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Discussion Starter #1
I understand selling service agreements is good business for HVAC. I have seen plumbers saying they sell service agreements on plumbing too. Does this work for any of you. Do people really buy an agreement for you to flush their water heater and dye test their toilet? If this works I have been missing the boat.
 

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Drain Cleaning Specialist
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I do on sewer and drain cleaning.
Preventative maintenance contracts like root lines and restaurants give them a little bit of a deal if they do it once a year.
 

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I offer it to ho's who have constant trouble with thier sewer lines. Preventive maint once a year. most of them appreciate it when they consider the other options. 150 once a year or 3 or 4 thousand now to dig up and replace.
 

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residential service
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I do on sewer and drain cleaning.
Preventative maintenance contracts like root lines and restaurants give them a little bit of a deal if they do it once a year.
Not to stick my nose in your business but have you considered having the deal be that by having you come on a regular basis they can possibly avoid unexpected stoppages but more importantly, very costly replacements resulting from neglected sewer lines?

I think service agreements are a great idea but I would not offer any discount at all. Rather, I would make the ho aware of the potential costs of not maintaining their sewer.

You seem to be a struggling one man shop in a small market. This doesn't mean that you can't make a decent living. I'm not sure what your plumbing credentials are or whether you are strictly drain cleaning but there is a lot of money in drain work but especially in drain repair/replacement. I'm guessing that you do not own a sewer camera or any locating equipment. If this is true, you should begin working toward obtaining some. A picture truely is worth 1000 words and when that customer sees precisely what they are facing it translates, what you could spend an hour trying to explain only with words, into stark reality instantaneously. Until you can get some decent camera equipment, see if you can't find some down loadable photographs of before and after shots of properly cleaned drain lines that were previously full of grease, roots, whatever. Even if you don't have a camera you can still show these to the customer as examples of what their drain may look like. I will sometimes carry a section of a greased up 2" galvanized ks drain line on my truck. I do this sporadically because they will tend to dry up over time and lose their effect but if you do not possess a jetter and the line shows evidence that it is rotten and leaking, this section of pipe will drive home what you are telling them about the condition of their line, then, if the line is showing signs of rust or scale spots on the bottom you explain that even if you can clean it you will only make it leak worse as soon as you send the cable down and make larger holes out of the holes that are already there at every rust/scale spot.

I do not focus on drain work. It's not my favorite thing. I started doing it because It seemed to me that if I couldn't help someone with their drain problem today, then why would they call me back for any other plumbing problem in the future. So I started purchasing equipment. First purchase was a lousy 1/4", hand held sink cable. I rented cable machines for a time until I could afford one. I was greatly blessed over the last several years with fantastic deals on equipment that "fell" into my lap. I still don't really enjoy drain work (the way SG does) but I do it because of what it so often leads to.

On Tuesday we start a 9K job replacing a sub slab ks drain and digging approximately 6' to get to a 4" transition from pvc to a ci lateral which appears to be broken and is definately suffering from a massive root infestation. This is only going to happen because we were able to show the ho what was going on. I do the drain work at a profitable price. It is not a loss leader for us. I don't run the camera for free either. I may be wrong but from your posts I have read, I'm thinking you probably are charging $100 or less to unstop a mainline, principally because "nobody has any money" and "that's all they will pay". Well maybe so, but I really doubt it. People will pay the right amount if you can get the sh!t to stop coming up in their bath tub. Oh of course they will try and do it themselves first but if they fail, they will be calling you. Then of course they might complain about the price but they still have to get the problem resolved. Start learning to look beyond the price objection and stop taking it personally. What should someone pay to have a complete stranger come to their house, in their truck/van, with their very expensive specialized equipment, with all the necessary knowledge, skill, and talent necessary to dive into THEIR EXCREMENT and solve their problem? The answer is not $100 and I don't care what market you are in.

