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  1. #1
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    Plumbers are clever marketeers

    It may sound strange, but when I call around to various plumbers in my area for a quote to unclog a shower drain, nobody will give you a price on the phone.

    They all say that in order to provide a quote, they need to send out a technician onsite to give a (free) quote. They won't even give a "range" in pricing on the phone. Then once the guy shows up and gives you a quote, if agreeable, you can give him the go ahead on the spot to perform the work while he's there.

    While it is mildly annoying, it is clever marketing IMO. I guess the psychology behind it is that once the guy is there, they count on the fact that you feel obligated in some way to award them the business. Or perhaps the immediacy of having the guy already there to get it done will entice you to give the green light.

    Either way, I think it's clever marketing.

    (It will be so nice to get that damn drain unclogged. I'm tired of the shower stall filling up with 6" of water every time I shower!)

    Hmm. Wondering how we could possibly adopt this technique in web hosting...

    Vito
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  2. #2
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    I don't think it's necessarily a marketing-related thing. With repair work there are so many variables I doubt any plumber would want to be "on the hook" for an estimate when they show up and find something different.

    My sister does the same thing with her house painting business. She won't commit to a price without inspeciting the premises first, even for small jobs. But she usually prepares a formal quote and emails or faxes it to the prospect after making a visit. Most of the time that lower pressure approach gets her the jobs.
    If you have to operate your company behind the scenes or under a fake name, maybe it's time to leave the industry and start something fresh.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, I agree with what CTG said. They don't like to give estimates because sometimes customers try to hold them to it as if they had some kind of verbal agreement. I've had people do that to me in the past.

  4. #4
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    Re: Plumbers are clever marketeers

    Originally posted by vito
    (It will be so nice to get that damn drain unclogged. I'm tired of the shower stall filling up with 6" of water every time I shower!)

    Hmm. Wondering how we could possibly adopt this technique in web hosting...

    Vito

    Hey Vito, if your hosting server needs to be unclogged you might want to get someone to work on it other than a plumber

    Just kidding.. no I agree I think most people are not going to wait for three people to show up and get estimates. I bet if you called one guy out and got a price and told him you were shopping they would not come back if you called them later or they would try to add more fees.

    Maybe in hosting we can do a Name Your Price, let the people sign up and build their sites and then tell them they need to pay more.. Oh wait!!! that already happens with some hosts.


    Robert
    Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

  5. #5
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    I see the point, but I would think that something as simple as snaking a shower drain could at least produce an "estimate". Will it be $60? Will it be $600? Some range would be appreciated. Heck, they could say "A basic uncomplicated drain snaking will be $120, but may be more once the plumber assesses the job on site".

    Originally posted by GWDGuy
    Maybe in hosting we can do a Name Your Price, let the people sign up and build their sites and then tell them they need to pay more.. Oh wait!!! that already happens with some hosts.


    Robert
    Hehe, Classic Robert B. humor.

    Vito
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  6. #6
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    Re: Plumbers are clever marketeers

    Originally posted by vito
    It may sound strange, but when I call around to various plumbers in my area for a quote to unclog a shower drain, nobody will give you a price on the phone.

    They all say that in order to provide a quote, they need to send out a technician onsite to give a (free) quote. They won't even give a "range" in pricing on the phone. Then once the guy shows up and gives you a quote, if agreeable, you can give him the go ahead on the spot to perform the work while he's there.

    While it is mildly annoying, it is clever marketing IMO. I guess the psychology behind it is that once the guy is there, they count on the fact that you feel obligated in some way to award them the business. Or perhaps the immediacy of having the guy already there to get it done will entice you to give the green light.

    Either way, I think it's clever marketing.

    (It will be so nice to get that damn drain unclogged. I'm tired of the shower stall filling up with 6" of water every time I shower!)

    Hmm. Wondering how we could possibly adopt this technique in web hosting...

    Vito
    You're not having a good week are you Vito ?!?
    Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius

  7. #7
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    I thought you might enjoy that.. oh by the way welcome back to WHT (yeah yeah yeah 4 weeks + late).

    I know that people call me to come work on network/PC issues and they will try to describe what is happening and ask how much it will cost. Almost every time I go out on a call like this it is far worse than they said.


    EDIT >> that reminds me (see above) you are having bad time with your grass and now your drains.. hmmm. mental note stay away from Vito


    Robert
    Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

  8. #8
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    effusionx1, just one of those weeks, I guess. Minor annoyances. Life could certainly be worse.

    Robert, you make house calls? Why don't you consider doing it remotely. My local computer guy does it and it works a treat. "Webinteractive" or something like that is what he uses. It allows him to connect to the client's computer from the shop. Just like being on location. Saves a ton of travel time, and the clients love the immediacy of the work performed. If you like, I can find out exactly who they use.

    Vito
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  9. #9
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    Originally posted by vito
    effusionx1, just one of those weeks, I guess. Minor annoyances. Life could certainly be worse.

    Robert, you make house calls? Why don't you consider doing it remotely. My local computer guy does it and it works a treat. "Webinteractive" or something like that is what he uses. It allows him to connect to the client's computer from the shop. Just like being on location. Saves a ton of travel time, and the clients love the immediacy of the work performed. If you like, I can find out exactly who they use.

    Vito

    Well I actually used gotomeeting.com the other day and it worked for a small issue but most of my work has to be hands on (Network problems). You know I have not tried to run lavasoft or S&D spybot remotely that might be something to test. Thanks for the idea.

    Robert
    Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

  10. #10
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    Here, call up all the plumbers and tell them to come over at exactly the same time
    All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by Lord
    Here, call up all the plumbers and tell them to come over at exactly the same time

    Tell them to wrestle out on the lawn and whoever wins gets the job.

    Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

  12. #12
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    Hey, then after they wrestle on the lawn, I can accuse them of wrecking the grass (I'll show them the Photoshopped pic ). Then they all have to agree to fix my drain for free or I'll sue them.

    Vito
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  13. #13
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    Originally posted by Lord
    Here, call up all the plumbers and tell them to come over at exactly the same time
    Lol that would be fun - they'd all be stood there arguing about how much the job is worth.

    Hey, you never know, if you did that, they might end up haggling amongst themselves to get the business, then you'd get a really competitive price - One for you to try maybe, Vito

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by vito
    Hey, then after they wrestle on the lawn, I can accuse them of wrecking the grass (I'll show them the Photoshopped pic ). Then they all have to agree to fix my drain for free or I'll sue them.

    Vito
    LOL.. now make sure you take a picture of your drain before they work on it you don't want the same hassles as your yard.


    Robert
    Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

  15. #15
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    Hahaha, you're right. And let's give credit where credit is due for that idea. Thank you, indiaberry!!

    http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showth...63#post3224963

    Vito
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  16. #16
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    You know Vito, we talked about this before! Do not shave in the shower! This is what happens when you do it!
    Tyler Cole
    Eeek, a Blog

  17. #17
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    I think it has more to do with the insane amount of hairs I shed daily from my head every day!!

    Vito
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  18. #18
    Vito,

    So you need to play by their game. Call 4-10 plumbers and schedule them all to come out at the same time. Then when they all show up start the bidding on the project

  19. #19
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    In reality, the reason for it, is they don't want to give you a quote, then have you go call the other plumber in town and say "Plumber Joe said he can do it for $120, can you do it for less?"

    I use the same approach towards web design. I don't have a fixed pricing structure for websites I develop, nor do I charge an hourly rate (there are only so many hours in a day, so a fixed hourly rate caps your earning potential). I quote the jobs on a per-job basis, after going through an in-depth needs assessment and proposal/pitch. So far, I have yet to pitch a project and not be able to close the deal.

  20. #20
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    It should give you guys ideas for a site

    THINK BOYS THINK!

    priceplumber.com :-)
    Jean-Pierre Abboud / I'm the TekGURU
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  21. #21
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    Originally posted by RossH
    Vito,

    So you need to play by their game. Call 4-10 plumbers and schedule them all to come out at the same time. Then when they all show up start the bidding on the project
    Hey, I could call up an old buddy of mine who used to be a part time auctioneer. He could handle the bidding war when all the plumbers are here.

    Vito
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  22. #22
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    Aaron, I see your point, but that's like me calling a muffler place for a price and they refuse to give pricing? Not the case. And so what if they give a price and I shop around. That's business, right?

    Hehe, J-P, as I've been sitting here, I've been thinking of website opportunities for this. Looks like you beat me to the punch.

    Vito
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  23. #23
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    what amish_geek said is true no one wanted to give my parents a quote on a car because then they're afarid theyl'l use that quote and go around bargaining. The best thing you can do is hopefully promise the guy you wont bargain with it, and if his is the lowest or relative low(+/-%10) then you'll go with him so he'll be more willing to do it.

    of course, saying that in person and saying it over the phone are two totally different things
    All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

  24. #24
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    Does anybody remember the thread about the picture where a plumber painted a toilet and feet on the side of his car, so when you looked at him from the side it lookid like he was sitting on a toilet?

    Back on topic, I bet it's something all the plumbers in town connived to do to get the most.
    Haven't been on WHT for 6 years!

  25. #25
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    It is called "price shopping" when you go to one get a quote, and go to the next and say "FGH Plumbing can do it for this much. Can you do it cheaper"... We don't do it where I work, mostly because we treat our sub-trades fairly.

    We will go with the lowest quote, generally though. Unless they can't supply everything and another one can.

    Ask for a hourly rate, and go from there, if they refuse to give a hourly rate, move on.
    Dan Sheppard ~ Freelance whatever

  26. #26
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    What a waste of time that was. As I suspected, it was strictly a marketing ploy.

    The guy showed up on time which was good. He "poked" his head into the bathroom and glanced over at the shower stall. No inspection. No flashlight down the drain. Nothing. Heck, he didn't even step into the bathroom.

    And yet that was enough for him to pull out his rate book! Uh huh. Yup, I can definitely see why they couldn't give me a price on the phone. After all, that experienced and professional glance he gave to the shower stall was indeed soooo necessary in order to give a price.

    Two hundred bucks to clear the drain. I asked how he intends to do it. (I thought it was a reasonable question). His answer: "I can't tell you."

    Huh?

    He said that if he told me, then I would just go and do it myself. I calmly told him that these days everyone already pretty much knows of the invention of electric snakes - it's no plumber's secret.

    And here's the kicker. If I paid an additional $99.95 to join their "Club", I would get a whopping $10 off today's bill.

    Anyways, needless to say, I was quite annoyed by all of this, so I politely asked him to leave.

    Vito
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  27. #27
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    In mosts cases a phone call only tells the plumber the symptom (clogged drain) not the cause (hair in drain, broken pipe, tree root) where the cost of the remedy could vary widely.
    Maybe the best tactic is to be more specfic. IE : How much would it cost to run a 30 foot snake down the pipe? How much to replace a trap under a sink?

  28. #28
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    Wouldn't work in this case. On the phone, they all claimed that they do not have access to any pricing whatsoever. Only the guys on the road are able to provide any pricing.

    Vito
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  29. #29
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    heh. you should've been like $200?!!? the guy who checked it out before you offered it to me for $150!
    All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

  30. #30
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    A couple of hours ago, I went to Home Depot. Bought the best snake they had available. $49.95. Went home, snaked the drain. 10 minutes in total. Water now flows perfectly.

    DONE.

    Vito
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