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Old 02-12-2009, 03:06 PM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plumbcrazy View Post
Perhaps I wasn't 100% clear. Free according to the following:

1. Fairly close to our office (5-10 minutes) or close to a job we are responding to.
2. Does not interfere with money making activities.
3. On our time schedule.
4. Possible promise of a 'profitable' job. Free estimates are for jobs that involve many tasks (ex. install toilet, possible lav. faucet replacements, tub/shower valve, and their thinking about a recirc pump.) This is worth trying to get!

The shopper who really just wants the cheapest price. NO! I have asked on the phone, "Are you looking for the cheapest price?" yeah, "Sorry, we can't help you, I know we are not the cheapest" Can you just give me a price? "NO"

The shopper who is afraid of being ripped off. I will give a price over the phone. "I need a new water heater, what is it going to cost?" May I have your name and address? (If they give it to me, we move on.) Did someone refer our company to you? (If yes, I know this customer is not price shopping, they just want to know what they are in for.) I ask a few questions, and then tell them "based on what you told me, the price is $$$; however, if conditions are different, the price will change. Our plumber will let you know if this is the case." At this point, the customer knows we are showing up with a water heater and the minimum price is what I have quoted.


Do you think your tech that your sending out there after giving that price over the phone has a real chance in !@#$ of getting any more out of that job than you quoted? If I was your tech., we would be having words if you clipped me off at the knees like that, or best case cenario it would end up being a unmotivating action that especially if continued to be practiced could effect my attitude. which would definetly effect our over all sales. @ that point I'm just a stupid day laborer feeling he's been patronized with hrs. of wasted time on schooling, product research and training, and motivational talks RE: add on sales, or upgrades. Yes your costomer may feel better having some sort of $, but now I would have to fight tooth and nail to bring that heater up to code or get them to upgrade to a 10 yr.
Your guys need to feel both accountabilty and responsability for there actions during both good times and bad. I strongly encourage you and others who give priceing over the phone to really think about the full ramifications of your actions. There are ways around pricing over the phone.
1. Receptionist- doesn't know plumbing, just sets calls & dispatches plumbers. Has no ideal how much things cost or how long these things take. "Play Dumb"
2. If trip charge gets in the way of the call, give receptionist authority to apply trip charge/ diognostic- assessment fee toward work completed.

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Old 02-12-2009, 08:31 PM   #72
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#1 In my experience, the only customers who want free estimates are the ones with no money, or just want free plumbing advice, Want to price shop every guy in town for the lowest bidder etc etc. I learned all these things the hard way with my first business.

#2 If only 1 in 20 customers doesn't pay his bill, it will wipe out the profit you mage on the previous 19 with all of the un-funded overhead from that non-paying job. I find that customers who demand credit are usually the same ones that fall into the same category as the ones I discussed in #1.

Even if you assume a 100% paid rate (which ain't gonna happen, not even close) you are still losing because of the time value of money. $100 now is better than $100 6 months from now. Inflation aside, you can use cash money right now to buy more trucks, equipment, or advertising which all much you more money sooner.

Now, if you have setup an underwriting process that works, and charge enough interest to make up for all of the negatives I just mentioned, Then credit can make you money. I would not however, just hand out free credit to unverified candidates just for the sake of selling more jobs.

Here's a nice little scenario: You do work for some one on credit. After the job is done, the customer calls you back with all kinds of unreasonable complaints and demands unrelated to the original agreement(Cuz we know that has NEVER happened to any of us). Now you have to choose between doing as kinds of work for free or not getting paid for the original job.

Take a lesson from the banks recieving bailout money from the government right now. Don't hand out credit reclessly.

My .02

Quote:
Originally Posted by BatonRougePlumb View Post
How much business do you lost because you charge for diagnosing a problem and how much do you save from losing with your policies. Which one has the greater loss?

How much business do you lose from C. O. D. and how much more would you gain by giving credit. Which one has the greater loss?

You should be in business to earn the maximum amount of profit with the least amount of effort. Before you answer these questions you need to put your superstition aside and grab a pencil and paper. Where I work, we are carrying something around $650k in credit. Are receivables are about $40k per month. I don't think my boss would be doing this if he was losing money. Since January 1st, our sales just from service calls is over $300k. Also, all our estimates are free and we charge for diagnosing some problems, but our policy is, if the customer does not want to pay, we go the the job anyway, try to get them to pay, and if they still won't budge, we will diagnose the problem for free to try to sell a big job. Sometimes you have to put your pride and ego aside and think in dollars. Maybe we sell an extra $500k by outwitting the customer.

