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  • #46
    Every quote or Flat rate price i give someone has an allowance for the unseen / unexpected. For example, If i expect the job to take 4 hours I will quote based on 5.25 hrs.

    For me a quote is calculated so I make money.

    On smaller jobs under 4 hours its cheaper for the customer to go time and materials.

    Comment


    • #47
      Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK
      ecs, don't know where you get your facts or info from. but to put you in your place i will state some facts.
      started plumbing part time in 1975 at age 12, working summers and weekends for my uncle. full time in 1981 as an apprentice in a union shop with 4 years of formal apprenticeship and school. so this adds up to 31 years or 26 formal years. i think that would qualify me as a professional in my field. i have yet to meet mark, (utah). i respect him as an expert in the plumbing trades. all based on his input on these forums for the past year+.
      as far as an internal compression closet flange goes, in my opinion it is illegal. it reduces the cross sectional area of the piping from 4'' to 3'' or smaller. is it a listed and stamped product such as from iampo or upc? these flanges also come in cast iron too. there are many non code parts that are sold at both plumbing supply houses and home improvement stores. an offset closet flange for instance is not approved, but sold in supply houses. i will ask at sales rep at the trade show for the listing on these type of flanges. i personally doubt that they are listed. by the way, pvc is not approved as a waste material indoors in the city of los angeles. abs is limited to 2 stories residential.

      i still am amazed at the fact that you think you're worth the price you charge. you wouldn't get a second call out here. too bad your clients don't read your post. they would be shocked to read the real story about flat rate pricing.

      out of curiosity, what is the prevailing wage for a journeyman plumber in your state? how do you justify 3 to 5 times more than the prevailing wage? i would love to see you bid a job on a competative basis. you are getting work based on the fact that the customer is not informed on the real cost of your work. if they knew what your hourly cost was, you would waiting for the phone to ring all day. my clients know my cost and my phone doesn't stop ringing. in fact 1/2 of my work comes from referrals from other plumbing contractors.


      remember ecs, you're the one that asked for advise on your first post. i have nothing to hide. unlike you.

      rick.
      Rick,

      This is the whole problem with how you see the rest of the plumbing world, you shed more light on it than I ever could when you said, "in my opinion it is illegal". What does your opinion have to do with it? The '03 IPC does not prohibit it. My local code officials, including the one concerned with the municipallity in which the work was done, do not prohibit it. It meets ASTM, UPC, and NSF standards (did you even go to the website and look at it?). How could you possibly reject it? I'll tell you why, it's because you are set in your ways, you know an awful lot about plumbing, you know so much in fact that maybe you fail to recognize the fact that you don't know everything. You seem to hold the opinion that even if the code does allow it, that it shouldn't.

      Sometimes I don't think you read the posts at all or if you do then you only half read them because I specifically addressed the issue of using any flange that would reduce the id to less than 3". Go back and read it again.

      You don't have to ask your sales rep just go to the website I listed and you will see that the flange is fully and properly credentialed.

      Is LA the standard to which we must all conform? No! The standard is the current version of the IPC being used by whatever code authority has jurisdiction at the location that the work is being performed. I can use pvc anywhere I want to except for any space that is also being used as a plenum.

      Once again, I charge what I charge because that is what my market will allow me to charge! That "amazes" you, well it amazes me that you would charge less than what your market will allow you to charge, which I am certain is waaaaaaay more than $75.00 per hour! It amazes me that you would consider me a thief simply because I listen to my market and charge what it tells me I may charge. Why is the price for anything what it is? It's because the sellers of that product, whatever it is, continually listen to their markets. If a product sells for $1.00 and consistently sells a million units a month, after about 6 months (at the most) the seller of that product is going to raise the price to $1.25. If his sales volume remains the same or even increases over the next six months then he raises it to $1.50. He does this until he can draw a direct correlation between price increase and a decrease in sales volume. When this happens he knows what his product is worth and will sell it at the highest possible price but no higher. So if he ends up selling his product for $3.00 instead of $1.00 does this make him a thief? What if the guy down the road is selling a similar but not quite the same product for $1.00 does the guy have to come back down to $1.00 simply because that's what someone else is charging? Ridiculous! I have no desire at all to be the Wal-Mart of plumbing! I do not "sell for less". I sell top shelf service and I do it for my price. You just can't understand why anyone would want to pay for that but they do and they understand the difference. You think they are dumb but they are not! I met with a client the other day whom I have served since I first went into business. We were discussing converting him from 2-50 gal. ng water heaters to 1 tankless. He, having done his own research online, announced, much to my surprise and before I had mentioned anything about the cost, that he kind of expected it to run around $3000.00 (including the Rinnai tankless wh) for me to install it. He was dead on! This install would typically be $2750.00 for an outside unit, but this will probably be an inside install. It may actually be a little more depending on what adaptations I have to make and whether or not he gets the remote temperature control or not. But Rick you would probably do this for in the neighborhood of $1900.00 or $2000.00 I'm guessing, that is assuming you do mark up your parts at least 30%.

