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  • #31
    Re: Toilet Help!?

    Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
    all we have asked is what is the cost of doing business and why is that cost hidden in a book that doesn't give an hourly rate. so if your going to defend flat rate, how did you establish that rate? what is that rate? why hide that rate? not picking on you robert, but if you're the one defending it with your comments towards me, then answer my very simple questions.

    so far not 1 has be answered.

    greg is in a different boat with drain cleaning. i too give a price on drain cleaning and camering. but it's based on an hourly rate and an hourly total.

    i hope that when you get larger that you don't rely on aflat rate book to give you prices. you would never get a contract job that is put out to bid. ie new construction jobs.

    i have yet to lose a job to a flat rate company that was put out to bid.

    rick.

    Actually, its not a hidden book. I encourage my customers to look thru my book at the different prices. My licenses, insurance certs, and visual aids are in there as well, so please, page thru my book, ask the questions of "how do you come up with these price?"

    My answer to that " Drain cleaning is unique. You know how much time its going to take to clear a kitchen sink line with a cable from point A to B." You know how much time its going to take to jet a kitchen sink stack from the roof. You know how much time its going to take to cable a main drain from a toilet sweep in the basement, etc. etc. Materials if needed are built into the task already if the task calls for it. Yes billable hours are built in, yes gas, insurance are built into it.

    So when i quote a customer $180 to clear the main sanitary line, i know in the back of my head that 180 is what i NEED to make an hour. How long should it take me to clear a main line from outside cleanout, from removing the machine off the truck, doing the job, and putting the machine back. Should take no longer then 45 mins. So i my hour is covered, and i made what i needed to make. Sometimes the clog is 10ft away and it takes me 10mins to do the job. Good on my part, thats why i carry the right equipment, and the knowledge of being able to do that, so i just made 180 for 10 mins. Ripoff?? Not at all, again your paying for my knowledge, experience, and my state of the art equipment to clear your line. Your getting a heafty warrranty. Another example. If it takes me 3hrs to clear your line, i quoted you 180, i expect you to pay the 180. I removed tree roots. Did i lose money on the job. Some may look at it like that. I tell the customer the clog was bad and was tree roots. You now have to option to video inspect and or water jet, and that compensates for your 2hrs of messing around with the line. So in a way, the customer does not pay for my misdiagnosing, but if there is a problem in the line, its not misdiagnosing, its a defect in the line. So the customer is fine with paying for a video or water jet.

    My flat rate is protection. I cant go to a job and snake out a main line for 180 an hour, it takes me a whole hour, then i charge their neighbor 225 an hour because im slow this week for the same job. I cant do that.

    I like all my customers paying the same price for the same tasks, some are just more difficult then others.

    Now as far as those all day jobs, or multiple drains. If i pull up to a commercial property, and they want me to jet 20 drains. Of course flat rating that would be astronomical. So i would charge an hourly rate on that. If a customer has a kitchen sink clog, and then says, can you check the lav sink drain it is running slow. I will cable the sink, and if the lav is a plunge job, i wont charge for it.

    Again this is all for drain cleaning. My flat rate is considered guidelines for what i need to run business, do i use a curve, absolutely...If a job takes me 5 mins, instead of charging standard price, i will charge a preferred price.

    So Rick to answer your questions. My flat rate book is based by time to do the job from different accesses + gas, insurance, etc. that is my hourly price. I answered your question about the hidden book, its not hidden.

    Again , not all flat raters are scammers. I agree there are ridiculous prices out there, and when i do go plumbing.....my plumbing will be T&M and Drain Cleaning will stay flat rate

    Greg
    The History of Sanitary Sewers Good site on the history of sanitary sewers and cleaners

    www.thedrainsquad.net Our website

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    • #32
      Oh wow, hidden fight thread~!

      I didn't think a toilet thread would go 4 pages deep unless something was going on.


      This thread needs a little more peppercorn, hint of basil.



      I have 5 jobs in 3 weeks where I gave a price over the phone, never got a call back to perform the work.


      Isn't that "gauge" of price over the phone pretty much the precedent to give the customer an opportunity to find someone cheaper? Certainly it doesn't want them looking for more expensive plumbers, I know that.

