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How To Run a Plumbing Business in Canada

Plumbing is an essential industry service, and poses significant opportunities for entrepreneurs.

The plumbing industry is a very rewarding and interesting career path. Plumbers are responsible for the installation, repairs and maintenance of pipes, fixtures and other plumbing equipment used in water distribution and disposal in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.

There are several considerations when starting and running a plumbing business:

Adequate Education: You will need a high school degree, and a trade certification achieved by completing a four or five-year apprentice program. A high school degree with five years of work experience can be suitable. Once a certified plumber, you can write the Red Seal exam which allows you to work anywhere in Canada.

A Business Plan: A document that highlights your business targets, strategies, and objectives in detail. You will want to discuss marketing, financial plans, pricing, goals, and targets. Planning is the difference between success and failure!

Determine your niche: You will want to determine your plumbing business’s niche services to stand out amongst your competition and your target customer – will it be corporate companies, or households?

Researching your market

An important consideration for your plumbing business is market research. This will help keep your business relevant and offer an edge that will keep you profitable and unique.

It will help you understand what customers are really looking for, and what areas need the most attention. You can gather primary data from customers through surveys, focus groups and feedback.

Secondary research comes from the information you gather via statistics, other company data, and studies. Both primary and secondary research are useful in building your value proposition, or your business unique appeal.

In Canada, top plumbing services include:

  • Toilet/sink/shower repair
  • Sprinkler services
  • Septic tank and dishwasher Installation
  • Drainage services

Main Street Plumbers of Vancouver are regarded as a professional team in the city with more than 5 years of experience. Their services focus on residential plumbing, offering traditional services but with a niche offering of garburator installation, repairs, replacement, and removal, which is a great service for food waste disposal, popular in bigger cities.

Bremner's of Halifax offers 24-hour services, and focuses on drain clearage up to 200 feet, hot water installation and repairs, and due to cold weather conditions, have tapped into the all-important pipe thawing for frozen pipe repairs.

Interesting facts 

  • The Canadian plumbing market size is approximately $16 billion
  • In 2018, the average revenue for contractors was $587,000, with 81% being profitable
  • For each plumbing company, there are 648 households

Plumbing business ideas that can make you stand out:

  • Focus on houses with older equipment
  • Focus on sustainable, energy-efficient plumbing systems
  • Working with new builds (real estate)
  • Offer services outside traditional working hours

How much does a plumbing business make?

The all-important question – profit! It will all vary if you wish to work alone or expand your company with a team. Working alone, you can expect to make between $50,000 - $80,000 a year. Scaling up, you can expect between $125,000 - $200,000. Plumbing can be very lucrative!

Acquiring finances

The most common ways of acquiring finances for your plumbing business are as follows, each with individual advantages and disadvantages:

1. Personal savings

2. Friends or Family funds

3. Angel investors

4. Bank loans

5. Canadian Government via small business funds, loans, grants, and assistance.

Acquiring insurance and licences

Adequate insurance for a plumbing business is imperative for success, as there are always risks involved regarding potential damage of the property or even bodily harm.

Pricing will range, as it all depends on the type of company and their unique needs. As such, it can range anywhere from $530 and $1,170 a year for general liability insurance.

Licencing is a part of your training and certifications, and can vary depending on the municipality you reside and intend to work in. For example, in British Columbia, if there are any structural changes to a building, including alterations to plumbing, water connections or sewage systems, you would need a specific permit/licence to do so.

Registering your business

Before you can register your plumbing business online, you will need to determine the business structure. You will also need to provide the name of the business, main office location and what province you intend to work in. Each Canadian business will receive a one-of-a-kind business number to access benefits, to contact the government, pension and more.

Marketing

Bring on the customers! Here are some ideas to make you stand out:

  • Claim and verify your business on Google
  • Create social media pages and post regularly
  • Work closely with apartment building owners/landlords and advertise in the lobbies
  • Run a referral program for existing and new customers to get a discount
  • Email deals and newsletters
  • Build a reputable website! An informative blog section can generate more traffic to your website. This can include client testimonials, advice pieces, or helpful guides concerned with DIY.
  • Create informative YouTube videos
  • Advertise at realtor offices
  • Advertise on local buses or vans
  • Run ads on Google and Facebook

Standout Employees

Finding the right team will help make your business flourish. Great, professional candidates tend to seek jobs that offer longevity and growth accompanied by a competitive salary/benefits. Having a good working relationship with institutes where candidates complete their apprenticeships will help you find candidates early on in their careers.

You can also use social media, paid job boards, newspapers, or even use radio ads. Be sure to have a suitable interview process so you can adequately vet candidates.

To keep your team motivated, onboarding needs to be sufficient, continued education with training days, upscaling, promotion, and fair salary with extended benefits.

Equipment

Adequate equipment will make the job easier, reduce overhead costs and keep project times consistent.

  • Vans: Depending on your team size, a fleet of vans will be necessary to get your team to and from sites.
  • Toolbox: full of items including pipe, basis, adjustable wrenches, faucet key, hacksaw, tape measure, cordless drill.
  • Uniforms: professional and coordinated uniforms go a long way!

Exit Strategy

Even though it's likely far in the future, wise entrepreneurs should always create an exit strategy for their business, as a form of ‘insurance’. The exit could be due to retirement, new pursuits or simply a change of circumstances.

  • Always maintain accurate, honest records on your earnings and business deals, as this will help with the valuation of the company.
  • Are there family members or a keen employee who you would like to succeed in the business? If not, where do you intend to find an external buyer?
  • Remember that the value of your service business is based mostly on cash flow, inclusive of risk analysis which an accountant can help you determine. It will consider factors like diverse customers, stability, and reputation.
  • Input from your accountant, banker, or lawyer is recommended, especially when it comes to non-negotiable terms of the sale.


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