Many restoration marketers call on and solicit plumbing companies and plumbers. The hope is to be able to convince them to send your company leads and jobs when they arrive at a plumbing job and see a flooded home or a mold-contaminated property.
IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE
However, it’s not as simple as just telling the plumber you’ll give him a couple of hundred bucks for his referrals. A marketing approach to this kind of prospect requires more than a one-size-fits-all program.
As a marketing rep calling on this vertical (plumbers), it’s important that you recognize the different “types” of plumbers so you can increase your success. Not all plumbers are the same. Some only do repair work, some only do sewer and drain clean-outs, and some do only “new construction” work.
THERE IS EVEN MORE THAN THIS!
In addition to the basic differences listed above, there are three additional factors you must consider. Identifying what their corporate (or business) structure is. Here is a simplified list of the 3 most common plumber types:
- The one-man-band. (Chuck in a truck) or a man with a van. They may sometimes have a helper but usually work out of the home or garage. Rarely do they have a warehouse or any office space (other than their kitchen table). Their “business phone” is their personal cell phone – so they will almost always answer it. And it’s often listed on the side of their truck or van.
- The small shop. Often 3-10 people are on the payroll. They have several trucks and crews and are much more visible in the community. They often try, with limited success, to emulate the “big boys” so they may have lettered, and wrapped vans, and their crews may wear a uniform or company shirt. Almost always, they will have a small shop or warehouse, and possibly even a small office with an office support person. They will have a designated company business phone and likely a gate keeper.
- The Big Boys. These are plumbing companies with significant brick-and-mortar shops, warehouses, offices, and probably several business phone lines. You might see their billboards around town. They tend to operate much more like a corporation with multiple office staff, back-office help, and many crews. Their wrapped vans dominate the community. You may try to get in front of their entire plumbing staff, but remember: when they are this big, their plumbers often each have different specialties. That means some will never see a flooded home.
CHALLENGE FOR #1
As a marketer, getting in front of the Chuck-in-a-truck plumber is a major challenge because you cannot (SHOULD NOT) go to their home! Also, you can’t wait down the block and then follow them around town until they stop for gas or coffee. Approaching them at a plumbing supply house, or at the big-box stores (Lowes or Home Depot) is doable, but you can’t sit in those parking lots all day.
CHALLENGE FOR #2
The small shop with a handful of employees usually has a small building or shop location. Your challenge here is that they may not staff it during the day, so it’s really lucky to find someone there to talk with. Once you are able to talk to the owner/manager or an office person, you should be trying to get the contact info for all their techs and also try to schedule an early morning breakfast for the group. This is your perfect opportunity to talk with all of them and promote your company and referral program. You will also see some of them at the big box stores and the plumbing supply houses often, so once you know them, stay in touch!
The big plumbing companies that operate more like small corporations may be a little more challenging to convert. They will usually be very protective of their “big” name and more hesitant to give out tech contact info. They also may NOT like a referral program because they can feel that associating with your restoration company could potentially hurt their reputation. (A plumber tech refers one of their customers to your company and the job goes south!) Ideally, you want to get them to allow you to bring in breakfast for their team. This is the best way to present your referral program and touch a lot of techs at the same time. The big boy companies will be very receptive to your Summary Move (elevator pitch) about making the plumbing company the hero.
We Have A Complete Certification Course That teaches These Important Distinctions And More.
It would be great to expand more on the many nuances and strategies you should employ to develop great relationships with plumbers. Since most people won’t read more than a few minutes, we developed a certification course Restoration Marketing Specialist® (RMS™) 3-day course to teach you all the many ways to solidify your plumber opportunities. (It also includes Insurance Agent strategies as well).
Author: Dick Wagner, Co-founder of the CREST Network
Dick Wagner is a Nationally recognized marketing coach, consultant, trainer, and speaker
Creator of the renowned PREP™ pre-disaster program
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