Flat rate software or book

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by Jeff Smith, Oct 10, 2018.

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  1. Oct 10, 2018 #1

    Jeff Smith

    Jeff Smith

    Jeff Smith

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    I am going to start a service plumbing business, be working on my own. I am coming from a moderate sized shop that is teansitioning from T&M to flat rate.I will be a one to two man shop. Is there a flat rate software that is mobile on smartphone or tablet and small shop oreiented?
     
  2. Oct 10, 2018 #2

    Jamesplumbing06

    Jamesplumbing06

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    I use QuickBooks. You can build your own item list and create invoices. Mine costs about $36 a month. I always have it on phone. Been on this system since 2012. What your hoping for.? You must sign up for one of those PSI programs. Otherwise pick your speed. But not your speed. Realistic hourly labor speed. Owners work faster. So don’t base your flat rate off your time. Add 50-75%. Then work backwards. It always pays to be the high bid that come in lower in the end. Than to be the low bid that jacked up the price in the end. I use flat rate for most everything. But when I must expose my $100 hourly rate. I quickly mention the old man down the road. He charges $75 an hour. Hourly rate. I walk faster to begin with. Why should I in the end not be worth his final rate? I did the same task. I warranty that task. And your water is back on in minutes instead of hours. So hourly rate is for slow service plumbers and rough in guys. I hope you realize the difference. Neither is better than the other but a new construction plumber is not a service technician. And definitely vice versa. As the owner. You must know that.
    So I like flat rate for most repairs. Flat per fixture rate for remodels and new work. When you get something new to you and not sure of time. Then just tell them the truth. But always mention a hour or hour and half will be free learning time but the rest is charged extra for.
    Now this works for me because I have been trained to work efficient. If you would rather smoke in driveway at any moment during the job then you will be glad your on flat rate.
    So to sum it up. There is magical software out there to tell you these prices but you must pay dearly and be on a national membership program. Good luck. And welcome to the world of service plumbing. Where customers expect greatness for free.
     
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  3. Oct 10, 2018 #3

    Mikey

    Mikey

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    One large local firm here wanted $440 (flat rate book) to change a gate valve to a ball valve on my water heater. I would have been happy to pay a one-man shop $100/hr for this 18-minute job.
     
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  4. Oct 10, 2018 #4

    Jamesplumbing06

    Jamesplumbing06

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    Yeah I use to work for those guys. Lol. Till I figured out people happy to $100 for $100 worth of work. They get very mad when they pay $400 for $100 of work lol. Couldn’t sleep at night. Now my bills are paid, kids are spoiled, wife is happy, and I booked up for a month.
    If the big companies would bid high then come off final price when it’s done in a fraction of time. Those books are based off an 80 year old man that smokes each trip to truck. I tell people to call the next small town over. Call the local hardware store and utility district. They know the good local plumbers.
     
  5. Oct 11, 2018 #5

    Jeff Smith

    Jeff Smith

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    Thanks james and Mike. Good advise James. Here is a little of my background. I’ve been a plumber since the late 80’s and was self employed with a small shop of 7 guys doing light industrial work and commercial. Hard times hit, shut down my business and I movd out of state. Started my new life working for a small shop in SW Montana, plumbing residential homes then hired on with a fairly large company in the area. Ive plumbed many very high end homes, condos, single family homes, commercial stuff such as grocery stores and so on. I got tired of that and transfered to the service department within the company and doing this for the last 7-8 years. We have been time and material until recently, started moving into flat rate. The company rushed the transition and we are in kind of a limbo because the items are almost non existent, or way off base. Yeah, I have been faced with giving what I know is an outlandish price on simple tasks, but that is what the program says is what needs to be charged based on the shop formula” and we are being encouraged and trained in the “up sell”, but that is besides the point. The point is, is that, I see the benefits of streamlining the estimates and charging on averages and our office manager has said the complaints about bills are almost nonexistent. They were mostly complaints about how much time was charged to the job, and the guy had to go to the supply house and so on. So, I see the value of up front pricing. That is why I ask of flat rate programs for the small shop. I also have thought that I could put together flat rate for the typical tasks and charge T&M for the more unusual jobs. You mentioned charging per fixture for remodel and small houses. Where does a person find those tables or do you formulate them yourself? Sorry for the long dissertation. I have the experience and do work efficiently although I know I can and will improve in this area. I’m excited to get going but planning and execution go hand in hand. Thanks for the advise. Anything else that may cross your mind and expressed is much appreciated. Cheers.
     
