Plumbing new heights

In 2011 Hamish Erskine decided to change career. After 14 years as a maths teacher, he decided to become a plumber. He invested in training courses and bought a van and all the necessary tools. And, as soon as he qualified, he set his mind to building a website.

Just the year before, he had seen the power of the internet. He had created a simple blog to keep friends and family informed of his wife’s progress while she battled the final stages of cancer. It rapidly attracted thousands of visits from over 50 different countries. But he had never built a proper website before and didn’t know any html code.

He Googled ‘how to build a website’. He then identified which software to buy so he could create a website without having to learn any code.

On completing his website, he then asked Google

how can I advertise online?

This led him to him setting up a simple Google AdWords campaign. For a small cost, he ensured that his business appeared on Google when people searched for plumbers in Exeter. It generated several leads a week and saw his business take off almost immediately.

A few months later, Hamish was contacted by a search engine optimisation specialist. Interested, but having very little knowledge about what that meant, he kept the specialist chatting. He realised that a few simple changes to his website could ensure his business would appear high up on Google’s listings without always having to pay for AdWords. Another quick internet search supported his theory. One discovery was that, by getting his customers to review his services, his business could be propelled up the Google rankings. He opened a free Google Plus page for his business, where satisfied customers could leave their thoughts. This has positioned Hamish the Plumber as a lead business on Google Maps.

“When I need something the first thing I do is go to Google,” he says. “I know that my customers are doing the same. I have experimented with printed advertising but the online activity consistently proves to be far more efficient and cost-effective.

I wasn’t an expert in online marketing, but with a small financial investment and a bit of research, I have made sure my business is instantly discoverable to potential customers who are looking for plumbers online.

Through my efforts, I have secured a steady flow of work. I now usually have more work than I actually need so I can pick the jobs I want and pass on the rest to other plumbers”.