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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Although I have been a member of this forum for sometime I dont believe I have ever posted anything before. I have enjoyed reading some of the post by other members. I have found some of them to be very interesting and some entertaining. It would be apparent that we actually have some genuine members who's imput and logic are undenialbly sound advice. So I pose this question.

I have been in the Plumbing industry since 1988 rougly. I started my business in 1999 and while we started out doing service work our focus was commercial construction. When I was a oneman show I was always broke and soon tired of spending money on advertisement that could'nt compete with the onepage ads. So we changed gears jumped into the residential new construction market. I used to think there was no way to make any money doing work for less than I was accustomed to, however I found that we became very good at it and soon were competing with the big boys and profit and growth were steady. Now with the market dead and cut throat pricing the norm we have had to scale back and it is like startin over again.

So here is my question. If I wanted to turn my business back to a service based business what would be some of the ideas that you all have had success with. I personally have done just about everything in the industry with the exception of acid waste pipe. I am a master plumber and have medical gas certification and good sales skills. I pride myself in doing a professional job and have always stood by my work. I feel like I may be missing a part of the puzzle. Thanks for any input you may provide.
 

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waterheaterzone.com
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Because of the recession, I am seeing every local construction plumber is now trying to get into the service business. Both licensed and no license.:rolleyes:
I personally am getting tired of it.:yawn: I have devoted all my skills and business knowledge over the years to developing my service business. And all the guys trying to jump on the bandwagon now that construction is dead...well, all I can say is, "Good luck.";)
 

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No Longer at This Address
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Because of the recession, I am seeing every local construction plumber is now trying to get into the service business. Both licensed and no license.:rolleyes:
I personally am getting tired of it.:yawn: I have devoted all my skills and business knowledge over the years to developing my service business. And all the guys trying to jump on the bandwagon now that construction is dead...well, all I can say is, "Good luck.";)
It's just something you have to get use to as it has happened forever and it will continue to happen. That is why it is important to build a loyal customer base so your customers will not jump ship at the first low-ball price they see. We did both new construction and service which allowed us to move our guys back and forth. It kept them busy and honed their skills on stuff they would not have learned if we had limited them to one or the other. Are you suggesting if service work died off you would not take any new work?

Mark
 
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new nickname:Quaker State
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Uhh, tired of it you said? Hold the wagon a second there cuz.
I started out 30 years ago doing repair work. I later moved on to new installation. Lots of repair guys I have encountered don't even know how to vent a simple sink, or what makes a plumbing system tick. Most any homeowner can go to HD and rent a set of tub wrenches and get a " how to lesson " and come home and repair their own bath faucet. But when it comes to roughing in a new home or office, ain't no class in town gonna tell you how to do it good enough to pass local code. Don't sit there and tell me that you are tired of us new construction guys, that you don't want us to butt into your repair business in fear that we may take a customer or two away from you. We have to eat too. Just remember that the next sewer you unstop and you just happen to find this little nifty clean out in the front yard, thank us, not the Maytag repair man!!! :hang:
 

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waterheaterzone.com
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I did new construction in the past too, in order to the learn all sides of the trade. I chose service though, because I liked it better. Not because I couldn't find any other work.
Now as far as construction plumbers getting into service because of the recession. I can do nothing about it, and I understand they got to eat too. Let them compete all they want, like I said: Good luck.:thumbsup:
 

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WILLPLUMB4$
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Uhh, tired of it you said? Hold the wagon a second there cuz.
I started out 30 years ago doing repair work. I later moved on to new installation. Most any homeowner can go to HD and rent a set of tub wrenches and get a " how to lesson " and come home and repair their own bath faucet. But when it comes to roughing in a new home or office, ain't no class in town gonna tell you how to do it good enough to pass local code. Don't sit there and tell me that you are tired of us new construction guys, that you don't want us to butt into your repair business in fear that we may take a customer or two away from you. We have to eat too. Just remember that the next sewer you unstop and you just happen to find this little nifty clean out in the front yard, thank us, not the Maytag repair man!!! :hang:
Even Mr. HO can vent now Air admitance vavle any one. I'm not trying to take any thing away from you here when I say this.. So please read the whole thing before you respond..
Can't count how many 4-5 yr guys never sweat a joint now days.
caulked a joint

Most Construction guys get pigoened into one task and thats where they stay. I figure it now takes 10-20 guys to do what 1 real plumber and a helper used to do. The almighty buck and the assembly line helped this out.
On the other hand, I can't count how many times doing service work, that I walked in to see a job that HO hired a "real Plumber" to do and it looked like something a 4 year old did.

