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  • Low-ball plumbers......

    I just received a call from a condo building that I bid a water valve job for. I gave them a price of $3,300 hundred to change out thirteen 3/4" ball valves and nineteen 1/2" hose bibbs. The valves were all DEEPLY inside the stucco and block exterior walls. So when I did one as a test run......it took me 2-1/4 hours to 1) Cut along both sides of the valve with a grinder. 2) CAREFULLY chop away the block with my jackhammer. 3) Cut and clean the paint off of the 3/4" copper. 4) Vacuum all the water out of the line. 5) Sweat the new valve on. 6) Patch the stucco. BEsides that the 2" main has to be shut off for at least 2 days- 6 hours each and everything drained down. He tells me that another plumber gave him a price of $1,600.......I tell him that I could take 10% off but no more........so I hope the other guy does a decent job for him. I know that I went slightly high on my bid........but this is getting ridiculous with some of these EXTREMELY low bids.......How many of you guys are experiencing this crap lately?

  • #2
    Re: Low-ball plumbers......

    Everyday with things as they are. If you can't make a dime...why waste your time. Move on and wait for the failures you get to fix after the cheap bid guy is done.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Low-ball plumbers......

      I keep looking around to see if my community is starting to understand that you get what you pay for.Nothing currently visible.

      All I hear is handyman,handyman,handyman.

      There are a couple jobs out of a hundred that go with a qualified contractor with an in house track record of working well with others on the multi-million dollar home.

      Anything less than that gets tossed out into the slop bucket for the starving to cannabalize each other over.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Low-ball plumbers......

        bids are a combination of a guess and experience.

        your material cost should be roughly the same as the other guy. so it boils down to what they want to make and what they feel the job will take them.

        not being able to see the job at hand, sounds like a lot of time is used for drain down and soldering. is the opening of the wall too time consuming?

        would propress speed up the process and make you more competitive?

        having the best tools for the job could be the difference

        can you post a photo of the job you did? might be a way to shave off some time.

        rick.
        phoebe it is

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Low-ball plumbers......

          We are seeing the crooked guys get worse. One of the pumpers/installers has been notorious for telling people they need a new system for stupid things. "Well Mrs. Jones your inlet baffle fell off the septic tank and the system is 30 years old, you need a new tank and drainfield". We've run across several of their "customers" looking for second opinions. This seems to be their M.O. however. About 7 or 8 years ago I was called out for a second opinion about a drainfield they had said was failed. When I got there, there was no effluent line, no distribution box and a huge pile of pipe, mud and cement d box that they had torn out. I don't know what had transpired before I got there but according to the H.O., they were supposed to look it over and tell him what his options were.
          www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Low-ball plumbers......

            For me personally, I would never tell a customer I will take money off, after I submitted a bid. The reason why is, because if you get the job, every time you do work for this person, they tend to think they can do this to you every time.

            Plus if they pass your name onto someone else, it kind of goes like this.."Hey once this guy gives you a price, that's not the final price, you can negotiate with him".

            I'm not saying I'm right and your approach is wrong. I just don't like to play that game with customers.

            If my prices are that out of whack, I'll adjust it for the next time. But then again I don't like to peek and see what my competition is charging, because I don't run my business because of what "Plumbing Company A" is doing.

            We are always going to see that guy thats WAY LOWER then us.

            But I think your price is right in the ball park from what you described.

            Just my .02
            Last edited by Flux; 07-01-2010, 06:46 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Low-ball plumbers......

              The handyman crowd has definitely cut into my work area. They do water heaters and repipes for half of what I bid for. Being a one man shop with lower overhead than my licensed competitors, I can usually out bid them. But the unlicensed, uninsured, handyman hacks I don't even try to compete with them! I have come back to such houses for other repairs and seen the shoddiest work! There needs to be more sting operations with hefty fines and jail time! The thing is here in California they can fly under the wire if they keep their total cost per job under $600.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Low-ball plumbers......

                Low-Ball Plumbers? Hey leave us old guys alone. Just because they're not all up nice and tight like you young bucks doesn't mean we don't have the skills!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Low-ball plumbers......

                  Low ball bidders has been around a very long time and they will never go away. There are two type of low ballers.

                  First type is the guy that will bid low and do as many short cuts as he can so he can earn a buck. Short cuts can be no insurance, poor quality products or workmanship, you all get the idea. These guys are easy to win bids over. All you have to do is lay out that you are licensed, bonded and insured, give detail of the way you are going to do the job and the quality of your products. Then tell your customer they are free to get other estimates, and explain to them compare apples to apples. Now when you get the call about Joe Shmoe bid the job for half of what you bid, you can ask the customer if this guy bid the job exactly the way you did (apples to apples), then you can point out the importance of the things you are doing that the other guy is not.

                  Now if the low baller bids half of what you did, and bid exactly like you did the amount of work, good workmanship, high quality parts, licensed, bonded and insured, you just ran into the second type of low baller. These guys are hard to compete with because they they usually sell product at cost and do not charge a labor rate that reflects the cost to do business and make a profit.

                  I was doing a rod job on this one block, and noticed a huge monster excavator digging in the park way down the road. The plumbing inspector was there watching the guy in the 20' deep hole. As I walked up and asked whats up. The inspector recognized me right away and asked "Ron what would you bid for a sewer repair like this?" My firs response is I wouldn't it was way to deep for any equipment we own, and renting the big stuff is a pain plus the shoring. But If I had to bid a job like that it would be over 10K since I would have to rent the equipment and the amount of work involved. The inspector came back and said you believe this guy is doing the same job for around 2k? I then yelled Down the hole and asked "Hey is that you Dwayne?" Dwayne popped up and said hi to me. The reason I knew it was him is he owns that huge monster excavator, and he bids bunches of these jobs so cheap just to keep the machine busy and pay the bank for it. I can never compete with him he has the equipment, and he is happy to break even by the end of the day.