      A competent j-man in service work will make $20 -$25 per hour.

      And finally I really don't remember asking for your advice. My first post on this thread simply said that yes a flat rate company will give you the price in full before the work is started and I also said that I do not waive the service call charge if the client authorizes the work.

      Comment


      • #48
        Thanks to Australian Plumber Josh, tnoisaw, Big Thom, and Freddy!

        I think that I made the mistake of having my very first post on this site discuss this flat rate vs t&m issue and I have been absolutely heaped with abuse since then!

        Thanks to all of you for injecting some reason into this debate with all of the flat rate haters.

        P.S. I don't think they are bad people they just think any way but their way is the wrong way. I'm like that myself on a couple of issues, well really just one, but how to run a plumbing company is not that issue for me.

        Comment


        • #49
          Originally posted by ECS
          Rick,.

          A competent j-man in service work will make $20 -$25 per hour. please explain why you then charge 5-7 times more than a journeyman plumber makes. i know that your overhead in alabama is nowhere close to what i have in los angeles. insurance, housing, workers comp. etc. i seem to make money at $75.00. i even can afford to run my 1 man shop from a 2500 sq.' shop that i own. i can even afford the best and latest speciality equipment made. this didn't happen overnight. it's been 30 years in the making.

          what does your hourly rate work out to on a flat rate basis?
          i know that you're not going to answer this. so i will ask it again. what does your hourly rate work out to on a flat rate basis?

          when you first came onto this forum a few months ago you asked me all sorts of questions, that i answered. now answer this simple question.
          what is your hourly flat rate bill out to?

          if you can't answer this simple question, you are hiding everything about flat rate pricing. and yes, i would clump you into that same pool as all the other rip off companies.

          tell me why you think that because a person is uninformed about cost, you can charge anything you think you can get away with? why does someone write a flat rate book and you follow it's pricing. isn't that price fixing? the book is telling you what to price the job at. and for all that think i milk a job for hours. you are totally clueless. i get to anywhere from 3-6 jobs a day and can do just about any job faster and better than anyone that i've met. maybe 15 years of production work gave me a good work ethic.
          these are facts.

          And finally I really don't remember asking for your advice. My first post on this thread simply said that yes a flat rate company will give you the price in full before the work is started and I also said that I do not waive the service call charge if the client authorizes the work.


          I hope you don't mind me asking these questions, but I really want to know.
          If you don't want to answer then don't.

          Are you a one man shop?

          How do you calculate time? Actual repair time or from...


          ecs, this is right from your first post.



          you asked, now it's your turn to answer my question.

          rick.
          phoebe it is

          Comment


          • #50
            Rick,

            Price-fixing would assume they all use the same labor-rate which I don't believe they do. The books I have seen give you a formula to use. For instance you would take your direct labor cost of $30 per hour and then double it to $60 now you add $50 per hour for overhead and you come up with a price of $110 per hour. Because everyones direct cost is different everyones labor rate would be different.

            What I don't like about the flat-rate books is the labor allowance more than anything else. The book I am looking at is from 2002 and they show an installed price of $612.81 for an American Standard Cadet water closet. That's $220 in labor (2-hours X $110) and $392.81 for the water closet, a bowl wax and a water supply. I used American Standard because I know that is your fixture of choice so you are familiar with your costs for them.

            The good news is if a customer wanted all three water closets replaced it would only cost them $1,838.43. Now I don't know many qualified plumbers who would even take a full hour to replace a water closet. However assuming they did and you are paying the guy a direct cost of $25 per hour and you are paying $150 for materials you would have a direct cost of $525 leaving your shop with $1,313.43 profit and overhead for that 3-hours worth of work. If you are a busy shop you could be bringing in $3,502.48 per day per truck in profit and overhead for an 8-hour day. That would sure pay for a lot of full page ads in the Yellow Pages.

            Of course in reality many of the flat-rate shops I have worked with have guys sitting around waiting for work to come in. I just completed a project where the client used a large flat-rate company which has around 20-trucks. The first plumber who came out was not very talented but was able to say there was a slab leak. The second plumber who came out was well experienced and was able to find the leak within 10-minutes and recommended a partial re-route. A third plumber and helper actually came out and finished the job.

