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residential service
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Discussion Starter #1
I know this has been covered on other threads but I don't have time to hunt for them.

My wife usually handles the phones but she had to transfer it to me for an hour or so earlier today.

Lady calls and I give my greeting.

lady: "uh yes I'm selling my home and the home inspector says there is a leaking pipe in my basement and I just want to find out how much it will cost and do you give free estimates?"

me: "yes ma'am we have a $59 service charge (I could have stopped talking right there) This will get you a state certified master plumber who has been background checked and is drug free to your door. He will assess the problem and once he knows exactly what the problem is and exactly what it will take to solve the problem he will quote you an exact price to make the repair."

lady: "yea well, I don't think I really want to make the repair, I just need to know what it would cost so that I can adjust the sale price and have the new owner deal with it"

me: "I see, well ma'am we cannot stay in business by providing service for free. In reality the $59 does not even cover the costs associated with placing a certified master plumber at your home in a fully stocked truck ready to solve your problem. We most certainly cannot afford to look at work that we have absolutely no hope of doing. Surely you can understand this."

lady: "yea well, I'll have to call you back. I really didn't want to have to pay someone just to come look at it"

me: "very well, good luck with that."

Now the sad part is that she will find some goofus who will fall all over himself to go look at it and give his "free estimate". I dodged this bullet with my service fee. My service fee saved me at least one hour of productivity and now I'm going to go use it on a paying job :yes:.

PC Plumber and crew, I'll send you everyone of these calls. Knock yourself out.
 

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waterheaterzone.com
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She expected you to give her a free estimate, yet she fully disclosed the fact that she has no intention of doing any work??!!!:eek::furious:

That is just insane. Well, at least she didn't lie and pretend that she wanted work done. I have had this situation happen to me before. Customer wants an "estimate" or "inspection", but all they really want is FREE information to use for real estate transactions, they have no interest at all in actually paying for any work done.
I hate them with a PASSION!!!:furious:
 

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waterheaterzone.com
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I just now got one. Guy wants me to bid on putting in a filter system for him.
"I am going to buy an under-counter filter system in, and I figure I'd give you the first shot at giving me a price to install it."
"Can you come out an take a look at it and give me a price?"

me: "Well, I can, but there is a service charge to come out and look at it. I'd prefer to come out and just do the job, so I don't have to make two trips."

caller: "well maybe I'll call you back then." *click*

WTF? Why on earth would I want to drive out to this guy's house and give him a free 'bid' on a little filter install that will take about an hour, when he has been open that he is calling multiple plumbers to "bid" it???

Sorry, but I am like smells, I am busy doing jobs that I get paid for. I might do a free bid on a $5000 job, but on a dinky service call?:laughing: No way in hell.
 

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Smells - I dismiss people like you just described. A realtor the other day wanted us to look at a heater that would only get lukewarm. Gave her a trip charge fee to diagnose, which includes written estimate she needs for HUD. Then she had the nerve to ask if this fee would be deducted if they get the house and want us to do the work. NOPE! The second charge would be to repair. If we gave money back, then our first trip was FREE.

She will call us back. :furious: Now this I hate! Don't lie, just say you wanted my time for free and you want to find another fool who will. She'll never call back, nor do we want customers like this. She's a USER!

Good going Smells!
 

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Realtors are the worst. When I first started out on my own I would drive out and give free estimates but would rarely get job. I started charging $50 for estimate/quote and would credit toward job if I got it (buyer or seller). That stopped the free calls. They probably found some other schmuck to give free estimate.
 

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residential service
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Discussion Starter #6
The problem is though that it isn't always the case that people involved in real estate won't pay for service so PC Plumber has a point to a degree. However, I will not talk to them unless they invest something in having me come out. If they will pay the service fee then I will come look even though it rarely works out even then. If they will pay the service fee I will take a crack at selling them on why they should do the work and why I should be the one to do it. Oh yea, this has not been an official policy until just now but in addition to the service charge, they have to be present upon my arrival, no more quoting a price over the phone after I have looked at it. If all you have is the telephone or e-mail then the only issue is price. I will always lose if it comes down to price only.

