View Full Version : $1464 per hour.....and some think We are overpriced?

04-27-2005, 09:38 PM
I had a bit of septic tank trouble today,so I called the local "Rooter" service.
I had dug the hole to drain pipe,drilled a hole in the pipe,and could see the tank was backed up.(Due to one of the kids,I'm sure)Anyway,the guy grabs his motorized snake and proceeds to clear the obstruction.From start to finish,5 minutes.My bill,$122.00.His equipment cost was at the most $500 for the electic snake.Of course he had a nice van,when painted logo and all.
Now,I'm thinking,where's this guys $10,000 mower,$400 blower,$400 trimmer,$600 hedge trimmers,etc.,,He had no trailer either,but there I was,stuck with a $122 bill for 5 minutes of service.Also,he never told me how much it would be before service and I didn't ask.
Suddenly $50-$75 per hour for mowing doesn't seem like such a big deal.Only difference is,he's not at my house every week.

04-27-2005, 09:45 PM
He is doing something that most homeowners can't do. Any homeowner can cut their own grass, giving they don't have certain health issues.

04-27-2005, 09:59 PM
.Only difference is,he's not at my house every week.

Lets hope not. You gotta do the 2 flush method.

Well while we are on the subject, i might as well add this sick, but very true story. My little cousin clogged up the pipes bad at my aunt and uncle's house. So they call this so called plumber they knew to come take a look. Anyways, he locates the spot in the pipe where its clogs, gets it open, and BARE HANDS the crap out of the pipe, right in front of my aunt.
If that isn't sick, i don't know what is!
i hope to god that wasn't before his lunch break

04-28-2005, 12:12 AM
I'm not bare handing no poop even for $122 for 5 minutes work.

04-28-2005, 03:57 AM
I'm not trying to defend the plumber, so much as trades in general, but, you have to also think about the fact that these guys/gals usually do a 4 year apprenticeship, with schooling intervals, and also have exams to write before they become journeymen. A lot of trades also end up taking courses throughout their career to upgrade and maintain their knowledge. Now, I realize that their are people on here with degrees in botany, or horticulture, I'm sure there are others. Then there's also people on here that 'at 15, have their own lawn care company'....I know these ones haven't done anywhere near the training or learning that a tradesman has.

Being a toolmaker by trade myself, I know there are times when I have done things of great value to a company in a short period of time.

I would also have to wonder, is $122 his hourly rate? I would have to think that they would have a minimum charge, had you not already done some of the work yourself, he may have done that without your bill increasing that much more. You also mention that he's not there every week....think of the number of calls that he requires to service to put in a full week....and the number of PITA customers, the non-payers, and so on. He may have to have 5000 customers to make a living, whereas you may only need 50. And he has some real s#!!+y jobs to deal with to boot! :(

04-28-2005, 06:57 AM
I would gladly pay that turd chaser 122.00 to unclog a pipe. That kind of thing is best left to a pro and that pro ain't me.

04-28-2005, 08:24 AM
I'm not bare handing no poop even for $122 for 5 minutes work.


Working with doody should demand a high hourly rate.... Its not for the weak....

04-28-2005, 08:31 AM
He had it and you needed it. No need to say more, cha-ching

04-28-2005, 09:48 AM
I think you're missing the point and my post wasn't clear on that.I'm not griping about his charges.As Mac said,I needed him and he had it.What I can't get over is the fact that so many in this trade(landscaping) will go on and on about how plumbers are "tradesman",while at the same time walk hat in hand to a customer a beg for $30 per hour for sweating their rear ends off while having $40,000 worth of equipment sitting behind them.
The point I was trying to make is this;Appreciate your worth and value.Price accordingly.I'll guarantee this "tradesman" couldn't tell an Azalea from an Indian Hawthorne,much less which time of year to trim them.Customers are calling us because 1)they don't have time to maintain their landscapes,2)They don't want to maintain their landscape,3)They don't know how to maintain their landscape,or 4) they want an install professionally done with plants that will not only live,but also compliment their home design.Until we as an industry start appreciating our worth and value,we will always be "the gardner" or the "lawn jockey".
As for anyone with a mower being able to cut grass,that may be true,but anyone with a supply of PVC and a few hand tools can also do plumbing.
This was just meant as a discussion.I see it missed its mark,but also see how much some value their own trade as well.If we don't appreciate ourselves as a whole,how can we expect our customers to?