            I asked the experienced plumber why he did not come out first and he said they only have two guys who are really qualified to do detecting and the other guys feed them work. A second client on the same project had a different flat-rate company come out to find his leak. Again the plumber I met claimed to be the only qualified guy in the shop for leak detection. He recommended a re-route of everything but the main cold water feed to the water heater a the line to the front hose bibb (most of the leaks in this area are said to be on the hot side). The plumber told the insurance company the leak was in the footing at the back of the house under the kitchen cabinets.

            After ther re-route was completed there was still a slab leak. I took out my Ridgid Navitrack and my Metrotech HL4000-50 and within a few minutes found the leak was in the cold water feed to the water heater at the front of the house. As it turns out the plumber was using a Goldak 777-A which I use to use back in the 70s.

            My point is I have not found the flat-rate companies to have better qualified plumbers than a T&M shop. Today it seems a flashy Yellow Page ad and a couple of nice looking trucks with at least one or two guys who kind of know what they are doing is all it takes.

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

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

            Comment


            • #51
              Originally posted by ECS

              Is LA the standard to which we must all conform? No! The standard is the current version of the IPC being used by whatever code authority has jurisdiction at the location that the work is being performed. I can use pvc anywhere I want to except for any space that is also being used as a plenum.
              By the way to give you a little history, the original Plumbing Code was the UPC which started out as the City of Los Angeles Plumbing Code. Today a portion of the country uses the IPC and a portion uses the UPC. Since ICBO merged with ICC most of the building codes are now based on the International Codes. However, much of the West Coast is still using the Uniform Codes for Plumbing and Mechanical.

              I am certified in the IPC by the ICBO and by the ICC. I am also certified by the ICBO, the ICC and the IAPMO in the UPC. I prefer the UPC but believe IAPMO and the ICC will come to an agreement in the next year or so and we will all be working under the IPC.

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

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

              Comment


              • #52
                But wait, there's more.

                This is more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

                I do need to correct ToUtahNow on something concerning flat rate pricing. This applies to the flat rate company I worked for and the two others I interviewed with but I can not attest to others S.O.P’s.. When I would bid a job, say three toilet replacements, the first replacement is xxx.xx. The second and third replacement would be less than the first price because the first price also included drive time. After all, Once I leave the previous customer, I am on the next customers clock.

                Concerning the water leak. I think you are pointing out what can be found in many shops, not just flat rate. I started out in a T&M shop. After nine months on the job they started to send me out on my own. Needless to say, I was not ready and made many mistakes. I told them so and continued to work with another experienced plumber. Maybe I’m more honest with myself than others.

                In my last shop only the boss was certified to do back flow checks. I wanted to be but was never offered the opportunity to do so. Does this make me a bad plumber? No. Just makes me inexperienced in checking back flow devices. This could be the same for leak detection. If a plumber said he was experienced in such and such but was not, shame on him. But this does not just happen at flat rate companies.

                I’ve seen many companies, T&M and flat rate, send guys off on their own to quick because they did not have enough experienced plumbers. This happens in every trade. I’ve been to many jobs were the previous company could not find the problem or knew how to fix it. I always fixed it. I know, be careful not to separate your shoulder by patting yourself on the back. Ya, ya.

                I think the anti-flat rate guys generalize too much. Not all are bad as you seem to indicate. They’re people that will rip you off in any trade. I’ve known T&M guys to go get supplies and then spend forty-five minutes b’s’ing with the supply house staff and then charge that time out. In my book this would be worse than the extremely high flat rate guys. At least with flat rate the customer knows the price before the job is done.

                Didn’t I say I was done with this? Oh well.

                As much as some toes have been stepped on it is good having this discussion. It is good to see both sides of the issue.
                One of the best lessons I learned from my father is when he did nothing to help me. I then learned to help my self.

                Comment


                • #53
                  I'm sure there are different business practices out there but I was referring to the specific flat-rate book I was reading from.

                  As far as the difference between Backflow testing and leak locating there is a big difference. To test backflow devises generally you have to take and pass a 40-hour course and be certified via a test in the area you are working in. You do not have to be a plumber to be a backflow tester.

                  As a plumber you need to be able to find leaks. To not be certified in Backflow Testing does not make you a bad plumber. To not know how to do electronic detecting does made you a poorly qualified plumber.