"Lots of repair guys I have encountered don't even know how to vent a simple sink, or what makes a plumbing system tick."

This is why every one should be pushing to get the journeymans instated/reinstated in there area even for residental/ service. And why every guy running that big new construction job should be taking a couple of guys who show some promise and bring them up right so one day if they are building your retirement home you won't have to plung after every crap....
 

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WILLPLUMB4$
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Uhh, tired of it you said? Hold the wagon a second there cuz.
I think most of the frustration from the service guys comes from seeing to many times...
1.) Service guys know he can only work 3-4 hrs/ day + nows cost = 2-500/hr.
2.) New costruction guy figures 45-245/hr but he normally works 8 hrs/ day.
3.) New construction guy puts in WH for HO= 600.... Service guy needed to get 1-1500. So did new construction guy but he didn't know better, or take the time like you are to check things out first and figure up his actual cost so he new what to charge.:thumbsup:
 

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waterheaterzone.com
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I am not frustrated. I am just not doling out free business advice to some guy here has ONE post. Business is competitive. There are franchises out there charging an arm and a leg for their service business ideas. But a virtual stranger who never normally posts here expects free advice from his potential competitors after a single post? Come on.:no:
 

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Water Whisperer
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I'm seeing it here, too. What's worse this time is the construction companies have very high overhead/personal expenses due to overspending during the boom. They're some miserable s.o.b.s out there.

I'm feeling the loss from these yahoos. I'm tightening the belt and hoping they will get maintenance jobs or an Obama-era reconstruction gigs. Anything but service....

(Didja see that one post here where the guy was wondering where to buy a snake? :no:)
 

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J. McCabe Plumbing Inc.
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Although I have been a member of this forum for sometime I don't believe I have ever posted anything before. I have enjoyed reading some of the post by other members. I have found some of them to be very interesting and some entertaining. It would be apparent that we actually have some genuine members who's input and logic are undeniably sound advice. So I pose this question.

I have been in the Plumbing industry since 1988 roughly. I started my business in 1999 and while we started out doing service work our focus was commercial construction. When I was a one man show I was always broke and soon tired of spending money on advertisement that couldn't compete with the one page ads. So we changed gears jumped into the residential new construction market. I used to think there was no way to make any money doing work for less than I was accustomed to, however I found that we became very good at it and soon were competing with the big boys and profit and growth were steady. Now with the market dead and cut throat pricing the norm we have had to scale back and it is like starting over again.

So here is my question. If I wanted to turn my business back to a service based business what would be some of the ideas that you all have had success with. I personally have done just about everything in the industry with the exception of acid waste pipe. I am a master plumber and have medical gas certification and good sales skills. I pride myself in doing a professional job and have always stood by my work. I feel like I may be missing a part of the puzzle. Thanks for any input you may provide.

Onetime, I don't understand why you gave up on service work in the first place. Although many say that trying to do both, new construction and service work is a bad idea, I think they go hand in hand with one another.

Continuing to provide repair and maintenance service for your customer, after completing their new project, broadens your value to that customer and may keep the competition out.

Service work, for me, has opened many doors to the opportunity of a new construction project.

Try and look at it this way for moment. Would you not install a toilet because you only do water heater installations?

Remember though that service customers are sometimes difficult and will require more patience. This patience will be a reflection of you increased profit margin, if managed properly.

I welcome good competition and don't have a fear of them taking my customers. My customers are appreciative of the services they receive and are my "Raving Fans".

Welcome, ONETIME and join in the discussions more often.
 

