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  1. Ryooo

    Ryooo New Member

    Hi, still rather new on the forum but i wondering what advice you can give on going it on your own and starting your own plumbing and heating business. Just the usual rules of thumb stuff, harsh lessons learnt and general order of process on making the big jump!

    A bit about me, I'm 33 years old, single but have 1 dependant. Home owner with a mortgage. Based in central Scotland. Been a plumber for 16 years. Gas Safe registered. Mostly in new build construction.

    At the moment, I'm building up my knowledge in my weak area such as boiler breakdowns and general maintenance by doing free jobs for mates, family etc and just bought the 2 John Reginald books. Reading loads on business/plumbing and related forums. Purchasing more tools and equipment when i can afford to. Looking into some courses to. Its all i can think about to be honest.

    The reasons i want to go out on my own are; the job satisfaction isn't enough on new build. Good money but thats it. To build a better future for myself and son. To maximise earning potential and hopefully not being crawling under scaffolding when I'm 70 odd.

    The order i was thinking was to start planning and get business cards made up and fire them out to as many as i can. I have the option of self employment and I'm on price work so i could try and work 2/3 day weeks on site and then do my own work the other days and Hopefully build from there

    How did you guys to it? I would love to hear your own stories.

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  2. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    Try the search box (well-hidden by being white on a white background, near top right of this page) to find the many threads answering the same question. Come back with some specific questions that you would like answered.
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  3. Ryooo

    Ryooo New Member

    Thanks Chuck!
  4. Rob Foster

    Rob Foster Top Contributor!!

    I actually worked for British Rail early 80's full time while building up my 1st plumbing and heating outfit. Working at my business either side of shift work. When I got too much work went off sick or took holiday. Got customers from leafleting houses and word of mouth. Its easier now due to facebook etc. Getting customers is hard enough loosing them due to being late not turning up and shoddy work is quite easy. Good news travels slow bad very quickly. We took on anything...write the business first sort the problems later. When the work got enough I just stopped going into British Rail one turning back that way.
    Rob Foster aka centralheatking
    • Like Like x 2
    • Winner Winner x 1
  5. Millsy 82

    Millsy 82 Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    I was lucky when I set up I lived with my Mrs in a mobile home at the bottom of her parents garden so only outgoings was a bottle of gas every 2 weeks.

    Don't underestimate the costs of advertising in my first year I spent a fortune on advertising some good and some bad.

    Get your pricing right from the start. I started off having a flat hourly rate then worked out I was out all day and earning less than I would on the books so I now charge more for the first hour.

    If your not going to turn up or be late let them know. Generally customers realise you get held up at times and if you let them know your late.

    Try not to go too far out of your comfort zone. It can be a very lonely place being self employed when things go wrong. So if your used to domestic jobs don't go and price a new hotel straight away because you think it will give you 3 months work. Stick with what you know and build from there. Maybe in 5/6 years you will be able to take on the big jobs.

    BE VERY WARY OF OTHER TRADES ESPECIALLY BUILDERS. I have been bankrupt because of a builder, I've also had sparkles etc ask me to price up jobs for them then moan as they thought I was going to be cheaper even though they want to charge you £200 labour for a 2 hour max job. Same with a plasterer as well he earns £250 a day and moaned when I priced a job at £275 a day!!!!!!!

    Don't be afraid to ask for a deposit, cash flow is key so get enough to cover your materials plus a bit extra. Now I get a 50% deposit unless I think they are a pain or a builder. If they don't want to pay a deposit don't worry about the job. Chances are they will argue the price afterwards.
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  6. RBC

    RBC New Member

    Hi, where in Central Scotland?
    I'm a landlord with a portfolio in and around Falkirk and always looking for a decent (and decent priced) gas engineer for boiler installs etc.
    Will be needing a back boiler replaced in a couple of months in Stirling if interested.
  7. Inverness

    Inverness Plumber GSR

    Grass isn't always greener. If your married and want to stay married don't go self employed! You will have no life and days that your suppose to be off your mind won't switch off.
    Totally different if you've been handed down a business from generations where you have a large customer base.
    Too many guys out there under cutting each other or customer wants thing cheap. Internet has done damage to this industry where people see how much things cost or try and do it them selfs from you tube videos.
    It's grim! Life is too short to be stressing over were my next job is going to be or waiting to get paid.
    I'm only being honest!
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  8. Rob Foster

    Rob Foster Top Contributor!!

