Leverage Your Plumbing Business Plan Every Year to Expand and Grow
Does growing your plumbing business feel like you’re treading water or stuck in a slow-draining clog? Get unstuck from that plumbing business plateau or sales slump by designing—and following—a yearly plumbing business plan.
“The best companies out there, the ones that are highly performing, they’re all doing this,” says Chris Hunter, Principal Industry Advisor for ServiceTitan. With personal experience developing a business plan to grow a business, and as co-founder of Go Time Success Group, he teaches others how to successfully grow their businesses in the home service industry.
While creating a strategic plumbing business plan works to generate more revenue and growth for your company, those aren’t the only benefits. Plumbing business owners who create a vision, define goals, and develop a positive company culture turn their companies into a talent magnet, attracting potential plumbers in an ever-shrinking labor pool.
A plumbing business plan is a fluid document that adjusts along with your business goals and strategies. Each year, take the time to revisit your core mission, vision, and values. It’s also the ideal time to address external threats, such as a pending recession or other issues, Hunter says. Then, business owners can look back at the previous year to identify areas of good performance and areas of improvement. After analyzing those numbers, set specific goals for the next year and specify how to reach them.
When you set goals, it makes it easier to take your company where you want it to go.
“Now it’s pretty easy to go, ‘Okay, if I want to hit this sales goal, that means that I need to produce X number of calls at a certain average ticket. And to do that, we need to generate this many leads,’” Hunter explains. “And you can reverse-engineer all the way back to your marketing, knowing exactly what we need to do to produce that number of calls, perform at that average ticket, and produce that revenue every month.”
The first year after Hunter designed a business plan for his own business, the company jumped from single-digit to double-digit profitability.
“If someone’s not doing this, it’s never too late to start,” Hunter says. “You don’t have to be perfect the first year, you just need to get started. Every year you do it, (your plumbing business plan) can get even better.”
To help you design or improve your own plumbing business plan, we’ll expand on each plumbing business plan section below. No matter whether you own a large or small business in the plumbing industry, a business plan lays the foundation for successful plumbing business growth.
Table of Contents
While the executive summary tops the list, it’s actually the last section you should complete. The reason? It’s a summary of your entire plan.
Typically one or two pages, an executive summary explains the fundamentals of your business (or proposed business, if you’re an entrepreneur intending to start a plumbing service business). If you’re applying for a business loan, clearly state the amount you seek, how you’ll use it, and how it will result in a profitable business.
“We’ve done all the planning, we’ve done all the strategizing, we know what we’re going to do,” Hunter says. “Now let’s just make it really concise, and make sure we can get everybody on the same page. Here’s our mission, vision, core values. Here’s our plan for this year, and here’s our key things that we’re going to execute first.”
Your company overview provides more details about your plumbing company, including what you do and why you’re in business. It includes your legal form of ownership, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, or a limited liability company. A company overview should include the following:
Mission Statement: A brief statement, usually less than 30 words, explaining the guiding principles of your business.
Goals and Objectives: A business seeking to grow should aim for specific goals and objectives. Goals describe what you want your business to become, such as a successful plumbing business with an established reputation and loyal customer base. Objectives encompass more specific information, such as annual sales targets and specific measures of customer satisfaction.
Marketplace: Define your target audience. Keep it brief, because you’ll create a thorough marketing plan in another section of your business plan.
Industry Outlook: While many home service businesses face similar issues, describe potential short- and long-term changes in the plumbing industry, and how your plumbing business plans to take advantage of them. Home service businesses using ServiceTitan can take advantage of an individualized company benchmark report, which compares your company’s performance to other companies of a similar size.
Company Strengths and Core Competencies: Describe your plumbing company’s strengths and what will make your company succeed in a highly competitive market. Include your own unique strengths, skills, and experience.
It’s important for plumbing contractors to not only focus on their own company, but take a broad view of the industry.
“A contractor just can’t have their blinders on and only look at what's going on in their company,” Hunter says. “They need to take time to look around and see what’s happening elsewhere with other companies and in the industry in general. They need to stop, take a few days, get away from their office, do this annual planning, look at the big picture, and it‘ll really help them reset.”
Products and Services
In this section, you’ll delve into the details of your products and services. This includes your pricing, fees, and leasing structures of your products and services, all of which are critical for the financial strength of your plumbing business.
Hunter suggests identifying the top 20% of what produces 80% of the revenue. If your plumbing company also offers HVAC or electrical services, do this for each department. When you identify and analyze performance, you can strategize how to amp up revenue or drop unprofitable efforts, and focus on what generates the most revenue for your company.
Include offerings that set your company apart, such as:
On time, every time guarantee
Identify what attracts potential customers to call your company for a plumbing job, why a satisfied customer would leave a positive review or give a word-of-mouth referral, and what places your company above its competitors.
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Marketing is key for business growth, even more so in times of economic uncertainty. Experts advise companies to plan for recessions and strategically ramp up marketing efforts.
“The great companies, they plan for it,” Hunter explains. “They ramp up their marketing, they actually increase during a recession because they know they can grow. They make it easier on homeowners by the different financing plans they offer. They get smart about how they’re offering their maintenance agreements.”
Before jumping in headfirst in print and digital marketing campaigns, do your research and make a plan. Include the following sections in your marketing plan:
Economics: Identify facts about your industry, including your total market size, current demand, and growth potential and opportunity for your plumbing business. Include the barriers your company faces and how you plan to overcome them.
Products: Describe how your customers see your product features and how your customer benefits from them. Include after-sales services, such as delivery, warranty, service contracts, support, follow-up, or refund policy.
