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There’s more than one way to market your business, and current trends among drain cleaning companies show a shift away from banners and brochures to options that often cost less and offer a much greater return on investment. 

At O’Connor Plumbing & Heating, located in Germantown, Maryland, marketing begins and ends with building a great brand and reputation. Kevin Walker, manager of the drains division, points out the advantage of having a strong brand when marketing your company. 

“We don’t spend a lot of money on marketing. We prefer traditional word-of-mouth to get our name out there, and build relationships with our customers that way,” Walker says. “Building a strong brand that customers can rely on is what it’s all about with us, and this has worked really well as more people hear about us and use our services. 

“A reputation can make or break a company, so we focus on building a strong brand. Then we get it out there and let it work for us, instead of using flyers to try to convince people we’re good at what we do.”

Relying on reviews

Because many plumbing companies are family-owned, tradition often plays a big role in how things are done, including reliance on word-of-mouth marketing techniques. Just as good customer reviews are said to be priceless, they have actually become real profit for some businesses on the West Coast. 

At Pacific Drain & Plumbing, located in Vista, California, marketing efforts rely heavily on posted customer reviews, with increased new business the reward for their efforts. 

General manager Roy Gallegos says the company relied on word-of-mouth for years as a way to attract new business, while building their reputation for great service and quality work. However, this method eventually reached a plateau, becoming less effective at bringing in new clients over time. While researching alternative marketing methods, Gallegos decided to try Yelp, which resulted in a dramatic increase in business. 

“In my research, I found people on the West Coast use Yelp reviews for everything, with online reviews dictating a company’s reputation versus the other way around. So every time we have a satisfied customer, we ask them to post a review, which increases our overall value to people. As a result, we’ve seen an increase in business of over 10 percent since we’ve been using Yelp, and we probably get 40 to 60 calls a day from people reading our Yelp reviews. We also have a following on Facebook. That helps, too.” 

Gallegos also found as popular as Yelp is to people on the West Coast, it’s used much less on the East Coast, where the favored choice for looking up reviews online is Angie’s List. “No matter what site you choose, push to get good reviews posted because they will set you apart in the industry,” he says.

All forms of media

Doyle Parsons, owner of Parsons Plumbing Heating & Cooling in Bell, Louisiana, is another proponent of social media for marketing. He’s grown his business by paying attention to area-specific trends. 

“Around here, we encourage word-of-mouth among our customers, and also ask customers to leave feedback online after we provide service,” Parsons says. “Facebook and our reviews have helped us increase business, but Yelp really hasn’t taken off around here, nobody really uses it.” 

Parsons has also been using radio and television to attract new customers. The company has commercials that run on eight AM/FM stations, as well as two local television stations. As a way to further enhance his business, one of the television stations allows local businesses to come on a talk show called “Love the Locals” once every quarter. 

In addition, Parsons takes advantage of seasonal marketing promotions, including a recent contest that encouraged radio listeners to submit entries for the oldest A/C unit, with the winner having that unit replaced at no charge. The contest received over 250 entrees, and Parsons said he would consider doing something similar with heaters in the winter for more marketing. 

“We also chose to be a sponsor for the renovation of a local coliseum where there will be a lot of sporting events, which allows our name to be seen on scoreboards, screens, murals, etc., by hundreds of people at any one time.” 

Another company who has seen the value of radio and digital media reflected in their bottom line is Matt Mertz Plumbing, located in Wexford, Pennsylvania. Owner and President Matt Mertz explains what works best for his marketing needs. 

“We tried Angie’s List, which works good, and we also tried cable television spots, which didn’t work as good,” Mertz says. “For us, radio ads work really well, as well as direct mailings to targeted zip codes to bring in new customers.” 

Matt Mertz Plumbing earmarks a monthly budget for radio advertising, with commercials providing a worthy return on investment. In addition, Mertz targets areas with aging infrastructure — versus new construction areas — as a way to market himself with direct mail campaigns to acquire new customers. 

“My business is my life, and with 42 people on my staff, I have their futures to consider as well,” Mertz says. “This is one of the reasons I’m always looking for new ways to get my name out there — so we can all be successful in the future.” 

When it comes to marketing for plumbing companies, no two businesses or budgets are exactly alike. However, they all share one common goal: the desire to keep hard-earned profits from going down the drain, and that has become a little easier thanks to the range of innovative marketing options available today.


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