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Old 08-04-2020, 02:35 PM   #1
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Default Should You Invest in a Sewer Camera?



Customers are often shocked at the price of diagnosis and repairs for plumbing. To be fair, it’s much less fun to pay to fix a backed-up drain than to make an extra payment on a new car, but there’s a reason they need to call in experts!

You know what you’re doing and can save a homeowner thousands of dollars in the long run, especially if they call you in early enough to catch issues that prevent further damage. So while the price tag may not be anything to smile about, when homeowners pay for a high-quality plumbing job, they’re getting their money’s worth.

Sometimes, business owners fall into the same trap of not wanting to spend money on something with what seems like a huge price tag. Usually, it’s because the upfront cost won’t show an immediate return on investment. This might be the case if you’re on the fence about purchasing a sewer camera.

While not every plumber needs one, it will definitely give you an advantage in certain markets. If you do mostly new home installations, a sewer camera may not be something you’d find useful every day. But if you work in a lot of old neighborhoods or get called to diagnose clogs, backups, or odors in homes, you will probably see your business benefit if you invest in a sewer camera.

Advantages of Owning a Sewer Camera

Even though sewer cameras can be somewhat expensive, there are plenty of benefits to owning one.
  • Gain customer trust: Just like a customer doesn’t expect the doctor to tell them what’s wrong at no charge, they shouldn’t expect you to tell them whey their basement smells like sewage without expecting to pay for it. Some customers, unfortunately, seem to feel that many home repair guys are simply out to get every penny they can. A sewer camera lets you show the customer that they really do have a problem, so they know you’re not charging them unnecessarily. Customers may also expect you to use a camera before starting on any major repairs, so not having one may damage your credibility.
  • Accurate diagnosis: A sewer camera is one of the best tools for finding out the cause and location of a clog. You can always just run a snake and hope it fixes it, but a camera is the best way to see what’s going on and where. If you do have to dig underground to fix damaged pipes, knowing exactly what you’re dealing with and precisely where it’s located can save you a ton of time and grief. And again, the customer may want proof before they pay you to fix a big issue.
  • Cheaper than renting: If you rarely work on the kinds of calls that need a sewer camera, you might rent one occasionally. If you’re not trying to expand your business into working more where you’d need one, this may be an acceptable option. If you’re trying to save up for a camera, though, and you keep paying to rent one, you’re probably wasting a lot more money on rental costs. It may be worth it to start with the cheapest sewer camera that will do the job so you can start getting more business with it, then saving up for a nicer one as you’re able. And don’t forget, it can be deducted as a business expense on your taxes.

When it comes down to it, a sewer camera is probably something that many customers will expect you to have. Not only can you diagnose clogs and find breaks in pipes, but you’ll be able to show proof for your recommendations and build customer trust.

We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you think most plumbers need a sewer camera? What kind do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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Old 08-04-2020, 05:39 PM   #2
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It's useful for some and money makers for others but... I have 2 cameras, one for big pipes and one for small ones. Total waste of money for me, No one wants to pay, No one! Not even when I'm on site. Only got 1 call who actually paid because they were repeat customers.
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Old 08-04-2020, 06:58 PM   #3
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well if you cant get enough sewer work just start doing colonoscopies.....................:vs_la ugh:...........or do side work for a proctologist..... either way your dealing with a schitty hole...
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Old 09-03-2020, 09:42 AM   #4
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Its definitely useful with the sewer camera.
I try and let my customers no what the price is before I even unload my equipment.
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Old 09-03-2020, 04:37 PM   #5
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Its definitely useful with the sewer camera.
I try and let my customers no what the price is before I even unload my equipment.
maybe you can use your camera to see that you do a proper intro...
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Old 09-03-2020, 05:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4yrapprentice View Post
Its definitely useful with the sewer camera.
I try and let my customers no what the price is before I even unload my equipment.

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Old 09-04-2020, 09:30 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tango View Post
It's useful for some and money makers for others but... I have 2 cameras, one for big pipes and one for small ones. Total waste of money for me, No one wants to pay, No one! Not even when I'm on site. Only got 1 call who actually paid because they were repeat customers.
Time to start using it as a tool to sell a job instead of trying to charge extra for camera use. Itís better than it collecting dust.

I charge for it if Iím doing camera inspection only. But if I quote a clean out install and they agree to the repair I donít charge for the camera to locate it. If I feel my cable going into the dirt during a drain cleaning Iíll camera inspect to find where it is to sell the repair.

If theyíre watching you do the location just mark like 6 different places so they donít know exactly where the problem is in case they hire someone else.
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Old 09-04-2020, 10:22 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Debo22 View Post
Time to start using it as a tool to sell a job instead of trying to charge extra for camera use. Itís better than it collecting dust.

