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  • #31
    Re: All customers are a pain

    Originally posted by DUNBAR View Post
    How did they charge for their services?
    Mostly flat rate in cases where a service did not have a flat rate price in the book an hourly charge would be charged.The hourly rate was never a set amount sometimes I would be told to quote 200 per hour and other cases more.

    One example was one day I replaced a water heater and installed a battery back up sump pump while finishing up the customer ask me to look at a toilet.The toilet had a bad flapperball the flat rate book charge on the flapperball was $100.00.The bill on the sump & h2o heater was already over $3600.00 I was already there and had done work but still had to charge $100.00 for a $5.00 flapper.The customer ended up with a bill over $3700.00 and I was there around 2 1/2 hours.I remember it so well because as I rolled away from the house I refused the next call and quit.

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    • #32
      Re: All customers are a pain

      As a single-man shop reputation is everything. So, you go the extra mile and lay down drop clothes, wear shoe covers, chat if the customer wants to chat, be extraordinarily careful so you don't knock over that Ming vase. Accidents happen when you hurry.

      All of that translates into fewer calls during the day which translates to a higher estimate.
      And what is it worth to always have your TRUSTED plumber on standby? Not just for plumbing. My customers constantly call for advice about other repairs they need.

      So, it is capitalism at it's best. Supply and demand. Supply a great service and you will be in high demand. Price yourself accordingly.

      My recommendation, Osgoor, would be to get a referral or two from friends and chat with the plumbers and get to know them a little bit. You can certainly get an idea over the phone regarding the price. I would recommend a single-man or very small shop who can give you personal service. Please, don't ask their hourly "labor" rate. In most cases you would not be comparing apples to apples. And, when you finally find one you like--stick with him and he will take good care of you when you need it most. That extra little bit (or BIG bit :-) that you spent on him last year might translate into a huge rescue next year.
      If you just want your plumbing fixed at the cheapest price by a supposedly licensed supposed professional I suggest you call Lowe's.
      Last edited by SlimTim; 03-03-2009, 12:00 AM.
      "Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied." Mark Twain

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      • #33
        Re: All customers are a pain

        Originally posted by Tyman View Post
        Well here I am........

        If you read my post it started with "I need to vent". Don't get your khaki's all bunched up.

        My thread was based on the economy from a employee perspective. I don't own the company yet I have people going through extraordinarily rude efforts to save money. Some of which include calling my home phone at 9:00 at night to talk about a sump pump alarm, asking me to do side work knowing full well it is wrong, and ongoing negotiating which I have no control over. I was venting after a rough day with fellow plumbers.

        Here is a scenario to put it into perspective for you:

        Next time I need a computer guy I am going to have them come to my house for a estimate on Saturday night at 6:00. Then, after they diagnose it, write up a firm quote I'll tell them they are too high and I will have my buddy Larry fix it. Then I am going to call you late at night and during work hours to ask you questions on how to fix it myself.

        Three months later, I am going to call you again and ask you to do a free estimate because my computer is acting up again. Am I a good customer?
        Ty,

        Nope, this is not a good customer. After the first decline I would demand a fee be paid up front to cover consulting by phone or on site. No money, no help. Burn me once and it's on the customer, burn me twice and it's on me.

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        • #34
          Re: All customers are a pain

          To all,

          I am not challenging any of your pricing or business tactics. All markets are different and all businesses have different cost structures. I just wanted to suggest that when a customer tries to negotiate with you it is not always because he's a cheap, bad customer.

          When I do need a tradesman I do look for referrals through friends and neighbors. I also use Angies list and have found many good referrals. Even with the referrals I will still ask for more than one bid and then compare to satisfy myself that I am getting the best value.

          If I was a GC or landlord I fully agree that it makes sense to develop a working relationship with various trades. As a standard homeowner I am not sure the tradesman or I would feel the need or value in the same relationship. His or her time is too valuable to cultivate a single homeowner that may need a service call every 5 or so years.

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          • #35
            Re: All customers are a pain

            Originally posted by SlimTim View Post
            As a single-man shop reputation is everything. So, you go the extra mile and lay down drop clothes, wear shoe covers, chat if the customer wants to chat, be extraordinarily careful so you don't knock over that Ming vase. Accidents happen when you hurry.