      I'm guilty of price shopping and sometimes the final purchase price is the same or barely cheaper; just got tired of the hunt or figured I can keep calling and figure it'll be somewhat close.


      ^^^

      The above might be the deciding factor; do I really want this customer base? Someone that's so inclined to find rock bottom?

      It becomes a situation where if you choose to become a name, a number, and a price over the phone, you have to deal with the onslaught of being victimized by that institution of the price game with no way to point fingers at anyone else but yourself.


      I'm burned out on the flat rate/T&M arguments and personally I'm mixing the both together and have been doing it for years.

      Just for ignorant sakes I'll still randomly answer water heater calls, give flat rate prices over the phone and I know they are using that as a ceiling to beat. Why on earth wouldn't they? If I don't get the call (of course since my rates are high in my area) I'll be branded as too expensive, the chances of gaining that customer in future endeavor is nill.

      To me it seems when you give pricing, you'll instantly build a system of people who won't do business with you because you were beat on price.


      Maybe I need 10 more pages of explanation......
      Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

      Comment


      • #33
        Re: Toilet Help!?

        $300 for a simple CPVC closet stop is high...no debate there.
        Exclaiming that all flat rate shops are rip-offs across the line is foolish.
        To the same extreme another argument could be made that T&M shops are afraid to estimate the time, or simply don't have enough experience to know.
        I could state "Buyer beware!...a plumber that can't give you a price doesn't know what he's doing!!"

        I quote prices on the phone all the time, usually when I lose over price I get lines like "I have a friend who does plumbing....", or "My neighbor came over and fixed it"...in other words...nobody's price was low enough & they never intended to pay anyway.

        I seriously think part of the miscommunication here is overhead...
        If you get consistant work subbing from another shop or GC without advertizing, you really need to check advertizing costs BEFORE you brag how cheap you are & pass judgement on other more expensive shops.
        There IS the other extreme, large co's that pay for
        FULL yellow page ads, tv & radio ads and then hire 18 year old kids for dirt, then charge through the roof to make up the difference.

        Assuming ALL ads are scams would be ignorant -
        To simply state that all flat rate shops are rip-offs is ignorant also, buy some ads, then boast.

        Comment


        • #34
          Re: Toilet Help!?

          Our shop is withoud a doubt the most expensive in the area. But then, we guarantee and back up all of our materials and labor. We take pride in doing the job right and to code and we have very very few call backs. I have no interest at all in being the cheapest shop in town and in fact cannot afford to be. We have a very strong customer base and due to word of mouth we do very little advertising.
          sigpic

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          • #35
            Damn comon, only 2 more posts?

            DB made a good point in regards to overhead.


            So, in essence of the debate, if one company decides to throw out large scale advertising *national companies are fed production advertising which is a given when they buy into the franchise*


            and puts themselves up to such large overhead costs.....


            and for them to make money they have to charge $300 to replace a CPVC stop,

            The little guy can charge $100 and make money as well....


            Where is the line drawn on who is the judge and jury of which one of those two prices is legit?

            I'm stating that any of us can set the rope high enough if we commit ourselves. Is this fair that the customer has to bear the brunt of these personal commitments reflected in cost?

            Of course, the customer decides whether to accept the work/charge most times but there's a point in being where you cannot state for the record that you didn't take advantage of the customer if you've set yourself up so freaking high to make ends meet.


            I don't feel that should be a burden back to the customer base. Of course we can't be sheep in a flock and state we all should charge the same, but the excuses given out to charge exuberant and above the line charges for jobs with the backlash of customer's and their angered words, pause for hesitation of what implies the justification of big numbers.



            The BBB processed a total of 44 complaints about this business in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total 44 complaints in the last 36 months, 14 of those were closed in the last 12 months.

            Complaints Concerned
            The BBB processed a total of 44 complaints about this business in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total 44 complaints in the last 36 months, 14 of those were closed in the last 12 months.

