How to Start a Plumbing Business
Starting a plumbing business is a profitable way to become your own boss. With an industry value of $124 billion (USD) and rising, there’s never been a better time to get started.
You’ll need more than just plumbing experience and technical know-how to succeed. Use these 10 steps to cover all your bases and build your new plumbing company from the ground up.
Follow these 10 steps to start a plumbing business:
- Get your plumbing certification
- Set plumbing business goals
- Write a business plan
- Get business financing
- Invest in the right plumbing equipment
- Register your business and get insurance
- Price your plumbing services
- Advertise your plumbing business
- Hire technicians and grow your business
- Stay current with training and knowledge
1. Get your plumbing certification
Earning your state-required plumbing certification can give you the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to perform your job well.
Here’s how to become a licensed plumber in three steps:
- Get the right education. First graduate from high school or get your GED. Then attend a college or trade school to learn technical requirements like plumbing math and design, building codes, installation methods, residential and commercial repair, and more.
- Become an apprentice. A plumbing apprenticeship is paid on-the-job training under a master or licensed plumber. It helps you build a network, gain experience, and prepare for life on the job. Apprenticeships can last from two to five years and are a mandatory part of becoming a licensed plumber.
- Pass your license exam. Plumbing license exam requirements depend on your region, and some regions require you to renew your license periodically. Once you’ve passed your exam, you can work as a journeyman plumber within a company, or on your own as a self-employed plumber.
Depending on your state, you may be required to get your master plumbing license before starting a business. This can take up to five more years of on-the-job training and certifications.
State-by-state plumbing certification requirements vary, so double-check to make sure you meet the requirements for the right certifications.
What type of plumber should you become?
There are several types of plumbers offering different services. Choose the option that best matches where you want your career to go, whether it’s residential or commercial plumbing, service and repair, or water supply, sanitary, or construction plumbing.
2. Set plumbing business goals
Think about why your plumbing business will exist and where you want it to go. Then set short-term goals to help you work toward that vision, like:
- Get 10 five-star Google reviews within your first six months
- Earn $75,000 in sales in your first year
- Hire your first employee within two years
- Have a second vehicle and service team within three years
It’ll take time to reach your goals, but you’re a skilled plumber. You’ll get there before you know it.
3. Write a business plan
Writing a business plan will help you start your plumbing company on the right foot and move in the right direction.
Most likely, you’ll also need a business plan to attract investors and secure financing for your business. Your plumbing business plan should include:
- Cover page with your business name, logo, and contact information
- Executive summary with a quick overview of your business, how much funding you need, and what sets you apart from your competition
- Business overview with a summary of your business structure and history
- List of services and pricing strategy showing what your plumbing business will offer customers
- Market analysis describing your target market and the competition in your area
- Marketing plan outlining how you’ll attract new clients to your plumbing business
- Financial plan showing the money coming into and going out of your business for the first year (including sales forecast, budget, and any personnel costs)
4. Get business financing
Unless you already have funds available, you’ll need financing to purchase tools and equipment, pay for insurance, and get your first customers. Look into options like:
- Government funding: The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers funding programs like small business loans and investment capital.
- Business loan: Get a small business loan or line of credit from your bank, or from an online lender like OnDeck or Fundera. You can also ask a friend or family member for a startup business loan.
- Credit card: A business credit card with a low interest rate can help with cash flow when you’re just starting a plumbing business. Just make sure to pay it off each month.
- Business grant: The Jobber Grants program offers annual grant funding to small home service businesses. Check with your local government to see if there are federal or state-level business grants available, too.
Pro Tip: Get a business bank account to keep your personal finances separate from your company income and expenses. This will be a big help during tax time.
How much money do you need to start a plumbing business?
Plumbers need $6,325–8,150+ (USD) to start a plumbing company. Here’s a cost breakdown:
- Business license and registration ($75–400)
- Plumbing business software ($400+)
- Business insurance ($600–2,000/year)
- Branded uniform and work boots ($100–200)
- Tools and inventory ($5,000+)
- DIY website and business cards ($150)
It’ll cost much more to get started if you don’t already have plumbing education and certification ($5,000–10,000+) or a work truck ($3,000–30,000).
