Did I Overcharge & Should I Lower My Pricing?

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“We bought your coating unit with the UHS cabling machine to clean & coat drains for our customers. We have a Quik Shot unit and are a full service plumber. We have been lining laterals for several years and the coating process is pretty new to us. I didn’t know what to charge a customer for coating all of the drain lines including the vents in his house. Since I was new at it and feared the worst of having to learn on his job, I charged enough to completely coat all the piping, then remove it all and re-coat it again in case I screwed it up. My helper and I got all of the work done in two days, well a day and a half but I didn’t really have another call after this one so we were done at noon. We knocked off early for the day. Anyway, by the time I was done, we charged the customer $29,500.00 and my material costs only came up to a little over $3,000. Guess I’m having sellers remorse. The job went better than I thought and I didn’t have to do it over. The liner went in like always, so I didn’t worry about messing that up and the coating went fast.  Should I consider lowering my pricing? I think I’ll get faster at the cleaning and coating process as time goes forward but was in the learning mode. I think we could have done everything in one day if I’d been more confident in what I was doing.”

The short answer is NO! There’s a couple of ways to look at what your customers options were. If he’d

Oh! Oh! Someone is buying a new stool

dug up the service lateral and replaced it with new pipe all the way to the sewer main, what would his costs have been? If in addition, he had to move out while you pulled off sheet rock or lath and plaster and replaced the drain waste and vent piping, what would the cost of that repair be including a several nights or weeks stay somewhere else while you completed the work and brought in a sub to restore the walls, ceilings and floors? I didn’t even consider breaking a water closet or lavatory having to remove it and put it back.

Let’s look at the bigger picture. Your time and investment in solutions are worth something to your customers. If it wasn’t they wouldn’t call you. If you provide quality service on a timely basis that’s worth more than the guy who gives a cheap price but may cut corners on quality and not get to customers for months because he’s gathered too much cheap work backlog to service his customers. While there are some contractors in the trade that work on being the cheapest no matter what are the same ones that get 1 and 2 stars on reviews versus the contractor who gets 4 or 5 stars because he performed great work and did it in a reasonable time.

Funds for unexpected expenses

The final consideration is having enough in the “kitty” to cover a job that goes bad, and don’t say you’ve never had one of those. Everyone who’s been in the trade has something go wrong at some point. It could be as simple as hitting the cable machine or jetter switch at the wrong time and wrong place and spray gunk that takes days and dollars to clean up. Or pulling a toilet that falls apart in your hands as you lift it up. Anyone walked on someone’s new carpet with dirty shoes and had to buy a new carpet to keep everyone happy? If you have the money from good jobs in the “kitty”, you have funds to cover these issues without breaking your bottom line.

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