It is always a mystery why more plumbers fail to emphasize drain cleaning — if they offer it at all. Some think it fails to offer enough revenue. Others think it presents too much low-dollar competition. Here are five solid reasons every plumber should offer drain cleaning.
1. People expect it
Some plumbers turn up their noses about drain cleaning. It appears they consider this beneath them. After all, just about anyone can clean drains. It takes time and skill to become a journeyman or master plumber.
Nevertheless, Consumers expect plumbing companies to offer drain cleaning. If you get a call for it and deny it, you are sending prospects to your competition. That is never a good thing to do. Even if the prospect calls one of the Rooter franchises, they all offer full-service plumbing now. People expect plumbers to perform drain cleaning.
2. It presents a training path
Drain cleaning can be an entry-level job for plumbing companies. It becomes the first step of a career path. Learn drain cleaning, demonstrate customer skills and responsibility and progress towards more responsibility.
Training somebody with a great attitude and people skills to be a drain cleaner in a manner of weeks is a doable proposition. It’s a great way to introduce someone to the trade. The drain cleaner can make a positive financial contribution to the company in short order while apprenticing to more senior people in between drain cleaning calls.
3. It leads to high-revenue jobs
Some plumbing companies specialize in drain cleaning because this is the first step towards the much more lucrative pipe lining. When there’s a sewer line problem, the call goes out for drain cleaners. If it is a sewer line problem, put a camera down the line as part of the diagnostic. When a camera shows structural problems, trenchless pipe lining can save the customer money, mess and hassle. For the plumbing company, it is a high margin business. For this reason, some plumbing companies discount drain cleaning knowing that every nth drain cleaning call will result in a pipe lining opportunity.
4. It presents recurring revenue opportunities
One of the challenges of a plumbing company is the one-off nature of many repairs. It may be years between calls from the same customer. There is little steady repeat business for residential work. Some commercial work, on the other hand, presents repeat business opportunities.
When there’s a sewer line problem, the call goes out for drain cleaners. If it is a sewer line problem, put a camera down the line as part of the diagnostic. When a camera shows structural problems, trenchless pipe lining can save the customer money, mess and hassle. For the plumbing company, it is a high margin business.
Specifically, the best repeat business involves restaurants. Restaurants have constant issues with grease traps, creating an opportunity for regular service and cleaning. While restaurant work is competitive and not the most enjoyable, it offers the advantage of steady cash flow. Plus, grease traps are a great way to break in the new hires for your drain cleaning service.
To build your restaurant opportunities, join the local restaurant association, the local chamber of commerce and do some good, old-fashioned cold calling. Visit restaurants between lunch and dinner and ask for the manager. Give him a business card and magnet, asking for his business. You will be surprised how effective it is to simply ask for business while engaging person to person.
5. It presents add-on sales opportunities
A great add-on on any drain cleaning call or for any restaurant with grease traps is to sell a grease-consuming enzyme. Popular brands in the trade are available from Bio-One and Bio-Clean. Both are “green” products. Anyone with grease or drain problems should be amenable to buying the cleaners by the case.