Plumbing is a competitive industry so generating leads can be expensive based on the ways you are doing it. In fact, in some markets Google is charging over $30 per click to advertise. This may end up making leads cost over $100 each, not including the service charge you may have to pay someone to run the advertising campaigns for you. If you would like to avoid doing that, and put some of that cash in your pocket instead, here are 6 simple tactics you can use to generate free plumbing leads:
1. Create a Referral Program
A referral program will help motivate people to promote your business, and you can offer to pay them in free billable hours if you choose to (although cash payments may be more effective). We suggest that you create a page on your website that explains the terms of your program, and to let your current customers know about it.
There are many professionals you can network with that can help you get more leads and jobs. Below are some examples of these:
General contractors are looking to sub out plumbing work all the time, so you want to be at the top of their mind when they are looking for plumbers. Although these agreements can sometimes be less profitable than working directly for clients, they can help keep you busy and making money.
Property managers can provide a great profitable opportunity. You can get in touch with them using various methods like: cold email, cold calling, going to industry events, or simply by showing up at their office. While you are pitching them for the first time, you can offer some kind of special to get them in the door, like a free leak detection inspection or something. Getting even one of these clients can help to expand your business because they will often need work done on a regular basis.
This relationship can make you money in various ways. Firstly, restoration contractors are commonly willing to pay plumbers good referral fees if you can help them get jobs. That being said, the referrals can go both ways. Restoration contractors come across plumbing issues all the time. While they do the cleaning and the drying of the water damage, they may need someone to help them repair plumbing issues that may have caused the damage, and potentially help with reconstruction projects.
While it may sound counter intuitive to network with your potential competitors, it can also be profitable. Some plumbing companies are larger than others, and some provide different services than others. If someone calls into your competitors asking for a service that they do not provide, you want to be at the top of mind to get the referral. Many times you won’t even need to pay them for these leads, just refer them on projects that you don’t do, from time to time.
3. Reputation management
Reviews can help increase the number of leads you get from your current traffic, and potentially increase your rankings in search engines.
Get More Reviews
If you only have 2 reviews for example, and one of those reviews is poor, that gives you a low average. This may not look good to potential customers when they are viewing your business on platforms like Google and Yelp. Additionally, customers like to see businesses that not only have good reviews, but a decent amount of them also.
While some of these platforms say that you should not ask for reviews, you can get them by doing the following:
Put a review link in your email signature and business card. This will allow people to more easily review you if they would like to.
Respond to your current reviews regardless of whether they are good or bad. When responding to your bad reviews, we recommend that you don’t argue with them. You can simply try to fix the situation by offering a refund for example. While it may not change that customer’s perspective, when potential customers are reading your reviews, they are more likely to conclude that your business cares about customer service.
Flag bogus reviews from your competitors or somewhere else.
Offer coupons on Yelp. This can help you get more leads in and of itself, while also attracting active Yelp users that may be more likely to leave reviews.
While this isn’t really a way to generate new plumbing leads, it can help you utilize the clients you already have. You should know what to look for, and possibly offer them a special price on up-sells because you or your company is already on site.
5. Get a Google My Business, Bing Places and Yelp Listing
If you do not have these set up already, we recommend you do that soon. Each of these platforms has many potential customers searching directly within them, so they can help grow your business. In order to get further exposure on these platforms it’s probably a good idea to perform some sort of SEO, and potentially run some ads, but just claiming your listings is the first step to gaining exposure on these platforms.
6. Learn SEO to Generate More Free Plumbing Leads
Search engine optimization is the process of making your business show up high in search engines, for relevant keywords in your area. While it may take you some time and energy to get good at SEO, it will likely pay off for your business once you do. Here is a course you can use to help you rank your website locally. The reason SEO is so valuable is that you can get free leads from search engines like Google that normally would cost you around $20 per click, or $100 per lead. If you do not have time to learn and implement SEO yourself, that is totally understandable, we suggest hiring a consultant or agency like Chase Reiner’s to help get this done for you.
7. Stay Open Late
While there are many plumbing companies that are open 24 hours, not all of them are. This is a great opportunity to get ahead of your competition partially because emergency situations often happen after hours.
8. Email Marketing
Let’s say for example that you worked for a client that really liked the plumbing work you did for them. Maybe a year later they receive a happy birthday email from you along with a coupon for $40 off their next project. They realize that it would be great to get their drains cleaned, and gladly hire you to do it for them. The best part about this is that all you need to do is collect email addresses, and you can send using a free automated software like MailChimp. If you are wondering what to send your clients, here are a few examples:
Promotional emails for specials you are offering
Seasonal emails on special occasions like holidays
Loyalty specials for your most frequent customers
Notification emails (receipts, appointment reminders, etc.)
Events happening around town
Content updates for blog posts your company published
You can acquire people’s email addresses by offering a coupon on your website for people that opt into your list. You can also ask your current customers directly if they can give you their email address for things like appointment updates and specials. Here is a blog post with cases studies that featured plumbing businesses.
Although investing money in marketing and advertising can help to grow your business, it is not always required. By implementing the methods we mentioned above, you can start generating more free plumbing leads and jobs soon.