            Complaints Concerned Advertising Issues: 1 Outcome of the complaint - Resolved: 1
            Repair Issues: 12 Outcome of all complaints
            Resolved: 7
            1 - Company resolved the complaint issues. The consumer acknowledged acceptance to the BBB.
            1 - Company offered a partial (less than 100%) settlement which the consumer accepted, but failed to follow through in a timely manner.

            Administratively Closed: 5
            1 - BBB determined that despite the company's good faith effort to address complaint issues, the consumer remained dissatisfied.
            1 - BBB determined the company made a reasonable offer to resolve the issues, but the consumer did not accept the offer.
            1 - BBB determined the company provided proper verification that indicated there was no obligation to resolve the issues of the complaint.


            Service Issues: 23 Outcome of all complaints
            Resolved: 22
            1 - Company offered a partial (less than 100%) settlement which the consumer accepted.
            6 - Company resolved the complaint issues. The consumer acknowledged acceptance to the BBB.
            2 - Company resolved the complaint issues. The consumer failed to acknowledged acceptance to the BBB.

            Administratively Closed: 1
            Customer Service Issues: 1 Outcome of the complaint - Resolved: 1
            Refund or Exchange Issues: 1 Outcome of the complaint - Resolved: 1
            Billing or Collection Issues: 6 Outcome of all complaints
            Resolved: 6


            Guess what company this is....and how they charge.


            Not painting with one broad brush, but I'd like to see a time and material plumbing company that stays in existence with or without extreme overhead and has the same problems.

            Volume is one thing but I can tell you that I've been the one to catch the victims of these set price structuring.


            Only once have I heard of a time and material plumber taking too long to do a job, and charging for it.


            Want to hook a lie detector to me? I'm game...


            I do believe there is good in both formats, I just see more heartbreak from one to the other when listening to customers. That's no blarney mate.
            Last edited by DUNBAR PLUMBING; 02-12-2008, 09:50 PM.
            Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

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            • #36
              Re: Toilet Help!?

              Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
              all we have asked is what is the cost of doing business and why is that cost hidden in a book that doesn't give an hourly rate. so if your going to defend flat rate, how did you establish that rate? what is that rate? why hide that rate? not picking on you robert, but if you're the one defending it with your comments towards me, then answer my very simple questions.

              so far not 1 has be answered.

              greg is in a different boat with drain cleaning. i too give a price on drain cleaning and camering. but it's based on an hourly rate and an hourly total.

              i hope that when you get larger that you don't rely on aflat rate book to give you prices. you would never get a contract job that is put out to bid. ie new construction jobs.

              i have yet to lose a job to a flat rate company that was put out to bid.

              rick.

              You made so many comments in your post to me that don't even deserve a response.

              There are multiple companies out there that design flat rate books based on clients overhead and needs, company specific. If you don't know 100% of whats going on and you feel you need to group every flat rate company in the same crook/rip off catagory, then you are ignorant.

              Flat rate is based on ones overhead, and cost of doing business.

              I am so tired of getting into this and many other topics with you because of your arrogance and close mindedness.

              Ciao
              sigpic

              Robert

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              • #37
                Re: Toilet Help!?

                Hrmmmm.....


                Plumber Rick was responding to this thread and he stopped.


                This can't be good.....
                Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

                Comment


                • #38
                  Re: Toilet Help!?

                  Originally posted by westcoastplumber View Post
                  You made so many comments in your post to me that don't even deserve a response.

                  There are multiple companies out there that design flat rate books based on clients overhead and needs, company specific. If you don't know 100% of whats going on and you feel you need to group every flat rate company in the same crook/rip off catagory, then you are ignorant.

                  Flat rate is based on ones overhead, and cost of doing business.

                  I am so tired of getting into this and many other topics with you because of your arrogance and close mindedness.

