The Secret for Getting the Best Plumbing Leads

Written by Devon Eddy
Published on April 22, 2020

Best Way to get Plumbing Leads

Building or growing a business is all about generating leads that can result in new business.  The plumbing business is not different.  If you are a commercial operator looking for new contracts or a small independent plumber working to keep your calendar full, the concepts are the same and the goal is to keep the bottom line of your business healthy.

How do you get the best plumbing leads? Building a lead generation program involves a diverse set of tools.  Each of these, when used properly, will contribute to a steady stream of fresh plumbing leads for your business. This set of tools includes:

  •         Customer Referrals
  •         Promoting Yourself
  •         Building a Network
  •         Utilizing Social Media and the internet

These four lead-generating tools, when combined, can be the start of creating a lead generating machine in your plumbing business that will work for you constantly to bring in new plumbing leads.  The great thing about it is, with the advent of the internet and social media, you can do much of the basic work yourself.  Understanding how to put these tools to work is the key.

What Not to Do

Before we go any further, we need to talk about what not to do.  Lead generation techniques and tools have changed dramatically in the last few years.  The growth of social media and the internet has created a paradigm shift in advertising and promotion.  Remember that the goal is to maximize your ROI, your return on investment. 

Not too many years ago, if I were having this conversation with a client, my first suggestions would have been to get in the newspaper by an ad in the local yellow pages, and let’s find the best radio station in your market area that serves your demographic.  

Now, newspapers are dinosaurs and are on the same path.  You can say the same thing about the yellow pages. Radio is still viable in some markets, but radio advertising is like tossing candy out of a car window at kids on the street.   Some of the candy will end up where you want it but most of it goes to waste. 

Targeted advertising is the new paradigm and there are ways to use old concepts with new technologies to generate plumbing leads that result in higher conversions.

Building your Plumbing Lead Generation Machine

You may already have the best plumbing lead generation tool available to you without understanding how to make it work to your advantage.  This is especially true if you are an existing business with an established customer base.  There are four cogs in this plumbing lead generation machine.  When all four are in place and working together, they will consistently crank out solid leads day after day.

  •         Customer Referrals
  •         Your business Presence
  •         A solid Local Network
  •         The Internet

Customer Referrals – Putting Your Clients to Work for You

Consistently, surveys of plumbers across the country tell us customer referrals are their best plumbing leads source.  The plumbing leads that come from customer referrals tend to be higher quality leads and have a better conversion rate than plumbing leads generated from any other source.  A good customer referral system can turn your current satisfied customers into your best sales force.

Other sources and methods will generate more leads, but volume is not always a good way to measure the value of what you are getting.  Conversion rates are the best indicator of how valuable a lead source is to your company.  There are several ways to leverage your customer base into a lead generator.

  • Ask – If you aren’t asking your customers for referrals or references, you are missing a good bet.  You should make it a habit to ask at the completion of each job if your client knows anyone who is looking for similar services, whether it be commercial or residential plumbing services.  You should also ask them to go online and leave a positive review on your website and social media pages.
  • Offer Incentives – People love getting what they believe is something special.  Offer your customers an incentive to refer their friends and neighbors to you.  There are several ways to accomplish this.  Referral cards that your customers can give to friends and neighbors are one method.  Offering a discount on the customer's next service call when they refer a new client is another.  Be imaginative.
  • Establish a Relationship beyond the Job - Stay in contact with your customer base.  You don’t have to call everyone once a month, but an email with updates on new services you might offer or reminders about maintenance issues can keep your name fresh in your customer's mind.  Being present with your customers keeps you in the race for plumbing leads.

Building a platform to leverage your customer base into a lead generation machine can be one of the most cost-effective methods.  There is little upfront cost to initiating a referral program.  Most of the time, it simply involves talking to your customers. 

plumbing lead generation - men shaking hands

Advertise Yourself

You can be one of your best lead generation tools.  Think about it.  You are out in the community day in and day out.  People see you constantly as you move around your town in your vehicle.  They see you parked in front of their neighbor's house.  You can turn yourself into a lead generator just be being visible.  However, it does take some investment and some thought.  To become a real lead generator for yourself, you should:

  • Be Professional – First impressions can make or break you with some customers.  Think about how you present yourself and your company.  Are you and your technicians professionally dressed? Do you wear clean uniforms that easily identify your company? There are hundreds of little things you can do that leave impressive first impressions on potential customers that can become paying jobs.
  • Be Visible and Identifiable – Look at your work vehicle.  What kind of image does it portray about your company?  Is it clean and in good repair?  Are you advertising effectively with that vehicle?  Graphic wraps are relatively inexpensive and, when properly designed, become a lead generator that works with every drive you take around town. People will judge you based on what they see, and a clean, well-kept vehicle leaves a good impression.
  • Build Your Network – Your local community presence is as good a source of leads as you can find.  Being present in your community by being active in local business clubs, charity events, and other events is a good way to boost your network.  Friends tend to look to friends for services, and the wider your local network, the bigger your pool of potential plumbing leads.

