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Job pricing in tough times.

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  • #16
    Re: Job pricing in tough times.

    there are times when people want a better price. but my price is not up for an auction. it's what it is. don't get me wrong. there are times i don't charge, there are plenty of times where i walk out with $25-$45.00 for my work. people are thrilled and i cover my time. of course on larger bid jobs, they are looking at several contractors prices. i seldom loose a bid. not because i come down, but because i come recommended and do the work myself with better equipment and materials.

    let me tell you a true story that happened to a large plumbers local 545 in santa monica back in the early 90's. they went out of business. why, because they initiated a $7.00 an hour pay cut for housing to try and regain the residential market. our company landed the job on a 544 unit apartment complex. we took a $7.00 an hour pay cut that lasted for 18 months. this was approx. 25% of our hourly pay back then. work was slow, but it gets worse. the union only allowed 3 travel cards outside of their local. the majority of our company was outside of the santa monica local. so only 3 of us got to work on the job while the rest of the company sat at home waiting for another project. we had to hire 27 plumbers and apprentices from the s.m. local. some good and some bums.

    job finished and boss still made money. boss gave the 3 of us a large christmas bonus. our $7.00 back for 18 months

    the union tried to pull this stunt on another project and none of us wanted to do it again. times were tuff and the local union closed up. boss eventually closed up the shop and very few union shops exist that do large scale residential work anymore.

    some guys went out on their own and other went to work for other shops.

    i made the right move after working for another union shop for about a year. went out on my own and never looked back. i have union shops that still call me for help. even have worked at union projects and at the union hall. this is after i've left the union.

    pretty amazing how looking for a discount put a union out of business and a lot of plumbers out of the union doing their own thing.

    i'll budge for good customers, but not for first time customers. that's why they called me in the first place. they called based on a recommendation, not because of an ad. you get what you pay for.

    phoebe it is


    • #17
      Re: Job pricing in tough times.

      My wife's cousin is a fitter in the 420, and last Christmas Eve he was complaining to me that a Plumber wanted to charge him $400.00 to set a tub (hook drain up) and install the faucet that he supplied. I thought to myself, "if he only knew what the 420 was charging for him to be on a job for the day".

      But by the end of the night, and many drinks later, him and my wife's other cousin (IBEW) were razzing me about being a scab! Go figure.


      • #18
        Re: Job pricing in tough times.


        I'm a homeowner, and I'm retired. I don't have a lot of money to just throw at a job. But, I've also spent most of my life in heavy industry and through all of those years, I've freelanced my illustration and other technical skills. The one thing that I've taken from all that experience as that most "professionals" arrive at their price structure through a combination of experience and knowledge of what thier success and continued operation requires.

        Sure there are the occasional "rip-off artists", but I think for the most part you will get what you pay for and if a guy is reputable and knows his job, his price will be pretty fair. Expecting him to "cut his profitabiliy" just for you may well be insulting to him, especially if it is offered in a manner where he feels it is more a demand rather than a negotiation.

        Besides, does this guy really NEED your work? We've got unemployment around here too, but almost everybody in the trades is busier than ever.

        But here a very recent example: I recently lost the power to my detached garage. I'm not in a condition where I am about to string new overhead wire to replace the old (and I don't know that local code would allow that anyway) and I sure don't have the equipment or the physical ability to dig the long trench between the house and the garage. So I went for an electrician and I decided I may as well pay for a 100-amp service for the future workshop.

        I couldn't get hold of the electrician I've used in the past, but was recommended to someone else. That guy came in and said he could do the job for $1400... 60-amp with just an underground line. The guy that I had used before, called me as he heard I was trying to get hold of him (his phone had been out of service). He came over, looked over the situation, did some calculations and told me it would be $2200 for 100 amp. A big difference, but also a much more thorough explanation, underground conduit, outlets and transfer, etc.

