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I've had 2 bids out there ,and I can't get the owners to respond.I know I am high on one,there is a 20% pita mark-up for a guy who owns a 5,000 sq. plus home ,and the other guy I installed a shower drain for and I think he is trying to finish himself [pan and shower valve].
We all know you can't get them all but certain bids I like feed-back to see how deep others are low-balling,so you would think since you gave time and gas for nothing people would have the decency to respond and tell you why you didn't get the bid.I think they are little girly men for not responding to calls or e-mails.
All-right,I've vented,I feel better now.
 

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got that right. I have had a few bids that I done and cant seem to get anyone to respond. Been that way since November of last year. I even called, and emailed with no response.
 

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I've had 2 bids out there ,and I can't get the owners to respond.I know I am high on one,there is a 20% pita mark-up for a guy who owns a 5,000 sq. plus home ,and the other guy I installed a shower drain for and I think he is trying to finish himself [pan and shower valve].
We all know you can't get them all but certain bids I like feed-back to see how deep others are low-balling,so you would think since you gave time and gas for nothing people would have the decency to respond and tell you why you didn't get the bid.I think they are little girly men for not responding to calls or e-mails.
All-right,I've vented,I feel better now.
In my opinion, this was your first mistake. This is why we do not go anywhere for free. People with nothing better to do think nothing of calling multiple plumbers for "free estimates". Well guess what there is no such thing as a free estimate. Someone is paying for it, in your case Threader, it's you.

I think we have just made an important discovery. I have been threatening to raise our service charge from $59 for some time but have been a bit nervous about doing it. A buddy of mine with his own plumbing company (one man shop like me) recently hit a very busy stretch and consequently told his call taker (his wife) to raise his service charge to $79 because he couldn't get to everything fast enough. He said what he found was that it didn't make any difference. The only people who seem to not be willing to pay it are the people who are unwilling to pay anything to have you come out anyway. There was no apparant change in his call booking percentage and he just picked up an extra $20 per call. Having heard this and having been considering an increase myself for some time, I instructed my call taker (my wife) to raise our service fee to $79. We have only begun to do this but so far we are getting the same results as my friend. People who understand service charges to receive in home services will pay it. They might rather not but they understand it and will pay it. Those who could care less whether your company survives or not will not pay it period. You could tell them the service charge is $10 and they still will not pay it.

Just my thoughts, didn't mean to hijack the thread but this is how we have reduced our non-responders to bids. Also though we are nearly exclusively service only now with the occassional remodel so we really don't have many "bids". We show up and quote a price, "this is what it will cost. If that's ok sign right here and we'll have you back up and running in just a little bit." If you are doing new work forget everything I just wrote.
 

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It's just a cost of doing business. I can spend 80 hours on a 7 figure bid. If I'm not the low bidder I never here anything unless I check for myself.

I spose if I didn't want to waste that time I could just sit home. Works not usually going to fall out of the sky though.

Gets VERY time consuming when theres twenty some alternates. Only way I know how close I was is on job with public bid openings.
 

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Joe, I have a list of hundreds of unanswered bids & estimates.

The ones I sometimes call say things like "We changed our mind" or "We decided not to go through with it.".

The shower guy you bid, I can bet money he just decided to do it himself...thats almost obvious.

The PITA job probably did the same, or had a Mexican do it for less than the legit bids.

It's a numbers game pure and simple...move, move, move...get all the bids out there you can.

Once in a while someone calls you back out of the blue that you thought was a dud, but usually if you're gonna get the job you can tell on premise.

If they're doing some of the work, strong chance they'll just do it all as soon as they realize you don't work for $15 an hour.

If they don't seem interested in details or won't give you direct answers when you ask when they want to start, or they don't seem interested in going over different price options vs type of work while you're there...they're probably window shopping.

It's par for the course, though admittedly it has gotten worse over time with the economy & the whole influence the internet seems to have over the "lending tree", "cheaphotels.com" mentality where homeowners are lured into thinking they can get exactly what they want at the exact price they want.

Pulling in new business is tougher than ever in my opinion...don't get discouraged, just keep plugging out the estimates and following up on them without expectations that you'll be let down by...the occasional surprise just happens.
 

