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From a non tradesman's point of view. I am a DIY'r and do most of the work around my house i can do myself. if I overtake something i can not handle (with is not too often) i network, read, hit the internet, etc, get the answer, get it right, and get it done. On occassion though, I have had to call a professional. Lots of people out there in all trades getting too much money per hour than what they should. Yes it costs money to operate, yes materials cost money, yes, labor costs money, overhead, facilities, etc. Licenses,bonds, etc. I for one will not call anyone who will not come out and give me a free estimate. yes it is time. but your time is valuable and my time is valuable. And there are companies out there that want to do more that was needed. We bought a home with a home warranty and the water heater went out. I was out of town when this happened so my wife called the HWA people and they sent out a contractor 100 deductible and the thing was in. not long after i developed a leak near my soil stack. i had a horizintal drain from the sink running into the "t" on the stack. called HWA and found out was not covered (internal leak) so i called roto rooter for a "free estimate" they wanted close to 400 bucks to clean out and repack the joint. i had no idea how to relead a horiziontal pipe. I called the guy who did my water heater for a second opinion and he came out, went back to his truck and grabbed a weird looking chisel and some silicone. he merely tapped the lead back in and put some silicon around it. charged me a 35 dollar service call. he then went on to tell me that if the silicon doesnt stick or i develop any more problems i did not need to call him. he showed me exactly what to do, introduced me to quickrte hydro stop i belive it is called and i have not seen him since. he showed me what i needed to do in order no not have to shell out money everytime i need a simple leak fixed. well i ended up having to drill out that lead, repack with okum, and water stop it. that lasted until the cast iron stack started to seeep. i replaced it all personally with PVC. LONG day, pain in th ***, but saved a bunch of money.
my point? dont rip people off on the simple ****! if someone calls you to do what ends up being replacing a flapper or a simple toilet adjustment, charge them for that. you get the part wholesale, sell it to them retail and charge them a few bucks to put it on. i dont think there should be such a thing as a "flat rate", i'd never call you if you were going to charge me 79 or 89 bucks just to show up.
i do not believe that hourly pricing works/flat rate pricing. show up, see what needs to be done, quote a fair price and you will have plenty of business.
i am currently getting my house sided and new windows. for siding alone i got estimates from 7000-15000.00
i was going to research it and do it myself in the spring. i figured i'd start in the back and get the hang of it and then once i figured it out would move th the sides and front.
got a contractor to give us another bid, and he is doing windows and siding, for less than 1000.00. premium windows, premium siding and he is essentially been a one man show so i have been working with him and learning. he admits that most of these siding contractors are getting too much money per square foot. He beieves in a fair price for the money. there were three homes sided on my block by those big guys over the summer. we went for a walk and he pointed out at least a half a dozen mistakes per house. now granted they are things i may have never noticed, but he pointed them out. when he got to those points on my house he showed me how they were different and his was right!
so he is doing a better quality job at a lower price!
charge people labor, retail on parts, and a reasonable service call price to cover expenses.
a common citiczen's two cents nothing more!
Maybe your one man show guy is getting not enough money for his good work, $1000.00 for siding, windows and labor? COME ON! No wonder he's a one man show, he can't afford to pay anyone to help him. At best he is or will be a beaten down broken old man who can't retire because he was afraid he'd lose worthless customers who don't give a crap about the risk he's taking just by being in business. He's breaking his back working for peanuts. He is not a business man. You don't charge a few bucks to put in a flapper you charge what your overhead determines you charge. If you catch some material that fell out the sky and sold it to your customers you should make a profit for just for your risk of catching it. For all of you contractors out there that are afraid to charge more than you are, have you been to the movies lately and bought a soda, hotdog, etc. It's marked up so high but yet it doesn't stop people from buying it. People will pay your prices if you raise them. You might loose 10% of your customer base, who are people like spacebluesonoma but that is the 10% you don't want to do business with anyway. You go into business to make a profit and that's it. Your not a not for profit company. Whoever you work for and whatever they produce spacebluesonoma, find out how much it cost them to produce it and tell them to lower the price because they are making too much profit. See if you'll be working there the next day. What, we don't deserve a decent living with benefits and the finer things in life because we're plumbers? How much profit is a doctor or lawyer making? In my opinion we're just as important as a doctor and WAAAY more important than a lawyer and we should and can earn what they earn. A doctor or lawyer goes to school and racks up hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans and have to charge what they charge in order to pay that stuff back and cover the the ongoing cost of running a business. Plumbers go to school for 5 years to learn our trade and rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars when we go into business and continue ongoing training to keep that business going with tremendous overhead and risk. It seems very similar to me. If you let these customers determine how much you should get they will. Don't work for them simply put. Let them deal with the handymen who will do a crappy job for them and give them what they pay for. Maybe then they will appreciate you. Try living with your plumbing system if plumbers weren't around. The world would become a wasteland. All of you low priced plumbers should take pride in what you do and not listen to cheap guys like him because we have one of the most important jobs in the world that should be highly respected. But if you don't stand up for your price you're going to continue to get beat up on over your price from guys like this who have no idea what it costs to run a plumbing shop.