  6. Oct 11, 2018 #6

    Jamesplumbing06

    Jamesplumbing06

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    Your all over it. It’s time to jump in the deep end.
    Yes I had to plumb a few houses to see my average time and material. I took my first 3 houses after t&m. Averaged up my parts and figured in hours for each home. Here I can survive with $450 per fixture new work and $500 for remodels having to remove old cast iron line. Don’t forget pick and delivery of parts. Don’t just go by on site hours. Somebody gotta go to store and buy all that crap. Then I always lay out a draw schedule. Mine is slab draw, rough in, and trim out. Some guys do slab, drains, water , and trim out. Another way to get in on the average is to simply get a blue print in your hands. Call 3 plumbers in your town to come give you estimates. Average them together. Middle man usually wins. That will get you thru a few houses.
    Your time should always be rounded up by 1 hour. A 10 minute repair doesn’t take 10 minutes. Unless your customer is deaf dumb and blind. They all talk. They all wanna know you. Smile and remember you added time for “customer relations” ( chit chat). Don’t forget to add for off site work. Even explain to the customer that the disposal of water heater is an hour of your truck and time.
    Upsale is what got me fired at big box plumbers are us. Customers hate salesmen. And won’t call them back.
    Sum it up. You quit to soon. The program you boss signed up for. They give you this material and you can base prices off that. But not identical. You will get laughed at. And not work very much.

    My biggest 2 Credits for 13 years of service. 1 never under estimate a job. If you do eat it and move on. I always overestimate. Then I can figure real price after done. And average the 2.
    Second is warranty. For a one man show to pull this off in a parts near perfect world.? That man has to admit he didn’t do something correct. Pvc if glued and supported correctly will never clog with normal use. So you can even warranty your new work longer than any contractor. Pex is awesome and has 20 year manufacture warranty. Copper is slow , nasty and old school. There always a reason for parts going bad. Age is your only acceptable excuse if you installed it.
    Fair pricing and warranties. Not even just warranty. If you feel like the customer is blaming you for the kitchen faucet leaking and you were only there for dishwasher. Repair the faucet explain how you never touched it but it’s working now. Smile every second. They will call everyone they know. Bragging about how the plumber just fixed kitchen faucet and didn’t charge because even he felt a little guilty for it happening.... remember yesterday you overestimated the time and stuck with that price. You can eat the $10 for the cartridge or stems. Find your local hardware store. Build a repor with them. Go to utility district office with catered lunch one day. Those guys are the first line of references.
     
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  7. Oct 11, 2018 #7

    RenewDave

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    We have just created our “top 25”. These are our (about) 25 services we do the most and have a set price.(flat rate). It works great and people like knowing what the price is upfront. It doesn’t cost anything and works great.
     
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  8. Oct 12, 2018 #8

    JillianBaker

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    That's a really great idea.
     
  9. Oct 12, 2018 #9

    Jamesplumbing06

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    I use to leave a copy of my top 8 pricing. But now I have 175 items built into my QuickBooks for accounting. small town didn’t like that some 3 handle valve rebuilds were worth the same or more as a water heater labor only install. Most customers will be impressed when you have brand specific pricing. I just open app and scroll thru and find the item. Then the software does the office part. I like the top 25. I just ran out of room in my house for all those invoices. Trying to mail out a handful of customers I trusted. So I tried online invoicing. Found this one and stuck with it. And trust me when Uncle Sam wants last 5 years I can email it to him. He hasn’t found out about the first 3 years. That was paper to have fire. But the last 8 years he has been happy. Customers without email? . They get a generic hand written receipt. Make a invoice in system and at least keep track. That’s the best part. Roll up to a house you know. But it’s been 7 years since you were there. Pull it up on app and I have it right here for them and me to see. I only warranty toilet fill valves for 5 years. And it’s actually been been 8. Everybody happy. Not downing a free thing but it’s worth the $36 a month.to me. Also my wife gets unlimited picture storage thru the Microsoft software being linked to QuickBooks. So much easier for a one man shop. In my opinion. Corporations pay faster. Some are linked to coordinating software and can send you money free. I accept credit cards. Every kind. But that costs extra.