Customers: Specify your target customer, including demographics like their geographic location and characteristics. This will help you find the right platforms and helps you better communicate with potential new customers.
Competition: Describe which companies and products will compete with your company, and how your products and services compare.
Niche: Once you’ve analyzed the factors above, you can define your niche, or your specific area of the market.
Strategy: Which marketing channels you choose depends on your target market and marketing strategy. What do you want to say to customers or potential new clients? What platforms work the best for that message? Depending on the marketing campaign, you could use multiple platforms, such as direct mail, email, social media, video, and search engine optimization (SEO). Make sure you set an overall marketing budget and a budget for each marketing channel.
If you don’t see the results you want from your marketing plan, it may be time to re-strategize. For instance, if you want to bring in more new customers, should you offer discount incentives on your website or in mailers? Do you need a brand refresh with colored van wraps so your company visually stands out in your community? Companies who purposefully map out a plan, or seek help from marketing agencies specializing in the trades, reap tangible benefits from a well-defined marketing strategy.
Tracking: To know the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, you need to accurately measure results. With ServiceTitan home services marketing software, plumbing companies can see their return on investment for each marketing campaign, so they know what’s working, what’s not, and where to direct their marketing efforts.
You’ll want involvement from your team leaders in your operational plan, because this is where you figure out how your company will meet its goals. It’s a good idea for your team leaders, such as your service manager, install manager, CSR manager, and administrative manager to create their own action plans of how to drive results in their area.
At your annual planning meeting, your team can work together to determine how to execute company goals. Afterward, remind your team to regularly follow the plan — it shouldn’t sit in an unopened file or cast aside in a drawer. Keep it front and center so your team, and company, stays on track.
Address these areas in your operational plan:
Production: How and where are your products or services produced? Explain your methods of production techniques and costs, quality control, inventory control, and customer service.
Location: Describe your location and, if you plan to expand, the requirements of the location you need. Estimate costs, such as construction of a new building, and ongoing utilities and maintenance. Include your operational hours.
Legal: In the plumbing business, proper licensing is of top importance. If you’re expanding in a new geographic location, make sure you know license and bonding, insurance, permits, and building and zoning requirements.
Personnel: Specify your number of employees, pay structure, training requirements and methods, and how to find quality employees. If you don’t have them, write job descriptions for all positions in your company. Plan now for future growth, including employees and support staff.
Inventory: Specify your inventory and where you keep materials and supplies. Record the value, rate of turnover, seasonal buildups, and ordering lead time.
Suppliers: Identify key suppliers, including their contact information, type and amount of inventory, credit and delivery policies, and history and reliability. Consider identifying backup suppliers and address potential issues relating to supplies.
Credit policies: If you plan to sell on credit, decide on company policies. Plumbing software solutions makes offering customer financing easier than ever.
Managing accounts payable: Plan who you pay, and when, to optimize your cash flow. Make sure you know which vendors offer prompt payment discounts.
Management and Organization
If your company employs more than 10 people, create a chart identifying the company’s organizational structure and key responsibilities.
Job descriptions help plumbing companies define employee roles and provide an avenue for accountability. They also enable your company to set employee expectations, develop job training programs, evaluate performance, and build a blueprint for promotions and future career paths, says Vanessa Gonzales, Senior Manager of Product Utilization at ServiceTitan and owner of Albuquerque Plumbing, Heating & Cooling.
Your annual planning session is a good time to evaluate your current staff and identify future positions. Your data may show positions need to be adjusted or an employee may need a different role.
After analyzing reports in ServiceTitan, management at Intown Plumbing in the Dallas area saw they were asking too much of a valued employee, who was working dispatching and CSR, along with other duties, says Brittany Grose, Intown’s Director of Business Operations. As a result, they moved the employee to dispatching and hired another CSR.
Your management and organizational plan should include a plan of action in the event someone is incapacitated and provide a list of professional and advisory support, such as an attorney, accountant, insurance agent, and mentors.
Your plumbing business plan should include personal financial statements for each owner and major stockholder, showing personal net worth and assets and liabilities held outside the business. Bankers and investors typically want this information.
Your financial plan shows the strength of your plumbing company, and accurate numbers remain essential as your company plans for growth. Plumbing company owners who invest in plumbing software like ServiceTitan capture real-time business data, giving them the ability to make better decisions.
“It’s hard to make a plan and crunch all your financials, if you don’t have great data,” Hunter points out.
Once your plumbing company is large enough to departmentalize, you can break out the data and get a more accurate financial snapshot. Otherwise, you may not realize your install department subsidizes your service department, which may be losing money. Once you spot the issue, you can make changes and boost profitability.
Your financial plan should include:
12-month profit and loss projection: Compiling these numbers shows what you need to make a profit and grow successfully. Your sales projections come from a sales forecast that includes sales, cost of goods sold, expenses, and month-by-month profit for one year.
Four-year profit projection: This section is optional, for those who want to carry forecasts beyond one year.
Projected cash flow: This worksheet helps you plan how much you need before start-up, with calculations for preliminary expenses, operating expenses, and reserves.
Balance sheet: A balance sheet shows what items of value are held by the company (assets), and what its debts are (liabilities). When liabilities are subtracted from assets, the remainder is owners’ equity.
Break-even analysis: A break-even analysis predicts the sales volume, at a given price, required to recover total costs.
In this section, include additional information, including:
Maps and photos of location
Marketing research and advertising materials
Technical specifications and photos of products and services
Copies of leases, contracts, and agreements
Detailed lists of equipment owned or to be purchased
>> Want to revitalize and grow your plumbing business? Download this plumbing business plan template to get started.