        I explained the first offer, but added that I would prefer him to do the job.... What can you do, and more importantly, what can I do to bring your price into something that I can afford now, rather than wait until spring. He could of course just said "Sorry", but he knew that I preferred his work, had hired him for a couple of past jobs (he put in my service here and also came back for a couple of new kitchen circuits), and he knew that I would call him again. He came down to $1800, and I would take care of regrading my yard next spring instead of him (something that I hadn't even considered that he would ever do or was part of the job). So, I got the job done and only a little more than what the other guy would have charged me. We're both happy!

        The first bidder I called back and explained that while I think his price was great, I sort of owed the other guy for his past service. He told that was great, he understood and he was really buried in work anyway and would have just "fitted me in".... so I think he respected my decision and I certainly respected his honesty. He's on my list should my regular electrician not be able to schedule me for a future need.

        Bottom line, you've got to repect a guy's professionalism and his work. You can't figure he's "over-a-barrel" so you can get him cheap. That kind of thing can be really insulting at times. Best is if you simply level with him and ask for any possibility of getting the price down through alternatives. Often though, there is not.

        Last edited by CWSmith; 11-17-2012, 11:18 AM.


        • #19
          Re: Job pricing in tough times.

          Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
          was i that obvious?

          funny how when the shoe is on the other foot the story changes.
          Not the same story. Your contractor walked away leaving you free to negotiate with another contractor to perform the job. They did not picket your MIL's or your house demanding you pay them what they want, block access to her or your house, or insult the contractor that agreed to your price as they try to enter your MIL's property. I could go on but I will stop there.


          • #20
            Re: Job pricing in tough times.

            Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
            well a household runs like a business in a manner of speaking.
            you trade a skill or knowledge for money that becomes your operating budget.
            you feed your employees (family), maintain your place of business (home) and transportation,
            you provide health care for your employees(family), and maybe some training (school). uniforms (clothing).
            you also want to expand your business (family), so you have children, and like any expansion it costs
            money to expand or grow your organization. until that new part of your business can pay its own way you have to
            infuse some capital into it, probably more than it is producing for a while, but eventually it will pay back. well kids
            are the same way.

            so in your business you don't want to just 'get by', but it's OK to say that someone who works for someone should do just that
            ( 'he should be glad he even has a job and take what he can get, and look for something else that pays better' is about how one
            person put it in another thread. Families have expenses too, and the cost of those expenses has not gone down. The only way to
            even stay where you are, to tread water so to speak, is to get a cost of living increase (not a cut) in your pay.

            why is it OK for you to 'walk' on a job when i don't want to pay what you ask but not the guy who doesn't own his own business,
            who works for another, and has already taken one pay cut to try to save the company? When he says 'enough!' and walks, you
            think he is greedy. You need to look in a mirror a little harder I think, and remember what it was like before you were in charge
            of your own destiny by being self-employed or to when you were first starting out in life.
            I don't think they were being greedy just unrealistic. They made their decision now they will have to live with it. Just a shame they also took down 13,000 other employees who agreed to cuts with them.


            • #21
              Re: Job pricing in tough times.

              [QUOTE=MR.FUDD;386327]I don't think they were being greedy just unrealistic. They made their decision now they will have to live with it. Just a shame they also took down 13,000 other employees who agreed to cuts with them.[/QUO

              MR.FUDD, from the link you posted this was at least the second time hostess went through bankruptsy. I think it was unrealistic on anyone's part to believe this would end well even if they agreed to the cuts. The same is that this is the best businesses can come up with to survive a dwindling, broken economy. Perhaps better they lose everything now, jobs, homes, maybe families than hang on for a slow death! There has got to be a better alternative.