Last edited by jtheplumber; 06-29-2008, 03:05 AM.
Reason: misdirected name
If I charged $20 to drive to someone's house and put a flapper in , I'd be LOSING money instantly. Gas to drive to the house costs money, the truck itself costs money, the flapper costs money, insurance costs money, advertising costs money, etc. etc... If I double the price and charged $40 and did it in a real rush and the house was failry close by, I might be breaking even to cover overhead, but breaking even would still put me bankrupt in a short time, as I need to make a profit to feed and house my family.
The people spacebluesonoma are calling to do work for peanutsare likely going out of business in a short time. But there is always a new sucker to take their place for awhile until they too go bankrupt. The ones that he thinks are charging "too much" are the ones that might actually survive and prosper since at least they can pay their business bills and still have something left over to pay themselves.
I am glad people like him won't call me, as I really don't want to go bankrupt just because they think they can dictate what my costs SHOULD be based on their own cheap perception.
I'd like to see spacebluesonoma run a service or contracting business and see how expansive it is to run. And then see what he charges, and how long he lasts. That would be hilarious.
Not that the posters points are not valid but the post which is being quoted is 3 1/2 years old and I don't believe that member has posted recently.
I knew he'd probably never read it, when I posted it. But others can, and I hope I help someone out there understand the costs of running a business, so they don't automatically think that they are getting 'ripped off' just because someone charges more than $20/hour for a service.
Some people seem to think that contractors put all the money in their pocket, but if they tried running a contracting business, then they would know that only a fraction of the price goes towards personal income.
I've been flat rating jobs ever since I started as an employee and even today as an owner. 17 years total. It's what my customers have always preferred hands down. The last T/M job I did was on a 3 faucet removal and install. Widespread too with barely any working space around the backside of the lav. Pop-up and drain were in really tight proximity to the underside of the counter top. It was actually a PITA job. Anyway, I quoted $60 an hr. plus the material. The customer left me to work and 3 hrs later, I was done. This guy pitched an absolute fit that it took me 3 hrs to remove his 3 OLD wide spread faucets and install new ones. Yada, yada, yada he went on a tangent. I was so burned out from the job I just stood there with invoice in hand thinking to myself "this is why I don't like hourly". That was 10 years ago. I charged T/M because that's the what the guy for whom I was working wanted.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of times when hourly fits the bill, but just not in 90% of jobs I do. IMO, The smaller, 1 day or less, forseeable problem type jobs should be flat rate while the big, week long or more, mutli-facet jobs should be figured at time. The obvious reason being all the varibles that might cause you to LYA on an other wise flat rate bid.
That being said, There's always gonna be people like spaceblue out there telling us what to charge and what not to charge and defining what "fair" is. People want to know what their paying in the end.
Thoughts of hundred dollar bills flying out of their wallet with each passing hour with no knowlede of excatly how many hours will go by before the job's done is understandably disconcerting.
Paying an up font price for a single or two meals is far more predictable both for the customer and the restaurant. However, catering a 200 person event is better suited to an hourly preparation charge. I don't know a thing about catering I'm just saying.