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  • #61
    Re: Increasing my prices.

    As a homeowner, I would tell you that depending on the kind of work I would expect a free estimate.You'll certainly get some companies with free estimates that make up for the "freeness" of the estimate by charging a lot and hoping someone bites, but I've found that if you get 3-4 estimates you can generally get someone who will be good [you can often get a feel for the quality of the work based on talking with the person] for a reasonable price.

    I do sometimes try to negotiate downward (about 10%), but would never try getting something like 50% off in your example ($250 to $125). If someone quotes me twice as much as they are willing to do the job for, then I probably don't want to hire them.

    For service calls like fixing a broken toilet, I fully expect to pay for your time to come out and diagnose the problem [say a minimum charge of about $80]; which either requires skill that I don't have, or is itself a reasonable portion of the work. Over the phone I will definitely ask you your hourly rate though to make sure that it is inline.

    For more "luxury" type things, I will want a free estimate. Case in point. When I moved into my house I wanted to upgrade from a 40 to an 80 gallon water tank on my System 2000 boiler [the 40 didn't fill our oversized tub fully]. I called a local one-man plumber and my oil company. The local plumber came out, and called me the next day saying he couldn't get the tank designed for the system without a factory certification. My oil company wanted to tee the oil line and install a completely separate burner just for hot water at a cost of $3400 - not to mention they would love to sell another $285/yr 24/7 service agreement in addition to the one for the main boiler. I ended up going with a larger local company (the kind that runs dozens of trucks), after an estimate over the phone for $1800 to replace the 40 gallon tank with an 80.

    From my point of view, I wasn't going to pay $80 to find out how much the real job would cost me.

    As an aside, when I had a problem with a pop-up drain, I called the local plumber back knowing that he would be less expensive than the big guys, and had him fix it; and plan on calling him again when I have a job that I wouldn't feel comfortable tackling myself. Even if you don't get a particular job; if you make a connection during an estimate with a customer it may pay off in the end.

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    • #62
      Re: Increasing my prices.

      Originally posted by cpw View Post
      Even if you don't get a particular job; if you make a connection during an estimate with a customer it may pay off in the end.

      I don't find this to be true, whether over the phone or in person. I was one of those fellows that used to give free estimates in the beginning and cut out the shenanigans real quick when I realized the ratio that wasn't producing income.

      When a customer finds someone cheaper than you (easy in my case) they'll know in the future not to call because you wasted their time. You cannot dispute that known fact.


      There are people that will waste your time to shop opinions. I won't cater to this mindset and I am not liked by price shoppers. The best that they've obtained from me is time on the phone, that's it.


      If I show up at your house with a plumbing supply house in the driveway, ready to work, I'm charging.

      You as a customer isolate yourself from those who have a very good reputation, understand that properly operating that business doesn't involve giving the blueprint away so someone can do it cheaper.

      That much I know and understand from all the people that have shopped my company and haven't called back for the obvious reasons.

      It's good they are not wasting any more of my time.





      cpw,


      Does your boss ask you to drive all the way into work everyday and let you know if you're working or not?
      Last edited by DUNBAR PLUMBING; 02-25-2008, 09:00 PM.
      Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

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      • #63
        Re: Increasing my prices.

        Thank you for your opinion cpw.I appreciate it.Although,If I were to do service for a living I don't know if I would do free estimates,at least not in the sharkpool I live in.Not everyone is what they say are.So there are a lot of people deliberately just using the free estimate to gather info to either do it themselves or educating themselves so they can troubleshoot the $20.00 an hour handyboy with a couple of tools(low bid).It's not that dramatic but still I don't have any time to spare to find out.

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        • #64
          Re: Increasing my prices.

          Awsome thread, get early nomination for thread of the year. BTW I get a 40, 50 gas state select for 247
          Buy cheap, buy twice.

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          • #65
            Re: Increasing my prices.

            Originally posted by DUNBAR View Post
            I don't find this to be true, whether over the phone or in person. I was one of those fellows that used to give free estimates in the beginning and cut out the shenanigans real quick when I realized the ratio that wasn't producing income.

            When a customer finds someone cheaper than you (easy in my case) they'll know in the future not to call because you wasted their time. You cannot dispute that known fact.


            There are people that will waste your time to shop opinions. I won't cater to this mindset and I am not liked by price shoppers. The best that they've obtained from me is time on the phone, that's it.


            If I show up at your house with a plumbing supply house in the driveway, ready to work, I'm charging.

            You as a customer isolate yourself from those who have a very good reputation, understand that properly operating that business doesn't involve giving the blueprint away so someone can do it cheaper.

            That much I know and understand from all the people that have shopped my company and haven't called back for the obvious reasons.