I charge for it if Iím doing camera inspection only. But if I quote a clean out install and they agree to the repair I donít charge for the camera to locate it. If I feel my cable going into the dirt during a drain cleaning Iíll camera inspect to find where it is to sell the repair.

If theyíre watching you do the location just mark like 6 different places so they donít know exactly where the problem is in case they hire someone else.

People call me for an inspection, they don't want to pay, they think it's along the line of a free estimate. For them an inspection isn't work and doesn't deserve to be remunerated. Anyway people would get super angry if I inspect the line only to say I don't dig outside with a back hoe.

A few called for a second opinion because the last plumber told them they needed to replace the line to the street. I'm not kidding 2 of them actually said to me why should I pay you to use your camera when I paid alot for the first plumber.

The only time I'll use the camera is like you say you are drain cleaning and hit dirt. Only then I'll use it to sell the repair because I'm there already and I know they'll pay. That or other logical situations.

Some also call to install a BWV because their insurance demand it. Since there's so much hacking in my area I can't go out and give a free estimate and use the camera for free. Or even under my hourly rate. An estimate in my area is contract so it would be foolish for me not to use the camera to see where the main line is or to see the underground pipes for the pirate bathroom they just put in. The big dogs in town send their slaves to install BWV for 1/3 my price and put them in backwards anyway and bill the customer for their screw up.

And last some have called me to locate their main because they wanted to diy a basement bathroom. They thought coffee on a saturday morning would be plenty.
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Old 09-06-2020, 06:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
It's useful for some and money makers for others but... I have 2 cameras, one for big pipes and one for small ones. Total waste of money for me, No one wants to pay, No one! Not even when I'm on site. Only got 1 call who actually paid because they were repeat customers.
hey Tango about how many stoppage calls do you get in a week
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Old 09-06-2020, 07:33 AM   #10
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see tango you have me and debo telling you the same thing. and hes 100 correct. thats the whole issue with plumbers and plumbers/technicians. it takes some practiceto come up with your own approach/ sales technique. but if youre on a stoppage call, is it really any work to grab a little 3-5lbs. camera off the truck and throw it in the line. another thing the more you use that camera the better you'll be at truly understanding what it is your looking at. i promise you this you master that camera and moniter, you will EASILY!!! triple your revenue. there more to it than looking for a root penetration, a belly, collapse those are the obvious, where you really get good is when you can notice the pipe and fittings under stress from soil expansion and contraction, or be able to find a fitting thats leaking below slab and the system isnt noticeably broken. or you clear a stoppage then run camera to find out why it stopped up. you dont see an obvious reason. but me and debo would catch it. and its a fitting thats the cause. can physically see but based the amount of waste build up on that fitting both top,bottom,and sides, but everything downstream pipe is clean as usual, move past that fitting, and the pipe also has lots of build up also. making that fitting the front of the train, takes time but eventually youll get so good for instance one of your plumbers in the field calls he running the camera and you listen as he explains what he is seeing each step of the way, and you help him find the root cause of blockage. sure our cable machine unstop a line but is it a long term fix or is it short term solution for long term issue. another thing that camera do, it will help you upsale hydroscrubs, aka jet jobs. and yes there is a difference between the 2. jetting a line simply put is using the jetter in place of the cable machine. where as HYDROSCRUBBING. is exactly as its name states. its using hydro pressure to scrub the line free and clear of all build up from many years of use. or customer has major belly. youve been going out there about every 6months. you finally run the camera and there it is the mother of all mothers of bellies. you already cleared the line. now you can show customer WHY!!! its happening. and you show all the solid buildup collecting in the belly. see now you just got the customer involved in the process, hes already began to trust you because you just did something no other PLUMBER has done before (RUN THE CAMERA) (PHYSICALLY SHOWED HIM NOT TOLD HIM) AND YOU DIDNT CHARGE A DIME for an extra 15-20 minutes of your time. his next statement will be something like WOW that a pretty camera you got there. then his next question will probably be well how do we fix it to where this doesnt happen again. and thats when you give him an estimate for hydroscrub, 15ft spot repair, or a full line replacement. most of the time they go middle of the road. that camera needsto become your sidekick aka american express. just ask debo for his opinion. look i see this a way to truly seperate yourself from the others. you work at it hard enough. those other local plumbers will call you to come do a video inspection for their customers. i do it all the time here for other local plumber. and in return i dont take food off their tables. their customers ask me all the time how much would i charge to fix it. i tell them point blank. this is something their capable of fixing. but if it was under the slab thats my domain. been working together with these other plumbers and their customers for years
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