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It's just a cost of doing business. I can spend 80 hours on a 7 figure bid. If I'm not the low bidder I never here anything unless I check for myself.

I spose if I didn't want to waste that time I could just sit home. Works not usually going to fall out of the sky though.

Gets VERY time consuming when theres twenty some alternates. Only way I know how close I was is on job with public bid openings.
Though I understand your thinking, winning bids based on low price alone will put most shops out of business over time via process of elimination.

This is one of the reasons I usually avoid new construction, at one point I found myself realizing I made more to take home working for a larger shop than I was on new homes, with much more responsibility, paperwork and much less freedom.

On larger commercial jobs that can be particularly dangerous, if you run out of money to cover payroll before the next incrimental payment is due, you could be out of business.
 

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Though I understand your thinking, winning bids based on low price alone will put most shops out of business over time via process of elimination.

This is one of the reasons I usually avoid new construction, at one point I found myself realizing I made more to take home working for a larger shop than I was on new homes, with much more responsibility, paperwork and much less freedom.

On larger commercial jobs that can be particularly dangerous, if you run out of money to cover payroll before the next incrimental payment is due, you could be out of business.
True. I bid based on man hours, material with markup, overhead, and profit. Somebody once said "i never lost money on a job I didn't get"

I will not work for wages alone. I'm greedy:)

Gotta be pretty liquid. Pay is generally 90 working days after invoice is submitted. Otherwise a guy could end up in line of credit hell:cry:
 

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True. I bid based on man hours, material with markup, overhead, and profit. Somebody once said "i never lost money on a job I didn't get"

I will not work for wages alone. I'm greedy:)

Gotta be pretty liquid. Pay is generally 90 working days after invoice is submitted. Otherwise a guy could end up in line of credit hell:cry:
That'd be the one and only astute Mr Utah there sir!
 

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In my opinion, this was your first mistake. This is why we do not go anywhere for free. People with nothing better to do think nothing of calling multiple plumbers for "free estimates". Well guess what there is no such thing as a free estimate. Someone is paying for it, in your case Threader, it's you.

I think we have just made an important discovery. I have been threatening to raise our service charge from $59 for some time but have been a bit nervous about doing it. A buddy of mine with his own plumbing company (one man shop like me) recently hit a very busy stretch and consequently told his call taker (his wife) to raise his service charge to $79 because he couldn't get to everything fast enough. He said what he found was that it didn't make any difference. The only people who seem to not be willing to pay it are the people who are unwilling to pay anything to have you come out anyway. There was no apparant change in his call booking percentage and he just picked up an extra $20 per call. Having heard this and having been considering an increase myself for some time, I instructed my call taker (my wife) to raise our service fee to $79. We have only begun to do this but so far we are getting the same results as my friend. People who understand service charges to receive in home services will pay it. They might rather not but they understand it and will pay it. Those who could care less whether your company survives or not will not pay it period. You could tell them the service charge is $10 and they still will not pay it.

Just my thoughts, didn't mean to hijack the thread but this is how we have reduced our non-responders to bids. Also though we are nearly exclusively service only now with the occassional remodel so we really don't have many "bids". We show up and quote a price, "this is what it will cost. If that's ok sign right here and we'll have you back up and running in just a little bit." If you are doing new work forget everything I just wrote.
I am exactly the same business model as you smells! But you and I do ALL service work, these guys are talking big projects it sounds like. IMO, new construction plumbing and service plumbing are different businesses entirely.
 

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I am exactly the same business model as you smells! But you and I do ALL service work, these guys are talking big projects it sounds like. IMO, new construction plumbing and service plumbing are different businesses entirely.
Doing both has proven very smart.

Like drain cleaners and plumbers, each can compliment the other with referred work.

I get requests to bid Kitchen or bath remodels from simple faucet replacements.
I also get referrals to replace the neighbors water heater after doing an addition.

In some (sometimes regrettable) cases, I've wound up doing the plumbing for homeowners DIY bath & kitchen projects (legal here as long as it's not structural and in all honesty, some "GC"'s here are worse).
On jobs like this I give the three option "pitch"...time/quality/price.
They usually opt to remove price so I get to pace the job as fill between service calls.
 