    I dont agree. Self employment if your suited to it, ie a self starter, competant and good at selling can be great. You can earn more put expenses against tax employ wife as a tax deduction, claim parts of your normal life expenses. The trick is to aim high and do everything you can control correctly. There will ALWAYS be problems its how you deal with the problems is what counts. You may want to grow your business..go from 1 man to 5 quickly, 3 dont earn enough profit for the boss. Keep records and accounts you may have something to sell when you get older. Pension is tax deductable. Talk it over with SWMBO ...been self employed in this industry for 41 years now and would do it all over again. It did cost me a wife
    but that was collateral damage.
    • Like Like x 1
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
  9. Ryooo

    Ryooo New Member

    Hi, thanks for your reply. I live in Tullibody. That's very intersting.

    I still need to get set up with GSR, Insurance etc etc which i will be cracking on with over the next couple of months. I would be more than happy to meet and give you a quote and if i don't have everything in place for this job i can always provide a service for you in the future. Would you wish to share contact details?

    Can i ask a couple of research questions? How do you find the plumbers/heating engineers to be in this area? Reliable? Fair on pricing? What would be your biggest complaint and what do you regard is important to you when you employ our services? Cheers Ryan
  10. RBC

    RBC New Member

  11. Millsy 82

    Millsy 82 Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Although self employed isn't for everyone and yes the grass isn't always greener I do disagree. During the week I may be late home from time to time but weekends I don't work apart from 1 holiday let company with about 10 houses that pay within 20 minutes of receiving the invoice, if they phone and I can go out I will go out if I can't I can't. There is also I am not restricted to 20 days holiday I have plenty of half days or long weekends with the family that I wouldn't if I was employed. Also when you have quiet days I spend it with my family if they are around or if not surf's up baby! I tried to do that when I was employed and I couldn't as they always found me more work but not the others.

    Yes the internet has made things a little harder but I like the honest route, if people say that boiler sounds more expensive than I can get it I say all materials supplied by me I put 10% on for installs and 20% for breakdowns, if you have a problem you can phone me and I will come out if you buy the cheaper one you get no warranty off me. They usually go with me if they don't then I'm not worried I don't want the sort of customer that doesn't want me to survive and just want the cheapest quote.

    Without offending anyone if your a worker then give it a try it's not for everyone but if you like it the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
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  12. Ryooo

    Ryooo New Member

    Hi mate, thanks for your post. I like the way you explain your mark up on materials. Do you mean 20% on any material you may need to fix boiler etc? A company i worked with put a 30% mark up on all material.
  13. Murdoch

    Murdoch Active Member

    My advice is simple ...

    1. build up a large cash reserve in your business account before you start
    2. always provide written estimates / quotes so that what you are doing is clear and this should avoid payment issues
    3. agree stage payments when doing work that has time scales out of your control (builders and self managed refurbs are the worst)
    4. Don't join the race to the bottom - theres always some mug who will undercut you
    5. Changing washers on taps and fixing leaks don't pay the bills BUT you need to establish yourself and get referrals before the larger jobs come your way
    6. Use you trade account credit terms wisely ...
    7. Don't promise what you can't deliver
    8. Contact customers if you are going to be delayed
    9. You won't be working 5 days per week, 48 weeks of the year
    10. Being SE means no holiday pay, no sick pay, no pension, no bank holiday pay .

    and finally

    allow 2 hours per day for admin / planning - yes really
    • Like Like x 4
  14. Millsy 82

    Millsy 82 Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Yeah I put 20% on all bits on smaller jobs I haven't tried putting more on the bits.
  15. Millsy 82

    Millsy 82 Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    I disagree with 5. Give me 4 small jobs a day and I earn as much as I would doing a full day I also have time for surfing. And admin/planning I do as I go along.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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