              • #22
                Re: Job pricing in tough times.

                well, just so you know there was no estimate or bid from a contractor.

                i was just putting you on and i see how you reacted which is very similar to the way the hostess employees reacted to the company making demands that they take cuts on top of hate cuts they already took. if the company is struggling then some things need to change, but its always all the common workers wages and benefits, sometimes there is management that needs a change too AND a reduction in salaries and bonuses along. none of you liked it when there was the prospect of working for 20% less than you thought the job was worth did you?? why should the hostess employees feel any differently than you do?

                my great grandfather owned a business which he started in 1867. during the depression he did not lay one person off or reduce their wages. one of the ways he did it was to not take any salary for himself; he sold his vacation home to help keep the company afloat, and made other sacrifices to keep the company going and his people employed. it was not a private company, there were shared of stock issued that were held by many outside the family, but he held the controlling percentage of stock along with his brother. that company was still in business and run by the family until 1974. at its peak the company employed over 150 people. he cared for his employees and they for him (from the stories my grandmother told us, i was not there to witness any of this of course). I never met the man, but I have read what people who knew and worked with and for him wrote about him, along with newspaper articles, and they all spoke well of him.

                i doubt the CEO of hostess has taken any steps of this magnitude to help save his company, but he has no trouble asking his employees to do so.
                "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006



                1/20/2017 - The Beginning of a new Error


                • #23
                  Re: Job pricing in tough times.

                  Bob, you and I have similar thoughts on this subject so we are thanking eachother's posts, but I understand the give and take attitude to see a business or workers through tough times. Right now I think we are past that point and nothing is giving me any hope it will change.
                  I'll ask once again if anyone is hopeful our economy will improve, by what process will it happen? I'm thinking about all the unemployment and jobs outsourced, the high cost of fuel, the debt, cost of entitlements, and so on. I just don't see it!


                  • #24
                    Re: Job pricing in tough times.


                    Thanks for the follow-up.... I was sort of wondering about your "story", not that I doubted any truth to it one way or the other, but it didn't sound like YOU! (All of the posts that I've ever read from you didn't point me into a character that would have just dropped that 80% deal on someone.)

                    But regarding your great grandfather and the company he ran..... THAT IS the story of American business, at least the American business that I grew up with and that history tells us of. Hershey, IBM, General Electric, and many, many others ran and grew their businesses like your great grandfather. Employee's were not only essential to the business, but they were very much respected and honored for thier efforts. Ownership recognized the importance of that with many of America's companies. There was value to being employed and value to both being loyal to your employer as well as the employer being loyal to his employees.

                    When I started my career, I worked for a company that ran that way. They'd throw a helluva Christmas party, have a great picnic, and do whatever was necessary to keep good employees when things were down. I remember well, one summer when most of our contracts had dried up but the company kept the dept. running and not one of us was let go. Some of us went up to the owner's farm and helped him get in his hay that summer, and a lot of us cleaned the machinery in the shop, painted, and did whatever we could just so we weren't "sitting" around. But none of us got let go during almost six weeks of idleness.

                    At the place I swetted for the last 30 years, they did nothing for the employees in these latter years. The exec's got all the percs with trips, dinners at the country club, bonuses, etc. But the company wouldn't even buy a Christmas tree for the lobby! The first decade with them was great, but in the 80's they started going for more and more and more profits.

                    This Hostess thing makes it sound like it's a union problem and that the union is the fault for the failure. Little is mentioned that an "equity" firm bought them out a few years ago and since that time the pension and benefits have continuely been hacked at in favor of increased profits. The workforce has already taken cuts in both pay and benefits and yet the ownership still isn't happy. Unfortunately, like most "equity" and other "maximize profit" ownerships, you can't tell by the annual reports whether they are profitable or not. The only way to really tell is to compare operating and management cost numbers as they are now, compared to what they once were. Most of these types of ownerships take large amounts of money out of the company for executive salaries and so-called management expenses, while at the same time squeezing the workforce and scripping on maintenance and production expenses.

                    In the case of Hostess, the current ownership is now looking to make even more profit by selling off the name and recipe's of it's legacy. Employee's don't matter at all and the loss of the facilities will simply be tax-deductions taken against others assets the equity firm has invested in. It's very much as the "Mitt" has said, after a couple of years of ownership, it is now time for "HARVESTING".



                    • #25
                      Re: Job pricing in tough times.