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When I was a oneman show I was always broke and soon tired of spending money on advertisement that could'nt compete with the onepage ads.
Not much has changed since you were a one man show in service. Many small companies have a hard time competing and there is no magic formula. Service Guy will be the first to tell you that there are weeks/months when he does very well and then there are times you wonder if you are going to scrape by.

A big complaint with new construction flipping to service - most if not all new construction plumbers are not suited to service. We will not hire anyone for a service plumber that has not had at least 5 years solid service work.

During the interview process, I always ask what is your greatest strength. Here are some of the things I hear:

1. I can sweat a lot of pipe, I like to sweat. (Great, because
in service we do a hell of a lot of that).
2. I can run pipe. Put me on a job, I'll show you.

Are you prepared to take a drug test?

1. No!

What steps would you go through to diagnose why a customer isn't getting hot water?

1. :eek: - I'll give you a hint. Do you have an electrical tester?

Do you have all your hand tools?

1. No

Spelling is important

1. A service plumber collects for his services on every job. The invoice / sales receipt needs to look professional. We tried out a new construction guy once - writing that he changed out stop guts wasn't impressive. He didn't know the official terminology.

So here is my question. If I wanted to turn my business back to a service based business what would be some of the ideas that you all have had success with.
Word of mouth. Under promise and over deliver. Yellow pages do work in most areas, but if you want to be noticed, you need a large ad. If you are in the back of the book, don't bother. It takes money and a lot of time to make money. In todays economy, I would imagine it will take even longer. Service is very cut throat now. Even those with large customer bases and advertising in place are having a hard time of it. Without the large base and advertising, the only way I see you making it is by undercutting the service guys in your area. You will take the business, but you won't make any money. Service rates are what they are because that is the cost of doing business

I feel like I may be missing a part of the puzzle. Thanks for any input you may provide.
You are not missing any puzzle pieces. Business is brutal and only the strongest / smartest (and a dose of luck) surrive.

Good luck! Advice, notify all friends, family, associates, past customers, GC's etc. that you are doing service. Second, get rid of your construction plumbers and find service plumbers with experience.
 

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Professional Bullshioter
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This has been a very insightful thread. I enjoy reading all the viewpoints.

From my standpoint:
I am solely a new construction plumber. I make very good money when I have jobs going. I finally figured out after some hard lessons to save save save my money.

I will have periods where my company has 0 income for 4-5 months. I am also smart enough to realize I am not tooled up nor do I have the knowledge to do service work.

If I were to jump into the service arena I don't think it would be fair to the customer to have me farting around with something I don't have the knowledge to repair.

I just ride it out. Sometimes new construction means buying groceries off the line of credit. You just have to be positive and know things WILL turn around.
 

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[
quote=ILPlumber;24081]I make very good money when I have jobs going. I finally figured out after some hard lessons to save save save my money.
Even service cos. have to save for rainy days.

I am also smart enough to realize I am not tooled up nor do I have the knowledge to do service work.
We have one guy that can rough-in a new home. Wouldn't dream of putting any of our other service plumbers on it. Pipe may be pipe, but the skills are a little different.

I just ride it out.
:thumbsup: We all do. Sometimes the ride isn't fun, but we hang in there and persevere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Thank you to all who responded. Even you serviceguy:jester: I understand all of your points(most lol) Personnaly I am not trying to take away business from anyone. What I was hoping to achieve is an understanding of why some service companies do well while others fall flat. I did start off doing service ten years ago. From time to time I still get calls however. I dont refuse my clients and as for my experience I am completely capable of doing any repair work on any plumbing system. What I found was that I got jobs done too quickly so the call I got did'nt produce large invoices and the cost of advertising was about all I paid for. As for new construction I was merely reflecting on the fact that it seemed to be more profitable. I am good at what I do so therefore I was able to make it work. I have a freind who has been in the business for over thirty years. He has done the whole Mike diamond thing and is one hell of a smart business man. He has a service dept. and a newconstruction side. I once asked him about his service business. While I always notice that he stayed busy and had a great customer base he told me that he made more profit on the new construction side. So this is one of the reasons I posted this thread.Just for the record I have no plans on returning to North Carolina as I saw enough of that state when I was stationed at Camp Lejuene really nice woods though.