.
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:33 PM   #73
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Amen brother, preach it!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASUPERTECH View Post
[/color]

Do you think your tech that your sending out there after giving that price over the phone has a real chance in !@#$ of getting any more out of that job than you quoted? If I was your tech., we would be having words if you clipped me off at the knees like that, or best case cenario it would end up being a unmotivating action that especially if continued to be practiced could effect my attitude. which would definetly effect our over all sales. @ that point I'm just a stupid day laborer feeling he's been patronized with hrs. of wasted time on schooling, product research and training, and motivational talks RE: add on sales, or upgrades. Yes your costomer may feel better having some sort of $, but now I would have to fight tooth and nail to bring that heater up to code or get them to upgrade to a 10 yr.
Your guys need to feel both accountabilty and responsability for there actions during both good times and bad. I strongly encourage you and others who give priceing over the phone to really think about the full ramifications of your actions. There are ways around pricing over the phone.
1. Receptionist- doesn't know plumbing, just sets calls & dispatches plumbers. Has no ideal how much things cost or how long these things take. "Play Dumb"
2. If trip charge gets in the way of the call, give receptionist authority to apply trip charge/ diognostic- assessment fee toward work completed.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:20 PM   #74
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[quote=ASUPERTECH;27295][/color]

Quote:
Do you think your tech that your sending out there after giving that price over the phone has a real chance in !@#$ of getting any more out of that job than you quoted?
First off, we don't have techs! We have Plumbers. The word tech is used because most of them are not plumbers - they are people who have plumbing knowledge and a lot of sales training. Real plumbers do not refer to themselves as techs. Matter of fact, let's start a thread and see. Now I'm curious.

Quote:
you clipped me off at the knees like that, or best case cenario it would end up being a unmotivating action that especially if continued to be practiced could effect my attitude. which would definetly effect our over all sales


If I am paying you 40 hours per week, whether you work or not, whether your sales were high or low - why would you be concerned with your overall sales? Our plumbers are not on commission and we keep the pressure on them to take care of our customers. I pay you to be a good plumber and to take care of my customer. The longterm value of our customers add to our bottom line. We do not measure our success by every job, we look at the overall picture.

Quote:
@ that point I'm just a stupid day laborer feeling he's been patronized with hrs. of wasted time on schooling, product research and training, and motivational talks RE: add on sales, or upgrades.


Absolutely not. The customer fully understands they are getting a ballpark from the office- if something is different or the plumber uncovers additional problems, the customer is told right away. It really has not been a problem for us. We have an excellent reputation, so when our plumbers make a suggestion, our customer fully understands we are looking out for them, the plumber is the professional (not the office) and being honest.

Quote:
Yes your costomer may feel better having some sort of $,


Without the extra time on the phone, this customer and water heater job (along with the profit) would have gone to the next plumber in the book. Bottom line is we captured this customer and possibly referrals.

Quote:
I strongly encourage you and others who give priceing over the phone to really think about the full ramifications of your actions.


The full ramifications of my actions is that the companies charging a trip charge get less calls. The majority in our area DO NOT charge a trip fee. If the majority did, we would do the same. In addition, we have no desire to run around for trip fees.

Quote:
1. Receptionist- doesn't know plumbing, just sets calls & dispatches plumbers. Has no ideal how much things cost or how long these things take. "Play Dumb"


So it's okay for the receptionist or front office to appear dumb or not knowledgable in basic plumbing? Many of our customers have commented how sharp our office staff is (me) and what a pleasure we (me) are to deal with. Playing dumb, we leave that to our competitors and they do it well! Actually, their front office doesn't play dumb - they are dumb.

Usually I agree with you, but on this subject I KNOW we have made more money than we otherwise would have had we not given some pricing over the phone to some customers.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:33 PM   #75
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[quote=Protech;27338]#
Quote:
1 In my experience, the only customers who want free estimates are the ones with no money, or just want free plumbing advice, Want to price shop every guy in town for the lowest bidder etc etc. I learned all these things the hard way with my first business.


Our experience is different. However, when we look at a job, we ask a lot of questions before giving an estimate. We try not to disclose any information that would tip our hand or give the HO free advice. Usually, a HO will say, why did you ask about XYZ because the other plumbing contractor didn't ask? Long troubling pause from our estimator . . . "When we give you a quote, it includes assumptions about what we might run into once we start opening walls. The last thing we want to do is create a change order. You have a budget and it is our job to stay within it. Some companies do not operate the same way we do." Now the HO sees we are looking out for them and even if our price is higher - they are more likely to go with us because they doubt the other company.

The above is not a gimmick - we do truly look out for our customers. Those who attempt to take advantage of us will find out very fast that we are one step ahead of them. After twenty + years of dealing with people in person, you get a gut instinct about people.

Quote:
#2 If only 1 in 20 customers doesn't pay his bill, it will wipe out the profit you mage on the previous 19 with all of the un-funded overhead from that non-paying job. I find that customers who demand credit are usually the same ones that fall into the same category as the ones I discussed in #1.
This has been our experience. We do not extend credit on a regular basis. Sometimes we will do a job for a regular customer and take a check that is dated for the following week.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:48 PM   #76
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Heeeeeyy,


I posted in this thread, with "white" colored print.

