Business Insider

8 tips to starting a plumbing or HVAC business

Billy Stutz, a Ferguson Marketing Manager

by Billy Stutz


The idea that you can be your own boss is one of many attractive factors of pursuing a career in the skilled trades as a plumber or HVAC contractor. While the opportunity is certainly there, certain steps must be taken in order to launch and run a successful business. Whether you’re an HVAC contractor with years of experience and you’re ready to work for yourself, or you’re considering a career as a plumber and researching possibilities, here are eight tips to help you prepare for starting your own plumbing or HVAC business.

1. Maintain relationships with former employers.

When starting your own business, it’s tempting to quit your current job in a blaze of glory. As tempting as it may be, you may need your former boss's help to find more work. You can even continue contracting your services to your old business moving forward.

You may be an amazing plumber or HVAC technician but lack the marketing, accounting and sales skills. These things can be learned, of course, but you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot by creating hostility with former friends and coworkers when you might be able to otherwise rely on them for help.

2. Register your trade business.

To keep everything legal, you’ll need to file the proper paperwork to register your business with the appropriate federal, state and local agencies. This process varies by location and is necessary even if you’re a sole proprietorship as it protects you legally and helps your tax situation.

You’ll also need insurance while working on jobsites. Keep in mind that starting your own business puts you 100% in charge of all operational aspects, including liabilities for injury. Having insurance provides a level of protection from costly lawsuits if you’re found to be at fault for causing an injury on the jobsite.

3. Build a website.

A website enhances the credibility of your business from the prospective of potential customers. There are free places to do it, such as WordPress and Shopify, that include templates to handle most of the technical and creative parts for you. Here are tips to help you create an effective website for your HVAC or plumbing business.

4. Claim your business on Google.

If you want customers to find you online, claiming your business on Google is the key. Google is the largest search engine in the world. Engaging with their audience across Google Assistant, Home, Maps and search results puts your business at the top of potential customers minds.

It’s as simple as registering with Google My Business. You can list as much detail as you’d like, including pricing, operating hours, service areas and more. Here’s how to claim your business on Google.

5. Find tools to run your business.

Running the business-side of your own business isn’t easy. You have to manage calls and emails, find customers, get contracts signed, manage appointments and more. It can quickly overwhelm you if you’re not prepared.

Thankfully, contractor management software like Payzerware exists to act as your virtual assistant by managing HVAC and plumbing contracts, maintenance agreements, sales reports, back office operations, and more. Learn more about the features and benefits of Payzerware.

6. Continue your education.

In order for a plumbing or HVAC business to continue to succeed, it’s important to be able to stay on par or ahead of the level of service offered by competing businesses. Continuing education and staying current on the latest industry trends can help you do that. Plumbing and HVAC products and technology are constantly evolving. By keeping up with the trends, you’ll be able to offer the best possible service to your customers and work with maximum efficiency.

Joining a trade organization like the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Assocation, or PHCC, can help you stay in the know about advancements in your industry.

7. Attend trade shows.

Trade shows, conferences and meetings are great places to network and meet people. Attending home improvement-related shows exposes you to potential clients, while hardware and tool-related shows can help you stay familiar with the latest products.

Putting in the time to market yourself at public events is a great marketing tactic that keeps you prominently on the minds of potential business partners.

8. Build a team.

Eventually, your business will reach a point where you can no longer keep up with the workload. That’s when it’s time to start hiring your own people. Recruiting and keeping quality talent is a skillset in and of itself. Learn more about best practices for building a talented team in the skilled trade industry.

Planning is key to business success. Whether it’s forecasting how many people are needed for a job, budgeting a project, or filling in gaps during slow periods, you need to be proactive for your pro trade business to be successful. Ferguson is here to help you be proactive with professional-grade plumbing and HVAC supplies plus resources to help you grow your business. Check out Pro Benefits and see how you can take advantage of free rewards and resources when you sign up for

Billy Stutz, a Ferguson Marketing Manager
Billy Stutz

For more than 10 years, Billy has been a dedicated supply-chain strategist delivering quality information to his customers and offering solutions to drive actionable results to their bottom line.