As I said I thank all who replied and I intend to post more.
 

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Plumber Manhattan Beach
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Uhh, tired of it you said? Hold the wagon a second there cuz.
I started out 30 years ago doing repair work. I later moved on to new installation. Lots of repair guys I have encountered don't even know how to vent a simple sink, or what makes a plumbing system tick. Most any homeowner can go to HD and rent a set of tub wrenches and get a " how to lesson " and come home and repair their own bath faucet. But when it comes to roughing in a new home or office, ain't no class in town gonna tell you how to do it good enough to pass local code. Don't sit there and tell me that you are tired of us new construction guys, that you don't want us to butt into your repair business in fear that we may take a customer or two away from you. We have to eat too. Just remember that the next sewer you unstop and you just happen to find this little nifty clean out in the front yard, thank us, not the Maytag repair man!!! :hang:

It's amazing you came up with the "Service guy's cannot even vent a sink?

WTH?? If your a good service plumber you better know alot more then that. Give a new construction guy a 40 year old shower valve, or 40 year pink toilet the customer just has to keep because her tub and lav are pink, rebuild it when it does not come apart? How about locating a stoppage properly? there are times when just a lav stoppage is a bit more then just a lav stoppage when the cable goes up another drain in another part of the house, us service plumbers gotta figure out what you new construction guys did because you thought it was a good idea.

I understand where service guy is coming from, I have no problem with new construction guys at all, just when they think they can plumb better then us.

Blue print plumbing is easy
 

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Plumber Manhattan Beach
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I forgot to mention the sales part too, if your a new construction guy you better make sure you have people skills and sales skills, without them, you won't have any business.

Customer interaction and respect for their property are very important, it is one of the things that seperate you from others.
 

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No one is trying to start a debate on whether new construction or service plumbers are better. Some people so specialize in one thing. Some service guys who are great plumbers and with twenty years of experiance would be lost if handed a set of blue prints. Some great new construction guys with twenty years of experiance would be lost if you handed them a rooter. Most plumbers I know can and do do both quite well but they specialize and can do better in one aspect then another.
 

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new nickname:Quaker State
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Like I said, I started out doing repairs with this old man I first got into plumbing with. I learned a lot from that man. I attended his funeral several years ago and could not look at him in the casket. He was a great man. He influenced me so much, and had so much convidence in me that I decided to stay in plumbing.
Went to work for a guy that all he did was new construction residentual, no repair. Kinda got use to the good life with him. He paid good, benefits were good. All until his kids got involved. He was short tempered, had no patience with repair stuff. I think what happened to me was that when I started with him I was so young and so gullible that he maybe had me brainwashed in a way. To this day, I guess he rubbed off on me. I hate repair work, it is agravating, I usually don't have the part I need. Have to leave Ho and make trip too supply house for part. All said and done, not worth the hassle.
How many service calls can one do in a day? That is another question. Say you start at 8 am. First call, 1 hour. 75 bucks lets say. Drive to next job. That is, if you can schedule customers like the cable company does. " between 2 and 4.
Ok, 8 calls lets say x 75 =600.00

I can rough-in a bungalow starting at 8 am, be home by 4, average draw 1600.00
Material for job? 700.
See my point? That is why I got out of service work.
I do know how to repair, just don't like dealing with Tom, Dick, Harry home owner looking over my shoulder *****ing bout everything under the sun while the dog barks, cat crap in bathroom that I am working in, kids hollering , etc, etc. etc.
I will install the clean out above grade for you, one at the house, the other at the tap.
:drink:
 

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Water Whisperer
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Or how about the new construction plumber hiring service plumbers? I remember one fella in the 90s recession that thought all he had to do is hire a service plumber, give him a beat up van, and a price list and away you go! I lasted a week there.

I ran into him a year later and he was selling his service trucks: a Toyota pick-up with bins on the side, a bread delivery van, and that old van with the dents I put in it slamming my fist on the side. :laughing:
 
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