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  • Price shopping on Drain calls

    Now that I'm back in the till taking my calls again (big truck finally done, 12 grand over projection )

    i'm realizing how often I'm getting price shoppers on drain cleaning calls.


    I know for a fact I've been hustled on at least 5 drain calls this past week and I've been flat rating main drains sight unseen at $150 minimum, that's for clear access to a stack cleanout.


    Had a call tonight at 5:30, that's an overtime call and I stated the same price, guy said "just his floor drain at the furnace" was backing up. We allllllll know how easy this call is, especially with a 2 year old home >>> condensate jelly! Something a garden hose could blow out instantly without even taking the machine off the truck.

    He just stated the basement was just remodeled and he didn't want to take a large machine down the carpeted steps. He asked if it was cheaper since only one drain was involved, nothing else, I said nope!

    Not going to give the trade away because somebody calls on a friday evening with a plumbing problem.

    I've even had repeat customers calling me up, price shopping me on setting fixtures in a basement remodel. pfffffft! You won't get me back as a plumber for sure if you're choosing price over the next guy.

    I'm soooooo addicted to the "how fast can you be here" type of customer that it isn't funny.

    Working cheap is slow going out of business sale, besides it's not like I don't have anything to do between 3 businesses.
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  • #2
    Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

    I don't do cheap! Of course I'm a remodeling cont. I have one customer that has spent a lot of money with Me. She has started shopping bids. I'll never do Her work again.
    I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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    • #3
      Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

      I don't mind price shopping.... I shop price when I buy things. But I hate the 'but it's just a tub/sink/floor drain/toilet. can't you do i for $x?' calls. I shop, but I don't haggle. And if you really want to make me angry, don't ask price, tell me it is an emergency, then when the water goes away start arguing about price. I'm through giving it away except in rare cases for old folks or others who really need the break.
      This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

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      • #4
        Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

        I always tell em "near as I can say it'll be..... " and quote the min. drain charge for what ever it is they're calling about. I never ever leave a job without the min. charge There's no free estimates except over the phone.
        If I get in the truck, drive to a job, there's gonna be a charge regardless.
        If they back out for whatever reason, I'm charging just the same. So they might as well have me clean a drain while I'm there.
        Besides, I usually find some extra work to do. The only time this doesn't work is....

        The ones that play the race game. They'll call 2 0r 3 companies and whoever shows up first, gets the job. Then they cancel other guys that are still enroute to the call. There is a way around this kind of thing, but I don't totally agree. Credit card over the phone. That way, they ain't canceling nothing unless they want their card charged $100.
        Last edited by Twicepipes; 07-12-2008, 12:59 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

          I don't get many price-shoppers on stoppages, most people are just happy get a quick response in those situations. My prices must be fairly competitive for this area, because I have never had a complaint on price for stoppage calls that I recall.
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          • #6
            Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

            i dont mind price shoppers, but i wil be dam#ed if i am going to compromise the quality of the job or my will to take my time and do it right just to put a smile on someones wallet, let em call some shlock that does it for nothing, you get what you payfor. from the ancient book of aeroes passage 111.5

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            • #7
              Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

              Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
              I don't get many price-shoppers on stoppages, most people are just happy get a quick response in those situations. My prices must be fairly competitive for this area, because I have never had a complaint on price for stoppage calls that I recall.
              Synical note, oldtimer taught me that if I don't hear complaints on my prices theres a good chance I'm too low.

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              • #8
                Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

                I do my absolute best to never quote a job over the phone. It too often leads to trouble. The mindset is that once they've heard a price, anything else will make their blood boil. That first price sticks in their head and when you find out that their description of the problem doesn't address the actual problem at all and quote them what the actual repair will cost, they think you're doing a bait-and-switch.

                And when a customer says, "I want to be there when you are in case you need help," I reply that I charge double if they watch, triple if they help.

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                • #9
                  Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

                  I have no problem giving a price for drain cleaning over the phone as this eliminates the price shopper. I'm the worst salesman in the world and meeting a customer face to face will not close the deal. This is my price, if you want it, I'm there. There's just not to many variables with drain cleaning.
                  Buy cheap, buy twice.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

                    We don't really get many price shopping calls. The one thing I like about drain cleaning is they are happy to see you and even happier when you get it unclogged.

                    What I have found out from most customers is that they simply do not understand costs. All they see is a man pushing a metal rod down a hole and everything works. I don't even try to justify anything, just smile.


                    If they watch me I usually have fun with it. I say things like, Oh gross, that smells terrible, I hope this works!, Wonder what that was?
                    Anyone can tear a man down, few can build one up.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

                      I think Dunbars idea here is the fact that there are people that will allow puddles of poo to accumulate in their basement while they shop around for the lowest possible price.

                      I had a foreign fella about six months back shop me on an emergency water heater replacement.
                      I gave him my price and that was the end of story.

                      He calls me back three days later to ask if I could go lower.

                      I refused, then asked if he'd been without hot water all that time.
                      He told me yes, then proudly boasted that he'd called quite a few plumbers and finally found a price for $15 less than mine.
                      I mentioned it on this forum at the time.
                      I told him to go with the other plumber, I was inferior and he should continue to use the other guy.
                      My rationale was that if he was willing to wait for days to get a price $15 lower than mine, I absolutely want NO future business from him or referrals to people like him.
                      He was willing to stave off sanitation & hygiene for days for a $15 savings...no thank you.
                      I also immediately raised my heater prices, this guy called around for days to find a guy $15 cheaper than me, that told me something.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

                        Originally posted by DuckButter View Post
                        He was willing to stave off sanitation & hygiene for days for a $15 savings...no thank you.
                        I also immediately raised my heater prices, this guy called around for days to find a guy $15 cheaper than me, that told me something.
                        LOL that guy should post in the 'How Cheap Are You' thread

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                        • #13
                          Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

                          I'm sewer ratting w/ a bigger co. so they *want* us to go and sell the job.
                          I had a number of drains to do at an Indians (Dots not feathers) house in a fancy suburb west of here.1 Mercedes 1 bmw in the driveway. All the kids in the house were running around with their own laptop computers.I quote him a price on the job and says bla bla bla waaay to high so I cut him some off as I'm getting mad and had plenty behind him that day before I could head home.He then called the owner (Another India-n)She quotes him $50 higher!! Then he tries this..."well I only have X in my bank acc't."
                          I started packing in a hurry and said give a call when you get paid! Faced with no drains on a saturday night he finally said ok.First line I get into...kitchen sink was full of grease *and* frozen. I wanted to strangle him with my 3/8 cable.
                          Also I deal with a middle eastern realtor who ends up with these bank owned houses that usually half the drains are plugged and all of the galvanized needs to be replaced.He tries this "the buyer can do it for X less"
                          "Good luck then".
                          Last edited by Jay Mpls; 07-14-2008, 06:24 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Price shopping on Drain calls

                            I'm with you Jay. I don't negotiate. If people start whining and moaning about price, I start packing...
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