How To Start a Plumbing Business With Fleet Management
How To Start a Plumbing Business With Fleet Management
There are many reasons to become a licensed plumber and start your own plumbing company. With a median salary of nearly $60,000 a year, being a master plumber is a lucrative career option. And, as most plumbers receive the bulk of their training through apprenticeship, the barriers to entry are much less than in other career paths.
But what if becoming a plumber is only the start of your ambitions?
Maybe you want to know how to start a plumbing business of your own. Maybe you already started a business and are looking to grow within the plumbing service industry. Either way, there are several things to consider, including fleet management of your vehicles.
How to Expand Your Plumbing Business
Before choosing a trucking fleet for your plumbing business, there are many decisions you need to consider and items you’ll need to check off your list, including:
- Make sure you’re registered – Registering as a plumbing company will ensure you’re in compliance with local and state laws.
- Decide what your business will specialize in – Will you focus mainly on residential work? Will you be more geared toward commercial interests? While you can offer general services, it’s still worth identifying what you and your team are best equipped to handle. From there, you can figure out who your potential client would be, identify your target market, and build a customer base with every new customer that comes in.
- Work out your pricing – The clearer your pricing is, the more attractive you’ll be to potential clients. Get a lay of the land, see what others are charging for similar work, and set your prices accordingly.
- Be sure you’re marketing effectively – You don’t need a full-scale marketing department when you start your business but you do want to consider how you’ll get the word out. Make sure you have a working website, a social media presence, and a local marketing campaign.
Then there’s your equipment. You’ll want to be fully stocked in the tools and materials you’ll need to do the job. However, the most vital tool you’ll need to invest in is your company vehicle (or vehicles). Your fleet will serve as the mobile hub of your successful plumbing business, so it’s imperative that your vehicles are equipped to fully meet the needs of you and your team.
Some tips to keep in mind when choosing a vehicle include:
- Budget – Your vehicles will be one of the larger expenses when you start a plumbing business. Consider the number of vehicles you’ll need, how much equipment each vehicle will need to store, and the distance you’ll be driving. One or two used vans may prove to be a better investment than a new truck that can’t meet your business’s needs.
- Appearance – You may not need the newest model truck on the market but you probably don’t want to opt for a clunky cargo van either. Your vehicle will be a representation of your business. As such, choose a fleet that’s pleasing to the eye and consider using the exterior as a moving billboard that advertises your business’s services.
- Interior storage – Plumbing van organization is key to success. The best plumbing vans will be able to hold everything you and your team need to complete most jobs. This will allow you to go from job to job quickly and help boost the efficiency of your operations and your potential profit.
- Ongoing costs – Vehicle maintenance can be costly, so it’s best to opt for reliable, good-working vehicles. You’ll also want to consider the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Fuel costs can accrue quickly if you have a large business radius. Fortunately, financial solutions like fuel cards can help offset some of these expenses.
What Is Fleet Management?
To fully optimize your fleet and your daily operations, it’s essential to implement best fleet management practices.
Fleet management, also called telematics, is a way to track and optimize the performance of your vehicles to ensure you get the best value for your money. That said, fleet management implements the following tools to streamline operations:
- Hardware – These are the physical devices that you install in your vehicles. Fleet management hardware includes devices such as GPS receivers, dashboard cameras, and electronic logging devices. When choosing a vehicle, be sure to find out whether any of these devices are included. If not, you’ll need to have them installed.
- Software – These are packages, often bought as monthly subscriptions, that allow you to analyze the data you receive from the installed hardware. You can then use this data to improve the performance of your fleet.
What Information Does Fleet Management Provide?
So why bother installing fleet management hardware and paying for a fleet management software subscription? Depending on the hardware and software you opt for, fleet management can provide you with a lot of useful data:
- GPS tracking – Perhaps the most valuable element of fleet management is simply knowing where all of your vehicles are at all times. You’ll know immediately when jobs are taking longer than expected and when vehicles get caught in traffic. This information alone can help you make better decisions regarding what jobs you can take and which team members are available.
