How to Retain Plumbing Customers: Give Accurate Work Estimates

How to Retain Plumbing Customers: Give Accurate Work Estimates

When you create an estimate, it's important to charge enough so that your business makes a profit but not so much that customers go with the competition instead. This can be very tricky, especially if you're new to running your own company. Fortunately, some tools can help. Plumbing software allows you to set up and duplicate estimates quickly, so it's easy to remain consistent.

Each time you're asked for an estimate, consider all the costs of the job, including the materials, how many hours it'll take you or your employees, and how many additional hours you have to spend driving to the customer's property and organizing your work. It's best to charge a flat fee for simple jobs since it's likely that you'll have to perform them regularly.

Use Plumber Estimating Software

With home service software, you can quickly create estimates and quotes that are properly formatted and easy to read. Because a program like ServiceBox works on various devices, including your phone, you don't have to be at home or in your office when putting together and sending estimates. This makes it much easier for you to respond to customers quickly.

Once you've sent an estimate, the program saves it for you. If you get a similar request in the future, you simply pull up the old estimate and adjust it using the new customer's details. That way, you don't have to write each estimate from scratch. You can also access information about all your previous estimates, which allows you to keep your prices consistent.

Consider the Cost of the Materials and Overhead

You'll have to order materials for each job. It goes without saying that you should bill your customer for the cost of any items you're using when installing or fixing their plumbing systems. Due to inflation and recent shortages, the cost of materials might have gone up. If you've worked with a customer for a while and your costs have risen steeply, reach out to them. Explain to them why their prices are rising so they're not shocked when their next bill arrives.

Aside from the materials you need for the job, it's also important to cover your overhead. This includes the cost of running your truck, your plumbing tools, your support staff, bills, marketing campaigns, and any other things you spend money on. Think about how much you spend per month, and then divide the cost by the total number of billable hours to find out how much you need to add to the hourly rate you charge your customers.

Consider the Complexity of the Job

If you've been a plumber for a while, you're probably capable of completing standard jobs reasonably quickly. When a customer contacts you with a simple request, you can guess quite accurately how many hours it might take. But if you're taking on a more complicated task that you haven't done many times, it's prudent to give yourself a margin of safety.

After calculating how many hours the job might take, add 10-20% to be safe. Remember, your customer will be thrilled if they end up paying less than the estimate, but they will be much less happy if they have to pay more.

Consider the Additional Hours Spent

The hours you or your employees spend with customers aren't the only ones that need to be considered. On average, plumbers and other contractors lose around 30% of their weekly hours because they have to handle admin tasks, drive to and from customers' properties, and deal with new requests. This means that people who work a typical 40-hour week can only bill 28 hours.

If you're highly efficient and you use good home service software, you might be able to increase your billable hours. That way, you'll either be able to make more of a profit, or you can charge your customers less and pick up more business than your competitors. When you start your company, use the 30% figure, but once you've run your business for a few months, calculate your billable hours more accurately.

Come Up with a Flat Fee for Certain Jobs

Coming up with an estimate for every single job you do is time-consuming and unnecessary. While you'll have some complex and unique work, you'll spend most of your time on routine tasks. Instead of trying to put together an accurate estimate, calculate the average cost of such jobs, and figure out a flat fee that works well for both you and your customers.

Drain cleaning with a mechanical plumbing snake usually costs between $100 and $300, and main water line installation costs $1,500 to $2,000. If your customers need to have an appliance installed, they'll have to pay you $200-600. The price of plumbing services varies depending on the area, but these are standard prices that you can charge all your customers. By coming up with flat fees, you simplify your life and offer a more consistent pricing system.

Keep Track of Any Changes

No matter how good you are at estimating the cost of plumbing jobs, it's likely that you'll occasionally go wrong. Your materials could be delayed, a job could turn out much more complicated than you thought, or a repair might require special tools you need to rent or buy. As soon as you notice that your estimate was too low, speak to your customer. The better you communicate with them, the more satisfied they'll be with your level of customer service.

Giving accurate work estimates is important because it builds trust and shows customers that you are competent and experienced. If you're not sure how to come up with an estimate or quote, start by subscribing to plumber estimating software. A good program helps you to quickly create and edit new estimates and remain consistent. Reach out to us at ServiceBox to start your free demo

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