                  Ciao
                  not 1 question did you even attemp to answer or defend. did i call you out? no. did i ask questions on flat rate yes. can you not figure out what your hourly rate is or does someone who doesn't even know who you are tells you what to charge for every aspect of a job?

                  and don't play the overhead game. i know mine is much higher than most. plumbing has been a lifetime investment for me, not here today and gone tomorrow. i realize everone has to get a start somewhere, but at whose expense?

                  the homeowner is not as informed as they should be. it shouldn't be a buyer beware thing.

                  remember the debate here is not flat rate vrs. time and material. it's flat rate based on no realistic cost. just try to compete one day on an closed bid contract using a flat rate book. what i see with flat rate companies, is they lose the bid when they have to compete and they win the bid, when there is no one else there to bid against.

                  you have to base your flat rate on an hourly cost of doing business. when that hourly cost starts pushing $200-$600 an hour there is something wrong. someone is getting rich quick at the customers expense. the problem is the customer many times doesn't have a clue and they will continue being charged like this. try to pull this off on an informed management co. and see where it will get you. there should be no reason why you would have to juggle prices to get the job. the homeowner who is not informed should not pay more than the informed management co.

                  all i asked was what was the real cost of doing business? not what the book tells you to charge.

                  still a very basic question.

                  rick.
                  phoebe it is

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Re: Toilet Help!?

                    Originally posted by DUNBAR View Post
                    Hrmmmm.....


                    Plumber Rick was responding to this thread and he stopped.


                    This can't be good.....
                    no just business before pleasure.

                    phone calls

                    rick.
                    phoebe it is

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Re: Toilet Help!?

                      It wasn't until this last discussion that it was explained to me by Ben and Greg that you guys make your own flat prices.It has also been suggested that I put together a format of pricing for my company for odd little homeowner stuff that seems to be popping up all the time.The same principal I use to bid projects.

                      I figured that you were doing the same job I was for what I would consider the overinflated prices I've heard horror stories about.Which could be equaled as you figuring I'm a lumbering three toed sloth on hourly.

                      So my advice to the original poster is to make more than 1 or 2 phone calls because sooner or later you will contact a flat rate plumber that is going to charge you for replacing the angle stop and not the purchase of his yacht.

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                      • #41
                        Re: Toilet Help!?

                        Not true. Most of us pricing at flat rate have had a professional come into our shop, do an overhead\cost evaluation and then design the flat book pricing around those criteria. Do we adjust it, yes most of us do and for various reasons. Just for fun say you just got your masters license and decided to go into business. You buy a new van, a couple thousand dollars worth of tools, insurances, some advertising, office supplies, and all the other little necessities of being in business. Lets say all added up, your expenses come to $7,000.00 a month. What's your hourly rate going to be, remembering that if you can actually bill 6 hrs out of a 8 hr day your're doing well. Don't forget to make a profit, otherwize there's no point in being in business.
                        sigpic

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Re: Damn comon, only 2 more posts?

                          Originally posted by DUNBAR View Post
                          Where is the line drawn on who is the judge and jury of which one of those two prices is legit?
                          I consistantly lose jobs to new guys that anxiously underbid, within a year those guys are often not around.

                          Customers can be brutal, buying into the old "Plumbers make more than Doctors" myth, they play price games and often go with whoever is desperate or inexperienced enough to give them "their" price to get the job.

                          Via process of ellimination I avoid the price gougers.
                          Taking a short term loss to prevent referrals to their uncle Ned, who was informed that I work cheap, saves my future ***.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Re: Toilet Help!?

                            Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                            not 1 question did you even attemp to answer or defend. did i call you out? no. did i ask questions on flat rate yes. can you not figure out what your hourly rate is or does someone who doesn't even know who you are tells you what to charge for every aspect of a job?

                            and don't play the overhead game. i know mine is much higher than most. plumbing has been a lifetime investment for me, not here today and gone tomorrow. i realize everone has to get a start somewhere, but at whose expense?

                            the homeowner is not as informed as they should be. it shouldn't be a buyer beware thing.

                            remember the debate here is not flat rate vrs. time and material. it's flat rate based on no realistic cost. just try to compete one day on an closed bid contract using a flat rate book. what i see with flat rate companies, is they lose the bid when they have to compete and they win the bid, when there is no one else there to bid against.

                            you have to base your flat rate on an hourly cost of doing business. when that hourly cost starts pushing $200-$600 an hour there is something wrong. someone is getting rich quick at the customers expense. the problem is the customer many times doesn't have a clue and they will continue being charged like this. try to pull this off on an informed management co. and see where it will get you. there should be no reason why you would have to juggle prices to get the job. the homeowner who is not informed should not pay more than the informed management co.

