Skip to content
Jobber Academy

How to Start a Plumbing Business: 11 Steps to Get Up and Running

December 13, 2023 10 min. read
Read More Start Trial

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.

1. Get your plumbing license

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.

Stay up to date with the latest plumbing trends

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:

READ MORE: 18 of the best plumber apps to make your life easier

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. Research your target market and customers

To make sure your new plumbing business is successful, you’ll need to know who your target customers are and what skills or specialties are in highest demand.

For example, will your customers be homeowners, or will you target commercial or construction contracts? What types of plumbing services do they need?

Here’s how you can research your target market and get to know your customers:

  • Network with other plumbing business owners to gain insight on who your biggest competitors will be and what types of plumbers are in highest demand.
  • Follow or join discussions about plumbing issues in online forums, like Reddit, or on social media sites, like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Reach out to homeowners, contractors, or commercial property owners to discuss business opportunities. Ask them questions about the plumbing services they need and their experiences with other plumbers in the past.
  • Once your business is up and running, ask customers to provide feedback after the job is complete to better understand their expectations and areas of improvement.

Determine your unique selling point (USP)

Once you’re familiar with your target customers, you can determine what makes you different from other plumbers in your area. 

Your plumbing business’s USP could be:

  • 24/7 emergency services
  • Guaranteed work
  • Training and certifications
  • Transparent pricing
  • Community involvement

Include your USP in your website and all other marketing materials (like flyers and ads) so potential customers know why they should choose to work with you.

4. 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)

5. Secure 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 $150,000 in available funding to recognize excellence in small home services businesses.

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.

READ MORE: 30 small business tax deductions to save money when filing

6. 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.

READ MORE: 7 plumbing safety hazards and 13 tips to stay safe on the job

Learn which plumbing tools master plumber Roger Wakefield recommends in this tour of his custom plumbing shop and studio.

7. Register your business

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.

8. Get insurance

 Small business insurance protects your business and your clients after an accident, injuries, or damages. 

Get a policy that includes: 

  • General liability insurance to cover claims related to bodily harm, property damage, or personal injury.
  • Commercial auto insurance in case of a collision or other damage in a company vehicle.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance to protect your business in the event an employee is injured on the job.
  • Commercial property insurance to cover damage to your equipment or shop.

9. Price your plumbing services

Before you start bidding on plumbing jobs, price your services with our service price calculator. Add up labor costs, material costs, and overhead expenses while factoring in your profit margin.

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.

FREE TOOL: Create professional-looking plumbing estimates with our free template

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.

10. Get your first customers

When you’re just getting started, don’t overspend on advertising until you determine which marketing strategies bring in the most customers. 

Start by creating a plumbing website that describes your services, shows off your great work, and makes it easy for potential customers to book plumbing services online.

Impetus Plumbing & Heating uses Jobber’s online booking to let customers book their services right from their website.  Customers can select the plumbing services they want and the time and date that works best for them.

image of Impetus Plumbing's online booking form

Once your plumbing website is up and running, try these marketing strategies to get more plumbing leads:

  • Claim your free Google Business Profile and add your plumbing services, the area you serve, and your working hours.
  • Set up a Facebook Business page to share before-and-after images of completed jobs, and connect with new customers.
  • Print and distribute flyers or door hangers in the neighborhood you serve.
  • Sign up for lead generation sites, like Thumbtack, Angi, or HomeAdvisor to connect with customers searching for your plumbing services.
  • Invest in online plumbing ads and Google’s Local Service Ads
  • Use SEO for plumbers to appear at the top of Google’s search results page when a potential customer searches for “plumbers in [city]”

READ MORE:13 plumbing marketing ideas to get more business

11. 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:

  1. Decide what type of plumber (and type of person) you need.
  2. Write a plumber job description that outlines the open position.
  3. Advertise the job on your website, online job boards, and social media.
  4. Meet with qualified candidates and ask the right plumbing interview questions.
  5. 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.

READ MORE:Hire better and faster with an employee referral program

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 in May 2019. Last updated on December 13th 2023.

Join over 200k service professionals that trust Jobber

Get Started