Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How much is this handyman job going to cost me?

Most of the work I do is billed by the hour. Sometimes a customer wants a bid on a job. I'm glad to work either way.

I understand why people want a bid - it lets them know how much the job is going to cost.

Whenever one of my customers requests a bid, I explain that, while I am glad to do so, it will cost them more in the end.

Let me explain how a bid works. I am going to go through the job and everything is going to be figured from the high end. I'm going to consider what could take more time than normal and what could cost more. A cushion will be built in. When the job is all done, I don't want to come up short. That's how the process works.

Some people are willing to pay more for the assurance of knowing what the job is going to cost up front. I understand that.

Usually once I have worked for someone, they realize that I am very fast and efficient. They see that doing the job by the hour works in their favor. If I worked only by bid, I would make more money but that's not what I'm interested in. I would rather have a long-term relationship with a customer than to make a lot of money one time.

Another way I do business that benefits my customers is in how I charge for supplies. When I buy materials for their job I give them the receipt and that is how much they pay. I don't mark it up at all.

Recently I have heard a lot of advertising by service companies that encourage "up-front-pricing". In some cases, it is an honest and fair bid but many times the price is ridiculous.

I had a customer some years ago who didn't know that I installed garbage disposals. She called a well-known plumbing company (big orange trucks and the words apple and wood in their name). They used the "up-front-pricing" model. She was given a price of $500.00 for the job. She thought it seemed high but the plumber gave her a spiel of how expensive the disposal was, etc. She ended up approving the work and later realized she was overcharged.

The disposal she had installed retailed for about $70.00 and there could have been a few dollars in other parts. It would have taken between 15 minutes to an hour (if complications) to do the job. Add some traveling time on top of that and the job still wasn't worth half of what she was charged. I felt sorry for her.

Businesses like this are all over town. Many handyman companies, especially the big franchises operate this way. Sometimes it's hard for the consumer to know what a fair price is. That's why it's good to have a company you can trust.

I have been in business since 1984. On my website, I have a list of my satisfied customers. The pleasure I receive from those testimonials is far greater than the short-term gain of overcharging.


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