In our business practice we encounter people here and there that want us to come to them and give them free quote (free estimate). Often they have a complicated issue with their plumbing or drain, they don’t know what is causing the problem and have no idea how to fix it. So it is necessary for me or one of my licensed plumbers to drive to them, often in heavy traffic, do proper diagnostic, spend time, effort, sometimes open the wall or ceiling to get to problem area, use all our experience to diagnose the problem. And all this those people want us to do for them for free. Then, once they know what the problem is and what our price is to fix it, they often like to say: “Thank you, we’ll think about it. You are free to go.”
I’d like to let everybody know, that we, in 24 Hours Plumber, do not engage in the behavior described above. We do not drive around for free. We value first of all our time – and time is most important and irreplaceable resource. If I have to drive to someone and back, I spend the time of my life, which is limited. Instead of going to gym or swimming in the pool I drive. I sit in the vehicle, looking at the same boring road, and I drive, because someone needs my help. I don’t mind – but this other person has to appreciate, and to value my time.
Time is so limited. I could use it to write books, I can use it for education, to meet friends, to go for a nice walk, to read books, to watch something meaningful. But I drive. Because someone needs an estimate, a quote.
Some time ago I had the air condition unit in my home malfunctioning. I called six companies, big and small. They all wanted money for coming and checking my problem. A few years ago my customer asked me to find someone to fix some complicated issue with furnace. I am a plumber, so I don’t fix so far air condition or furnace electronics. I called around – and found, that everyone wanted money to come and to check the problem. Price range was $120 – $160. Some people asked me for my credit card number – they would charge the diagnostic amount first and only then drive to see the problem, to make sure I don’t cancel and they don’t waste their time!
Recently I had to see a dentist, so I contacted a reputable, licensed specialist. I was told upfront, that initial diagnostic cost $120. So no one would put me in the dentist chair, no one would look at my issue and even talk about it, unless I pay this $120.
I go to Canadian Tire. I complaint that there is something wrong with my power steering pump. Sure – they are ready to help, but there is a cost for initial diagnostic, around $50. And this cost is not waived if I do the work with them, it is added on top of the price to fix the issue. On the contrary, we, at 24 Hours Plumber, always include diagnostic fee in the price of the job…
I go to a dealership. Their price is $105 plus tax and up… Notice: they don’t even drive to me, I have to drive to them…
So why should I in my business practice drive around for free??? Why my guys should drive around for free, dispensing free estimates, free quotes?
Strange enough, but I… do give sometimes free quotes. If I am already in the area, if a neighbor comes and asks to check something not too complicated in his house – I may waive diagnostic fee. If I see an older person who struggles with health or low pension, if I see a person with disability – I may waive diagnostic fee. But usually I see in front of me healthy and able person who owns piece of property that cost $500.000 and up, often $1.000.000 and up, and it looks a bit strange when we ask, let’s say, for $85 diagnostic fee, and this person… gets furious!..
We avoid dealing with people who gets furious. Our diagnostic fee is usually LESS then $100 and it is always included in the price of the job if we do the job. If an individual refuses to pay our diagnostic fee, then this individual is not eligible to be our customer. Not everyone can be our customer. Not everyone we will accept as a customer, because our time is limited. We do not have the privilege to spend our time being busy driving around and giving free estimates when same time legitimate good customers call us and need our help. There are so many good customers out there that need our help, day and night, and we have to help them!.. We have to help them.
Let me tell you about those companies or individuals that drive around for free. Still, there is quite a number of them. So who they are?
- Those who just entered plumbing business. They are new, eager to explore, but… inexperienced. They don’t know how to conduct business. They don’t know about prices, conditions in different parts of GTA, they may not know properly how to fix certain plumbing issues. They may lack proper equipment. They don’t have this feeling in this hands that comes with experience and tells them, for example, when they tightened something properly. Not over tightened, not tightened loose – just tightened properly.
But they learn. On you, if you call them. They experiment, often fail, then learn something when it leaks after them… So would you like it all to happen on your property? Would you make your property their learning playground?
- Those who for number of reasons do not have enough legitimate customers. People do not want to deal with them. Why? Maybe those “plumbers” do not know what they are doing? Maybe they show up to customer being drunk or under drugs influence? Maybe they often do their job bad way and it leaks after them? Maybe they are ill behaving individuals with anger management problems? Maybe they don’t stand behind their guarantee? Maybe they lie and try to manipulate?
There ale lots of those “maybe”… So those individuals are forced to drive around for free, hoping to get that customer at any cost… but would you like to get such “plumber” in your house?..
