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  • Stealing customer debacle...please read

    Jack helped me out a bit, but I don't think I explained it too well. I'll try and make this short

    Here are the four people involved (names hidden for security reasons )

    Elvis = Master Plumber
    Scarface = General Contractor (gets plumbing hours written off by Elvis)
    Friend = Guy I work with (gets plumbing hours written off by Elvis)
    I = Me (gets plumbing hours written off by Elvis)

    Elvis and Scarface started their business relationship about 7 or 8 years ago. Elvis wrote off Scarface's hours and now he just needs to pass his journeyman's test (which he can't).

    Scarface took A LOT of customers away from Elvis. For every call Scarface took for Elvis, Elvis wanted a 5% kickback. Scarface thought that was too much. So, he started handing out his own business cards and sooner or later, Scarface had a huge client base off of Elvis. Elvis was busy doing other work, but it was Elvis who created Scarface's business (in a way).

    So now my friend and I get our hours written off by Elvis, not Scarface. But we get a ton (almost all) of our work from Elvis. Elvis doesn't even have any tools anymore in his vehicle, he just does estimates and what not. I don't think he knows how to install a pedestal anymore LOL!

    Anyways, so a customer of Scarface called my friend (not sure how he got his number) and my friend gave me the drain call. But, my friend feels really guilty and thinks Scarface will cut us off, which is hard to believe because Scarface won't find anyone cheaper to work for him and I know there is no way he is going back to do plumbing work. He lives like 40 miles away from where his client base is and he won't go in unless he can't find anyone else

    Also, Scarface IS NOT our employer. He doesn't pay any of our insurances, workman's comp, etc. We are subcontractors (yet I feel like an employee sometimes). If we run into a problem, Elvis (not Scarface) is there to back us up since we have covered him when he couldn't get to jobs and he checks a lot of our bigger jobs to make sure things are right before the inspector comes.

    Anyways, just curious on your thoughts. Am I really stealing Scarface's customers? This is a free market, right? It isn't like the customer called Scarface, I went out and said, "Here, I'll charge you less but write the check out to me." The customer did call my friend and not Scarface.

    I should mention that Scarface just wants to make a buck. He doesn't like to pull permits, because he has to get Elvis involved. He really is a bad influence on the plumbing industry and it's standards. He does know a thing or two, but he is one of those, "Go! Go! Go!" type of people that pulling permits slows things down and he wants things done yesterday so he can make his money. He will do hack work even (when permits aren't pulled) to get a job done faster. Not terribly hack work, but something a good plumber wouldn't do.

    Anyways, if anyone wants to shine some light on this whole stealing customers thing, I would appreciate it.
    Last edited by HouseOfAtlas; 09-19-2008, 09:07 AM.
    YourHomeContractor.com - The Trusted Online Community For Homeowners and Contractors.

    Plumbing Reviews

  • #2
    Re: Stealing customer debacle...please read

    make sure scarface doesn't introduce you to "his little friend"

    he's what i do with all the referrals i get from other companies/ plumbers.

    i bill the customer directly. the customer ask for my card and says they will call me next time instead of the original plumber they use.

    i explain that i'm only covering for them and i don't give out my card to their customers. i advise them to call the original plumber in the future.

    my invoices show the original contact referral and i track all new referrals this way.

    last week i had 8 referrals that i covered for. the customers were happy and the original plumbing company was thrilled. it's a win win.

    they don't lose a customer to the competition and i don't steal the customer.

    this is how i've done it for 11 years while on my own.

    no money ever gets exchanged between us.

    i know when i go out of town, they do the same for me.

    i even get invited to their christmas parties

    rick.
    phoebe it is

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Ask Scarface What He Thinks

      Originally posted by PCPlumber
      From Jack:

      It sound like everyone has a little to gain. In the past, everyone has helped each other in some way. This appears to be a situation where, during this period, right or wrong has less weight than what each party believes. The only way to make you feel better, or worse, is to personally visit Scar Face and have a pow-wow. If he tells you that you are stabbing him in the back then you need to make your own decision and continue or cut off your relationship for life. If you cut the relationship all customers become fair game.

      I would prefer not to burn my bridge and try to remain friends with everyone until they actually do something wrong to me. Old Scar Face may still have some good jobs in the future. The future can be a long time.

      I'm slow. I really don't understand anyway.

      Jack
      Oooo! I like that


      Rick,
      I wish I could have that type of relationship with him, but we do almost ALL of his plumbing work since he doesn't do it anymore and we get a pretty crappy cut from it. We use his invoices and all that.

      Oh well. I'm hoping to get away from him slowly and build my own clientele. We'll see.

      Thanks again for both of your inputs
      YourHomeContractor.com - The Trusted Online Community For Homeowners and Contractors.

      Plumbing Reviews

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Ask Scarface What He Thinks

        Originally posted by HouseOfAtlas View Post
        Oooo! I like that


        Rick,
        I wish I could have that type of relationship with him, but we do almost ALL of his plumbing work since he doesn't do it anymore and we get a pretty crappy cut from it. We use his invoices and all that.

        Oh well. I'm hoping to get away from him slowly and build my own clientele. We'll see.

        Thanks again for both of your inputs
        Rule number one in business is you never work for anyone who makes you compromise your values. Rule number two is you never rely to heavily on any one person/company because when things go bad they go bad quickly. Now that you have violated the first two rules it is too late to change it. However, it is not too late to be planning for tomorrow by building new client relationships with others.

        Mark
        "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

        I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Ask Scarface What He Thinks

          Originally posted by PCPlumber
          From Jack:

          Since you seem to have the time to play with computers, if you are into investing (light speculating) read my posts about my tenant's trading system. I will introduce you to him. He lives in Torrance and you can sit with him for as many hours or days as you need to feel comfortable with his system and what he tells you. He will talk your head off. He is like me (sorry to have to say to some members). He loves to show you how he makes about $180,000 to $200,000 every year. You will be very surprised to see how simple and accurate this system is. This guy will show you his actual bank accounts. I'm thinking of spending a few hours within him in the next few weeks. He taught my son and a friend who is an attorney about three months ago. He refused to accept any money, so I gave him two months free rent for gratitude. So, he really doesn't mind. In fact, he keeps asking me when I'm going to visit.

          Jack
          Thank you for the offer Jack but I make entirely too much money already.

          Mark
          "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

          I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

          Comment

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