- Maintenance – Remember how we said earlier that maintenance is an ongoing cost you need to consider when choosing a vehicle? With fleet management software, you can monitor maintenance concerns to make sure your vehicles continue operating effectively. Some examples of maintenance data include:
- ~Fuel levels
- ~Odometer readings
- ~Battery voltage
- ~Status of the check engine light
- Driver performance – Your team needs to include top-notch plumbers—and drivers. You don’t want employees speeding, taking dangerous turns, or doing other unsafe things on the road. Fleet management software allows you to monitor your team to make sure they are driving safely at all times.
- Route planning – Fleet management software can also provide you insights into the best routes for drivers to use, taking into account factors like traffic and road construction. This can help with your delivery of construction materials for a hefty job and ensure that your team arrives on time, keeping your customers happy.
Benefits of Fleet Management
You can probably already start to see how fleet management can help you grow your successful plumbing business. GPS tracking alone can help you take on more jobs and expand the radius that you’re able to work in. That said, effective fleet management also provides the following benefits:
- Saves you money – Poor fuel efficiency can be a major monetary leak for your business. This can be a result of driver behavior, such as unnecessary idling or opting for routes that require too much stop-and-go. It can also result from poor vehicle maintenance. Fleet management can help guide you on how to manage fleet fuel costs and provide you with the information to increase efficiency.
- Provides better safety – Your employees are the lifeblood of your business, and you want to make sure they stay safe on the road. Accidents can lead to injuries, repair costs, and lost employee hours. Fortunately, fleet management and other fleet safety solutions help you monitor behaviors and identify unsafe driving.
- Creates more jobs – Fleet management gives you a better idea of your business’s true capabilities, which allows you to take on more jobs and better assess your team’s capacity to ensure your business is operating effectively and efficiently.
Costs of Fleet Management
You may still be wondering how fleet management will fit into your overall budget. Costs of fleet management can vary widely, but there are three financial factors that you can account for. These include:
- Hardware costs – As we said earlier, some vehicles may come with hardware pre-installed, meaning you’ve already paid this cost. However, if you do need to purchase hardware, expect to pay anywhere from $50 to over $200 per vehicle. For a basic hardware package, you’ll likely pay around $100. This is a one-time cost.
- Software costs – These are the costs you’ll have to work into your monthly budget as most software packages are sold as monthly subscriptions. Costs vary based on what features you opt for but you can expect to pay somewhere between $15 to $40 per month.
- Installation – Fleet management hardware falls into two categories: plug-and-play and hardwired. If you opt for a package that uses plug-and-play hardware, you can scratch installation costs off your list—you simply plug it into your vehicle. If you do need hardwired devices, you may face an installation fee. Some companies will work this fee into their monthly subscription pricing, while others may charge a separate installation fee. You can also opt to install any hardware yourself. Just be careful that you install everything correctly. Incorrect installation may lead to costly reporting errors.
Optimize Your Operations with AtoB
When you started your plumbing business, it may have just been you and a van. However, as your small business grows, you’ll need to expand your fleet to succeed in the plumbing industry. Once you reach that point, fleet management tools can save you money and optimize your vehicle performance.
AtoB fuel cards are another way to optimize your plumbing service offerings. Our cards can help you save every time you fuel up. And you can use them just about anywhere, providing your fleet with more options to fuel up and stay on route to your next plumbing job.
Get in touch with us today to see how our fuel cards can help your business.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters.
Small Business Trends. How to Start a Plumbing Business.
Business News Daily. Best GPS Fleet Tracking Software and Systems for 2022.
Verizon Connect. What is Telematics?
GPS Insight. What is the Cost of Telematics?
Business Fleet. How Much Does a GPS Tracking System Cost?
Plumber. 9 Tips for Choosing a Work Vehicle.