We'll will never know what I typed.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:49 PM   #77
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see quotes below

[quote=Plumbcrazy;27350]
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASUPERTECH View Post
[/color]



First off, we don't have techs! We have Plumbers. The word tech is used because most of them are not plumbers - they are people who have plumbing knowledge and a lot of sales training. Real plumbers do not refer to themselves as techs. Matter of fact, let's start a thread and see. Now I'm curious. I do, and so do many other highly qualified plumbers.



If I am paying you 40 hours per week, whether you work or not, whether your sales were high or low - why would you be concerned with your overall sales? Our plumbers are not on commission and we keep the pressure on them to take care of our customers. I pay you to be a good plumber and to take care of my customer. The longterm value of our customers add to our bottom line. We do not measure our success by every job, we look at the overall picture.



Absolutely not. The customer fully understands they are getting a ballpark from the office- if something is different or the plumber uncovers additional problems, the customer is told right away. It really has not been a problem for us. We have an excellent reputation, so when our plumbers make a suggestion, our customer fully understands we are looking out for them, the plumber is the professional (not the office) and being honest.

Well, I can't vouch for your plumberís experiences. As for me(some one who regularly puts on a uniform and deals with customers in there home) I have found that nearly all customers that have been given a ball park figure or price range only hear the lowest number they were told. A few can be reasoned with, but most will insist that they are not paying any more than what they were quoted over the phone.




Without the extra time on the phone, this customer and water heater job (along with the profit) would have gone to the next plumber in the book. Bottom line is we captured this customer and possibly referrals.



The full ramifications of my actions is that the companies charging a trip charge get less calls. The majority in our area DO NOT charge a trip fee. If the majority did, we would do the same. In addition, we have no desire to run around for trip fees.
I think you've missed the point. Trip fees could never sustain a company. They are used as a weeding device. I've noticed(at least in my area) that the companies that do free estimates on small jobs and quote over the phone have the oldest trucks, the lowest paid bottom of the barrel plumbers, and the most outdated equipment and techniques.



So it's okay for the receptionist or front office to appear dumb or not knowledgable in basic plumbing? Many of our customers have commented how sharp our office staff is (me) and what a pleasure we (me) are to deal with. Playing dumb, we leave that to our competitors and they do it well! Actually, their front office doesn't play dumb - they are dumb.

Usually I agree with you, but on this subject I KNOW we have made more money than we otherwise would have had we not given some pricing over the phone to some customers.
I don't agree with playing dumb, I'm with you on that.
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:25 AM   #78
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The majority in our area DO NOT charge a trip fee. If the majority did, we would do the same.
Who cares what the competition does or doesn't do? I do business how I choose, not how my competition chooses. The average plumbing company in my area is retarded at service business. I could care less what their prices and policies are, as I have no desire to be like them.
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:39 AM   #79
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Well, I can't vouch for your plumberís experiences. As for me(some one who regularly puts on a uniform and deals with customers in there home) I have found that nearly all customers that have been given a ball park figure or price range only hear the lowest number they were told. A few can be reasoned with, but most will insist that they are not paying any more than what they were quoted over the phone.

I am very clear and make sure they understand that my ballpark is a best guess. What I am trying to do is establish credibility if they are calling out of the YP, assuring them that we aren't going to hit them with a $1,000.00 estimate for something that would be $150.00. A lot of people have been burned by an upfront pricing company and they are 'testing' us. Most people just ask how we charge for our services. We are T & M with a one hour minimum with the exception of installs (WH, toilet, G. disp, faucet etc.). Some will ask if I know how long it will take, I will give them a best case, worst case scenario. Again, they are the exception. I want every potential customer that is willing to write us a check. If I feel there is a chance, I go for it! The cheapos, you kinda know after spending a lot of years dealing with customers. My gut is a better weeding tool than a trip fee.

I think you've missed the point. Trip fees could never sustain a company. They are used as a weeding device. I've noticed(at least in my area) that the companies that do free estimates on small jobs and quote over the phone have the oldest trucks, the lowest paid bottom of the barrel plumbers, and the most outdated equipment and techniques.

I got the point - a weeding device. In my experience, I do a fine job of weeding on the phone without missing out on a good sale because I am hung up on a hard & fast weeding rule.

Three of our trucks are less than two years old. The fourth is 6 years old or so, I think. It was our first truck (sentimental value); however, it looks brand new. No dents, rust etc. All trucks are washed on a regular basis, including the shiny black stuff you guys like on your tires. Our plumbers are paid $3 - $5. more per hour than other plumbers are paid and guaranteed hours. The PSI co. tell their guys to stay home and sleep in if there is not work - they don't get paid for this. We are not your run of the mill business. We do things very differently and it does pay off for us.
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:47 AM   #80
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Hey if what you are doing is working for you, keep it up.

Let's play roles:

I'm the customer.

" Hi, I'm Tom Anyname. I live at 321 street name, city state zip. What would you guys charge me to come jet out my sewer pipes?"

And you say...........
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