Self employed plumbers

29 Mar 2009
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United Kingdom
Hi Chaps,

I run a small plumbing company and we have recently been inundated with work, I don't want to turn it away as I am hoping for the business to expand, however there are only 3 of us on the firm and we are struggling to keep up. I am looking to take on a self employed plumber to take some of the work off of us. Some will be on price and some will be daywork. If you can meet the following requirements, please reply to this thread with a few details about yourself; age, experience, previous work etc.

You need to;

Own your own van (preferably not signwritten)
Have most basic tools (all 110 volt for power tools)
Be willing to work in central London, Essex and Hertfordshire
Have at least 3 years practical on site experience
Have a UTR number and NI number
Be able to work unsupervised (must have initiative and be able to converse with others)

Let me know if any of you guys are interested


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you won't catch me onsite work for love nor money.

it's not for me i hate it. ;)
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How do you mean?

I just think it looks a bit confusing to the client if we all turn up to a job with different company names on the side of our vans.
It depends on the quality of the van and signwriting.

If you use sub contractors you can just be jhonest and let client know that, then ensure the sub contractors vans are smart and any sign writing is appropriate and professional.

A non signwriten van inspires customers to comment "I wasn't expecting whitevan man"

So already they are on to you.

Whay some firms do is provide magnetic signs with their corporate image on. But these also isnpre comments which mean customer hasn't been fooled.

A quality proper sign writen van with some one elses plumbing business other than yours is better looking than a white van or a magnet fly bye night sign in public perception. Once you overcome the obstacle that you have imposed in your own thinking, you may see some positives.

Also bear in mind your subby who has a business to be proud of advertised large on his van is quite likely to be competent.

You can't kid the customer.

The other option which BG are tending to use quite extensively is provide the van and knock a quid or two off each job to compensate. You won't know going on van or uniform whether your BG man is direct labour or sub contractor these days.

I am not giving you this information because there is the remotes chance of me subing to you. I can't leave my home town for family reasons.

I wish you well.
Thanks Paul. I see your point, however 99 percent of the work we do is sub contracting from large building firms or large mechanical firms. I am trying to expand my business by getting regular work from these companies. They need to be confident that I have the available manpower (which currently I don't) to be able to accomodate them. If we all turn up on site with different company names on the van it looks like I've just had a whipround of anyone I know with a set of benders and a spanner. I entirely agree with you generally about being honest regarding subbies, but in this instance looking like we are all from one company is better.

I am not trying to pull the wool over the eyes of these firms giving us work. If they give us enough work to warrant employing more plumbers full time then I will offer the self employed guys who come to me paye, van, holiday pay etc. However I need to give anyone who comes to work for us a trial run first and subbing to self employed is the best way to do this.

Sorry for the long winded response, I just wanted to assure anyone who may have been interested that we are not a 'white van man, get as much money as you can and scarper' sort of firm. We have a good reputation and want to maintain that long term.

DaleRCL- We are getting very close to the position you now find yourself in. It's a nightmare finding the right people at the best of times, so using other subbies is a good idea, as you may not be able to provide blokes with the continuity of work that PAYE labour would expect.

Let me know if you get any good responses from here as I had considered doing something similar, (only looking for pipefitters.)
Unfortunately, finding experienced ones, who still have the hunger, is like looking for rocking horse sh1t.
Its very difficult to get anyone competent to work for you as an employee because the pay level does not follow the experience and initiative level.

I think that a self employed subbie is a good idea for you.

However perhaps better is to employ agency staff. I used to get staff from an agency which, most of the time, provided reasonably competent people to work under my guidance.

You might wonder where they get their staff? So did I but most are shorter term visitors to the UK form places like Aus or SA or medium term from Poland etc. A few true Brits who like the variety that agency work gives. They do expect some overtime though!

You will find it virtually impossible to get people capable and motivated enough to provide what you are asking for which is totally able to work on their own initiative. Suppose they need a widget valve costing £13 to complete the job and you will not answer your phone? What do they do?

Site plumbers are just that! They dont need initiative and have no responsibility for money or purchases. If a part is not available they sit and read the newspaper!

If a site plumber were to go out and buy a £13 part then most of the time they will never get reimbursed because the subcontracting firm is labour only!

its not just plumbers that are in short supply. im over the moon main line house builders can't get trades as sites are getting busy now.They dropped the house prices so they kept chopping the trades prices.And a lot of them have moved on. With no apprentices being taken on i can see the building industry being in the broon stuff in the not to distant future..
its not just plumbers that are in short supply.

plumbers are not in short supply, they are many, too many. However good plumbers are in very short supply.
I've employed 2 in the last few months who can only be described as useless. Just going on my own now with the help of a trainee and a semi retired. For any plumbing/heating business thats expanding it must be one of the biggest challenges to find good competent plumbers/heating engineers.
Yes Micky the large number of training establishments cashing in on the recession churning oput "tyradesmen" has filled all the phone books and local pages with 2 to 3 times as many so called plumbers as there used to be.

One of these guys who had parted with £4,000 or so for no more than weeks of training asked me to give him some experience.

I said ok come on this job I'm changing a cylinder.

It was the first time he had heard of or seen 3/4" pipe.

'nuff said.

He wasn't sent for again.

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