Before You Start a Tiling Business – Read this First

Starting a tiling install business is arguably much easier than other businesses, provided you have a few years of real-world tiling experience, and are comfortable managing a crew, if applicable. The difficult part comes after registering your new business and setting it up for the taxmen at HMRC.

Tiling business owner

First Thing’s First: Planning and Registration

Before setting out to find your first customers (though, hopefully you have this step taken care of already) it’s important to head on over to Business is Great Britain website to get the paperwork side of things all figured out – such as creating a business plan, choosing and registering your business structure, becoming licensed, bonded and insured, and all the financial considerations you’ll need to know including how to file business taxes with local and state governments.

If you have trouble putting together a business plan, don’t despair. Many states and provinces throughout North America, Europe, and the UK have some type of business development center available to help entrepreneurs who can’t afford the services of a private consultant to get the help they need making and deploying their plan. In the UK, these programs are sponsored by the British Chambers of Commerce, and startup funding is available to those who qualify.

After you got the administrative side of things covered, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and start building a profitable tiling installer empire!

Do you have your tiling skills in check?

You may have some experience in tiling, but to turn your tiling experience into a real business, you need to polish your skills. Taking tiling courses is one of the best way to do so.

Although there are no set qualifications required to start a tiling business, especially if you are a self-employed, some tiling projects – usually bigger ones – require you to show a ‘proof’ of your skills. For example, if you nail a nice deal to do a tiling job on a large building site, you must show that you have your NVQ qualifications along with your CSCS card. One of the ways to obtain a professional assessment on your skills is by taking NVQ tiling courses provided by a trusted and reputable tiling training company.

Make sure you have the right tools

You’ll need several pieces of equipment to run an effective tiling business. Employee tool costs can be cut significantly by requiring them and any subcontractors to provide their own tools.

Special tools that aren’t often needed can be rented on an as needed basis, but always keep in mind that ownership ends up being much cheaper in the end, especially if you pony up the cash for quality brands that are known to last, with industry leading warranties.

Suggested equipment:

  • Vans/Trucks
  • Continuous duty tile saw
  • Heavy duty drills and tile bits
  • Bubble levels
  • Carpenter’s squares
  • Chalk line
  • Tape measures
  • Long straightedges
  • Notched trowels
  • Narrow margin trowels
  • Mason’s trowels
  • Tile scorers
  • Tile nippers
  • Rubber grout floats
  • Large silicone sponges
  • Large buckets for water
  • Coarse sponges

Hire installers/helpers

Tiling installers

There’s no way to start a lucrative business without employees to help you manage jobs. This step might not be necessary at the very start, when you don’t yet have enough jobs to justify paying others. However, it’s important to know where to find quality installers and laborers quickly when you need them, so you never have to turn down big jobs that will help propel the business forward.

Research suppliers carefully

In order to maximize profits, you’ll want to pay special attention to how much you’re paying for tiles, tools, and other supplies. If you’re looking for, say, engineered wood flooring, go around to each supplier in your area and compare costs of equivalent tiles. Saving a few bucks might not always be in your best interest when it comes to smaller chains that don’t carry adequate stock of popular choices.

Ideally, it is best to create relationships with outlets like Excel Capital Management that will allow you a line of credit, since it’s rare to find customers willing to pay all your upfront costs before the job is completed. It’s also important to have relationships with more than one supplier, in case a customer has a special request that your regular provider can’t supply.

Finally, ask about their warranty programs and what, if any involvement they have in dealing with manufacturers when there’s a quality issue with any of their supplies. The last thing you want to do is to be caught paying for defective materials – your customers sure won’t want to pay these costs!

Customer acquisition is paramount

Customers can be found by taking out advertisements, networking with other contractors, seeking out relationships with developers, and finally from word of mouth once you’ve completed jobs.

Offer free estimates at first to generate initial business, then switch to reasonably priced estimates as you become established. This is a necessary step toward cementing a value on your time, and also to generate more profits.

You’ll want to have a variety of tile samples to carry around to show customers. Some home building supply chains will offer sampler packages to contractors at low or no cost if you establish a line of credit with them first.

Finally, aside from franchising, industrial installations and long term work with large residential developers is the best way to ensure profits. Independent residential work might seem more rewarding, and very well can be, but the time and money required to constantly source new individual customers can eat into profits significantly.

Have a solid pricing strategy

You can’t just wing a pricing strategy and hope to make a profit, let alone be exceedingly profitable. Offset your own costs by including them into the price-per-square foot you’ll charge customers including: tile costs, labor costs, job supplies, equipment allowance (including tool amortisation and rental costs), and the costs associated with removing old tile or flooring including disposal costs at local landfills.

Businesswoman silhouette

Final thoughts

After you’ve built a solid system to running your business, always look for opportunities to expand the business to insulate you and your employees from economic downturn.

Continuously expand outward from a starting point and refine your processes and look for ways to improve costs. Always look for the big contracts that offer continuous work and negotiable terms that allow you to increase your fees as needed.

A tiling business can indeed be very profitable. It’s all about making the right plan, having people you can turn to for advice, and constantly striving to expand your business beyond its current capabilities.

Here’s wishing you good luck and endless profits!


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