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  • Grumblings

    The bulk of my business is remodeling, an occasional custom house, and some service, mostly of clients who I have remodeled for, as a result most of my work is through a contractor. I really try to go the extra mile for my general's, and for the most part they are EXTREMELY loyal to me in return for the excellent service. However, it had been quite some time since I had heard from one of them, so one day when I was in the neighborhood I stopped by to say hi, and see what was going on so to speak.

    The reply was concerning, they said that everything was dead, and that they were down to skeleton crews, but they continued on telling me that we had the last job that I had bid for them, but were waiting on plans to get thru plan check at the city...

    Well, I get a phone call from an electrician friend of mine(who I refered to this GC) asking me what I had done to upset this general? I asked what he meant and he filled me in on the details of this other plumber getting the job that I had bid and been given the verbal on.

    This particular contractor is/was my oldest client, and though I would miss the revenue from them (about 15% of my business) What I will miss more is working with them, as they are true craftsmen, Working hard at what they do, and having fun at it. The comraderie, I guess is what I will miss most.

    The thing that bothers me most is getting the verbal ok in January then not hearing anything until another guy is already on the job, I dont know if I was underbid, if I missed a phone call or fax, or if I said or did something to make them mad.

    I am really not quite sure how to approach this situation, I feel like I should have a conversation with them, but I am not sure what it will net me, I feel as if I have been lied to.

    Should I conveniently drop by the jobsite because I was "in the neighborhood" or should I wait and just go back to their office? I want to know why they found another plumber, and what I did or didn't do to cause this. I know I am not the least expensive guy out there, and i am also not the most expensive, and I pride myself on being there for my GC's when they need me.

    Sorry for the long post.

    Greg

  • #2
    Re: Grumblings

    I would move on they did. He did not respect you enough to talk it over why waste your time.
    THE GLASS IS ALWAYS HALF FULL

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    • #3
      Re: Grumblings

      I would get myself into his office and pin him down to lunch.Pick his brain till he got fed up with me and willingly give me an explaination.Some people do not like conflict so they make nice faces and bulls**t.Part of the industry.Hard times are here.Work is slow.Some contractors are taking work for the price as low to pay the guys wages so they don't lose them,or even so they can feed themselves.Tell him you know about the job,no hard feelings,Now give me the plans to you're other ones you're pakaging

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      • #4
        Re: Grumblings

        I don't know why, I just want to know their reason(S) for a variety of reasons. Most importantly that the guys are good guys to work with, and also if they have found someone that will do it cheaper, that's fine, they will be back, if I have somehow left them with a bad feeling about me, & or how I did/do business with them, I want to be sure that I don't make the same mistake twice

        Greg

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        • #5
          Re: Grumblings

          Don't be so hard on yourself without knowing the truth

          Adam

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          • #6
            Re: Grumblings

            greg, since you're fairly tight with them. i would expect a reason too.

            it's a win, win situation. maybe they found a cheaper guy. maybe they had an issue. you need to know so you can try to get the next one.

            i would talk to the person at the company that you know the best and see if you can at least discuss it, or meet over lunch. honesty is the best way to approach this. i'm sure they will level with you.

            rick.
            phoebe it is

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            • #7
              Re: Grumblings

              I would hope so, one of the principals is the primary reason I got my license when I did, and I have known him for close to 20 years, and I am only 30 (for a few more hours) We'll have to see. I think I will try the lunch idea. Could also be that the H.O took the plumbing out of their bid, so I guess I can't really jump to conclusions.

              Greg

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              • #8
                Re: Grumblings

                Move on and concentrate on building the other 85% of your business so that it grows to 100%. Any new construction/large commercial stuff I ever bid on is bid and then forgotten unless they call. The bulk of my stuff is residential/small commercial that I deal with directly from start to finish.

                Business is business, and maybe your guys went with a cheaper guy, who knows. Even if you get a sit down with them they'll probably smile weaselly while they're talking $H!T. So don't even bother. The best scenario is that they call you to do something down the road and you have to decline, saying that your own business is just too busy right now.

                Regardless, move on.........
                I'm on "The List" and I love it!!

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                • #9
                  Re: Grumblings

                  Originally posted by tinmack View Post
                  The best scenario is that they call you to do something down the road and you have to decline, saying that your own business is just too busy right now.....
                  that is a GREAT feeling

                  steve
                  In the never ending struggle to keep the water flowing.... The Poo Poo Cowboy rides again!!!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Grumblings

                    Originally posted by tinmack View Post
                    The best scenario is that they call you to do something down the road and you have to decline, saying that your own business is just too busy right now.