            All of that translates into fewer calls during the day which translates to a higher estimate.
            And what is it worth to always have your TRUSTED plumber on standby? Not just for plumbing. My customers constantly call for advice about other repairs they need.

            So, it is capitalism at it's best. Supply and demand. Supply a great service and you will be in high demand. Price yourself accordingly.

            My recommendation, Osgoor, would be to get a referral or two from friends and chat with the plumbers and get to know them a little bit. You can certainly get an idea over the phone regarding the price. I would recommend a single-man or very small shop who can give you personal service. Please, don't ask their hourly "labor" rate. In most cases you would not be comparing apples to apples. And, when you finally find one you like--stick with him and he will take good care of you when you need it most. That extra little bit (or BIG bit :-) that you spent on him last year might translate into a huge rescue next year.
            If you just want your plumbing fixed at the cheapest price by a supposedly licensed supposed professional I suggest you call Lowe's.
            Hey, I do work for Lowes.
            The funny thing is when people go through a retailer and pay for an installation they think it covers every plumbing problem in the area. When I tell them its extra to fix they argue. The price usually ends up comparable to other plumbing companies.

            Comment


            • #36
              Re: All customers are a pain

              Originally posted by EasyEman View Post
              Hey, I do work for Lowes.
              The funny thing is when people go through a retailer and pay for an installation they think it covers every plumbing problem in the area. When I tell them its extra to fix they argue. The price usually ends up comparable to other plumbing companies.
              I'll hold my tongue...
              Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

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              • #37
                Re: All customers are a pain

                Originally posted by SlimTim View Post
                All of that translates into fewer calls during the day which translates to a higher estimate.
                I would think that the single man shop would have much lower overhead though than the large shop. At this point, I generally associate large shops that advertise a lot with lots of overhead; which of course must be passed on to the customer.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Re: All customers are a pain

                  Originally posted by cpw View Post
                  I would think that the single man shop would have much lower overhead though than the large shop. At this point, I generally associate large shops that advertise a lot with lots of overhead; which of course must be passed on to the customer.
                  not really.

                  a 1 man show has to cover all the expenses that normally would be a percentage of each employee.

                  i still have just as much, if not more insurance than most shops. i have a the same cost for my license. my shop/ building cost the same if there is just me or a dozen guys.

                  i might not pay for employees, but i put in the hours to get the work done.

                  as far as advertising for a large shop. they do it because they need to. a shop that can't keep repeat customers and get free referrals is doing something wrong.

                  my buddy steve had 20 plumbers and only advertised when he was looking for a qualified employee. not for customers.

                  on the other hand, the local companies with all the horror stories, need to advertise to find new suckers. they even try to buy local companies to buy their name, number and reputation. i get a letter 2 times a year just for that reason.

                  the guy that quit after he installed a water heater, sump pump and then charged another $100 for a $5. flapper is exactly the reason why these companies are struggling. you're already there, it takes less than 5 minutes to go to the truck, install it and move on.

                  try $600 for a ballcock, and flapper and tank handle. 15 minutes of time and $15 of parts. that's why they need to advertise.

                  if you've been in business for 5 years, you better be self sufficient. advertising is an expense that established shops don't need.

                  so as far as overhead goes, i know as a percentage per employee, i pay a whole lot more than a company with employees.

                  rick.
                  phoebe it is

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                  • #39
                    Re: All customers are a pain

                    I hope (and believe) you are right Rick about established shops not needing to advertise much. I am still under 2 years in business, and my advertising brings in much needed new customers. But I am hoping at around year 5 that I will have so many repeat customers, that I will be able to cut back substantially to the point that my advertising budget is just a drop in the bucket. Right now my advertising budget is by far my number one overhead expense. But it keeps the phones ringing for my relatively new business and that is the most important part of this business.
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                    • #40
                      Re: All customers are a pain

                      Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post

                      the guy that quit after he installed a water heater, sump pump and then charged another $100 for a $5. flapper is exactly the reason why these companies are struggling. you're already there, it takes less than 5 minutes to go to the truck, install it and move on.
                      I dont really understand what you mean by this. Somehow I'm to blame? or you are agreeing thats not right.

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                      • #41
                        Re: All customers are a pain

                        Originally posted by cpw View Post
                        I would think that the single man shop would have much lower overhead though than the large shop. At this point, I generally associate large shops that advertise a lot with lots of overhead; which of course must be passed on to the customer.
                        And overall you're right.