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Some shops can do both well. But most shops that do both are usually bad at one or the other.

Its very common in this area for new construction plumbers to 'dabble' in service and they absolutely suck at it. They don't charge enough, they don't answer the phone or respond quickly to calls, they don't stock speciality service tools and parts on the truck....etc.etc.
On the other hand, I have been doing service for so long, that I know if I went back to new work, I would suck at it!
Imo, specialization is the way to go.

Most shops are better off doing either service-work or new work, few can do both well. They are so different in many ways.
 

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We all have strengths and weakness's.

Yesterday was a service day, Symmons shower valve rebuild with Allura replacement trim, Cimaron replacement from an old low profile Kohler one piece (those things suck!), replaced a Hot stop under a KS that had a loose washer causing vibration & low flow.

Last week I wrapped up a bath addition with a custom shower (love those liners!), double lav & (yet another) two piece cimarron..

You're right about specialising, but if you can do both, it's not too difficult to research something that might be new to you.

It's also VERY helpful to make friends at a good supply house with reps that know their products well.

Don't be complacent to adhere to one or the other...as the army says - "Be all you can be"...granted something new can wrap you up in hours of aggravation, but it won't the next time around.

Variety is the spice of life, diversity is food on the table in slow times.

Next week it looks like I have a 3 zone boiler to start with an indirect.
 

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Smellslike$tome said:
I have been threatening to raise our service charge from $59 for some time but have been a bit nervous about doing it. A buddy of mine with his own plumbing company (one man shop like me) recently hit a very busy stretch and consequently told his call taker (his wife) to raise his service charge to $79 because he couldn't get to everything fast enough.
My charge is currently $38. I really kick myself when I forget to tell someone that over the phone and get burned. I know the flat rate companies from nearby Idaho Falls charge around $79 for a diagnostic fee.

And those companies are paying their people well - one sent out flyers for employees advertising $100,000 per year plus bennies. I talked to a plumber from another company who's older than I am and he made over $60,000 the previous year. In fact, talking to him convinced me I really needed to go into flat rate.

In my smaller burg, people will hunt and hunt until they find the very cheapest. I'm hoping there are some who will pay more and I'm going to try to convince them they should. A few weeks ago I went out to quote replacing two toilets with ADA models. The HO had already bought them and when I gave him my price he said, "I can get a plumber over here for $65 an hour!"

I told him that was probably what he should do then, because the sooner my competition went out of business the better.

I've heard that some of the larger companies will no longer come here. They get tired of the ~60 mile round trip to get turned down.

I've often quoted a price thinking I would get shot down, only to hear the HO say, "When can you do it?" So I think you may be onto something that it doesn't make that much difference what you charge. Sometimes, we're our own worst enemy when it comes to pricing.
 

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Some shops can do both well. But most shops that do both are usually bad at one or the other.

Its very common in this area for new construction plumbers to 'dabble' in service and they absolutely suck at it. They don't charge enough, they don't answer the phone or respond quickly to calls, they don't stock speciality service tools and parts on the truck....etc.etc.
On the other hand, I have been doing service for so long, that I know if I went back to new work, I would suck at it!
Imo, specialization is the way to go.

Most shops are better off doing either service-work or new work, few can do both well. They are so different in many ways.
I agree with your point, I started out in Service/New Construction.... I can say that I enjoy both. But I love service. A new construction hand tried to tell me that you can use the same style sloan diaphrams on a Regal, and on a Optima automatic flush:eek:

Goes to show that he might know construction but service is something that is foreign to him
 

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I've often quoted a price thinking I would get shot down, only to hear the HO say, "When can you do it?" So I think you may be onto something that it doesn't make that much difference what you charge. Sometimes, we're our own worst enemy when it comes to pricing.
ABSOLUTELY!

I have seen a week with almost no incoming calls, then underbid in fear of losing the job.
Then, sure enough, the phone is ringing off the hook while I'm swamped on that job.
Then there's the three calls in a row where customers refuse to pay more than what they decide is "reasonable"...on the fourth call I go down in price, then when the customer is writing out the check they say "Geesh, you're much lower than anyone else I talked to."
 

