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  • All customers are a pain

    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.

  • #2
    Re: All customers are a pain

    The pros that you hired-How heavily did their rate fall into the equation to hire them?

    Good plumbers that charge higher rates hear all the time about someone hiring ABC company to do something because they were cheaper and they didn't do things right.

    ALWAYS ask for people you trust's recommendations first. Then if you want to shop the rates of those companies-shop away.

    The reason I say that is that if they're good, busy, in business for awhile, AND profitable, then the rates are probably going to be close for the companies recommended to you.

    Doesn't bother me if they want to shop for someone cheaper. I've even told customers to call around if they want. Most don't. If they do alot of times they call back. If they don't-Why should I mind? I want x amount of profit for x amount of work & liability. If one can't get that they should probably stay home.

    Many plumbers on forums are 1 or 2 person companies. They are dealing directly with the end consumer daily. Many of them.

    And a good % of those customers will attempt to negotiate a lower price so it can grow to be irritating. Should we increase our price to allow for negotiations? Wanna' make it like the old car dealers?

    How would you like it if I, as your boss, came to you twice a day & asked you for a discount on your production? And I called around everyday looking for a lower priced person to do your job? It's happening more in your world too and I bet you don't like it.

    J.C.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: All customers are a pain

      I have absolutely no problem with customers checking rates BEFORE service is performed, but a lot of the complaints (on here and my personal experience) stem from a frantic customer calling you out, you perform service then they want to play let's make a deal!

      I love the "but all you did was...I could have done that myself" response.

      Another good one is the customer who calls three plumbers and decides to give the job to the first one who arrives.

      And also be sure you are comparing apples to apples when you get pricing. Paying for a licensed, insured company who stands behind there work and performs it according to state code just might cost you a bit more than the guy who tacked up his phone number on the telephone pole near the freeway...those are the fly by night jack of all trades who carry no insurance (might be useful when they burn your hose down while installing that water heater $50 cheaper), work out of there pick up trucks with no overhead(staff, office, etc.), who only accept cash, and good luck trying to get them back on a recall without having to pay again!
      Last edited by youngsplumbing; 03-02-2009, 11:56 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: All customers are a pain

        Originally posted by youngsplumbing View Post
        I have absolutely no problem with customers checking rates BEFORE service is performed, but a lot of the complaints (on here and my personal experience) stem from a frantic customer calling you out, you perform service then they want to play let's make a deal!

        I love the "What, but all you did was...I could have done that myself" response.

        Another good one is the customer who calls three plumbers and decides to give the job to the first one who arrives.
        I have no sympathy for customers who do not ask the price before service is rendered but only after. Not asking is on them. But, for your own sanity, wouldn't it make sense to quote an intial price and get their approval before beginning? That way no surprises and no arguements.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: All customers are a pain

          Originally posted by osgoor View Post
          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 think a lot of it is probably mostly venting. If you've worked directly with customers before, there are always some that want the sun, the moon & the stars. Also most everyone has had a coworker at some point they thought was a) an idiot, b) took credit for everything even though they did nothing, c) fill in the characteristic of your favorite coworker here.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: All customers are a pain

            Originally posted by cpw View Post
            I think a lot of it is probably mostly venting. If you've worked directly with customers before, there are always some that want the sun, the moon & the stars. Also most everyone has had a coworker at some point they thought was a) an idiot, b) took credit for everything even though they did nothing, c) fill in the characteristic of your favorite coworker here.
            Charles, you've known us all long enough to know that we are just venting about the "baddies."
            Most customers are cool. But some are outright obnoxious cheapskates, and I think you know that too from reading our posts over the years.

            We tend to talk a lot more about the bad ones than the good ones, and that is our fault. Oops.
            Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: All customers are a pain

              Originally posted by osgoor View Post
              I have no sympathy for customers who do not ask the price before service is rendered but only after. Not asking is on them. But, for your own sanity, wouldn't it make sense to quote an intial price and get their approval before beginning? That way no surprises and no arguements.

              YES! and I do that on every job.
              Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: All customers are a pain

                I think most of us here, whatever the trade, give a fair estimate based on time and materials necessary to do the job right, minimize call backs and make a fair profit. Having said that, when you quote a job for $700 and the customer wants you to do it for $500, it tends to make the blood boil. No one wants to be put in the position to have to justify their charges. We think the customer should "understand" the cost of doing business with us. Most of the time they don't though. So, I see it as a necessary evil to justify my prices to those customers who balk initially. We have to be salesmen too. They will buy the service if they feel the price is right. You have here an opportunity to educate them and when they feel comfortable doing business with you, they will probably be customers for life. Sure, they could get the job done cheaper by some unlicensed fly-by-night outfit but it is our job to show them the benefits of doing business with us. It's work to do this but you get better at it as you go along and the sense of satisfaction you get from bringing a customer around to your way of thinking can't be measured. Loyal customers will tell their friends about the work you've done for them and that form of advertising can't be purchased. I look at this type of customer as an opportunity. The customer is looking for the "best" price. That doesn't necessarilly mean the lowest price in most cases.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: All customers are a pain

                  I've always said that work would be a whole lot easier without the customer. they just get in the way, ask questions and generally take away from my fishing time.
                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: All customers are a pain

                    [QUOTE=osgoor;213043] 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.
                    /QUOTE]

                    A Carpenters perspective here.

