Profit opportunity in water softeners

Many plumbing and heating jobs come down to price, so it is worth having additional services to offer that will benefit customers, and help your bottom line  – so says Ryan Blake, National Trade Channel Manager Dualflo and Harvey, who makes the argument for water softeners.


With margins being squeezed, anything that makes jobs more profitable without compromising on quality of service is worth considering. Water softeners do just that – they’re an additional source of revenue that every plumber can be making the most of.

How do water softeners work?

A water softener can fit beneath the kitchen sink to remove the hard minerals calcium and magnesium from the mains, preventing the buildup of limescale around the home.

It’s non-electric, instead working through ion-exchange. The only mains required  is the mains water, which enters the water softener and moves through an ion-exchange resin bed of tiny resin beads; specially formulated and charged with sodium ions. Calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water are replaced by sodium ions and the water that flows out the other side is softened.

Once a certain volume of hard water has passed through, the water softener needs to regenerate, flushing its resin bed with brine for 10 minutes. Most water softeners – either twin-tank or single cylinder – regenerate automatically at preset volumes. With twin-tank models the softening is continuous, while the harder the water, the faster salt gets used.

Customer benefits
If your customers live in hard water areas, having a water softener installed at the same time as a new heating system, kitchen or bathroom is an investment which protects all other plumbing investments. It can extend the lifespan of their new household appliances (including boilers), reduce maintenance needs and keep expensive glass and taps looking good as new for years longer. Because it’s non-electric it’s easier to install, and won’t need any further maintenance from you once they’re fitted.

An installer’s experience
Clive O’Malley’s been on the tools as a self-employed plumber for 20 years. He’s done every kind of domestic plumbing job since 1998 and today he specialises in higher-end bathroom refits, but making jobs profitable has always been a challenge. Here, Clive tells his story
     “When you’re starting out you’ll do almost anything to win the work. But winning work simply on price comes at a cost – for me it was six or seven years before I started making proper margins and I was forever trying to find the happy medium between just working for wages and turning a profit.
     “Working in South West London, I’ve built up my reputation so that all my work comes from referrals, because I stick to my promises and do what I say I will. My customers nowadays are buying higher-end bathrooms or wet rooms with a lot more glass on show than 10 or 20 years ago, so it makes perfect sense for them to consider investing a bit more in a water softener.
     “They’re far more receptive to the idea at that stage – because they trust me, they value my advice and know that I wouldn’t sell them anything I wouldn’t have in my own home. And because I’m a trained installer I know the benefits are real and can tell them exactly how a water softener works.
     “I’ve only been selling them for three months but so far all six of the jobs I’ve quoted, I’ve won. For each one, the water softener adds at least a couple of hundred pounds’ extra profit and that really makes a difference.”
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