                            all i asked was what was the real cost of doing business? not what the book tells you to charge.

                            still a very basic question.

                            rick.

                            Rick, just out of curiosity, how did you come up with your hourly rate for plumbing?...and how do you come up with your rates on drain cleaning? weather it be hourly or flat rate for drain cleaning.
                            The History of Sanitary Sewers Good site on the history of sanitary sewers and cleaners

                            www.thedrainsquad.net Our website

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Re: Toilet Help!?

                              according to the PHCC the average pay for master plumbers in the US is around 44,000 a year. Well below what most people would think.
                              sigpic

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Re: Toilet Help!?

                                Originally posted by Plumber Rick
                                all we have asked is what is the cost of doing business and why is that cost hidden in a book that doesn't give an hourly rate.
                                There is an easy but maybe not-so-simple answer to this question. I'll start with the old, worn example of McDonald's. When you get a "value meal" at McDonald's, you're getting flat rate. You aren't even considering asking what the hourly rate is. This seems simple enough, but let's dig a little deeper. Why don't you want to know what the hourly rate is?

                                Of course, a Big Mac and fries is a small expense compared to most things, so it isn't that important. And it's less than you'll pay at any sit-down restaurant with service.

                                And if you asked, who in the store would have any idea whatsoever what the hourly rate might be?

                                But the biggest consideration would be that the hourly rate is the smallest part of the price.

                                This is a production situation where a number of employees are involved in producing the end product in quantity. Someone, somewhere, knows exactly what the labor cost is in making a meal for the restaurant.

                                Now, the reason this is important is that plumbing is exactly the same!

                                Perhaps the labor amounts to a higher figure than the minimum-wage McDonald's troops, but it's even possible that the poor plumber isn't making minimum wage when he gets to the end of the year and gets his taxes ready to file and sees what he really did.

                                The plumbing hourly rate includes all of the overhead, indirect costs, as well as the direct costs of doing the job, with the exception of the material which is charged separately. The customer, who makes anywhere from minimum wage and up sees this hourly rate as what the plumber gets for the job. He does not equate this with the increasingly high cost of doing business. He doesn't see the cost of dispatching, the cost of a vehicle, insurance, etc. He calls around looking for a cheap rate because he knows that plumbers charge too much, and he wants to get the cheapest one even though he still knows he'll be overcharged. Generally speaking, anyway.

                                From our point of view, we can see that the hourly rate doesn't give away anything about what the job will cost. The HO looks at a job and thinks it's simple, and the plumber takes two hours; the HO looks at the job and thinks it would take him all day so he figures the hourly rate x 8 hours, etc. He has no idea, based upon hourly rate, what the job will actually cost, but he thinks he's ahead of the game because he's looking for the lowest rate.

                                This doesn't take into consideration: is there a service charge in addition to the hour? Is there travel? Is he charged while the plumber hunts for material at the supply house? Is there a two-hour minimum? Is the guy slow? He doesn't know any of this.

                                Of course, the truth is: there is an hourly basis for flat rate, and it's supposed to be based upon the actual cost of doing business and making profit. Some companies take advantage and since they want to grow quickly, i.e. have enough income to retire on, they plug in a large number for hour & profit. Eventually, the invisible hand of the market will weed these people out. If you want to charge $120 per hour, then plug that in to the calculations.

                                No plumbing company is likely to have exactly the same operating costs as another, so it's quite likely that we could operate off the same system and have completely different prices. This is good incentive to keep costs low.

                                In my area, plumbers are still charging $65 - $75 per hour. Isn't insanity described as doing the same thing over and over thinking that it might work next time?

                                The hidden hourly rate isn't a problem - it's a solution. The customer knows exactly what the job will cost. Period. He agrees to the price before the job is started. That makes it legal and fair.

                                As to the CPVC stop that started this thread - since I do not know exactly what work was bid, I have no idea whether it was a fair price. It certainly sounds like it's too high.

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