                  I'm not saying you have to be proficient in the first couple of years but beyond that I believe there is a problem. Today we are in a new world full of technology. A plumber can no longer just be about brute force he must be able to use the tools which are available. Each of my trucks had cameras and locating equipment on them. How do you tell a customer you are charging them for a service call but you are not prepared to do the work?

                  To those who do not locate, don’t take this as an attack but I would consider going to a shop which will let you be all that you can be.

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

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

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by ECS

                    What about you Rick? Would you like to take a shot at explaining to me why this flange should not be considered perfectly legal? I mean after all, don't you sort of owe it to the younger generation and the public at large to set me straight seeing as how I'm not, according to you and Utah, one of those "real plumbers like utah and i". Really Rick, what are you, 14. When I read that statement I was embarrased for you. I already know what you think of my character and ability but you come off like their are no "real plumbers" except for Southern Kalifornia. Or did I read that wrong? Maybe what you meant was that there are no "real plumbers" except for you and Utah?! Talk about little buddyitis! You sound like Gilligan defending the Skipper's honor. I just don't get you! Most of the time you come across as a decent fellow, very knowledgeable, and helpful, but then you make ridiculous statements like this and I just have to scratch my head. Set me straight or get off my back!
                    i just looked at a similar flange tonight at home depot. it's made by oatley. it doesn't have any stamps or approvals on the flange or the accompying paperwork. it also has a net opening smaller than 3'' abs pipe. it also comes in cast iron and it too has a smaller opening than 3'' pipe along with no stamps or approvals.

                    i know that a commercial plumbing inspector here in los angeles will not allow any fitting without a iapmo or upc stamp. a combination inspector typically is not qualified in all aspects of every trade. these inspectors (bmi) are more into the framing code than plumbing or electrical.

                    if i come across a "jones" flange at the trade show next week, i will inquire along with showing it to a training inspector that i've known for 25 years.

                    an offset closet flange is sold at supply houses accross the nation. it's not an approved fitting here.

                    as noted in an earlier post, los angeles has some of the most stringent building and mechanical codes in the country. what is not allowed in los angeles, is not necessarily disallowed in other parts of the country.

                    rick.
                    phoebe it is

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Interesting thread. As far as pricing, I've worked for both types of contractors. I don't think this thread has given the customer credit for being smart enough to know the difference between getting a fair deal and getting ripped off. The truth is just a phone call away from their local plumbing supply house.

                      The average consumer may not know the difference between a Contra Costa valve and a PRV, but most folks can tell when they are being hustled, and word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising, be it good or bad.

                      I've worked in the service plumbing industry for quite a few years. Most customers don't mind paying a slightly higher price if they know they can count on your services, day or night, and you make them feel that their problem is your problem too.

                      They understand you are in biz to make a profit, and if they see the value in what you do for them, they will call again. If they don't, then you just lost a customer. Thats the chance you take. If your price/bid is a bit higher, you damn well better have some skills and personality.

                      When I get back to the States and start my biz I will finally get to determine my own prices. I can give a discount as I see fit. I've heard you'll go broke by being fair. I don't buy it. Your customers will decide if you go broke or not.

                      I won't go wrong with my concience as my guide, and I know from many years in the service industry, if you go the extra mile for folks, payment is rarely an issue. Not because they're stupid, but because they recognize the value in the product and service you provided.

                      (y'all don't know me yet, but that's as humble as my opinion gets )
                      "...then there was that dusky gal in Bangkok...real crossway breeder I swear"

