumbing company can feel like a pretty daunting task, but it’s important not to feel overwhelmed.
All these tips do not need to be applied at once. Break it down into manageable tasks and start with the techniques you feel most confident with. As you start to see a bit of success you can think about expanding your approach and using some of the other methods.
If you’re going to take anything away from this article it’s to remember that the key to finding new customers is understanding your customer. Think about what the customer is after, where they’re looking and what barriers are in place to them finding you.
If you’ve got a good business you know they will want to use your services, it’s just about getting yourself in a position where they can see you.
So focus on quality and always keep the customer at the centre of your plans.