Get Social

The hot new trend in advertising and developing solid leads is the internet and social media sites.  This is a wide-open new opportunity and can become a valuable source of plumbing leads for your business. Unlike older forms of advertising, internet advertising offers you the ability to target your audience.  Your advertising can be refined to reach people in specific demographic classes, in geographic areas, or even those who are searching the internet for certain words.

Advertising on the internet falls into several categories and each offers its own advantages and disadvantages.  There are some areas of social media and the internet that you should be actively working to generate leads.  These different areas work together to create an effective presence on the internet.

Your business on the Internet

Your website is your business on the internet.  When people search and pull up your website on their browser, your home page gives them the first impression that sets the tone for their whole experience and their opinion of your business. 

A website should have certain characteristics to be effective.  It should be:

  • Clean and simple
  • Easy to navigate
  • More than just an overview of your business
  • Properly optimized for internet search engines
  • Interactive

The complexity of building a website that will work for your business is a challenge for most business owners.  I strongly suggest that you hire a website designer who is familiar with the basics of business website design to create your website.  The money you spend will benefit you down the line with more leads.

The Social Media Angle

Social media sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, and others are rapidly becoming the number one tool people use to search for products and services.  This creates opportunities for companies that can take advantage of the technologies.  Unfortunately, maximizing the return to your business in the form of plumbing leads can be confusing and difficult.

There are lots of advantages to an active social media presence.

  • Keeps you in front of your target audience where leads are generated
  • Can be communicative to bring information to potential customers
  • Is relatively inexpensive
  • It is interactive and can lead to a more personal approach to lead generation.

As with anything, there are downsides to maintaining an active social media presence.

  • Posting and maintaining a social media presence can be time-consuming.
  • Building and understanding the whole social media and search engine optimization systems can be complex and difficult to master.
  • The leads can be of lower quality than other methods.

This is an area where hiring a specialist is a good idea.  Companies that do nothing but manage social media advertising and search engine optimization provide services that most small companies or individuals cannot hope to rival.

lead generation for plumbers - leadsforward-dashboard

Be Careful Which Plumbing Leads You Buy

That brings us to the issue of buying plumbing leads.  If you search for plumbing leads online, you will find your browser loaded with thousands of possibilities.  Many of them will offer you fast returns on hundreds of leads.  You must be careful of what you buy when you contract with a lead generation company.  Understanding what they are selling is the key to making good choices.

What You Are Getting

Basically, lead generation companies sell leads that are classified into three categories.  Each of these is based on the criteria of the lead and its potential to turn into a sale. 

  • Information Qualified Lead – These leads have no information about you or your company.  The lead may not even know that their name has been provided to you.  This means that when you follow up on this lead, you are basically making a cold call.  These information qualified leads have a very low conversion rate.  In some cases, if another plumber area is using a lead generation service, they may be getting the same leads.
  • Marketing Qualified Lead – A list of marketing qualified leads will have at least some information about your company or your services.  Often referred to as warm leads, the people you will meet when you do a follow-up have some information and have a known issue or problem that they want you to address.  This makes these leads more likely to convert to a job.
  • Sales Qualified Lead – The leads you get on a sales qualified lead list generally are ready to buy and are looking actively to hire or contract for a job.  The conversion rate on this type of lead is much higher.  Usually, these leads don’t come on a list but are referred by the lead generation company directly to you after the potential customer has been pre-qualified by the lead generation company.

To maximize the return on your investment, you want the conversion factor to be as high as possible on these leads.  The best option is to always contract for only sales qualified leads.   This ensures that you are getting plumbing leads that are pre-qualified and, in some cases, may even be expecting your call.

The Bottom Line of Buying Leads

Unfortunately, the cost of legitimate leads is expensive.  There are two basic methods of contracting for lead generation with the top tier companies.  The size of your business, your budget, and your intentions are the best determiners of what kind of contract that may be best suited for you.

The first thing to remember is that you only want to purchase sales qualified leads.  These will have the best ROI and offer you the most for your money. Check out our model for generating qualified, exclusive plumbing leads here.

Per Appointment Billing

In this type of arrangement, you pay for each lead you receive from the lead generation company.  If you select this type of arrangement, you should keep accurate records of the leads and how they fair after you have made contact.  You must track this information to be able to make decisions about the effectiveness of the program and the return it is making to your business.

Per appointment contracts can run anywhere from $50 per appointment to $400 per lead.  Careful auditing of the return you generate from this type of arrangement is crucial to be sure that you are making money and not simply spinning your wheels.

Monthly Billing

Larger companies may benefit from a monthly billing arrangement where you pay a flat monthly subscription rate in return for leads from the lead generation company.  This allows you to treat the subscription as a fixed cost and may give you better value for your money than a per appointment arrangement.

The fees for monthly subscription rates to lead generation companies can run from $2000 to $20000 per month.  Before you enter such a contract, there should be clear stipulations on the minimum number of leads that will be provided each month.

Closing the Deal

Lead generation is the lifeblood of businesses. A constant supply of leads is essential to any business that wants to grow and prosper.  Our suggestion for most small business owners is to build your own lead generation machine using the tools and opportunities that already exist.  Patience is key.  A good plumbing lead generation system will take time to begin to pay off, but, in the end, the consistent return will pay off for your business.

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