04-28-2005, 10:46 AM
I agree with some of what you're saying. But "cutting grass" is not a trade. Anybody can cut grass. Landscape design, horticulture, etc. are proper trades. Soil enrichment, pest/fert application, etc. are all high level activities.

Anybody can unclog a sink, but not anybody can be a plumber with a "supply of PVC pipe".

This isn't demeaning LCO's, but like you said, its just that we need to focus on what it is that makes us more than just a lawnmower. We can't compete with 14 year old kids mowing lawns, because they CAN do it "good enough". But they can't put in a bed, and recommend supplements for soil, lay out a bed of perennials with diagrams showing how it will look in 1,2,5 years.

If you are just a mow/blow type outfit (not you specifically) than you can only survive on volume. If you really are a "professional" than you should have no trouble leaving lowballers in the dust.

If there was a guy advertising septic tank service for $30, would you have called him? There aren't that many lowball plumbers, because the equipment cost might be low, but the education cost is high. With his parents mower any kid can start mowing lawns for $20.

04-28-2005, 11:48 AM
Ha Ha Workink With Doody Kinda Like Daddy

04-28-2005, 11:54 AM
As for anyone with a mower being able to cut grass,that may be true,but anyone with a supply of PVC and a few hand tools can also do plumbing.

That may be somewhat true, to a real basic extent. But, anyone with a supply of PVC is NOT a plumber, same as someone with a micrometer is NOT a toolmaker. Besides, you didn't call a guy with just a supply of PVC pipe, you called a plumber....and he also has a van, tools, inventory, office, phone line, inventory, insurance, taxes and so on (same as any of you 'pros'). I wouldn't be surprised if he has more than $40,000 worth of tools in that van. A professional power drain cleaner will be a lot more than $400 or $500.

Let's put the shoe on the other foot. I have a patch of grass 2' by 2' that I want professionally cut, that's it. How much would you charge, should only take you 5 minutes. And that should be extremely generous for time, unless I'm mistaken. Oh, and to simulate the fact that you dug your hole instead of him, once you pull up, I'll drop the tailgate on your enclosed trailer, fuel up your machine, start it and unload it for you. Would you do it for $5????(Oh and, it's 35 minutes on the other side of town, and you have to stop in the middle of a huge new install because I say it's really an emergency.)

04-28-2005, 02:34 PM
My brother in law is a plumber and I have spent some of my days helping him. Most of the emergency work is very simple, the projects are slightly more technical, but are not overwhelmingly difficult. With that said... you were paying for the following:

1.) Emergency service. These guys are available on call 24 hours 7 days aweek. You paid for him to be there in a relatively short amount of time. If he were out to eat with his family, he would have drove to your house as soon as he was done eating.
2.) Van. If he was at the other end of his territory, he would have to drive all the way to your house. There is no such thing as a "route", let alone a "tight-route"
3.) Tools. My brother in law had three rooter machines in his van. The cheapest one costed $1500. The biggest one costed $3500.
4.) Insurance.
5.) Yellow page ad.
6.) You paid for his know-how. It was only his know-how that got him in and out in 5 minutes from the point you left the project at.
7.) Most jobs are stinky and disgusting (I threw up more than once working with him).
8.) You paid for his off time and job related non-billable. The amount of time they spend on-site doing work probably only totals about two hours per day. The rest is spent driving too an fro, giving estimates, writing invoices etc. for every hour billable there is probably 2 hours job related but not billable.
9.) This is their only way to make a living. If you are in this business you have to be available 24 hours, you can't work a second job, you can't do it part time. This means your paying for all the time that he doesn't have any work. There is very little "maintenance" schedules.
10.) That emergency visit could be his only call for the week, or it could be one of dozens per day. There are severe peaks and valleys in that business and you have to plan accordingly.

04-28-2005, 07:39 PM
I know you guys are talking about plumbers, but recently I locked my keys in my truck.
Took locksmith less than 2 min. to unlock my truck - bill $135
tools used 2 plastic wedges, 1 pump up bag, 1 snake clamp thingy

I'd rather be a locksmith than a plumber