- Imagine that you have found some advertising and called a plumber. A bright, talkative individual showed up at your door shortly. He came to give you a free estimate! He checked and inspected everything for free! He gave you so many free advises! He is so friendly, looking good… And you need your project to be completed soon. So you pay that individual a deposit, maybe five hundred dollars, maybe nine hundred, he gave you your copy of the contract – and left, promising to start work in two days.
Those two days passed – but he didn’t show up to work. You call him – his phone is not responding, even worse – voice in the receiver says that the number is out of service! You realize then, that you will never see this individual again, and your money are gone. He stole them from you.
But he gave you a free estimate! He gave you free quote!..
- Sometimes some bigger companies send their plumbers for giving free estimates. At least if this is a big company, then they have some quality control, and job may be done right. But some single shady individuals like that tactic too, and with them quality may be a problem. Yes, their plumber will arrive, in shiny uniform, on shiny new truck, ready to do the work for you. He will diagnose and inspect for free, and then give you the price to fix the problem. THE PRICE. You guessed it: the price is HUGE… Unfortunately, you cannot afford it… You spent your time, maybe even skipped work or leisure waiting for the plumber to arrive, but your time is gone… and no positive result, you have to call someone else…
Man says “Cheers!” to you and drives away… to give a free quote to some other people. They also are stunned by huge price amount, so they send that plumber away. No problem, he drives away… to some other people. They also send him away. But then next customer is the one that is desperate to fix his problem, and fix it fast. Maybe he is a businessman, maybe a doctor who do not want to be late to see a patient, maybe a teacher… So he agrees to the inflated price! Plumber does the job and makes his money. Yes, on three previous places he was turned down, but the price for the job he just completed is so big, that he is ok with that!
How about customer? The job is done. But if he called us, then he would save up to 50% of what he paid!.. The same job done, same (or better) quality – but price would be much less.
One day I got a call from a customer in Oakville. People showed me a laundry sink, a floor drain near the wall and water around the floor drain. Where that water was coming from? I thought a bit, then opened the drywall above the floor drain. Right away I’ve found the problem. Previous plumber , when he installed a vent pipe for the laundry sink, forgot to glue fittings together at one spot, he just inserted them inside each other. So sometimes during the rain water entered plumbing vent system and came out in basement from that unglued fittings spot, then went along the drywall on the other side of the wall and ended around the floor drain. I simply glued fittings together and completed job for $270 plus tax.
Then my customers told me, that they called a big plumbing company and had in their house a plumber from that company to diagnose same problem. That plumber gave them free estimate and suggested in it to inspect underground drain by TV camera, excavate and replace a floor drain in basement – for $2000. They told me more: a few months ago plumber from same company replaced for them a faulty sump pump and cleaned a bit a sump pit. 2 hours job, and price was… $3000 plus tax. Those people were new in Canada, they moved recently from South Africa and had no idea about prices for plumbing in Canada… But they were smart enough second time to call me for second opinion – and they won.
That will conclude my lecture about free estimates and free quotes. I don’t pretend that I’ve covered everything in this topic, but I did my best.
Some may say: “Hey, how about lawyers? They so often offer a free initial consultation!” On one occasion I was on such consultation. I was told about the law company, their specialization and their pricing system. And that was that. No specifics were given…
Maybe in roofing it is different? I knew one roofer. One time he told me: “Hey, I give every day up to ten free estimates, and I’m lucky if I get one or maximum two customers out of it!”
I was stunned. Man did nothing but drove around for days giving estimates? Well, in a few months I’ve heard, that this roofer was in Canada… illegally. He was eventually caught by immigration and sent out of Canada, for good.
Imagine such man or company did roofing work for you. Then in the number of years you’ve found there is a leak from the roof. You call the roofer – but he is gone. And with him his work guarantee for you is also gone.
Bottom line: we don’t offer free estimates and free quotes. We understand that this practice is bad – not only for business, but for a customer too. Those who offer free advise in fact do not accept any responsibility for their advise – no money were exchanged, so it’s hard to sue them for giving you wrong information or even lying to you.
We understand that not everyone can be our customer, and those who refuse to pay our small and affordable diagnostic fee simply cannot be our customers. We will not accept them as our customers…
But those honest people who value our time, our expenses to conduct business (advertising, equipment purchases and maintenance, vehicles maintenance, gas, insurance, licensing and other fees etc), those who value our efforts and dedication to do our best, those people are more than welcome to be our customers.
Those people, who call us and agree to pay that small diagnostic fee, which is always included in the price of the job, will enjoy our quality workmanship, our true 24 hours service, work will be done fast, right, for affordable price and with a guarantee. We offer seniors discount, we offer periodic discounts for different kind of plumbing work, we offer seasonal discounts and discounts for repeated customers. Call us, we will help you!
The choice is yours.