Expert Plumber Advice on Quotes and Daily Operations

With the start of every new day, there are so many things that need to be accomplished. After years, these things are almost ingrained in how your day starts. Never mind getting out of bed, eating breakfast, showering, and getting yourself to work. The day really starts when you arrive at work. Being a plumber is no different than doing any other job. When you arrive at work your routine starts. Being a service plumber on-site or virtual plumbing may start the same every day, but then it turns into a free-for-all. This is one of the best parts of being a service plumber; you never know what your day or even the next hour will bring.

A Day of a Plumber

First, it’s office paperwork. This is a necessity, not a fun part of the job, but still part of the job. Many years ago, paperwork was simple. There was one invoice that was simple and quick to fill out and explain to customers. Job charges were set per hour and by job, easy to compute and again easy to explain to customers. As the years passed, paperwork increased to the point where you could spend two to three hours a day just to keep up with what was needed. I’m sure this happens in most jobs, but I still wonder if all of this is needed. To be honest, most of it was to ease the burden on the office and the rest was to cover the company. People like to complain and try to get things for free. Sad but true. After finishing office paperwork, next was restocking, and you guessed it, more paperwork. When that was done, parts for the day’s jobs were secured. Check and clean your tools, check the oil in the truck, gas, and tires and check the truck and wash if it needs it. Now we are ready to be plumbers, well almost, you have to get to the first job.

Plumbing, Starting On-Site

Once onsite, the fun begins. You never know who is going to answer the door. It’s like a game of chance. Will it be a happy, nice customer? It really never matters to me; it is a fun part of the job. As forest said, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” From there, questions are asked of the homeowner about the existing plumbing issue(s). This is a very important part of being a good plumber – listening. The other part is asking lots of questions pertaining to the plumbing issue. Many times, a customer will give you information and they don’t even know they are doing it. Encourage them to talk as they are showing you what is going on. This helps determine the correct course of action so a good quote can be given. I take the time to listen. It may take a little longer than you want, but after the quote is given, they will remember your patience and understanding of their needs.  (You may also be interested in some other plumbing posts and plumbing how-to’s I’ve written such as a story about a sump pump replacement here and whether or not to replace or repair your faucet here.)

And…More Paperwork

Writing a quote is important in several ways. First, it helps you go through the entire process of the repair or installation. This helps determine the amount of time and all the parts that will be needed to complete the job. Second, it will determine if a repair should be a repair or turn into a replacement.

Earning Trust

Many times, the cost of repair will be close to the cost of replacement. Knowing this you can also include a price for replacement in your quote. Giving owners a choice helps them feel in control of the situation, and other times they could care less! I believe that once the quoted price for a repair is ¾ of the way to the price of replacement the only option is a replacement. Remember, you are the plumber. Steer them in the right direction as far as cost-effectiveness. Many times, they will want a price for a repair included, and they do have the final say since it is their home and hard-earned money.

The Plumbing Quote

The quote is then given to the owner. Now they can see how much it will be, and you will be ready for the questions that follow. Since you wrote the quote, you know the time, parts, and possible complications that come with the repair or replacement. Yes, there will be questions. From “when can you do it” to “wow…that much?” Remember, you know exactly what needs to be done. Stick by your quote. Many times, a quote will be given and the customer will need to think about it. Don’t worry. If you quoted correctly and did not overcharge, they will call you back. It may not be tomorrow or the next day, but chances are they will call back. Again, listening and understanding will go a long way. In the last several years, customers have started getting multiple quotes on repair work needed around their homes. This is a good idea for the customer so chances are unless you are the last quote you will not do the job today.

Congratulations! You’re Hired!

Now that the quote process is done, the job will commence if you have the parts needed, or rescheduling will be needed so that the parts can be procured. If parts are needed, a detailed list is the best way to do it. Each and every part needs to be logged. This way, if the job is not finished for days or weeks, you won’t need to worry about remembering every last part. When scheduling, give the customer a general time frame of hours. Try to go with lower hours. If you should finish with no problems, and it does happen sometimes, then the customer won’t feel cheated on time. If you do go long on hours, the customer will think that they got a great deal.

Wrapping It Up

It’s all in the quoting of the job. Plan for everything that could happen and then some. Now is the time to do some plumbing. If you enjoy plumbing as I do, quoting can be as much fun as talking to the customers. I think we will start that in the next section. Enjoy the day!!

John Burr
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