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  • Giving free advice to home owners

    Is giving free advice (as many professionals do on this forum) to home owners good or bad for the service plumbing industry? I'm curious about your thoughts on this subject.

    Personally, I don't feel it affects me, I'm a one man shop with all the work I can handle.

    However, if I was struggling or looking to expand I may feel differently about giving away what took me years to learn, for this reason I rarely give advice to homeowners on a public forum. Thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: Giving free advice to home owners

    Lets put it this way. I got booted off another site after posting the same question, not in the regular diy forum, but in the "professionals only" section.
    Of course it's bad for the profession. How could it not be? If nothing else, it does nothing to help your business unless the site will let you sell your services through it ( like the site I got booted from ) Then again, DIY advice is the least of our problems. When you figure in the damage done by PEX, AAV'S, sharkbites, CSST, and all the other get er done quick crap sold through the big box stores.
    sigpic

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    • #3
      Re: Giving free advice to home owners

      Originally posted by NHMaster3015 View Post
      Lets put it this way. I got booted off another site after posting the same question, not in the regular diy forum, but in the "professionals only" section.
      Of course it's bad for the profession. How could it not be? If nothing else, it does nothing to help your business unless the site will let you sell your services through it ( like the site I got booted from ) Then again, DIY advice is the least of our problems. When you figure in the damage done by PEX, AAV'S, sharkbites, CSST, and all the other get er done quick crap sold through the big box stores.

      I am not a licensed plumber, but I do plumbing repairs when necessary (around my house and other projects I am on). I am basically the GC over the job I am on now. I come here a few times a week and read what everyone is posting so that I can learn. On a few occasions I have asked questions and gotten good answers. I see alot of opinion threads, which doesnt have much effect on lost work. (I.E. brand preference questions).

      I, personally, would not do any more or any less plumbing work if I didnt have this forum to ask questions to. HOWEVER, I would not hesitate to get on here and look up one of you guys and give you my business if I ever needed a plumber. I have had several plumbers who were licensed and didnt know what I do about plubming (the requirements to get a license obvoiously suck in this state).

      Bottom line, if someone wants you to tell them how to plumb an entire house on a forum they are an idiot, but most of the questions on here dont take away from business. The kind of DIY'ers on here that ask questions are the same ones that are going to do it theirselves no matter what.

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      • #4
        Re: Giving free advice to home owners

        I have to disagree future. Sure if you put the time and effort in you can find almost anything on the internet, however if it's difficult and time consuming to find the answers that you are looking for, you may call a plumber next time.

        Is there any other industry that professionals will freely give away advice on a public forum, without some sort of incentive? I could see if you owned the site, or were somehow compensated by the site. I understand it feels good to help people, but everytime a plumber helps a homeowner he might be hurting a fellow plumber. I really think it does far more harm than good.

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        • #5
          Re: Giving free advice to home owners

          I have to agree giving free advice is not always good. We have had this type of conversation here at work and it seems we are always giving stuff away. Do you see a lawyer site giving free anything away, how about a Dr. site " Just insert scalpel here" It hurts us all.
          Last time I try to fix it myself. Next time I will hire a PROFESSIONAL.

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          • #6
            Re: Giving free advice to home owners

            The internet if full of information and misinformation.
            So the reader really needs to aware of that and determine if the question they ask receives a worthy answer.

            Many times we read sarcastic replies or misinformation or other stuff that may get a non pro into trouble.

            When I was trying to determine a plumbing product etc. I came here and asked for input. In AZ there are so many scam artists that you really don't know who to believe..note I did not say trust!

            Do I use copper, PEX, CPVC, ABS, Poly etc. is a generic type question that a real professional would not hesitate in answering...BUT
            more times then not, a plumber in NY has different building codes than a plumber in AZ. This does effect the correct answer.

            The person asking for information needs to understand this. I take the information from here and then discuss it with a building inspector if you can even find one! Being knowledgeable is not a crime nor does it reduce business.

            How many times do we see on the Holmes on Holmes TV show the crap work even so called professionals do? With the homeowner having some basic knowledge they can at least have a fighting chance.

            How do they get this mysterious knowledge? They go to a place where quality [most of the time] professionals hang out and ask questions.

            The person asking a question should also understand if they do not know the difference between a water pump pliers and a monkey wrench, they should put their ego aside and look at the professionals..

            I recently had an electrical challenge here. I asked for some direction and received just that. I likely could have accomplished the repair myself but I decided to have a "LICENSED" electrician on site. I did some grunt work and electrical stuff but the final connections were done by the licensed electrician. The inspection went without incident. My homeowners insurance is still happy!!!!

            Now if a circuit breaker fails Friday night at 9p.m. I can replace it ..then again I have the knowledge, skill, and confidence I can do it safely.

            The neighborhood handy man scares me but does have a place the the big picture....the blue haired lady does not need a contractor to replace the hinges on her screen door..... she just needs to know what size screw and how to screw it. In the same manner the handyman has no place to be re-plumbing a home [likely without permits]


            Cactus Man
            Last edited by cactusman; 06-21-2010, 05:02 PM.

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            • #7
              Re: Giving free advice to home owners

              Originally posted by 420paul View Post
              I have to disagree future. Sure if you put the time and effort in you can find almost anything on the internet, however if it's difficult and time consuming to find the answers that you are looking for, you may call a plumber next time.