                  I got another plumbing shop out here that sells water heaters at cost, plus labor. What he charges installed is about $300 to $500 cheaper than I am. But he does not stand behind the manufactures warranty. So thats where I can get a customer away from him by stating the fact we stand behind the warranty of the manufactures product we sell (apples to apples) So when they call him back and ask him if he does the warranty work and he tells them he does not. 9 times out of 10 I get the job.
                  Ron Hasil Lic #058-160417
                  Ron's Facebook
                  A-Archer Sewer & Plumbing specializing in:
                  Tankless Water Heaters | Drain and Sewer Cleaning
                  Sump and Ejector Pumps | Backflow RPZ Testing

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Low-ball plumbers......

                    All of us Plumbers are in this together. In my area the majority of us are within $100.00 of each other, and we all take a job from one another, it's the nature of the beast. I have no problems losing a job to a legitimate plumber in my area. I can admit that there are quite a few excellent craftsman in my area, which is GOOD for the trade.

                    I do however have a problem losing a job to a non-licensed Plumber or Handyman. If WE are required by law to be licensed, they should be required as well...period!

                    But even at that, someone can be licensed all they want..but are they qualified?

                    I'm not sure about you guys, but it seems to me that the handymen doing Plumbing in my area are cocky as hell. My blood starts flowing when I see one of these shoe-makers pull up to the supply house, and come in like they own the joint. They look at you like.."wtf are you doing here". lol

                    One of these days I'm going to get in trouble by opening up my mouth. Every one of us here has paid their dues to the trade..what makes these people so special?

                    I'm going to stop before I go on an hour tirade here.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Low-ball plumbers......

                      I do have the same theory on pricing as flux, but it's been slow over here the last 2 weeks since I bid that job and that's what I told my customer as the reason for even considering lowering my price. I've had this discussion with my father several times(he was a plumber for 40 years) and he feels strongly that most customers expect plumbers to have overpriced jobs and if they can't get you down at least a little bit, then they won't hire you because they feel that the bargaining is just part of the "game". I never did agree with this but he is a smart man and I will experiment to see if he is right. I will post my results.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Low-ball plumbers......

                        Some companies will take a "holdover" job for zero profit, or even a negative bottom line just to keep the boys together 'til the next profitable job is ready.

                        Seen it.

                        J.C.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Low-ball plumbers......

                          Originally posted by JCsPlumbing View Post
                          Some companies will take a "holdover" job for zero profit, or even a negative bottom line just to keep the boys together 'til the next profitable job is ready.

                          Seen it.

                          J.C.
                          Yea that happens here to. You really cant blame them for this I have never had to do a holdover job but i'm sure at some time I will. I give bids all the time and its amazing how far off 3 companies can be in price. I did a big job for a friend that runs a company I had the job but he still needed 3 quotes from other companies. One was 10,000 the other was 7,000. My bid was around 4,000 just shows the same job can be so far off in price cause it all depends on the companys overhead.
                          You can lose with me, but you can't win without me!.... PPI

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Low-ball plumbers......

                            I for one have a love hate for those guys jack of all trades master of none. It seem to me that after I've been behind one of those guys I end up with a life time customer. Not only life time customer but they recommend the heck out of you which usually means when show up to the job they don't get confused and think they are at a used car lot or on lets make a deal. I tell customer that if they don't like my bid to please at lease use a licensed, bonded, and most importantly Insured contractor. A 12,500 bond is not going to rebuild your house.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Low-ball plumbers......

                              Originally posted by vette850 View Post
                              I just received a call from a condo building that I bid a water valve job for. I gave them a price of $3,300 hundred to change out thirteen 3/4" ball valves and nineteen 1/2" hose bibbs. The valves were all DEEPLY inside the stucco and block exterior walls. So when I did one as a test run......it took me 2-1/4 hours to 1) Cut along both sides of the valve with a grinder. 2) CAREFULLY chop away the block with my jackhammer. 3) Cut and clean the paint off of the 3/4" copper. 4) Vacuum all the water out of the line. 5) Sweat the new valve on. 6) Patch the stucco. BEsides that the 2" main has to be shut off for at least 2 days- 6 hours each and everything drained down. He tells me that another plumber gave him a price of $1,600.......I tell him that I could take 10% off but no more........so I hope the other guy does a decent job for him. I know that I went slightly high on my bid........but this is getting ridiculous with some of these EXTREMELY low bids.......How many of you guys are experiencing this crap lately?
                              You provided a bid after having been afforded the opportunity to experience the job. Do you suppose the other contractor was offered the same information you are privy to? Maybe they weren't and as a result they think the job is easier than you know it will be?

                              On the other hand, I've seen where prices have definitely come down on some jobs in the last few years. That's just the way it is these days. Many plumbers who were doing new construction are now forced to do service work. More bidders on the same number of jobs = lower prices.

                              Maybe you can get them to let you do the job on a time material basis? (I would say the chance of that is remote since they're looking for a bid.) In any event, I would try and ensure the job was quoted apples - apples.

                              Good luck to you!
                              Time flies like an arrow.

                              Fruit flies like a banana.

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