CASE STUDY: Wayne Castleman Plumbing

Coaching businesses in regional Victoria requires an understanding of the area and its people. Here's a great example of a Ballarat plumbing business that was looking to improve in all areas of its business.

Wayne Castleman Plumbing & Gas Fitting

We started coaching Wayne from Castleman Plumbing & Gas Fitting from Ballarat back in February 2020. Wayne had already been in business for 21 years running a reasonably successful plumbing business with a team of five around the Ballarat area and regional towns including Buninyong, Waubra,  Mount Helen, Mount Pleasant, Learmonth, Creswick, Gordon and Addington

Castleman Plumbing  do contract plumbing for small to medium commercial projects subcontracting to builders, new home builds and refurbishments as well as working directly with clients for their general plumbing and maintenance needs.

There were however a few areas of the business that were niggling at Wayne. He was 55, working 60 hours a week, and knew he was missing the drive and ambition he needed to get the company to where he wanted it to be. He had some cashflow issues, an ATO debt, a low profit margin, and he wanted some more organisation and systems in place for the business.

Wayne was sick of feeling overwhelmed and just didn’t know where or how to begin.

Wayne brought all of this to the table when he met with Hugh. They were able to have a good look at the business and plan where he wanted to be, and how to get there. Like most business owners, Wayne wanted more profit and a plan for retiring from the business.

Analysing The Entire Business

Firstly, they had to establish the breakeven point for the business. How much work would Wayne need to invoice every month to cover all his work and overheads?

Secondly, they had to calculate the real costs of labour to the business. So not just wages, but also super, overhead recovery rate, recruiting costs, work cover, taxes and payroll tax.

Hugh helped Wayne also implemented a leads recording system so Wayne could track exactly what his win rates were with quoting.

It then came time to analyse the things Wayne was already doing so he to improve them further and get more bang for his buck. A good example was his existing website which was ok but focused on a niche service he offered Solar Hot Water Service.

Wayne and Hugh realised this wasn’t his core business. How would new clients find him if he was only showing one area of business that he offered? He was cornering himself out of his core business market: commercial plumbing. Wayne’s website has since been updated.

Wayne was using a job management system called Aroflo but was unsure how to use all of its features. After some software coaching Wayne is now able to schedule jobs, order materials and track performance and margins of jobs all in the one place.


The plans were in place, and these improvements were all happening….. and then Corona hit. Yep, the old Covid-19 spanner in the works. Now what?!

Hugh coached and guided Wayne to deal with these issues by:

  • Analysing current jobs and the length. How much cash was coming in?
  • Developing cashflow forecasts with different scenarios of what could happen.
  • Analysing the expenses of the business and worked out what we could be cut if needed.
  • Reviewing loans to see what could be negotiated with the providers (could we extend or reduce payments?)
  • Looking at staff and worked out how we could reduce the staffing costs, and wages if we needed to (including the options of standing down, redundancy and holidays, leave without pay, and all government subsidies like Jobkeeper, state government grants – what could we use?)
  • Focussing on marketing and lead flow – make sure we had options available to us. If price competition became a problem – what do we do?

In this current crazy environment Wayne has the ear, knowledge and expertise of Hugh to help guide him and execute the plan for his future, and the future of his business, and that is everything. Wayne has recently created Ballarat Hot Water Service a unique service in the area.

What Do You Need To Improve In Your Business?

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Hugh Bowman is a specialist in business coaching for trade businesses and is a former engineer and technical expert. He has lived and worked in many parts of regional Victoria coaching tradie business owners.

Ph: 0409 402 474