              Is there any other industry that professionals will freely give away advice on a public forum, without some sort of incentive? I could see if you owned the site, or were somehow compensated by the site. I understand it feels good to help people, but everytime a plumber helps a homeowner he might be hurting a fellow plumber. I really think it does far more harm than good.
              I can see your point of view... and that may hold true with some people.... I am never going to "call" a plumber for anything. If I cant handle it I can get what ever plumber I am useing on what ever job I am on to do it. To give you an idea, I have spent over 30 hours on the internet the past few days learning about heavy equipment so I can fix my backhoe. I would have been just fine doing it with out the internet's help, but I enjoyed reading it..... If you look at the type of questions I ask on here, its mostly asking for opinioins not advice.... I admit I am guilty of asking stupid questions as well, but the members were quick to tell me to hire a plumber.... For the most part I think the guys on here that know their $hit are good about picking which ones not to answer so as not to take work away from plumbers.

              Lets not forget, there are many other boards on this forum that have nothing to do with plumbing.

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              • #8
                Re: Giving free advice to home owners

                Originally posted by cactusman View Post
                The neighborhood handy man scares me but does have a place the the big picture....the blue haired lady does not need a contractor to replace the hinges on her screen door..... she just needs to know what size screw and how to screw it. In the same manner the handyman has no place to be re-plumbing a home [likely without permits]


                Cactus Man
                I honestly thing a "handy man" has very little business doing MUCH plumbing or electrical. I do belive that changing toilet guts, replacing a faucet or other fixture or other similar things are OK for someone who isnt licensed to do. I dont mind the people on this forum not wanting to give free advice and always saying "call a licensed tradesman" but come on guys.... To adjust a toilet float?!?!

                I will admit, I have done a few jobs that probably should have had permits and didnt, but NONE of them were plumbing. I trust my plumbing abilities alot more than the licensed plumber I have working on the job now, but Im not about to take the liability of a job...... I have thought about become licensed in plumbing though....

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                • #9
                  Re: Giving free advice to home owners

                  There is another side to this. After the homeowner gets some details they realize they don't have ALL the equipment needed for the job and the plumber's bill will be less than the tools required. They may also learn that while it seems simple, the task at hand is far more complex.

                  My best customer is an informed one. A customer that understands what you are doing is much more ready to say YES. That does not mean they are able to do the job. It does mean that contractors that are out there taking advantage of people will have a harder time. Understanding the expansion tank has nothing to do with a clogged toilet is healthy for both the owner and the contractor.

                  If it is something so simple as adjusting a toilet float...then who are you hurting by giving the information? A 5 minute service to a pro turns to 30 minutes for the owner, oh well. The owner now feels pride of accomplishment and is happy. When something bigger happens they will call...maybe the person that gave the advice. If they have a pro come out to make that same float adjustment in 5 minutes and still has to pay a full hour or whatever minimum charge they will be displeased and hold a negative impression to the industry. Not only will they think negatively...they will tell EVERYONE they can. So now we have pissed off people we have never met.

                  When it comes to giving information...give it freely and with concern for who may use it. When they ask for step-by-step directions recommend a pro. How did we learn this trade? Not by your trainer holding back. Did you learn it all in one job? Of course not. Infact if you want to give more work to pros...tell all the tools and issues that can happen and see how fast they pick up a phone.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Giving free advice to home owners

                    kj is right. most people give up when i tell them how to fix something. they just ask me to come and do it. breid..........

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                    • #11
                      Re: Giving free advice to home owners

                      I normally give free advice, as I think my customers appreciate that.

                      Yes I'm out to make a living, but IMO you have to find that happy medium.

                      Yes, I've been burned before giving free advice, but If I retain 4 customers and lose one, I can live with that.

                      What is key for me is..how a customer treats me within the first 2 minutes of me talking with him/her face to face.

                      Some people are up against it in life money wise, so If I can make life a little easier on them..I will. Something could possible happen to me one day in where I was up against it, and I would appreciate it if someone did it for me.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Giving free advice to home owners

                        Originally posted by Flux View Post
                        I normally give free advice, as I think my customers appreciate that.

                        Yes I'm out to make a living, but IMO you have to find that happy medium.

                        Yes, I've been burned before giving free advice, but If I retain 4 customers and lose one, I can live with that.

                        What is key for me is..how a customer treats me within the first 2 minutes of me talking with him/her face to face.

                        Some people are up against it in life money wise, so If I can make life a little easier on them..I will. Something could possible happen to me one day in where I was up against it, and I would appreciate it if someone did it for me.
                        If no one has said it yet Flux, welcome to the Forum!

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                        • #13
                          Re: Giving free advice to home owners

                          Thanks Plumbers crack.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Giving free advice to home owners

                            It kills me when I see these TV shows and they are not licensed plumbers but licensed contractors (it shows there credentials at the end of the show) ripping out plumbing and gas lines and redoing it them selves talking about proper ways to install plumbing and there not even licensed! Or when you go into a hardware store and they are having seminars on in stalling water heaters where are the inspectors when you need them! The instructor looks like a kid and has no idea what he was talking about. I dont know how they get away with it. If I start a job over the weekend and pull the permit on Monday the inspectors asking me questions, If I started it prior to pulling permits but these hardware stores get away with unreal stuff!

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