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waterheaterzone.com
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You're right about specialising, but if you can do both, it's not too difficult to research something that might be new to you.
You're an exception to the rule. The business structure is different. New construction has different overhead as well as different billable hours, etc, etc. Honestly I am amazed you do both as a one-man operation...its hard enough to do one or the other. Most shops that do both well are large enough to have a service division and a construction division.
 

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Some shops can do both well. But most shops that do both are usually bad at one or the other.

Its very common in this area for new construction plumbers to 'dabble' in service and they absolutely suck at it. They don't charge enough, they don't answer the phone or respond quickly to calls, they don't stock speciality service tools and parts on the truck....etc.etc.
On the other hand, I have been doing service for so long, that I know if I went back to new work, I would suck at it!
Imo, specialization is the way to go.

Most shops are better off doing either service-work or new work, few can do both well. They are so different in many ways.
We don't do much service work, but we have guys that have a background in it, myself included. The niche market we work in makes part of the work we do very similar to service work, when we are doing tie in's to galvanized water risers that are a hundred years old it isn't much different than repairing a galvanized line in an older home.

Most of the service work we do is for people we have done remodels for, and we usually never deal with the HO, the people that own the co-ops we work in don't use the yellow pages, they either call the building engineer or their GC of choice to have work done, and schedule it when the housekeeper will be there to let us in.
 

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I agree Killer. We do no advertising. Only do work for about 25 different clients. They aren't price shopping. They want it done on time and correctly.

Speaking of galvanized. We just finished a water main retro-fit on a school built in 1952. Unthreading a 3" galvanized fitting thats been on for 56 years is a little tough. Had to split most of em. The pipe above was inaccessible on most of em. Fun work though.. Dang asbestos is a PIA.

Our trend lately has been a lot of this. Wreck out the galvanized everywhere accessible and put in new Vic copper mains with pro-press take offs. I like it cause there are no prints. We draw it when it's done.

I would like to do service work. But those guys in these parts are charging $40 per hour. I couldn't survive long on that. Too much overhead.
 

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You're an exception to the rule. The business structure is different. New construction has different overhead as well as different billable hours, etc, etc. Honestly I am amazed you do both as a one-man operation...its hard enough to do one or the other. Most shops that do both well are large enough to have a service division and a construction division.
Maybe it's the area, but it's the norm here to do both.
The BIG seperation is commercial vs resaidential, but most residential shops that do new residential construction will also do maintanance & service residentially.

I worked one shop in another part of the state where we might be finishing a boiler in the morning and then grab a leaking flange, water heater, or w/o with the time left at the end of the day or wrap a final inspection on a new home and head off to a repipe.

Admittedly, older parts/plumbing fixtures ain't my forte, but those shops that specialize in that particular niche have less and less business here as older homes become rehabbed & remodeled over time in this area.

I know one shop owner that specifically moved his shop to a part of the metro area where the homes were at least 50+ years old, many over 100, he says that it's harder and harder to get those customers as new owners move in and remodel.
His fear is having to resort to new construction to keep his payroll going...he has no idea what he'd be getting into if that happens, it's ugly.

Newer neighborhoods will yield the usual maintanance type work or occasional remodel and new homes, but thats where alot of shops seem to clump together in competition...I dunno why, maybe they think "new" money is better or maybe it's a good way to start a lifetime customer.

Towns with poor water conditions are good for water heaters, repipes & faucet, toilet, valve repairs.

Variety, I don't do much in the way of remodels, but I sure as heck won't turn one away as long as the price is ok.
 

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I agree Killer. We do no advertising. Only do work for about 25 different clients. They aren't price shopping. They want it done on time and correctly.

Speaking of galvanized. We just finished a water main retro-fit on a school built in 1952. Unthreading a 3" galvanized fitting thats been on for 56 years is a little tough. Had to split most of em. The pipe above was inaccessible on most of em. Fun work though.. Dang asbestos is a PIA.

Our trend lately has been a lot of this. Wreck out the galvanized everywhere accessible and put in new Vic copper mains with pro-press take offs. I like it cause there are no prints. We draw it when it's done.

I would like to do service work. But those guys in these parts are charging $40 per hour. I couldn't survive long on that. Too much overhead.
Invest in some chain tongs, that is what we use on threaded cast iron pipe.
 
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