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Re: Flat Rate vs Whatever

                        The truth with flat rate pricing, straight forward pricing.
                        It is taken from a national average of time insert the hourly wage you require to maintain the profit margin to keep the lights on and moving forward.
                        Often time’s plumbers are lazy and give a price on the phone only to discover the job task is more than what the client stated. They are not the professional we are.
                        I want a water heater installed it is a 40 gallon electric heater. How much to install.
                        Give the price and arrive to discover that they have an ecu line with badly corroded gate vlaves, gate valve that is not working and a tempering valve that has failed not to mention the half inch relief line that needs to be increased to three quarter. Most companies disregard the necessary repairs to maintain the price quoted and lose money.
                        Flat rate has this included to do the job correctly in the best interest of the client. Never give a guess when it comes to the profitability if you company that is insane.
                        Have any of you ever had one of those days where everything you touch seems to go wrong. The hold down nuts on a faucet that requires a hack saw blade to cut them off? Install a kitchen sink that has a different location for the disposal and basket drain line? Has anyone just not felt well and tired and take a little longer to do the task? Where does experience level come into play? I am faster than a second year plumber yet the client is punished with time and material. The client deserves the same price for any and all jobs by different technicians in your company. Why should the client be punished for the least accomplished technician in your company to service them? Why should the company be punished for me having done this a thousand times and having become an expert in my profession?
                        Bonus material for flat rate
                        Running after materials; how many clients call to complain about the time the tech was gone?
                        The number of breaks the tech takes working ;how many complaints on pricing time and material for breaks?
                        Complaints that the task took too long to complete and that the client has overpaid.
                        And many other benefits that bypasses time complaints that take up the busy time of the manager and owner where they can concentrate on business opportunities.
                        Concerning the service call many companies charge a service call that charge time and material. A service charge is just that a charge to come to the door period. The difference a flat rate company informs the client of this charge ahead of time and they accept the charge. It is not a SURPRISE charge added to time and material.
                        I am in complete agreement with ES.I will take this one step farther. Any plumber who installs a badger 1 or 5 for a client without explaining the benefits of a three quarter or 1 hp disposal should be thrown out of the business. They are not serving their clients in the client’s best interest. Last week I left a client where a “plumber” installed a badger v, they pulled out a three quarter horse disposal to install the inferior product. They never took the time to explain the larger capacity disposal to the client they priced purely on price and feared the higher priced unit. This used to be the normal regular plumber for them but not anymore.
                        They have had difficulties the past two years with the kitchen sink drain. It has been cleaned out three times in less than two years. What I found; improper osmosis drain connection. The quarter inch tubing was drilled through the waste arm of the trap on the disposal side, missed by their “plumber”. The kitchen faucet was leaking from the spout into cabinet and a stopped up drain. They did install; the disposal though for less than two hundred dollars. The tech needed to get to the next call and leave the rest of the problem for the client to discover. By the way there was a plunger sitting on the counter meaning they were plunging the sink waste water into the osmosis system and contaminating the filtered water due to the improper connection. No value, no trust, no real service to the client. That is what separates me from the competition.
                        I would love to see the stats on failing flat rate companies. Flat rate has not been around that long and I can show many failed time and material companies. Call the phone numbers in a 3 year old phone book.
                        I can guarantee that I take more time than any time and material person does with my clients and I deliver more. I not only change all common aerators. I tighten loose faucet handles, water closet seats and remove hair from the pop-ups plus other items. The client also knows where to find the emergency shutoff for the whole house and water heater and they know about preventive measures.
                        I would love to discuss this more however I think the most important item is the client receives a technician that cares about them.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Re: Flat Rate vs Whatever

                          i too would love to discuss this further, but you brought up a thread that hasn't seen activity in over 3 years and the original poster has passed away close to 2 years ago.

                          once again, there's more to you than meets the eye. 2 post and both bashing our members.

                          rick.
                          phoebe it is

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Re: Flat Rate vs Whatever

                            Nothing personal here it is a different point of view that suggests there might be a different way to look at strategies. I am using valid tried and true points and that is not bashing. I provide examples to help illustrate the point. It s fine that you disagree and I do not expect everyone to agree, wouldn’t that be great if we all did agree with one another. Why do you disagree with the statements? Are the statements that I have made false? If so where and why are they false?

                            I will take my website off the site I did not think that would give me an unfair advantage.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Re: Flat Rate vs Whatever

                              Originally posted by rich34232 View Post
                              Nothing personal here it is a different point of view that suggests there might be a different way to look at strategies. I am using valid tried and true points and that is not bashing. I provide examples to help illustrate the point. It s fine that you disagree and I do not expect everyone to agree, wouldn’t that be great if we all did agree with one another. Why do you disagree with the statements? Are the statements that I have made false? If so where and why are they false?

                              I will take my website off the site I did not think that would give me an unfair advantage.
                              I would hardly say providing your web site link gives you an advantage as it in facts takes a little of your credibility away. However, it is obvious you are trying to promote your commercial interests here and that is not allowed.

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

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

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Re: Flat Rate vs Whatever

                                It asked for my website so I naturally provided the web site. Should all web sites be removed as everyone who has a business website is using it to profit from? I guess it has to be a point of view. However I will keep mine off the site.


                                I disagree that it takes creditability away. My experience is with three areas concerning professional plumbing. The wholesale portion during the 70's followed by school and employment as a plumber, next step as the owner operator of a successful plumbing company that sold after 15 years in 1993 and now a successful sales manager and licensed plumber who has solid sales experience.


                                My beliefs; long term solution with long term relationships and the client is more important than me. Without them there is no company. I value integrity, ethical behavior, and honesty. Trust and value with each client is the goal giving them the best possible options for a successful decision.

                                Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain

                                Comment

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