When I started this blog, I would wonder if other plumbers could relate to what I would share. I wondered if they agreed with the advice I would write here. I didn’t care if they did or didn’t, but blogging can be lonely if no one leaves comments and it’s always nice to get feedback. Today’s post is a bit different because I have asked some questions of a successful plumber in Sydney, John Ezzy who is the founder and owner of The Blue Water Group which is based in Sydney. I was quite nostalgic with John’s answers as it made me reflect on the interior fit out work my dad and I did together a few years ago. I love getting to know other trades and bringing attention to quality tradespeople, so I hope you enjoy reading what John has to say.
How long have you been a plumber and when did you start your plumbing business?
I started my first year apprenticeship in 1985 and then started my business in 1991. So I have been running my own business for 23 years!
What kind of work does the Blue Water Group specialize in? What areas/suburbs do you service?
We don’t really specialise in any particular area, we offer a vast range of services instead. For example, we carry out new installations on high rise commercial and residential projects, we tend to shopping centres and formulate various custom services for homes. We work on Sydney Water infrastructure, plus our maintenance division looks after a range of clients from your typical building managers to your local mum and dad who require hot water replacement. We also look after the hydraulic design component as well. It really is vast, we are a one stop shop! We service the Sydney area, from the Central Coast, to Katoomba to Wollongong. We have also begun works in the Brisbane CBD area. And as our business continues to grow we will continue to expand.
What is the best part of running a plumbing business?
I work with a great team and enjoy building relationships with my colleagues and clients. I am very passionate about helping others and making each day interesting, so running a plumbing business allows me to explore my capabilities and to assist others. There is great joy in knowing that you have made someone’s day easier or more enjoyable. There is also great enjoyment in delivering a project with a top quality standard. Especially where the tasks involve working within a strong team and the customer appreciates our work.
What are the drawbacks to running your own plumbing business?
Timing. It is all about time. I love what I do, but there aren’t enough hours in a day to explore other opportunities. I am a big believer in ‘giving back’ to the community and I wish I had more time to be able to build on that. Luckily, part of this has become a reality as our group travelled to Cambodia to a remote village made up of kids that were either abandoned, sick, or had nowhere to go. We carried out a variety of tasks such as supplying them with fresh water, sewer treatment solutions, hot water and a general upgrade of the current facilities. If I had more time, I would devote a lot more attention to this area. I am currently working on this project and moving forward will focus more energy and time on promoting the need and awareness of helping others.
What is your advice for apprentice plumbers who want to start their own business?
You need to consider whether or not you have the right amount of experience and expertise before you jump into starting your own business. But it is also important to note that being a good plumber does not qualify you to run your own business, as entrepreneurial skills are learnt over time. Having experience, expertise and entrepreneurial skills are considerations at the top of the list for customers. As an apprentice you may not fulfil those requirements to the extent that you should and you may be better off furthering your education and experience before you jump into something. This way when you do branch out, you minimise the risk of potential customers crossing you off their list as there are better qualified or more experienced plumbers. Plumbing is very competitive and operates heavily on word of mouth, so ensuring that your customers are satisfied with your quality of work is key!
What advice would you give a young person who wishes to start a career in plumbing?
Firstly, like any industry, you should enjoy what you do. If you are passionate and keen on absorbing as much as you can, then you will make a career out of any path you choose. In regards to plumbing, you should want to help others, be comfortable with getting dirty and happily tackle projects with a hands on approach.
What tips can you give people when looking for a reliable plumber?
Research. It is so important to ensure that the plumber you need is qualified, experienced and has a great work ethic so I would jump online then pick up the phone. Generally, as a safeguard, I encourage people to follow the below tips: –
- Request and check their plumbing license (this would mean that they have insurance and you could in fact confirm that they are qualified).
- Ask how long they have been operating for as it indicates a strong customer base and that they are less likely to disappear.
- Compare quotes for the same job to ensure that they aren’t charging you too much. Note that cheaper isn’t always better but by utilising this tip you can ask for an explanation as to why company A charges more than company B.
- Ask the plumber if they have any current promotions or guarantees. A plumber with great performance will generally be confident enough to ‘put their money where their mouth is’.
- Jump online and read their reviews or examine their online media. This is great as you can view how these plumbers interact with their customers (ie facebook reviews, answer queries etc)
- Ask friends of neighbours about their plumbing experience, if you ask a trusted person and they give you a good referral then that plumber will more likely have built a good reputation on their skill and work ethic.
I cannot stress how important this list is, I understand that plumbing is usually a ‘fix it right now’ field, but it is so important to safeguard yourself. Don’t skim on this checklist because you have an emergency, your priority should be making sure that the job is fixed properly the first time!
If you weren’t a plumber, what career would you have chosen?
My other greatest passion is trading within the stock market, so I guess if I didn’t have the option of working within the plumbing industry I would have gone down that road.
This is post has been written in accordance to my disclosure policy.