I Finally Fired My Plumber

By Tom Grandy, Founder

I am a very loyal customer.  If the company provides reasonable service and the quality is acceptable, we will be partners for a very long time.  I’m also one of those people that it takes a lot to get me upset, at least upset enough to make a change.  However, even loyal patient people get to the point of saying “Hey, I’ve had enough, you’re fired!”.

I have used the same plumbing company for over twenty years.  They are not a two-man operation.  They have been around for over 40 years and have 25+ technicians.  Lots of little things have bothered me about the company for years but I have tended to overlook them because of relationships.  I know the owner and the overall work, although not outstanding, was acceptable.  After the last trip, my wife and I had had enough.  We agreed that the next time we needed a plumber we were going to get a recommendation from a trusted friend and move to a new provider.  That is exactly what we did.

The remainder of this article is going to list our reasons for changing.  Hopefully listening to our concerns will provide some insights into customer concerns that you might want to examine within your own company. I will preface my comments with the fact that Grandy & Associates has trained contractors for over 35 years.  I know what proper service “should” look like!

Charge Port-to-Port – The company charges port-to-port. That means they charge for the travel time to the customer’s home. That irritates me.  Call it a trip charge if you will, or better yet build the cost of travel into the hourly rate charged.  That way travel is covered but I am not “aware” of it.  It’s kind of like my AT&T bill.  The basic phone charge is shown then comes a listing of six other charges that make up the total bill.  Just tell me the bill is $85 and leave it at that.  By the way, other carriers do just that.

Seldom Have Parts on Truck – I can’t remember the last service call they had where they had the part that was needed on the truck. That means two techs leave to get the part either at their shop or a distributor. It always takes a minimum of 30 minutes…and I am paying for it.

Make a Mess – I can’t begin to describe the mess that is always left behind. We have had several techs come to our home over the years and they all leave a mess. On average, it takes my wife 30 minutes to clean up after they leave.

Little Respect for Our Home – The techs don’t wear booties and seldom have drop clothes. We have custom tile floors in our three bathrooms. My wife and I both cringe every time we hear their wrenches drop to the floor, wondering if they have cracked a tile.  Much of the time wet rags or parts end up in our bathroom trash cans.  Most ten-year-old kids would take better care of our home than these techs do.

Seldom Bring the Basics – I can’t tell you how many times we have been asked for a flashlight, paper towels, a pan, a bucket, or a rag. These kinds of things “should” be basics when performing a service call.

Refuse to Go to Flat Rate Pricing – I have talked directly to the owner multiple times about moving to flat rate pricing. He refused. Between the port-to-port process, leaving to pick up parts, and the actual work we have no idea what the charge will be until the job is done.  Actually, we don’t even know then, since they do not collect on the job.  It’s usually at least two weeks before we receive a bill in the mail.

Missed the Class on Customer Relations – I realize most techs have not been through a Dale Carnegie course or a seminar on customer relations. However, there are some basics that one would think would be taught in the home while growing up. Apparently, most of these techs were homeless or simply failed the course.

My objective really isn’t to trash my former service provider.  My hope is that the above comments will cause the reader to review their own policies in some of these areas.  Understanding what is going on, from the customer’s perspective, is critical in today’s world.

Do your employees know why you need to charge what you charge?  If not, they will tend to underprice the customer.  This month’s Website Special is the perfect way to help all employees understand your pricing.  It’s called Why Do We Need to Charge Some Much?.  Normally this series is $139.95 but this month with the code WHY40  it’s only $99.00.  Order today!

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