                      I started the Twinkie thread as kind of a joke 'cause it popped up in my news without knowing hardly any details. It kind of gained life and gained momentum on it's own and even kind of drifted into this thread as well.

                      Since then, I've read quite a bit about the company and it's history. It doesn't appear to have been "managed" at all for years. At least not managed well. Constant losses, new investors, and new "managers". Finally ending up with hedge fund folks & what not that don't give a damm about the employees at all in my opinion.

                      Some of the losses in the past may be blamed on the union. But definitely not all. The union has made concessions in the past. And with these concessions, management still failed. So you have to understand many of the workers position of "Why should we give up anything? You've proven in the past it doesn't help!"

                      I'd have to see numbers, contracts, & maybe visit a plant or two to be sure, but I believe the 8% concession would have been nothing more than a band aid until the fund investors could get in a better position to liquidate anyway. Could be wrong though.

                      No problem to me at all that union members elected to not accept the proposed decrease. I just don't think they should have one complaint about not working when the writing was on the wall about what would happen. Even the Teamsters recommended a closed/private vote because they KNEW the financial positions of the company and informed workers.

                      Management should always be directly tied to the performance of the company. Company fails, they fail. That's how Bob D.'s grandfather and those that traditionally START businesses operate.


                      • #26
                        Re: Job pricing in tough times.

                        If I decide not to accept less, I won't be losing my job.


                        • #27
                          Re: Job pricing in tough times.

                          So here we go again. month and a half ago did a reno for a h/o. Stupid me, usually avoid like the plague. So month after hand-over get a call about kitchen tap running constantly. So I try to push it off to a warranty but h/o insists cant be bothered and wants it fixed. Stupid me i thought it was an expensive tap, 6 - 7 hundred at least. No way, $100 special from Masters. Anyhow fix the tap, ceramic disc has fallen apart inside tap. Cheap cr-p.
                          Anyhow get a call couple of days ago saying it had happened again. He was taking it out himself and getting a replacement from Masters. You see these cheap mobs flog the Cr-p but dont have warranty to cover service calls or other. Now to cap off he sends message today to say dont worry about coming tomorrow morning because he has replaced it himself. But the clincher, any chance of a discount on teh first service call because you dont have to attend tomorrow morning. Mind you I charged him 3/4 of normal charge for the first call out and got a call saying he didnt think it was fair.
                          Now he has done me a couple of favours here you know. Next call will be full rate for sure. next warranty call will be with caution as he has fooled around already with our work so we cant be sure that it is our workmanship at fault of course.
                          So we cost money, doesnt everything. We are always accused of being the bad guys yet take MAsters and the Cr-p they sell for peanuts. Amazing how people get irrational over money when they are warned beforehand. Buy quality get on with life. Why are we supposed to feel guilty for being professionals. When we do make mistakes, we own up and take responsibility for such. We go out of our way to fix both mistake and other without aprehension, that is unless it has been fooled with.


                          • #28
                            Re: Job pricing in tough times.


                            You know, as a homeowner, your story is one that I'm quite sympathetic with (sympathetic with you). One of the things I don't understand I guess, is why a homeowner would or should expect you to warranty a component (faucet or whatever) that you installed. I can see it, if you were also the dealer and you sold me that faucet and provided the installation service, but I really don't understand it if it was a faucet that I picked out and bought and just had you install. Why would you warranty anything about that, short of crossthreading or screwing up the installation itself. You certainly can't be held accountable for the faucet failure, no matter what it cost.

                            We had a new hot water tank put in five years ago. Contractor who was doing the kitchen installed it. It failed this past spring and I called the guy who has handled our plumbing in the past (great guy and excellent plumber BTW). So, Steve shows up within the hour, checks out and removes the water heater and takes off to Home Depot to pick up a replacement, under the Mfg's warranty. I had already called GE and got a warranty ref # and then called HD, while I was waiting for Steve to show up. But Home Depot screws around and makes Steve wait almost and hour while they clear the paperwork.

