Building a business as successful as Pimlico Plumbers, the UK’s largest independent plumbing and service company, takes specialist knowledge, good systems, people and a great deal of business acumen. Charlie Mullins, founder and Managing Director of Pimlico Plumbers has all of these and more. But he’s the first to acknowledge his business wouldn’t be the success it is without the latest technology and infrastructure, such as that of Chip & PIN, the payment system, supplied by Chip & PIN Solutions, that his business relies upon.
He started his career as a fifteen year old apprentice plumber before establishing his own business in 1979 with a second-hand van and bag of tools, working out of the basement of an estate agent in Pimlico. Before long, his friendly, no-nonsense approach and capable reputation earned him the moniker of the Pimlico plumber, a name he adopted for his own business venture. Fast forward thirty-six years and Pimlico Plumbers is now London’s largest plumbing business, operating 162 vans, employing 250 staff, 160 of which are plumbing and technical engineers; and with a forecasted turnover of £24million this year. With its blue, white and red oval logo, spotless branded vans with plumbing related number-plates and high profile founder, Pimlico Plumbers is now a nationally recognised brand.
When asked what he believes sets Pimlico Plumbers apart from its competitors, Charlie is quick to explain. “We provide a top quality service that is second to none, we employ only the best engineers, we go the extra mile for our customers and we are absolutely transparent.” One area where that transparency is key is within its payments system. “Our reputation is important and one of our biggest selling points. Our customers like the transparency that the card payment system offers them”, said Charlie. “When we first started out, customers would pay by cheque or cash, which meant our engineers would often have several hundred or even thousands of pounds in cash payments in their van until they came back to the office at the end of the week. It was a logistical headache for them and for our accounts department and meant we needed several credit control personnel.”
When Bishop Stortford based Chip & PIN Solutions first approached Pimlico Plumbers, around 5 years ago, Charlie and his team were quick to recognise the benefits of cards payments and of Chip & PIN Solutions over competitors in the marketplace. “Our engineers quickly got their heads around the system and our customers were extremely happy as they were no longer required to hand over their card details. It absolutely streamlined that aspect of our business and now means we can take deposits or stage payments, with no concerns whether a customer will settle payment at the end of the job.”
In just a few years payment methods have transformed at Pimlico Plumbers, where 2000 jobs a week are scheduled across London and the South East. Over 90% of invoices are now paid by card terminal transactions, 3% by BACS transfer and the remainder by cheque. “For our engineers, carrying a Chip & PIN terminal is as important as having tools with them”, added Charlie, “and Chip & PIN Solutions has provided us not only an excellent product but superb customer service too. The system is simple to use and their team are happy to train our staff and are always on hand to advise, whilst the terminals are easy to use and very reliable.”
Recognising good suppliers and acknowledging their worth for his business is important to Charlie. He is quick to recommend Chip & PIN Solutions, concluding “I don’t know how you can run a business without taking Chip & PIN card payments now. In fact, I’d go as far to say without Chip & PIN Solutions we wouldn’t have the business we have today.”
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