                    Regardless, move on.........

                    Yea, but that feeling might be short lived. The belt is starting to tighten and no relief in sight. When times are tough you might need him to throw you a bone.

                    Most GC's don't use one plumber exclusively. They have a main "goto" guy like yourself and a few cheaper guys that swing in from time to time. I don't take that personally. It's just business.

                    You are getting info second hand from an electrician. A friendly phone call will clear the air.

                    A general that keeps me busy and pays on time will always keep my attention even if he's is flirting with someone else.

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                    • #11
                      Here's my take

                      FWIW,

                      People can grow old in their relationships, doesn't matter if it is work or personal.

                      Same reason I'll have one particular girl cut my hair and do an excellent job, no complaints......but I like to impulsively get a hair cut. Doesn't matter who cuts it, I'm not going to be loyal because it doesn't fit my schedule. Just don't cut my hair that lowers my ears or makes my face any fatter than what it is.


                      I don't expect loyalty from my customers. I understand that I'm not cheap as a plumber, but I can guarantee you won't be calling me back because I did something assinine or disrespectful to them.

                      It's just that I'm not the fastest, I charge to make a dime, I leave little room for error in my work practice. So if you decide to leave me as a plumber, you did it solely on price, not incorrect workmanship or leaks, damage or disrespect.

                      I'd rather lose my customer base in this way.....knowing I did my best when I was in the home. It's awesome when I see them pull away and use someone else, then call me for another issue, thinking the money spent with the last guy wasn't as endearing.

                      You'll lose work relationships through your career and you can't let it bother you. I have trouble taking my own advice on that particular statement but give it a few weeks and numerous service calls and all is good.

                      I'd say in your profession, times are tough like mentioned. The cost of the dollar can really change relationships right now unless you can hunker down and avoid the despair. I don't know.
                      Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

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                      • #12
                        Re: Grumblings

                        A great many years ago, I worked for a contractor who, after about a year, stopped calling me.

                        It was a bizarre situation, and certainly not one that a plumbing contractor would go out looking for.

                        When I first hired on with him, I was told that he had his own contractor's license and would pull the permits. (From back in the day when you could get a contractor's license by simply paying for one.) He would supply the material for each job. He wanted a good price for labor only, and told me to base my bid on fifty houses per year. I wound up charging about $600 per house. (Long time ago.)

                        This guy was running at the bare edge of house building. He used the least amount of material possible while just barely passing building code. IIRC, the houses were built with 24" center floor joists and a sheet of 3/4" plywood, with 3/8" particle board in kitchen and bath.

                        Over the course of the year, I could never collect very quickly. This guy was not a small outfit - he also did the road construction. But when I'd go to collect, I would be told that they used shared time on another company's computer and the computer was down or they had used up all their time for the month.

                        At one point, I had plumbed 6 houses without getting paid, but that wasn't bad. I talked to framers who had framed 18 houses without a check.

                        There were about three plans - they knew every single fitting to supply and how many feet of pipe per house. It was that tight.

                        I did not plumb 50 houses that year. I plumbed about 14 and three tri-plexes. I didn't get a rebate for "basing my price on 50 houses per year."

                        Then the phone stopped ringing. After some time passed, I became curious and went looking at the jobs. Someone else was doing them. The workmanship was horrific, and I could not help but wonder how it was getting passed, on workmanship alone. There were stacks installed about 20* off plumb and ABS pipes bent and stretched. It was obvious that they had found someone even more stupid than I was to plumb for less money, and they didn't care about workmanship - just squeaking by the codes.

                        I did eventually collect everything that was coming to me. I can't say I felt a terrible loss. If anything, it was a sense of relief that I could go back to plumbing normally. In addition to all the above, I had to do a 60 mile round trip to the jobs every day.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Grumblings

                          That was a good move Herk, whether you realized it or not at the time.

                          New construction is so cut throat in my area that these guys are literally installing the plumbing for nothing.
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                          • #14
                            Re: Grumblings

                            3 years ago I decided to never ever deal with a GC again. Best thing I ever did.
                            THE GLASS IS ALWAYS HALF FULL

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                            • #15
                              Re: Grumblings

                              Thats exactly why I am a service guy only. No GCs, just deal directly with homeowners, do my job, collect the $ immediately and move on. I like that much better than busting my butt on new construction and then waiting for money.
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