Last week I think I must have ventured into the twilight zone because I had a real estate investor who on the advice of, of all people, his home inspector :eek:, called and had me come run the camera on the sewer service for the forclosed house he was looking to purchase. I couldn't believe it, an investor and a home inspector teaming up to send me work! I returned the favor by showing him a fairly significant misalignment in the piping located about 3' from the main well out under the street. The discovery was worth about 10K in price negotiation power to him since that is the high end of the written estimate I gave him for the repairs. He was very happy. I will never make the repair. I did however collect the $269 for the camera plus the $59 for the service call.
 

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www.DunbarPlumbing.com
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Guy tonight called for a 75gal gas water heater replacement, it's already down there ready to go in. Told him 3 hours $85 hour, roughly $270.

Realistically, it's not enough and I'm not doing it if he calls back. I should of said $200 and not show up.


Another guy today, I've charged him below rate, been really good to him and he calls me up in a rush needing his kitchen sink/faucet put back in, it's been 7 weeks without.

I tell him it needs an Air Gap on the dishwasher, he seems irked that I'm telling him how his setup is going back together, he commits for tomorrow for me to come out.

I get a call from his wife @ 7pm cancelling the job, her brother came out and put it in.

That's the end of our working relationship right there, I make the rules, they don't. I moved a call out of the way to accommodate this dick and now he cancels? **** him and his mom. That's what I get for being nice to these ****tard bastards. **** counseling I'm not going unless it's court appointed.
 

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This is a tough one!

I know this has been covered on other threads but I don't have time to hunt for them.

My wife usually handles the phones but she had to transfer it to me for an hour or so earlier today.

Lady calls and I give my greeting.

lady: "uh yes I'm selling my home and the home inspector says there is a leaking pipe in my basement and I just want to find out how much it will cost and do you give free estimates?"

me: "yes ma'am we have a $59 service charge (I could have stopped talking right there) This will get you a state certified master plumber who has been background checked and is drug free to your door. He will assess the problem and once he knows exactly what the problem is and exactly what it will take to solve the problem he will quote you an exact price to make the repair."

lady: "yea well, I don't think I really want to make the repair, I just need to know what it would cost so that I can adjust the sale price and have the new owner deal with it"

me: "I see, well ma'am we cannot stay in business by providing service for free. In reality the $59 does not even cover the costs associated with placing a certified master plumber at your home in a fully stocked truck ready to solve your problem. We most certainly cannot afford to look at work that we have absolutely no hope of doing. Surely you can understand this."

lady: "yea well, I'll have to call you back. I really didn't want to have to pay someone just to come look at it"

me: "very well, good luck with that."

Now the sad part is that she will find some goofus who will fall all over himself to go look at it and give his "free estimate". I dodged this bullet with my service fee. My service fee saved me at least one hour of productivity and now I'm going to go use it on a paying job :yes:.

PC Plumber and crew, I'll send you everyone of these calls. Knock yourself out.
Give the free estimate. Two things could happen. If you are really hot you could turn this around. If not, you will have all the ammunition you need when you contact the buyer after the escrow closes, and sell him an entire drainage system. You would already have pictures of the job and maybe this could turn into something really big. The buyer may want a new furnace, water pipes, and a remodeled bathroom. You could tell the new buyer you told the seller the house needed all new sewer and drain pipes, and tell the buyer the seller told you to give an estimate for just one section. Oooh! I see some big bucks. Where is this house? Then, you sell the seller new plumbing for the house she moved to. Your call was worth about $50,000 in future business.

I don't turn no human down. Thank you for offering me the job.
 

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Too cheap!

Guy tonight called for a 75gal gas water heater replacement, it's already down there ready to go in. Told him 3 hours $85 hour, roughly $270.

Realistically, it's not enough and I'm not doing it if he calls back. I should of said $200 and not show up.


