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How To Run a Plumbing Business in Australia

As rural areas increasingly become urbanized in Australia, running a plumbing business presents a lucrative opportunity.

A plumber is a specialist tradesperson who works in the installation and repairing of water, drainage, gas, sewerage pipes and systems. Plumbing business can range from smaller domestic projects to large-scale construction projects.

Australian cities like Melbourne, Perth and Sydney are under constant development, so plumbers play a significant role in bolstering this urbanization. This poses significant opportunities for those looking to buy and run a plumbing business.

Qualification requirements

In Australia, plumbers need to complete a 4-year apprenticeship. During this time, you need to be employed in a placement with an accredited plumber. You’ll also need to complete a Certificate III in Plumbing (CPC32413).

Receiving qualifications to handle areas like central heating, water recycling systems and oil and gas appliances is highly recommended.

Once you’re qualified, you need to choose which sector to enter: construction or domestic. Construction pertains to larger jobs that might require more than one plumber on hand, and domestic refers to home issues in residential areas.

Understand your industry

To be able to run a profitable plumbing business, you have to be one step ahead of your competition, and that’s where industry research comes in.

Due to the effects of the pandemic, there has been a weaker demand for industry services on building projects, driving down revenue by 5.3%. While large contractors continue to secure lucrative opportunities, small-scale contractors are experiencing fierce competition, especially in the market of single-unit housing construction.

However, there is an increase in demand for non-residential building construction, meaning high growth opportunities for contractors.

Apart from these external factors, studying competitors in the industry will provide a deeper understanding of what you’re up against, and what you can do differently. For example, Sydney based Silver Water Plumbing focuses on same day service, efficient online booking, and of course, COVID safe services.

Although revenue in the sector is decreasing, future considerations will be focused on environmental sustainability, unique energy technology and water conservation. These are elements you can focus on to stand out.

Did You Know?

  • A highly experienced plumber can ear over $180,000 a year - one of the highest paid jobs in Australia
  • There are approximately 26,700 plumbing services in Australia as of 2021
  • The states with the most plumbing services are New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland

What your toolkit should look like 

Your equipment will depend on the type of class you are interested in. These can range from drainage, irrigation, roofing or water supply.

If you don’t have your own equipment already, investing in stock and tools may be your biggest expense. Because plumbing is a mobile business, you will need some form of transport. In terms of tools, these will vary depending on your expertise. If you are interested in water and drainage-related services, you’ll need plumbing stock, like pipes, valves, fittings, thermostats and tap appliances. You’ll also need your classic plumber’s toolkit: hacksaws, pipe cutters, drills, screwdrivers, and grips - to mention a few.

In terms of customer management, a CRM tool is beneficial. This can help you document client information, organizations of payments, and general administrative order. This will help you keep track of your existing client base, and prove advantageous if you plan to value or sell your business.

Licencing and Insurance Considerations

To be legally licenced as a plumber in Australia, you’ll need to start off by researching state specific requirements. Each state has different licences, regulations, council approval and compliance requirements.

You’ll need to consider finding suitable insurance that not only benefits you but also protects you from injury, loss of tools and travel cover. From here, you will also require proof of certification, and must satisfy a police check.

Another consideration is registration fees. In Victoria, for example, these fees can range from the following:

  • Application Fee: $58
  • Registration Fee: $360 (12 months)
  • Licences Fee: $320 (12 months)
  • Examination Fee (Registration): $176
  • Examination Fee (Licence): $64

It must be noted that there are fees expected for late renewals.

Registering Your Business

On top of paying for a plumber’s license or registration, you must also register your business with the Australian Government. To do this, there are some steps to undertake.

The first is to decide what sort of business you are. The government has three categories, including sole trader, partnership, or company. Your type of business will affect your tax assessment and your personal income liability in the case of insolvency.

The average cost for registering a company is between $422-$512, depending on the type of company you register.

Here are the steps you must take:

1. Decide what type of business you are out of the three options.

2. Choose a business name

3. Register yourself for an ABN (Australian Business Number)

4. Head to the ASIC website to register online.

Marketing Your Business

It’s not enough to simply establish a business. You need to have a dedicated client base. Once you’ve decided what sort of business you are, what values you will upkeep, and what sets you apart from the competition, it’s now time to start marketing.

Here are some marketing ideas we like to see plumbing businesses undertake:

  • Create a functional website
  • Create a Google Business listing
  • Set up a Facebook page
  • Utilise social media
  • Gather and manage online reviews, and use these as references for clients
  • Create expert plumbing content

Options to finance your plumbing business

To have astute plumbing business ideas and see them through, you may need financial support. Some of these financing opportunities include:

  • Small Business Loans: These are loans dedicated to helping you get your business started and are offered by all major banks.
  • Equipment Loans: Loans to cover your machinery, such as tools and trailers, these loans are often high in price.
  • Business Credit Card: Business credit cards are a great option for smaller expenses that come up such as petrol and tools.

Recruiting a team

If you plan on hiring a team, you need to hire the right people. Recruitment can take time, so it may be wise to attract potential employees in alternative ways (not just the paycheck).

Think about offering hands-on training, flexible hours, incentives, and unique bonus structures. In terms of training, offer your employees the opportunity to learn different things: news systems, customer service, and communication, for example.

You’ll also need to consider the salary you’re willing to pay. On average, a plumber can earn $43.28 per hour, according to Indeed.

Always prepare an exit strategy

When it comes time to sell your plumbing business, you must be aware of how to increase the market value of your hard work to get the most out of it upon exit. Here are some tips:

  • In your valuation, your quantitative data will be important, but be sure to detail alternative areas that make it more attractive. These can include your responsiveness, specialization, and branding.
  • If your plumbing business is conscious of its impact on the environment, and has strategies in place to promote sustainability, it is integral to highlight this to potential buyers
  • The negotiation stage will require multiple considerations on the owner’s part, so make sure employees are equipped to keep the business running whilst you are involved in negotiations.
  • To stand out from other sellers, make sure you have a strong customer service strategy
  • Promote your KPIs, like how many construction or maintenance jobs you’ve completed, the number of customers you have in your database, and the revenue you’ve earned from repeat businesses.


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