Inflation is a major issue for small businesses across the world, including right here in Australia. Rising prices put the squeeze on plumbers, making it harder to keep your cash flowing and your business growing. Cutting expenses may be a necessary step if you want to keep your plumbing business afloat.

Here are 9 ways that plumbers can save money during inflation, from negotiating contracts with your suppliers to comparing insurance for plumbers to see if you could save.

Negotiate with suppliers

If you work with local suppliers, you may be able to negotiate your contracts to save money on plumbing supplies. A discount on frequently purchased items or spends over a certain dollar amount are great, but they may be harder to get as prices rise for everyone. But suppliers may have more wiggle room on shipping or delivery fees, especially if you have a solid history with them.

Suppliers that are small businesses themselves might also be open to trade. You could offer them plumbing services in exchange for goods or a discount on future orders.

Buy in bulk

It may be time to start buying certain supplies in bulk if you aren’t already. Frequently used supplies and materials—such as fittings, pipes, or screws—can often be purchased in large quantities. This could help you save money now (as bulk items typically cost less per item) and help you avoid future price hikes.

Bulk buying could help you save on more than just your plumbing materials. You might also save money by bulk buying things such as snacks and coffee (if you have an office and staff), business cards, pens, printer paper and other office items.

Track inventory carefully

Supplier discounts and bulk prices are helpful, but your savings won’t add up if you’re buying supplies and stock you won’t use. Tracking your inventory makes it easier to know what you have on hand. This allows you to use existing stock and avoid buying things you don’t need. It can also make scheduling jobs easier, as you’ll avoid unnecessary delays waiting for a part you already have.

Regularly updating your inventory can make ordering more efficient. You’ll only be buying items that you truly need at that time and can better track how quickly your stock is emptied.

Return unused items

If you’ve gone on a bit of a shopping spree or miscounted your inventory, you may be left with supplies or materials you don’t need. Every dollar counts, so it may make sense to return items you truly don’t need for your business or can’t possibly use in a reasonable amount of time.

Not every supplier will allow returns on every item. But, it may be worth checking their policies if you do over-order or purchase a part you don’t actually need.

Rent tools & equipment

As your plumbing business grows, you may need to invest in new tools and equipment to take on larger and more complex jobs. However, you might want to hold off before buying expensive equipment. It may be cheaper to rent some tools, particularly if you won’t be using them more than a few times a year.

If you do need to buy costly equipment, you might consider ways to pay off your purchase sooner. You could rent out large power tools to sole trader plumbers or offer your services to other small businesses.

Invest in “free” advertising

Finding new customers is an essential part of running your plumbing business. While inflation might make it harder to increase your marketing budget, there are ways to use “free” advertising methods to your advantage.

A Google Business profile helps plumbing businesses get found locally. Optimising this listing could help more customers find you and potentially move your business website to the top of online searches. Asking satisfied customers to review your business, updating details (address, website, phone, hours, services, etc.), choosing a category, and adding photos are good places to start.

Take advantage of social media

Social media ads are a great way to get the most bang for your buck from your marketing budget. Running ads through Facebook and other social media sites can be an effective way to reach customers in your area. Their targeting options allow you to reach people in specific postcodes, as well as homeowners, professionals, or other demographics you want to reach.

Many plumbers also set up business profiles where they share helpful information and upcoming specials with their followers. If you ask your customers to follow you, they might share posts with their networks and create some free buzz for your plumbing services!

Keep your employees happy

It’s expensive to hire a new employee. It costs money (and time) to advertise the vacancy, interview candidates, onboard and train the new hire—and that’s not even taking into account their salary and super!

Spending money on bonuses and incentives might seem counterintuitive. But it’s generally cheaper and better for your business to keep the staff you have than to replace them. Finding room in your budget to reward everyone’s hard work could save you more money in the long run.

Compare business insurance

An area of savings that you might not have considered is your business insurance. Plumbers’ insurance may be a necessity to work in your state or territory, and going without the protection it provides is likely not something you want to do. However, you can compare quotes against your current policies to see if a better deal is out there.

Public Liability Australia offers an easy way to compare Public Liability and other types of insurance for plumbers online. In just minutes, you can see how much you could be saving, switch your policies, and be covered instantly.

Ready to help your plumbing business save money during inflation? Compare insurance for plumbers now and see if you can switch and save.

This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording.© 2022 BizCover Pty Limited, Public Liability Australia is a business name of BizCover Pty Ltd (ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769)