Another guy today, I've charged him below rate, been really good to him and he calls me up in a rush needing his kitchen sink/faucet put back in, it's been 7 weeks without.

I tell him it needs an Air Gap on the dishwasher, he seems irked that I'm telling him how his setup is going back together, he commits for tomorrow for me to come out.

I get a call from his wife @ 7pm cancelling the job, her brother came out and put it in.

That's the end of our working relationship right there, I make the rules, they don't. I moved a call out of the way to accommodate this dick and now he cancels? **** him and his mom. That's what I get for being nice to these ****tard bastards. **** counseling I'm not going unless it's court appointed.
I would quote $550 to $650 just for installation. Even Home Depot has a sign saying basic water heater installations are $399. Don't you think he checked with Lowes or Home Depot? Even Home Depot does not quote an hourly charge. You can't quote $85 an hour because it is too much money per hour for the customer to understand the value, but $400 to $550 is not too much money because the customer does not know or think about the number of hours. As a customer I would worry that it will take more hours than you estimate and I end up with a bill for $1,000. "Oooooh! The anger" (The movie The Grinch). Instead of a plumbing school, I think I will have Anger Management classes.
 

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She really expected you to come look at a job she has no intention of even giving you? LOL. You should have asked her what was in it for you. I have had some people try and play those games but never honest about it up front like that. I will charge a $50 service call and then figure it in my bid and offer to deduct it from the bill if they do the work, either way i get my service call.
 

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residential service
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Discussion Starter #14
Give the free estimate. Two things could happen. If you are really hot you could turn this around. If not, you will have all the ammunition you need when you contact the buyer after the escrow closes, and sell him an entire drainage system. You would already have pictures of the job and maybe this could turn into something really big. The buyer may want a new furnace, water pipes, and a remodeled bathroom. You could tell the new buyer you told the seller the house needed all new sewer and drain pipes, and tell the buyer the seller told you to give an estimate for just one section. Oooh! I see some big bucks. Where is this house? Then, you sell the seller new plumbing for the house she moved to. Your call was worth about $50,000 in future business.

I don't turn no human down. Thank you for offering me the job.
This is some of the worst advice I have ever heard. If I were desperate for work then perhaps I would consider it, ... no not even then because it is obviously so pointless. I would do better standing on a street corner with a sign that said "will plumb for food". I don't have time to jack around with these people. If I went to look at this dead end waste of time I would miss two more paying calls while I was jacking around with it. I passed on a bar remodel yesterday that I actually went to look at. It was the worst hack job I have ever seen. The guy told me that the work had been inspected thus far which I know was a total load of crap. There was 1/2" pex (and I am by no means anti pex) lying on the floor against the back wall of 3 toilet stalls with branches cut in to the cut offs for each toilet. The line ran to it's source through a wall, behind some hvac equipment, took a 90* turn and ran to where it was connected to the existing water distribution system. At no place was this line ever strapped or supported to anything. In the womens room I asked the guy what the previous floor was, he said it had all been busted up and all the sub slab piping was new. I asked him if he knew why, if that was the case, every toilet was had at least 1" of grout packed in around the base of the toilet. He blamed it on the previous plumber who supposedly took his money and ran. I say that is a load of hooey. Judging from the age of the building, the previous tile floor was on a mud bed and when they retiled the flanges were too high and he was either too cheap to have the "plumber" lower the flanges or not smart enough to realize that it was not right and make him correct it. I could go on and on about what I saw there but the point is that this job had "you'll never get paid" written all over it.

Now I'm sure you would have gone in there and explained everything to him and sold him a complete replumb. He would have succumbed to the powers of your persuasion, ... a little too easily, and you would never have seen the last draw and maybe not even the first draw.

I don't have time for this kind of thing. I'm in the business of making money not chasing money. In reality, I should never have gone to look at it in the first place but I know a loser when I see it and this was a loser. I've set up certain procedures to weed this kind of thing out before I waste my time. One of these is the service charge, which this particular customer had agreed to before hand. In the end, I did not require of it him since I declined to offer him service. Every now and then I have to have a refresher course on why I do things the way I do. I generally do not even look at commercial work because I have no interest in being someone else's bank.