            It's good they are not wasting any more of my time.





            cpw,


            Does your boss ask you to drive all the way into work everyday and let you know if you're working or not?
            Dunbar,

            Obviously, for your business I'll defer to your judgement as to the best way to run it. I can certainly understand how driving around and not getting business is a waste of your time. I also wouldn't expect you to do it for a job that is under some threshold (say $500), but if I'm planning on spending a few thousand dollars; I want to know how many "a few" is before I pull the trigger. If you can do that over the phone, that is fine with me (saves me the hassle of being home twice). I understand you can't do that for some problems, because I'm not going to know what is wrong with it; that is what I'm going to pay you for; and as long as you tell me how much your minimum charge is up front I've got no problem with it.

            Price isn't the only consideration but it is an important one. When I got painting estimates they ranged from $3500-7000. I ended up spending $4500 to go with the company that a friend used, because I was told the work was very good (also his estimate was much more professional [e.g., he actually measured the rooms] rather than guestimating). If I cared strictly about price, I would have had the house painted for $3500.

            I'm obviously going to answer no to your question, but from the consumer point of view you could as easily ask if you go into the store, pick an item, swipe your credit card, and then ask how much it costs? Or alternatively, do you go into the store, pick an item, and then pay $10 to find out that it will cost you $100.

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            • #66
              Re: Increasing my prices.

              I was referring to your comments about the small jobs, jobs under $500. It would be hard to decide over the phone multiple tasks involving numerous jobs.

              That estimate that I charge for gives me comfort that my customer in front of me cares enough to understand that nothing I do in my career is free to myself.

              I owe my profession the respect of charging for what knowledge I posess. It's accurate and precise to your situation whether you are 5 minutes or 500 miles away. Take a picture or moving video and I'll nail it down. Plumbing whether it's different from state to state, it basically all does the same thing.

              If you type in northern kentucky plumbers in any search engine, you'll see why I don't bother to give away the knowledge in a first person basis. You come here for plumbing knowledge and I'll give it, just respect that I only appreciate those who take the time to do it right, not hack it in or find a cheap alternative to avoid financial hardship. We can't do that as good tradesmen.

              I just wanted to state for the record that there are professionals in this trade that are experts, we are not in this business to help without reward. That is accomplished in other ways, by discretion of course.
              Last edited by DUNBAR PLUMBING; 02-25-2008, 09:40 PM.
              Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

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              • #67
                Re: Increasing my prices.

                Originally posted by drtyhands View Post
                Thank you for your opinion cpw.I appreciate it.Although,If I were to do service for a living I don't know if I would do free estimates,at least not in the sharkpool I live in.Not everyone is what they say are.So there are a lot of people deliberately just using the free estimate to gather info to either do it themselves or educating themselves so they can troubleshoot the $20.00 an hour handyboy with a couple of tools(low bid).It's not that dramatic but still I don't have any time to spare to find out.
                I understand that too, and for stuff like trouble shooting I expect to pay something. When my air conditioner broke, I was glad to pay $80 to have the guy tell me what was wrong with it [the wire from the compressor to the attic air handler had a short]. When he told me $897 to fix it, I said no, went to the Home Depot got 50' of thermostat wire, and snaked it myself in about 45 minutes.

                I can of course see why you would get pissed off about that, because you aren't going to really make much, but if he had told me something reasonable like another $200 to fix it, I would have paid him to do it. I probably even would have gone for $300, but after seeing it take him 30 minutes and a $15 part would have grumbled to my co-workers.

                I guess my real point is that for jobs, which have a clearly defined scope of work; I expect you to be able to tell me how much it will cost beforehand.

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                • #68
                  Re: Found this out today

                  Originally posted by DUNBAR View Post
                  So if you trust me to cut your grass, knowing me and all from the forum and seeing me in town, that when I tell you I'll send the bill with your head nodding,

                  It's okay for me to make-a-price because I'll spin it as it's ordinary in our capitalist society. You'll pay it, it's your bill because you was trusting your local tradesman, which was really stupid.

                  And you wander why people can't trust service providers. My shining example is why we get brow-beat on price, constantly because a few ****tards in the bunch showboats and produces victims, the rest of us work as hard honest plumbers making a living without causing undo harm to our customers because we have an moral judgement to adhere to.


                  It's in all the professions, they stay around for quite a while because the exposure can't reach the consumer fast enough to protect them. I'm on their side and I always will be. I'm one of them.
                  dunbar. i speak the same gospel as you do

                  because someone can take advantage of a person and get away with it, is the same thing that i've been fighting for years and years.

                  a contractor is suppose to be honest, just like your doctor.

                  out of curiosity what was the faucet that they installed?

                  now i could be wrong, but i doubt the faucet was $100.00 with flexes.

                  dunbar, you and i will protect joe public

                  rick
                  phoebe it is

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                  • #69
                    Re: Increasing my prices.