In my view, if all you did was show up yank the cable machine of the truck, run it down the line to knock loose the offending object, pulled it back, and loaded it back on the truck, the very next thing that should happen should be that you receive from the ho their payment of no less than $250 and I don't care if it took you 20 minutes start to finish (I don't remember any 20 minute mainline calls personally). We provide a lot more value than what I just listed, including but not limited to, proper education of the ho as to what most likely has taken place, what they might do to avoid it in the future, etc. Our price for clearing a mainline blockage with an accessible c.o. located either outside or in a garage/basement starts a lot higher than $250 and if they want the camera which we strongly recommend it's going to cost more. Drain calls for me can routinely last between 1 - 4 hours depending on the circumstances. On the other hand, I'm usually not running to load everything up as soon as I hear something break loose in the line.

I know you will do whatever you think is best but I would suggest doubling my pricing as of tommorrow morning. You've already said it is very slow and aside from a recent spurt of business, you haven't had much to do for awhile so what do you have to lose? Let's say you run 5 calls next week (I hope it's a lot more than that) and let's say you did the work at all 5 calls for your $100 or whatever it is, normal charge. Now let's take the same week and say you charge $200 and are able to bring 4 of those customers to understand that $200 is a fair price. So you lose one and gross $800 rather than the $500 you would have gotten otherwise. What if you only convince 3 of them that $200 is fair? You still made an extra $100. Btw "convince" is really the wrong word and I wish now I hadn't used it because you're not convincing anybody, you are confidently asserting that this is what it costs and then you say "all I need is your authorization signature right here and I will get started solving your problem, I'll make all this go away in short order". If you can, get there signature where the back up occured so you can point to it as you promise to make it go away. I'm pretty sure this has everything to do with how you are perceived by your customers and nothing or very little to do with price. I could be wrong but I don't think so. We routinely are chosen to do work over less expensive plumbing companies sometimes shockingly less expensive. I know this because they tell me this. They choose us over our less expensive competition for a variety of reasons but usually it is because they have, in a few short minutes, come to have more confidence in us than our competition. We flood them with as much information as we can. We answer their questions as best we are able. When I don't know the answer I don't try to bs them. I simply tell them "You know what, I really don't know the answer to that question but if you will give me a little time I can research it and get back to you. I don't know you and am not judging you at all so please don't think I am but I really get the feeling just from reading some of your posts that maybe the thing that would help you most is for you to sit down and do an accurate assessment as far as you are able to, of how your customers perceive you and that means everything from the way you or your call taker answers the phone, to how you schedule service, to what is the very first thing they think when you pull up into their driveway, .... right down the line. Does everything about you instill confidence in them regarding your knowledge and skill? Be honest with yourself. What can you do to make it better?

The size of one's market may be a limiting factor but only to this degree, how many people in your market will need a plumber this year, how many of those people can you get to call you instead of someone else, what is your average ticket price? Take the number of service calls and multiply by your average ticket price. Does this number = a decent living for you and your family? If not is there anything about the equation that is within your power to change? Can you change the number of households within your service area? Probably only if you enlarge your service area (this would not be the first thing I did probably). Can you increase the number of service calls within your service area? Yes, absolutely you can. Critically evaluate your advertising. Are you advertising at all? If not why not (Don't say it costs too much because if nothing else you can go door to door introducing yourself and your company and leaving behind a business card or magnet). If you have advertising that works well (roi should be at least 10X with an ad budget of 10%) see if you can do more of it. If your advertising is not doing well see if it can be helped and if not dump it and try something else. Can you do anything about your average ticket price? Absolutely! Again do a critical evaluation of what you should be charging in order to achieve your goals. What you think someone will pay has nothing at all to do with it because you are probably wrong anyway. Charge appropriately. Start selling add ons i.e. cable annually with root-x annually alternate services every 6 months, this gives you an additional trip to their home each year, while you are there see if they need anything else. People forget all the time that they have additional plumbing problems even though you are standing in the middle of their house. Ask them!!!

Alright I'm stopping now. Nobody asked me for my opinion. Hope you are not offended that I gave it anyway.

Just my .02 worth. Take it or leave it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the input all, smellslike$tome as the young sh*ts say, you are sick. And by sick I mean the bomb.
 

