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Business basics for plumbers

20 Oct 2015 1:04 PM | Anonymous

This is the first of a new series of articles, entitled ‘The Plumbing Battle’, which will help you succeed in your business.

The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) has highlighted business acumen as one of the challenges facing plumbing businesses.

IOPSA is therefore working constructively to educate existing plumbing companies on good business practice, in order to create a sustainable plumbing environment.

The Institute is not only developing content related to best plumbing business practise, but is also looking at different ways to communicate this content to the industry.

The key to fighting the plumbing battle is knowing the forces that you are fighting against. Some of the key challenges facing today’s plumbers are

  • Manufacturers, importers and merchants selling poor quality products;
  • Poor salaries and wages;
  • Bad plumbing businesses (i.e. unqualified plumbers) giving the industry a bad name;
  • Poor business practices;
  • Lack of skills and access to skilled resources;
  • Deceitful consumers who expect the best but are unwilling to pay for it;
  • Greed above need, profit above people;
  • A highly competitive industry;
  • Corruption and dishonesty;
  • A culture of no maintenance. and waste; and
  • Clients who don’t pay.

We often complain about how difficult the plumbing industry is and how much better it would be doing something else. But, the idea that the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ is not only the perception in the plumbing industry; the fact is that all industries have their own difficulties and challenges, especially in the current political, economic and social climate in South Africa.

IOPSA often get calls from lawyers and professionals wanting be plumbers. Their perception is that that plumbers make lots of easy money. On the other hand, plumbers often think that lawyers are making easy money.

So, how do you make a plumbing business successful? And which battles do you fight?

Firstly, the key may be to overcome your own personal interferences, which can create stumbling blocks in solving challenges. These challenges you face can be overcome if you focus your energy on the solution instead of the problem. Take a step back, and look at where you are and want to go.

Secondly, make the right decisions for the right reasons, and never give up. When you look for solutions, don't look to blame the person next to you. Change your thinking and learn from your mistakes. We live in a non-compliant society, a society that looks for the loop holes instead of being part of the solution.

Sometimes, we deceive ourselves. We convince ourselves we are making the right choice when we know it is actually the wrong choice. For example, we get upset with others when they drive through a stop street. We get upset with the taxis when they go through red robots, but we ourselves drive through stop streets and red robots.

What is the secret of success? Making the RIGHT DECISIONS.

How do you make the right decisions? EXPERIENCE.

How do you get experience? By making the WRONG DECISIONS and learning from them.

So, now that we are positive and ready to create solutions and battle the odds, here is a seven step guide to wining and building a successful plumbing business. We will cover each topic in the following issues of Plumbing Africa:

  1. S is for Simple – Keep your business simple focus on what you do best.
  2. U is for Unique – Don’t try be everything to everyone. Find your niche and put your energy into your unique offering.
  3. C is for Competitive – Create opportunities to be different. Know your competitors and ensure your pricing is relative to the market.
  4. C is for Consistent – Have faith that your business will succeed and persevere as there will be many obstacles and frustrations, which can always be overcome.
  5. E is for Evolve – Know your client’s needs, understand your industry and continually adapt your business. No short cuts, learn from your mistakes.
  6. S is for Service – Give clients what they want and the best service you can achieve. Deliver what you promise, don’t over promise and under deliver.
  7. S is for Support – Employ the right staff and support them. Create financial support and find a business mentor.



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