How do plumbers decide on what to charge?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Maxine, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    Square root of next boat payment, multiply by cube root of mortgage payment.
  2. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    North Vancouver, BC
    A few years ago I was at the plumbing wholesaler and waiting my turn. The wholesaler was packed and there was about five plumbers ahead of me. One guy says out loud "Did you hear that Jim got $1,100.00 per fixture?".

    There was some banter and in under a minute all five plumbers agreed to charge $1,100 per fixture.

    Done and done. Like that the cost for plumbing jumps a lot here in North Vancouver.

    Supply and demand at it's best.

    It's not wrong that this happens but when the cost goes up and the quality stays the same - that's not right. I still see plumber's installing the cheapest shit off's, the cheapest shower liners and charging full pop for the work.

  3. ShockHazard

    ShockHazard New Member

    North East Pennsylvania
    Is it wrong to charge customers for the time it takes going to a store to buy the part?
    I have had many that felt the time I drove to the store and back didn't count.
    I generally charge $50 for the first hr, and $25 for each additional, for the whole job.
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    A good professional plumber will have a well stocked truck, with parts inventory optimized to what he learns about his service area, over time. Probably no excuse to not have copper, wide selection of fittnings, same for DWV pipe and fittings. With faucet repair, a good selection of Moen, PP, Delta, Kohler and AmStd where appropriate. But with the proliferation of brands and models, that will be more and more iffy.

    If the work could "live" to another day, you could schedule a return trip at your convenience, and pick up the parts on a routine visit to the supplier. Maybe then you do not charge labor for the travel.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Kordts. You are going to find yourself in the same situation Pizza Hut did. They reduced the price of their pizzas, so the competitors did also, but when the "low spot" was over, people said, "If you can make pizzas for $10.00" NOW, why were you 'overcharging' before and why should we pay you more now"? Lowering prics should be last tactic just before declaring bankruptcy. If customers react to my prices, I tell them I can give them some names of cheaper rate plumbers, although by the time he is done, the FINAL bill will be higher than mine would have been.
  6. frankcervoni

    frankcervoni New Member

    Great Question.

    A few days earlier on 4/5/2013 I received a written quotation for a 5’x5’ bathroom remodel. The plumber wrote and discussed the estimate in insufficient detail. In other words there was no way to understand the scope of time, travel and work relative to the estimated line item cost of the project. I will not use this plumbing company and I will need to shop for another licensed and insured plumbing company.

    It is so simple to receive a useful quotation from a trades person once the trades person understands that the owner needs a reasonable breakdown of costs. The quotation should include separate line items for expenses, material, labor, overhead and profit. If the plumbing company’s hourly rate for its plumber is 42.00/ hour with a 4 hour minimum it should state the same in the estimate. Owners are not adverse to paying reasonable charges that are described in sufficient detail. Detailed estimates afford owners a level of comfort that allows the owner to move forward without shopping the competition.

    Frank Cervoni
  7. beautyfish

    beautyfish New Member

    I recently had a plumber give me an estimate of $335 to replace the cartridge on a Delta Model 13 shower faucet. I was in a real bind, but I just couldn't pull the trigger, as that seemed incredibly excessive. I am not even close to a plumber, but I got some help in the Bath/Shower forum, picked up the part at my Home Depot for $36 bucks, watched a Delta video on YouTube, and did the work myself in about 20 minutes. Now I understand about overhead, etc., and this was one of those fairly big companies (the guy tried to sell me on a "1 year Bronze Plumbing Plan" for $120 while he was here), but it's hard for me to figure out how that estimate is justified. Even if they get $200 bucks an hour and charge the full hour AND markup the part by 100%, they are STILL gouging me by a good 90 bucks to my thinking. Am I wrong?
  8. craigpump

    craigpump Well-Known Member

    People like you fail to take the following into consideration

    His experience and time in business. It's the same as a Dr or Dentist going to school
    How did you find his name? Online, phone book? It's advertising and costs money
    How did you expect him to get to your job? Walk?
    Do you expect him to have materials on hand? That's inventory and its expensive.
    If the job went wrong would you expect his insurance to cover your loss?
    If he had an apprentice with him, he has to pay the guy.
    You would expect him to be licensed, right?
    You had to speak to him on the phone, phone service isn't cheap
    It's unreasonable to think he has a cartridge for every faucet on his van, so he goes to the supply house. More time & fuel
    Did a secretary take the call? I bet she doesn't work for peanuts and a bottle of water.

    I bet you expect to be well compensated for the work you do, right?
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    The $335 seems a bit higher than what I would have charged Monday through Friday.

    So I take it that turning off the water to your home, researching the part, watching the video, reading the instructions that you found, locating the right tools, going to the store to buy the part, turning the water back on, yeah.............I can see you doing that in twenty minutes.

    Just so you know, I've rebuilt several 4-cylinder engines. Pulling them out of the car, honing cylinders, redoing the head and putting it back together, maybe like an hour? I think. Yeah............I'm that fast. :)

    I can write a term paper that gets an A, like in ten minutes. Yeah, I'm that smart. :)

    The funny thing is, I don't change oil on any of my vehicles anymore. I can, but I don't. I let my mechanic do it.
    Last edited: May 18, 2014
  10. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Houston, TX

    100% markup on parts is a norm, Has been For years.

    Your experience is why Terry Love's forum is one of the best.
  11. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Houston, TX

    That is Great, I could change the Transmission in my GTO after I blew it out, and get ready for the next race in a hour.

    Rebuilding a motor took me a week, To do it right.

    Only racing on weekends helped, Because I did it for fun, and had a real job on week days.

    I could change a Transmission in a washing machine in 30 Min (back when they had them) That saved my customers a lot of money. It took a lot longer to rebuild them and it is a shop job, but can be done in the home, If the customer wants to pay.

    The costumer pays the markup for the part , Yes 100% , and sometime it is cheaper to rebuild a major part. A rebuild kit is cheap and you could DIY, if you have a little smarts.

    A good Tech will get the job done quick, because they have another call, Or happy hour is about to start.

    If a tech is on OT the company pays them double, and maybe triple for holidays or weekends.

    You do pay extra to have it done NOW.
    Last edited: May 18, 2014
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