                    Originally posted by DUNBAR View Post
                    Service Guy,


                    Black and white, simple huh?


                    Would you happen to be the insurance guy who shows up after a tornado that blows a whole town to pieces, people lose everything of their most valued posessions

                    and hover over the damage with your clipboard and say

                    "Sorry, but you didn't buy enough coverage. I'm sorry but I wish I could do something for you."


                    There's a reality to my bringing this discussion to light. I see people pay triple to 5 times the market average in my area and I call it theft by deception, completely.

                    That's why there's KARMA, there's an implied thought process that when you prey on one's vulnerabilities, it will come back to you as payback. I truly believe this.


                    If you want to be a respectable plumber, don't drill into the community that you can't be trusted without the legal representation.


                    There are still some of us out there that can be trusted on a handshake or nod of the head without having to tell the world how we stole from them.


                    DB I had a customer squawk at me for wanting $115 for a Delta PB cartridge replacement on a tub/shower faucet this morning. There is a possible chance the wife was calling behind the husband's back because he couldn't fix it. A call to him or either my price probably got him either someone cheaper or the discipline to honor the wife's repeated asking. 20 minutes and that's dragging it, I always give them advice and answers to anything they want because they paid for the hour, not the task. I'll have them ask questions till they stop, ask me to leave.

                    Got a guy I have to call back that wants a price on a tankless install; damn near every one of them have not a clue what all is involved in doing the conversion on those from a tank. You want it?

                    I already know he's going to freak out with the price.....if it was new construction, a lot easier but conversions involve time and lots of it. They never believe me that I have to use specific flue piping for the application. They want to use the PVC (NOT) or into a chimney which isn't a option.
                    dunbar, are you sure you havn't been stalking me and reading all of my post?

                    i'm glad you too have the same ethics i have. this is the same debate that has some of us, upset at each other.
                    this is a prime example of what gets me going

                    rick.
                    phoebe it is

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                    • #70
                      Re: Increasing my prices.

                      Originally posted by cpw View Post
                      I understand that too, and for stuff like trouble shooting I expect to pay something. When my air conditioner broke, I was glad to pay $80 to have the guy tell me what was wrong with it [the wire from the compressor to the attic air handler had a short]. When he told me $897 to fix it, I said no, went to the Home Depot got 50' of thermostat wire, and snaked it myself in about 45 minutes.

                      I can of course see why you would get pissed off about that, because you aren't going to really make much, but if he had told me something reasonable like another $200 to fix it, I would have paid him to do it. I probably even would have gone for $300, but after seeing it take him 30 minutes and a $15 part would have grumbled to my co-workers.

                      I guess my real point is that for jobs, which have a clearly defined scope of work; I expect you to be able to tell me how much it will cost beforehand.
                      cpw,
                      Great responses.It's good to see the level headed follow through from the other side.

                      Being in construction I do not get even close to every job I bid.My mentors tell me to keep raising my prices untill I lose about half the projects I bid on.Way over $500.00.........Way.

                      Adam

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                      • #71
                        Re: Increasing my prices.

                        Originally posted by cpw View Post
                        As a homeowner, I would tell you that depending on the kind of work I would expect a free estimate.You'll certainly get some companies with free estimates that make up for the "freeness" of the estimate by charging a lot and hoping someone bites, but I've found that if you get 3-4 estimates you can generally get someone who will be good [you can often get a feel for the quality of the work based on talking with the person] for a reasonable price.
                        Math,
                        I'm one of 3-4 other guys bidding each job.
                        The job takes 20 minutes each way, $10 in gas and maybe 20 minutes of you picking my brain about how I think it should be done.
                        Thats an hour each estimate, plus $10 in gas...for the opportunity to educate you on how I do the job and to afford you the opportunity to shop prices.
                        I don't travel for estimates on smaller projects like a water heater..if the customer insists, then I charge with an estimate or trip fee.
                        On remodels, most of them are for regular customers, no need to charge.
                        But expecting me to give you my time & gas without a fee is unrealistic.
                        It also has proven very helpful in weeding out bargain hunters who want things done on their terms, scarefully many folks have no realistic idea of whats involved when they price shop, then settle for the "preferred" price not realizing they may have cornered an inexperienced fella into taking compromising shortcuts on time or stock.
                        From your end, if you insist on excluding anyone that charges for their time, you weed out all but those who may be more desperate for work.

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Re: Increasing my prices.

                          This thread is hugely informative to us service guys! Thanks for all the input. And cpw, your homeowner/customer input was very appreciated, thank you.
                          Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

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                          • #73
                            Re: Increasing my prices.

