Matt Michel: 6 reasons plumbers struggle
Starting a plumbing company is easy; succeeding is not.
As long as you have a license, starting a plumbing company is easy. Succeeding, on the other hand, is not. If you find you are struggling to prosper, here are six possible reasons.
This list of reasons why plumbing companies struggle to prosper is not exhaustive. It does, however, include the most common reasons. Plumbing is a great profession. You do great work. You should be rewarded for it. If you are not, if you have too much month left at the end of your money, one or more of the following might apply to you.
1. YOU UNDERVALUE PLUMBING
Plumbers undervalue their service and skill set, so they underprice. The public is less handy today than in years past. High schools have dropped shop. The average homeowner does not know how to fix things, and is generally not inclined to.
The people who turn to online videos for guidance are the exception, not the norm. Frankly, many of them take the DIY route because of DHM — they don’t have money.
Remember, as a plumber, you protect the health of the nation. You keep the water running, the toilets flushing, and the baths and showers hot. A hundred years ago, people could live without indoor plumbing. Today, they cannot.
Plumbers make repairs homeowners cannot make. The modern, professional plumbers utilize equipment that the average homeowner does not have and will not buy. There is no other option on many repairs than to call a plumber. Plumbers make homes with broken water systems habitable. This is valuable. Charge for it.
Too many plumbers fold up when they encounter price resistance. They should not. Price resistance should be expected. Its absence is an indication you are lowballing. Unless some people push back at your pricing, you are not charging enough.
2. YOU KNOW HOW TO TURN A WRENCH, NOT A PROFIT
Plumbers learn technical skills. You learn how to fix physical problems. The lessons are well taught and you are good at it. However, business ownership requires business skills. You may have attended a trade school for plumbing, but there is not an owner school for running a plumbing company.
As a business owner, you must move beyond the craft of plumbing and learn the craft of business. It is just as intrinsically rewarding and more extrinsically rewarding than technical work. In other words, the craft of plumbing and the craft of business can both be satisfying, but becoming good at the business will ultimately result in a higher income.
Study business like you studied plumbing when learning that craft. Study books on business, listen to podcasts on business, read the trade magazines and attend conferences with a business focus.
3. YOU GIVE UP TOO EASILY
A plumber decides to grow. He hires a couple of guys and they go sideways. He struggles to find anyone else. Instead of accepting that recruiting and developing plumbers is hard work, he gives up and decides it’s easier to star in a one-man band.
Obstacles are natural in business. In a service business, many of the greatest challengers are related to human re-sources. In your love life growing up and your plumbing life growing a business, people will disappoint you and break your heart. That doesn’t mean you should give up and live life as a hermit. Keep at it. Keep trying. Give it more time and effort. Learn from past mistakes. Just do not quit.
4. YOU BECOME TOO CYNICAL
Many plumbers grow cynical over time. A plumber’s world does not treat him as well as he once hoped, so he becomes distrustful. He starts to think that the world is out to get him. He views everyone and every opportunity skeptically.
This carries a huge opportunity cost. In an effort to avoid getting burnt, the cynical contractor misses opportunities to prosper and grow. Worse, is the impact on the plumber’s attitude. Cynicism implies a pessimistic view of the world where the glass is half empty.
How the plumber sees the world is how the world typically receives him. See the world through the lens of scarcity and scarcity is what is encountered. See the world full of abundance and abundance is what is found.
5. YOU PERFORM TOO MUCH DIY
By and large, plumbers hate it when consumers attempt DIY plumbing repairs. When things go badly, the DIY home-owner is often the butt of jokes and someone to be derided. However, no one is more guilty of DIY outside of their field of expertise than the average plumber.
Plumbers decide to become DIY attorneys, downloading legal forms off the internet. They become DIY accountants, often roping their spouses into the role of bookkeeper. Most of all, they become DIY marketers.
Like most DIY, a plumber’s DIY efforts fall short of the results a professional can attain, if they do not fail outright. Fail with a marketing DIY initiative and you lose some money. Fail with a legal one and you might lose everything you own. It’s not DIY, it’s DIWhy?
6. YOU AIM TOO LOW
One of the main reasons plumbers struggle is they aim too low. They could be so much more, but instead, they become comfortable just getting by. They start to coast, but coasting is still heading downhill.
The quest to be more, to be the best they can be, leads some plumbers to overcome all of the other reasons why plumbers struggle. They overcome them and build substantial, successful businesses. This is possible for any plumber, including you.
HOW TO PROSPER
Most plumbers lack the resources to improve on their own without help. Sure, some do it, but they are exceptional. Most need the advice of successful peers, plumbing business training and access to proven business resources and tools. These are found in the many professional success groups in the industry, which is where many of the industry’s most successful business practitioners can be found.