5. Invest in the right plumbing equipment
Stocking your plumbing van with a few essential plumbing tools will save you from running to the hardware store for every job or service. Keep these items in your plumbing tool bag:
- Hand tools (crescent wrenches, pliers, grips, handsaw, pipe cutters)
- Cordless battery tool set (drills, saw grinder, screwdriver, impact driver)
- Inventory (fittings, plastic/copper pipes, inlet valves, elements, thermostats)
- Safety equipment (plumbing gloves, goggles, heat shields, knee pads)
Start with the basics and buy used items if you can. Only rent or purchase equipment for specialty jobs if you have the license, skills, and customer demand.
6. Register your business and get insurance
You’ll need to legally set up your plumbing business and get insurance before you can start taking on your first customers. Use this checklist to get started:
- Choose your business structure. Register your business as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company. LLCs are common for small businesses because it limits liability if you’re ever sued. You can also choose to incorporate your business.
- Register your business name. Run a trademark search to make sure your plumbing company name isn’t already in use. Then register your business name with your local government.
- Apply for the required licenses and permits. Check with your local municipality to make sure you have the right local, state, and federal permits or licenses to operate your plumbing business.
- Apply for an EIN. If you work with a partner or plan to have plumbing employees in the future, get an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. You’ll need it when tax season rolls around.
- Get insurance. Small business insurance protects your business and your clients after an accident, injuries, or damages. Get a policy that includes general liability, commercial auto, workers’ compensation, and inland marine insurance at the very least.
7. Price your plumbing services
Check other plumbers’ pricing to keep your plumbing pricing strategy competitive, but don’t match their prices—they may run their operations differently and price accordingly.
Pro Tip: Start your plumbing company on solid financial footing—use QuickBooks Online to keep your financial records organized, manage your inventory, and track your payroll.
8. Advertise your plumbing business
When you’re just getting started, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on advertising right from the get-go. Try focusing on these easy strategies to get more plumbing leads:
Build your brand
Customers are more likely to choose a plumbing company that looks professional and stands out from competitors. Win customers with these service business branding tips:
- Build a simple and recognizable company logo with a logo generator like Looka
- Choose consistent company colors and a clean, easy-to-read font
- Pick a plumbing business slogan that describes what you do differently
- Get a uniform with your logo to represent your business while you’re on the job
- Print and hand out plumbing business cards, postcards, and door hangers
Create an online presence
Most of your customers will be looking for your services online. Make it easier for them to find you with these online marketing strategies:
- Claim your free Google Business Profile
- Sign up for lead generation sites to win more plumbing jobs
- Invest in online plumbing ads and Google’s Local Service Ads
- Set up a free Facebook Business page to build a following
- Build an easy-to-use plumbing website
- Use SEO for plumbers to rank higher in web searches
Offer amazing customer service
- Collect new work requests through your website with online booking
- Provide personalized service by tracking customer details in a field service CRM
- Clearly communicate using appointment reminders, on-my-way texts, and customer service follow-up emails
- Let customers approve quotes and pay invoices on their own time through client hub
- Send out customer feedback surveys and use the answers to improve your services
- Thank customers for positive reviews and always respond politely to negative reviews
9. Hire technicians and grow your business
Eventually you’ll reach a point where you’re overbooked, overwhelmed, and falling behind on paperwork. Don’t worry, these are just growing pains—you’re ready to hire your first employee.
Follow these steps to hire skilled plumbing technicians for your business:
- Decide what type of plumber (and type of person) you need.
- Write a descriptive job posting that advertises the open position.
- Advertise the job on your website, online job boards, and social media.
- Meet with qualified candidates and ask the right plumbing interview questions.
- Hire the best candidate, make an offer, and plan for their first day.
From there, you’re ready to take on more work, add new services, and expand your service area.
How much money do plumbers make?
Plumbers earn $22.64/hour on average, or $54,605/year. Average salaries range from $36,526 for apprentice plumbers to $56,054 for journeyman plumbers.
10. Stay current with training and knowledge
Staying on top of plumbing industry trends will help you keep up with the competition when it comes to pricing, marketing, and more. These are just a few ways to do that:
- Network with other plumbers and learn from their success stories, starting with Modern Plumbing, Guest Plumbing, and Valor Plumbing.
- Check out plumbing blogs and plumbing business resources for tips and tricks that’ll help you be successful in the industry.
- Explore professional development resources, read books for entrepreneurs, and attend learning events like Jobber Summit.
Start your plumbing business with Jobber
Starting a plumbing business is no easy task, but you’re off to a great start.
With the right tools, resources, and plumbing software available at your fingertips, your new company is primed for success—and your future as a plumbing business owner will be bright.
Originally published May 2019. Last updated on November 8, 2022.