The last job I worked at before I started doing marketing full-time was actually for a plumbing company in Austin, Texas. It was a fun experience, and it was neat learning about the world of blue-collar tradesmen. Nevertheless, it is a difficult business to thrive in.
Running a plumbing company requires a unique combination of technical skills, customer service, business management, and – of course! – marketing. Sometimes I think to myself, “If only I had known then what I know now!”
Plumbing companies these days face two significant challenges to their business:Hiring more plumbers and getting more plumbing jobs.
This blog will break down how you can use modern digital marketing methods to help accomplish both of those things.
Internet Marketing for Plumbers: The Basics
For the longest time, marketing your plumbing company was best done through word-of-mouth advertising. If you received a call to auger a drain and did a good, clean, professional job, chances are that customers would call you back the next time their drain was clogged and refer you to their friends when they had similar drain issues.
But things aren’t as simple as they once were. People move much more frequently than they used to and, while word-of-mouth is still a good way to get new business, people these days are skeptical and want to do their own research on your company before hiring you for a job. Because of this, modern plumbing marketing needs a robust digital presence.
Sites like Yelp and Angie’s List are trendy for people researching which plumbing company to go with, but they’re also costly to advertise on. Luckily, when you employ modern digital marketing best practices, you can avoid having your online marketing strategy held hostage by review sites such as these.
Most consumer research starts with a quick Google search. In fact, variations of the search query, “plumbers near me” get around 1,000,000 searches every month.
Depending on where you live, a variety of search results will come up. Typically, Google will pull up a list of companies with their Google Maps review within so many miles of your location. To determine which company gets pulled up at the top of the list, Google factors in two things: proximity and local SEO score.
Proximity refers to how close your physical business is to the searcher. SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization. Essentially, it refers to how fit your website is for getting discovered on search engines. For businesses, Google breaks down SEO to the local level to be more relevant to searchers – this is what’s called local SEO.
In order for your plumbing company to get discovered by searchers, you’re going to need to have a great local SEO score.
This is pivotal, both for those searching for plumbing services and those searching for jobs as a plumber.
How to Improve Your Plumbing Company’s Local SEO
There are two main ways to improve your local SEO score:
Have a dedicated page on your website about your physical location that is linked with Google Maps.
Have great reviews of your company on Google Maps.
The Google Maps part is pivotal to this equation as Google is trying to give recommendations on a plumbing company that is both great and local to the searcher. Having humans review these businesses is Google’s preferred way of determining which ones are great and should be at the top of the search results.
But getting people to leave reviews for your plumbing company can be an arduous task. Let’s face it, your plumbers simply don’t like asking for the customer to leave a review of their services online. Your only other alternative is to have your office personnel call and ask for a review, but, once again, they are likely too busy to do that.
Luckily, there’s a way you can get the reviews you need without relying on your plumbers or overworking your office staff: Email Workflows.
The Plumber's Digital Marketing: Use Workflows & Email Marketing
When your dispatcher, service writer, or plumber interacts with the customer, chances are they are going to acquire their email sometime during the service. This is your ticket to excellent marketing for your plumbing business.
Once you have a customer’s email, you can enroll them into workflows.
Workflows are a standard feature on most customer relationship management software (or CRM) that allows you to send emails to your contacts on a regular basis automatically. For getting reviews, this can be done automatically by enrolling recent customers into an automatic review workflow that sends them a request to review your business shortly after receiving your services.
But workflows don’t stop there. You can use this excellent tool for various other campaigns to keep customers flowing through your sales funnel.
Here are some ideas of what you can do with workflows for your plumbing business:
Use Workflows for Routine Services
As any plumber knows, it’s a good idea to have your water heater flushed regularly. But as you also likely know, mailing out flyers or calling every customer that it’s time for them to flush their water heater again can be more trouble than it’s worth.
By using a workflow, you can have a templated email sent out to every customer once a year around the time their water heater was last serviced. Rather than reaching out to them, the email they receive enables them to reach out to you – no time wasted!
Use Workflows for Nurturing Unclosed Deals
Here’s a familiar situation: You sent a plumber out to a job. They reviewed the situation and recommended certain services to the customer, but, at the end of the day, the customer wasn’t ready to buy.
Typically, at this point, your plumber would load up in his truck and go to the next job. If your office personnel has the time (they usually don’t), they might call and follow up with the customer to try to close the deal.
But what if this following up process could be done automatically without the need to burden your already busy office personnel. Again, workflows are the key. After a bid is left, you can enroll the customer in a workflow that tries to nurture them to the point of buying through automatic emails and text messages encouraging them to reach back out to you to approve the charges and start the work.
Use Workflows for Finding Plumbers to Hire
Chances are, every single licensed plumber in your state has their contact information (including email). This information should be readily accessible from your state’s licensing website.
Craft a chain of emails to send to every plumber in your area regularly reminding them that you’re around and you’re hiring. When the time comes to look for a new job as a plumber, your emails will ensure your company is at the forefront of their mind.
Plumbing Internet Marketing: Have a Great Looking Website
Plumbers are often stereotyped as dirty and unprofessional. This is unfortunate. Every plumber wants to be respected as clean and professional. But if your website isn’t clean and professional, those looking at it might assume likewise of your plumbers.
For the many first-time customers you have, your website was likely their first impression. It sets the precedent. How many potential customers have you lost by those seeing an unprofessional and unattractive website and assumed the same was true of your plumbers?
Getting Help from a Marketing Agency for Plumbers
I didn’t know these great digital marketing tips when I worked in plumbing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of these strategies I’ve outlined here. If you’re looking for further explanation on implementing these strategies, schedule a time to talk with an Open Path growth strategist.
We can help you determine how well you’re using these methods in your marketing strategy or even help you implement some of the strategies you read about here.