                            Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
                            ...If I were already established maybe, but I NEED new customers since I have only been at it less than a year.

                            Even my $20 'trip fee' idea will be enough to turn away the 'bottom-dwellers' who only want cheap handymen to do the work. ...
                            Originally posted by DuckButter View Post
                            ...Cheapy bargain hunters will refer you tons of business, to other cheapy bargain hunters.
                            Originally posted by NHMaster3015 View Post
                            A bit of advice. Never, Never try to compete with the hacks and the station wagon plumbers. Do uncompromizingly good work, be on time, be neat and be patient. If you build it, they will come
                            Originally posted by DUNBAR View Post
                            ...I can do that because I'm running with a stellar reputation of being honest, not the cheapest, reliable without needing gauze and bandaids after you write the check.

                            Look at the above; you don't need or want those jobs. Those customers will only hurt you in the long run. Stay lean, you'll get by. It's slow at first, but you don't build a house on a crappy foundation

                            For me, phone calls are free. I'll sit and talk you through it happily. And more power to you for being willing to try. You make me rearrange my day and drive? It's $50 to show up.
                            This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

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                            • #74
                              Re: Increasing my prices.

                              Originally posted by DuckButter View Post
                              Math,
                              I'm one of 3-4 other guys bidding each job.
                              The job takes 20 minutes each way, $10 in gas and maybe 20 minutes of you picking my brain about how I think it should be done.
                              Thats an hour each estimate, plus $10 in gas...for the opportunity to educate you on how I do the job and to afford you the opportunity to shop prices.
                              I don't travel for estimates on smaller projects like a water heater..if the customer insists, then I charge with an estimate or trip fee.
                              On remodels, most of them are for regular customers, no need to charge.
                              But expecting me to give you my time & gas without a fee is unrealistic.
                              It also has proven very helpful in weeding out bargain hunters who want things done on their terms, scarefully many folks have no realistic idea of whats involved when they price shop, then settle for the "preferred" price not realizing they may have cornered an inexperienced fella into taking compromising shortcuts on time or stock.
                              From your end, if you insist on excluding anyone that charges for their time, you weed out all but those who may be more desperate for work.
                              I think it also might depend on your area. It sounds like some of you guys are competing against a guy who buys a blow torch and calls himself a plumber. Here (in the NY metro area), you expect someone to show up in a Van with license numbers permanently painted or affixed; and if not you would tell him to show you his county issued photo ID (or go home).

                              Really, until you establish a relationship; the only kind of quality screening you have is a license and maybe word of mouth. Getting someone without a license seems pretty crazy, especially for something like a water heater; which if he screws up will end up blowing up your house (gas), burning it down (oil), or killing you while you sleep (either).

                              I think we may have different definitions of a small jobs regarding water heaters. I don't think that $1000+ is a small job. But like I said, a quote over the phone would be OK. There are a bunch of people who don't want to do that and would rather see where it will go (probably because they've gotten burned by some pertinent info that was left out on a previous phone estimate).

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                              • #75
                                Re: Increasing my prices.

                                Originally posted by bigPipe09 View Post
                                I am with you 100% on this. I've been in business just over a year, and find the small amount of service plumbing that we do is full of price shoppers. After about 6 months we started charging a 50 dollar "dispatch" fee to new customers who were requesting estimates. We only charge this to customers we haven't worked for before, and most have become repeat customers since the first visit. We also waive the fee if we end up getting the job. i find it works pretty good to weed out the price shoppers

                                I know this will probably garner some criticism from the forum pundits, but as of 2008 we also started charging a 2 hour minimum to our commercial/Industrial clients.
                                I've got a shop that does light manufacturing (cutting and grinding metal), assembly, and import/export, wholesale distribution. I've been fairly lucky in dealing with most trades.

                                But I do review prices of services and product from time to time. I know a little about the basic of most of the things like plumb, electr., etc. But concerning the the OP's post: two thing here: 1) the guy's old (or seemed it), and old people aren't in touch with today's pricing, necessarily. 2) A lot of people who don't know much about how to fix things themselves are weary of being ripped off. Maybe because they've met with unscrupulous trades before. Like some auto mechanics.

                                I've been ripped off by mechanics, contractors, sub-contractors, etc. Guys who didn't do the job right or didn't know how to. Partly my fault for not doing due diligence, partly unavoidable.

                                When I hire a guy who I _know_ is good and does quality work, as long as the price is "reasonable" I _never_ nickle and dime. I hired a guy to re-cement a loading dock area where container trucks come in. He did our other bay 20 years ago and no one crack! I don't care how much this guy charges as long as it's not astronomical, because I know I'm getting quality work which is less expensive in the long run...

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