                            Steve comes back and him and his assistant install the new tank. He then charges me for his normal "installation" charge as well as his time at Home Depot.... that's only fair! But he also tells me that since this thing is still under warranty, that I should take his bill and go see the manager at HD and demand re-imbursement, as I shouldn't have to pay twice for installation! So that made sense to me, and I laid it on HD, with only four years into a 10-year warranty, I do NOT expect to have to pay for installation twice! Frankly, I was surprised at how easy that was and a few weeks later they gave me a check for installation of the new tank. If it hadn't been for Steve I would have probably just been pi$$ed, and taken it on the chin, as my poor luck. So Steve was fairly paid and I was fairly re-imbursed... It is NOT the service guys fault because the manufacturer made a lousy piece of equipment.

                            This past week, I had some serious electrical work done and while he was there I asked him if he did security systems... NO! (And the reason given, was that customers expect him to warranty everything. He was sick of getting called back because the cheap camera's fail too often.) So here is a case where I need something, but my electrician has been burned so many times, he's simply not going there anymore, even though I told him I'd sign off on any "equipment liability". Cheap equipment is what most of us consumers can only afford; and I understand that. But unless the service folks are selling it AND the installation, I can't see why they should be liable for failures of equipment.... none of us homeowners would warrant our own work that way.

                            Last edited by CWSmith; 11-18-2012, 01:24 PM.


                            • #29
                              Re: Job pricing in tough times.

                              Bob you used an example of an apple to justify an orange.

                              It amazes me at how often people such as yourself will justify the need to over look one problem or claim the plight of one group is justified by pointing out another problem in another area. Connecting your made up scenario to the situation at Hostess is a stretch at best, asinine at it's worst. Yes upper management needs to address their part in the closure at Hostess but it doesn't change the fact that the western world is having to deal with an overpaid work force for unskilled labour due to years of unions holding companies hostage.

                              You used an example of a skilled labourer who is due their asking price based on years of education, experience and scarcity of other people in their trade to justify the asking price (wage) of union workers who in many cases now find themselves in a market where the need for their skill set or general labour is on the decline. Hey I get it, these people want to keep getting paid as much as they can but the reality is the job they are doing is no longer worth the price they are getting paid regardless of upper management problems, wages, profit expectations etc. An even harsher reality is in many cases the skills they have acquired are not transferable outside of their current place of employment.

                              Bob your scenario suggest why would someone take less than what they are worth... well I ask you who determines what that person is worth? if you answer the person decides what it is they are worth than it is conceivable that we should all be making a million dollars an hour. If you say the company determines the rate than you would be mistaken again as a company who underpays for the job can expect high employee turn over, understaffed facilities and lots of waste. If you said the economy determines the rate than we would be in agreement and the hard truth is when the economy says you have an overpaid workforce you can't do anything about because of a union protecting those inflated wages the solution for many companies is to move their labour force overseas where their is an abundance of it.

                              You think these baker union workers gained a moral victory in their decision to stand their ground against the company big wigs, the 1% etc? If you do than you would be deluding yourself, as they just added another 18 000 general labourers to a work force that is requiring them less and less.

                              Personally I think they were a selfish lot of idiots who had no grasp of the direction the economy is moving towards and in the end, not only stuck it to themselves but 12 000 other workers as well.


                              • #30
                                Re: Job pricing in tough times.

                                Supermanofsteel(), I think you and anyone else who thinks a working man, skilled or unskilled can work at a loss is delusional.
                                Right now the "only" thing protecting your skilled job is that it cannot be shipped to china for slave wages, however, when enough of those unskilled greedy bums who work work at a loss lose their jobs, your head will be on the chopping block. There are not enough wealthy Americans to employ all the skilled champs like yourself. Those selfish idiots know dam well where their economy was headed, they have already taken pay cuts. Personally I think you will be getting a wake up call as inflation keeps rising, more and more Americans lose their jobs and you get knocked off your moral high horse. Frank