                    Pro 1 has tool belt and hammer.

                    Pro 2 has nail guns and air compressors.

                    Pro 1 has ladders.

                    Pro 2 has scaffolding.

                    Pro one has only a skill saw.

                    Pro 2 has that and table saw and chop saw, for more accuracy.

                    Pro 1, learned on the job.

                    Pro 2 went to school and on the job,

                    Pro 1 has a $100,000.00 insurance policy.

                    Pro 2 has a $3,000,000.00 policy.

                    Pro 1 has a truck

                    Pro 2 has 3 trucks and many trailers. (for various reasons)

                    Pro 1 really doesn't care about his customers, or he would have planned his business with much more care.

                    Pro 2, cares, period........

                    Now, can you see a difference there, they are both pro's, but there's also a huge difference.

                    I'll hire the right company w/the right experience and tools, to do the job.
                    Great Link for a Construction Owner/Tradesmen, and just say Garager sent you....

                    http://www.contractorspub.com

                    A good climbing rope will last you 3 to 5 years, a bad climbing rope will last you a life time !!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: All customers are a pain

                      To Garager;

                      I would agree that the average person would pay a bit more for service "IF" they knew what you listed. However the average person does not know where the tradesman was trained, how much insurance or how many trucks they own. They must assume a common standard of quality exists. If 3 plumbers are liecensed by the state, then the consumer assumes all have met certain standards. When one pro quotes $500, another quotes $800 and a third $1,100, then the consumer is confused and feels someone is trying to take advantage of them. To protect themselves they will go into negotiation mode.

                      I do not work in the trades so take my comments as you will. I do work in IT and support 145 end users each day. I hear about every burp that happens in our system so I do appreciate the consumer to providor(trades) perspective.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.
                        Plumbers have a reputation for overcharging.

                        This guy is the pot calling the kettle black.
                        He is a manager at an IT company.
                        When was the last time you heard an IT company doing something cheap.
                        Don't they usually charge like $150-200 per hour and don't they portray it like a black art about how long it could take to have it fixed
                        If they come out to site they can catch a taxi but they would prefer you to bring your problem to them or log on remotely.
                        I could stand corrected here but they don't have thousands of dollars invested in equipment that could break on something unforeseen.

                        One of my clients works in IT and is surprised at how complex plumbing is.
                        When ever I do work at his place he has the day off and passes me the gear and dreams that he should quit his day job and become a plumber.

                        Simon

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: All customers are a pain

                          I do very little service work, so I may not be as jaded as the service pros on this forum. But, it's always amazed me that a person who owns a home doesn't have an ongoing relationship with a service plumber. A family doctor, sure. An auto mechanic, probably. A service plumber, you all have your regulars, but I'll bet they don't add up to a third of the total marketplace. The average HO doesn't seem to understand that the logic that applies to having trust in the person who cares for one's body also applies to those who care for one's home, be they plumbers, electricians, or garage door mechanics.
                          The customers that this forum praises as being "good as gold" have figured this out. They realize the best result is a win-win built on mutual trust, with them getting peace of mind in knowing their problem has been solved and they were treated honestly and their plumber getting a fair price for services rendered.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: All customers are a pain

                            Heres my opinion on this subject. Try to stick with my anology. I, like everyone else dont want to over pay for anything but i do want to get what i pay for. I dont go to mcdonalds and expect there prime rib sandwich to taste the same as a prime rib from the Ruths Criss. I expect something warm cheap and fast that serves a purpose and i wont ***** because the sandwich doesnt look like the one in the picture. nor would i go to a steak restaraunt with a mcdonalds coupon and asked if they can beat the price. And if i had a brain tumor i wouldnt go to a dentist for a second opinion. Most of us on this forum have mor experience under our belts than the doctor that takes care of you and your kids do you try to barter with them? Prices range 300% from company to company because everyone has a different cost in doing business that does not mean the hi priced company is trying to rip anybody off they just might have a better understanding of what it cost to run there company- labor+material+overhead+profit= a good healthy business. comapny that worries about what everyone else charges = a company that is out of business. I dont mind if someone calls and asks if im insured or how long ive been in business. its the cheap a$$ tire kickers that have no intention of hiring us they just want to give a price to there handyman that is doing half a$$ hack work whos not licensed nor insured to be doing the work they are doing that are killing the industry but no one wants to do anything about it. I quit installing waterheaters because i cant compete with people who are installing them for 1/2 the price because they feel they dont need to do things to code.
                            Mike
                            Clark County Plumbing And Drain
                            www.plumbinginclarkcounty.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: All customers are a pain

                              I Think some plumbers can judge a customer by the way they talk and act. They will give a higher bid if it is someone they don't want to work for. Added labor, because I know the customer will want to talk watch to me while I am working and it takes longer to do the job.
                              Some plumbers have niche's Drain cleaning remodels etc. If a call comes in that is not in the niche the plumber quotes high. Not that they don't want to do it they just are more expert at something else and compensate for more time to do the job.

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