It may sound as if I prejudge everyone. I assure you this is not the case. You can never know for sure who has money or who does not or more importantly who is willing to part with the money that they do have and who is not. I have been surprised many times, enough times to realize that I can't really know. I do have the service charge as a qualifier though and it has saved me many times.

BTW, I'm just curious, but this is at least the third revision of your original post. Say what you think and stand by it. Nobody's mad and there really is no argument here. We do things differently and that's cool.
 

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waterheaterzone.com
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Well said smells! I have been in that exact situation before. There are DEFINITELY jobs out there that aren't worth doing. On some jobs, the feeling to run away from it is just overhwhelming! I have learned to "trust my gut" and politely decline to do the work.
Luckily its quite rare, but once in awhile, its actually a relief to get in the truck and drive away from some jobs emptyhanded. Its like that quote mark uses: "I NEVER LOST A CENT ON A JOB I DIDN'T GET!":thumbup:
 

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Plumber Manhattan Beach
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I had a guy call me want an estimate for a commercial water heater install, said he couldn't afford a 115.00 service charge.......I asked him how he was going to afford a commercial water heater?

Like it has been said, sadly, they will find a hack that will go out there and waste their time, or low ball some figure and do the job like crap.

I really hope this recession gets way worse, all the freebies hacks are giving away will put them out of business.

You only give free estimates for 2 reasons, 1 reason is because you really need the work because you don't get referalls or repeat customers, or you need a lead in to rip them off when you show up. Free sewer cameras, 29.00 drain cleaning, it's all a "lost leader" so you can sell them crap they don't need yet. I am honest, I go out and solve problems, fix what needs to be fixed.
 

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I don't understand

I don't understand what you mean by the third version. I did start out with a little different idea, but I did not post it (I don't think). The reason I edit most of my posts is for grammar, spelling, and sometimes I do tend to ramble on, or realize I went far beyond answering the primary question.

I am getting mixed signals. I read many post with bitter comments. This makes me believe that all is not well with business for many contractors. I hear contractors grumbling about no business, slow business, and too much business. I read posts stating plumbers have not had work for weeks. Which one is it?

I have this deep curiosity to know the answer to these questions:

1) Do you have more business than you can handle?

2) Is your business slow and do you want to increase the number of leads?

3) Would you like to increase your net profit from all your leads?

Maybe someone can make some polls and we can get a consensus.

My philosophy is very simple to understand. Obviously, if you have too many calls you cannot take the call in this example, but I would do my best to try to squeeze in every call, even for free, for the probability and possibility of selling someone $30,000 in sales, even if they don't want to pay me for my service. If my business was in your area, I would pay you for the lead in your example just to try to turn it into something big.
 

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Master Plumber
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I don't understand what you mean by the third version. I did start out with a little different idea, but I did not post it (I don't think). The reason I edit most of my posts is for grammar, spelling, and sometimes I do tend to ramble on, or realize I went far beyond answering the primary question.

I am getting mixed signals. I read many post with bitter comments. This makes me believe that all is not well with business for many contractors. I hear contractors grumbling about no business, slow business, and too much business. I read posts stating plumbers have not had work for weeks. Which one is it?

I have this deep curiosity to know the answer to these questions:

1) Do you have more business than you can handle?

2) Is your business slow and do you want to increase the number of leads?

3) Would you like to increase your net profit from all your leads?

Maybe someone can make some polls and we can get a consensus.

My philosophy is very simple to understand. Obviously, if you have too many calls you cannot take the call in this example, but I would do my best to try to squeeze in every call, even for free, for the probability and possibility of selling someone $30,000 in sales, even if they don't want to pay me for my service. If my business was in your area, I would pay you for the lead in your example just to try to turn it into something big.
making a record
 
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