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Looks like I was wrong about your lack of camera. Just checked your profile and you list camera services. My camera is a Spartan that I bought used from another plumbing company in Indiana. It has made me A LOT of money. Hope yours will do the same for you.
 

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Smells like money...
In your market in Birmingham how much actual add ons do you get for yearly club memberships.Thats a big clincher for me. If I set up a club agreement and cant get a sufficient percentage of higher ticket items $1000+ then the cost of administrating the service agreement is not a win win. I'd like to be convinced about them but it hasnt hit me favorably.
 

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residential service
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hey smells you should have that book published-it would be a best seller-wellput!!!!!
I'm just a parrot. There's not an original thought in it anywhere. Left to myself I'd have gone under long ago. On the other hand, if these things work, then they bear repeating.
 

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Drain Cleaning Specialist
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thanks for all the advise. I am a Journeymen plumber. All I do now is sewer and drain cleaning. I do run nice big ads in the local phone books 1/2 and 1/4 page sizes. Would love to sell sewer replacement sales but we have excavators all over the place seems everyone is related to one.
Other local plumbers charge $75.00 bucks for a sewer cleaning with a un powered sewer rodder. Excavators are charging you ready for this $500 to dig on property. I have to be careful on my price not to lose the call. I'm located in an area that everyone undercharges. Don't get me wrong would love to charge $250 plus for a sewer cleaning. I ran into a RR tech they started coming up this way now and chatted with him. he drives up from over an hour away they charge $300 said he's getting turned down left in right. It sucks I used to work for RR we had to shell out for everything.
 

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Wow I might be moving to Birmingham. I wouldn't have a choice if I started charging 250 dollars for a sewer call. I would be be laughed out of town. I agree that what we do is worth charging that much considering what we work in (feces, urine and chicken grease and such). The problem is that I have a large company here that will do sewer stoppages and camera calls for free just to get there foot in the door. Then they tell the people that thier only option is to replace and/or line thier sewers. Its hard for a one man operation like myself and unclog have to compete with that. I use to work for that company and the only reason I don't work for them anymore is because I would tell the customers all the options instead of just one. One way I have tried to correct that is I started a campaign telling people to get a second opinion before they decide to replace thier sewer. I have gotten 3 calls in the last week where I quoted them a week end rate of 135 dollar and hour for the first hour and 112 the second hour and lost the job because they thought it was too high. Well sorry but thier is no way i am going out at 10 oclock saturday night to wade in crap for less than that. By the way one of them called back the next day and told me that they had another company come out and didn't fix her problem ask me to come out and fix it for her on week day rates because she had spent too much money on her problem already. lol Told her no way have a nice day and hung up.
 

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Water Whisperer
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I'm already packing the RV to go to Alabama, but I can't find it on the map. Is it north of New York?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So from the websites in your responses, it looks like you dont actively market them, but try to sell when on a call. Would it not be wise to market it as saving money?





:)What the crap is in this pipe:)
 

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I'm already packing the RV to go to Alabama, but I can't find it on the map. Is it north of New York?
YES!!! You are exactly correct!!! If you are traveling east, when you get to New York, turn left and keep going for a little while. You can't miss it just keep going and you will run right into it. You must really like beans though because that's all we have here, that and rice and spaghetti when we can get it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
YES!!! You are exactly correct!!! If you are traveling east, when you get to New York, turn left and keep going for a little while. You can't miss it just keep going and you will run right into it. You must really like beans though because that's all we have here, that and rice and spaghetti when we can get it.
There is an easier way. Open your wrist and take a little nap. If you wake up in Texas you are in heaven, if you wake up in Alabamy you are in purgatory, and if you wake up in Utah you have gone to hell.


:thumbup:Laugh if you have character - get mad if you are a character:thumbup:
 

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We are just getting into HVAC service work we are primarily a plumbing business, family owned, and have questoned the service agreements - is an agreement that simple to set up with homeowners or are there secrets to their success??
 
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