                        I worked at a Mr. Rooter franchise prior to having my own business. They had the largest ad in the entire phonebook when I was there and were possibly the most expensive company in town. I always thought it was funny when people called us out to their house and were surprised when we charged more than their old plumber...I mean, c'mon, they called the BIGGEST ad in the phonebook...and then they are surprised that the company charges more than average??? I guess they have no idea how much those ads cost...$1000s per month!

                        Now that I am self-employed, my overhead is controlled by me, and of course my overhead is WAY LESS than the big franchise I mentioned, and of course, overall my prices are way less too.

                        The biggest ads for service companies are usually the most expensive companies. Not always, but its a good rule of thumb.
                        Last edited by Service Guy; 03-03-2009, 05:44 PM.
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                        • #42
                          Re: All customers are a pain

                          Originally posted by slink View Post
                          I dont really understand what you mean by this. Somehow I'm to blame? or you are agreeing thats not right.
                          easy slink hes agreeing with you
                          Mike
                          Clark County Plumbing And Drain
                          www.plumbinginclarkcounty.com

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                          • #43
                            Re: All customers are a pain

                            Originally posted by slink View Post
                            I dont really understand what you mean by this. Somehow I'm to blame? or you are agreeing thats not right.
                            i'm agreeing that you did what your gut/ conscience told you to do

                            the shop that i'm referring to for $600 actually had purchased a different shop and it's customers along with it's employees. so when the job to fix a toilet came in. the new guy working for his old customers quit when his $150 repair was priced out at $600.

                            this company has been trying to purchase local companies to fool their established clients. it works the first time around, and the second time they go elsewhere. same reason why a few months back they laid off 50 guys. i said guys, not licensed plumbers

                            rick.
                            phoebe it is

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Re: All customers are a pain

                              Originally posted by osgoor View Post
                              Disclaimer -- I am not a plumber nor do I play one on TV. I call the pros when needed.

                              I have been reading these forums for awhile now and have noticed some interesting contrasts.

                              I note many threads about how cheap this customer is when asking for a deal on plumbing services. The rants about the guy calling on a weekend or after 6pm, etc. Within the same forums are guys talking about the wonderful (cheap) bargain they scored on a new tool or the extra cash they made from a job because some other plumber screwed it up.

                              I don't think you guys understand that you are a service or commodity like any other. People will shop for a good/fair price. They will contact multiple plumbers for pricing. How do they know that your rate of X is fair unless they compare it to Y. Why can't I ask if you will match vendor Y? Do you ever ask for a price match on something you are looking for? Plumbers do have a reputation for overcharging around where I live. I have had work done by pros and have been quoted rates that vary by over 300% and the first two pros I hired and payed their rate did not fix the problem.

                              Before you rant on a customer trying to be sure he is getting the best value, look at it from more than your narrow perspective.

                              -- Let the flaming begin.

                              And what I always find funny is, people who have (never done anything in this trade) making any statement, such as you have. why don't you try walking in others shoes before acting like you know what's going on.

                              Thanks for the Laugh....
                              sigpic

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                              • #45
                                Re: All customers are a pain

                                Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post

                                as far as advertising for a large shop. they do it because they need to. a shop that can't keep repeat customers and get free referrals is doing something wrong.

                                my buddy steve had 20 plumbers and only advertised when he was looking for a qualified employee. not for customers.

                                on the other hand, the local companies with all the horror stories, need to advertise to find new suckers. they even try to buy local companies to buy their name, number and reputation. i get a letter 2 times a year just for that reason.

                                the guy that quit after he installed a water heater, sump pump and then charged another $100 for a $5. flapper is exactly the reason why these companies are struggling. you're already there, it takes less than 5 minutes to go to the truck, install it and move on.

                                try $600 for a ballcock, and flapper and tank handle. 15 minutes of time and $15 of parts. that's why they need to advertise.

                                if you've been in business for 5 years, you better be self sufficient. advertising is an expense that established shops don't need.

                                so as far as overhead goes, i know as a percentage per employee, i pay a whole lot more than a company with employees.

                                rick.
                                I hope you're right too Rick. I'm two months into my 4th year, averaging 60 invoices per month last year (726 total), and am really tired of my overpriced yellow page ad.

                                I'm starting to agree more and more with your opinion of advertising.

                                My best customers are my repeats and referrals, no doubt.

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