    Sorry I rambled a little
     
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  10. Oct 19, 2018 #10

    Jeff Smith

    Jeff Smith

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    Thanks for the reply. What do you mean by brand specific pricing? Like selling a Moen Chateau kitchen facuet with the sprayer on the deck as opposed to just a non specific kitchen faucet. What is the app you mentioned. Is it the Quickbooks Accounting? I have been also looking at the housecall pro system. I would like to keep it simple but dont know which way to go with the invoicing/syncing, scheduling to quickbooks and such.
     
  11. Oct 19, 2018 #11

    Jamesplumbing06

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    Yeah QuickBooks pro is the official name. There are scheduling and logistic apps that sync with it. My scheduling is done on iCloud calendar and I just schedulevto each guys calendar and keep track thru the gps on it. Their phones are set to check in when arrived and leaving the address on calendar. Yeah brand specific as you described. Takes 3 seconds to add the line on item list then next time you just go to it. This way when neighbor Jen gets a toilet rebuilt. And talks to neighbor Jill. Both think they just have toilets. But Jen has a 5 gallon Briggs. Parts everywhere a dime a dozen. Jill has a one piece with a specific style flapper. Jill paid $175 and Jen paid $75. Somebody calling you. But when you have that specific job and brand labeled. They have no more questions. Never used the software your speaking of. QuickBooks always has someone handy to ask questions. It reaches into your bank staments and files each one as you set up the vendor. You go in once a day and double check it and close out. Then it does the rest.
     
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  12. Oct 23, 2018 #12

    ExtraMilePlumbing

    ExtraMilePlumbing

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    Our company has a price book, sounds easyer then paying everymonth to see youre prices online. As for customers they will always complain about price.dont matter if its a 2k job or a 20 job, best thing to do is take classes in selling
     
  13. Oct 23, 2018 #13

    Jamesplumbing06

    Jamesplumbing06

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    Extra mile sounds like he can tell you more about psi. I have been to many of their seminars. They push selling and up sell. People know they gotta pay somebody. Just be nice and smile. Then know what your doing. Each customer will see your value without having to hear about the mechanic down the road with a 250 k single bay shop and another 75k in tools from snap on. Then compared to your 100k truck and $750 in hand tools. Trying to explain why you cost more than that mechanic because you drive to the home. Lol I always liked that one.
    Now the self help seminars with zig ziggler are the most help. Those teach you how to use words without negative meanings. That helped me the most. There is free invoicing apps out there. I just don’t know them and have already built this system. And with this system. My bookkeeper only needs me to stop by every other month and saves me about $15 a month with her. But beyond the tech nobody else needs to touch a copy of invoice. Uncle Sam will test your invoicing skills.
     
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  14. Oct 25, 2018 #14

    ExtraMilePlumbing

    ExtraMilePlumbing

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    jamesplumbing I don't know what psi is but I am interested, I need help in upselling.zig ziggler rocks
     
  15. Oct 25, 2018 #15

    Jamesplumbing06

    Jamesplumbing06

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    Psi stands for plumbers success international. It is a national membership program for plumbing business. Mostly trains service work. There is a couple more. They have quartet meetings across the nation to train and groom jack legs into salesmen. If you have heard of Ben Franklin plumbing. One hour heating and air and mr sparky. They are franchises like McDonald’s.
    I gonna guess if your boss has a price book then he paid dearly for it up front or is signed up with a national orginzation. And they pay a whole lot more than $40 a month. It’s a percentage of your income. The less you make the more they there to help you make more so they make more. My first and only plumbing boss. They signed up when I first hired on 20 years ago. When they swapped to corporate I left.
    Best perk is the self improvement courses. Zig was the best.
     

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