With a new office space and a passion for their community, Playford Plumbing and Gas is certainly a business on the up!
We recently sat down with Rhuah Pietersen to learn how, along with husband Lee, she’s growing Playford Plumbing and Gas into a thriving local business.
Here are some of her best tips:
Pick a good name
Like many local businesses, Playford Plumbing and Gas actually started out under Rhuah and Lee’s surname. After discovering though that the website domain for ‘Playford Plumbing and Gas’ was available, they jumped at the opportunity to change the name of the company. And, as it turns out, that was a very savvy business decision.
Including the name of the local area within the business name has meant that Playford Plumbing is the top organic result on Google searches for key terms likely to be searched by their customers. At the time of writing, this includes ‘Playford Plumbing’, ‘Playford Gas’, and ‘plumbers in Playford’.
Selecting a good name is also important to the resale value of a business. For example, naming a business after yourself may be smart if you’re already well known in the industry, or it adds value to your brand. BUT, if you are growing a business that you may look to sell in the future, this may not be attractive for the purchaser, or even yourself depending on the performance of the brand.
Advertise on Facebook
Asked where she gets many of her customers from, Rhuah advises that a huge percentage of them come from Facebook.
“Facebook is a godsend for advertising - especially the community groups. There are rules around what you can post and when you can post - and you need to be aware of these rules.”
“Once a week, I jump on there and just post a picture of our van with a call to action - and it works really well. The way we designed the van really helps with this. There’s no jargon. It’s basically just one big Playford Plumbing and it has a sticker with a phone number.”
“For us, social media generates business, and it generates it very, very quickly.”
Take care of your customers
It’s no secret that there is a direct link between businesses who look after their customers and businesses who grow, and Rhuah has seen firsthand how really strong communication can turn first-time customers into repeat customers:
“Right from the outset, we’ve tried to really instill in our apprentices how important it is to be our best selves when we’re working in a customer’s home. Often we’re called into stressful situations where clear communication is super important to relieving their worries. These are the kinds of things that ensure that when a friend or family member asks them to recommend a plumber, that our name may get a mention.”
“Another thing we also make sure that we do, is if we don’t have the capacity or the capability to complete a job, we give them a recommendation of someone they can get in touch with. We often get other tradies who ring us up to thank us for work we’ve sent their way, and later on many of them return the favour.”
Do things yourself
For those starting their first business, there is always a huge focus on keeping costs as low as possible. One way Playford Plumbing and Gas has been able to do this is through learning new skills and putting them into practice rather than outsourcing:
“Something like a website doesn’t have to be scary,” Rhuah explains.
“There’s a lot of trial and error, which means that it can take longer than someone who knows what they’re doing. But, using a drag and drop platform like Wix means that I could just add things in, see how it works, and then if it doesn’t work, try something different.”
“We’ve found through the whole startup process, that if you keep it simple, your direction is actually very clear."
Other easy to use website builders include:
There are many free tools and instructional videos available to support growing businesses. City of Playford-based businesses and residents all have free access to free courses through LinkedIn Learning (available through the City of Playford Library), while sites like YouTube have millions of instructional videos.
Separate your work and home life
As many of us learned during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home can come with many distractions - and things were certainly no different for Rhuah:
“I couldn’t distinguish work from home anymore. I would get distracted during the day and then spend all night doing work. It would also affect my relationships with my family, as they’d be wanting to do something like watch a movie, and I’d still be trying to focus on work.”
“I’d also find myself constantly wanting to put on washing, or prepare dinner. It was just really easy to find ways not to work.”
As Rhuah explains though, discovering the shared working space at the Stretton Centre has really helped her to focus on the business:
“When I came in, I was absolutely blown away. I 100% didn’t expect it to look so good. The fact that we have something like this in the north, I had no idea.”
“I was offered a week’s free trial. To that, I said, “don’t worry about that, I’m staying.”
“For $250 per month as well. It’s amazing. I was spending more than that just on printer ink. And, if you like coffee, this is the place to be.”
“One of the things I really love is having other businesses around me. It’s nice to stop sometimes, bounce an idea off someone, have a conversation, and support each other. Having the City of Playford’s business support service on-site is a bonus too. They’ve looked at my policy documents for me, and explained things to me that I didn’t understand.”
So, where to now for Playford Plumbing and Gas?
Rhuah sees so much more in the future of the business than just plumbing and gas. Asked where she’d like to be, she says that being a full trade service is certainly in the five-year plan:
“I’d love to move into electrical, but also into air conditioning and carpentry.”
“One thing that will not change any time soon though is our focus on our local community. We will always prioritise local people first, as they are the ones who have gotten us off the ground. We didn’t start with contracts, we started with individual customers.”
Find out more about Playford Plumbing and Gas: https://www.playfordplumbingandgas.com.au/