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View Full Version : Elementary Q. What to charge for repair work?


Jason Rose
03-07-2006, 09:58 PM
Ok, so what are good honest and resonable rates to charge for various irrigation repairs?

Replacing trash can head with a RB 5004?
a gear drive head of similiar size with a RB 5004?
a 1" valve?
A complete valve manifold (2 or more valves)?
Moving a sprinkler with funny pipe? Do you charge by the foot usually? Always have to hand dig those...

I have a feeling i'm not charging enough, but I don't want to totally gouge people either. Ive' seen some say they charge $50 to $75 just to replace a head on here! I will not charge that for what's about 10 minutes of work...
Just have to remember, I'm in central Kansas. Prices here for services ain't near what they are in the big cities!

Jason Rose
03-07-2006, 11:53 PM
anybody, anybody? Please!?

Green Sweep
03-08-2006, 06:32 AM
I think that you have to charge by the man hour regardless of how long it takes you. Replacing a rotor may take 5 minutes (or less) but I still charge the customer a minimum of 1 man hour to make the stop. $50 per man hour is about the going rate here. I know that it is far more in other areas. Also, your materials need to be marked up. So, with that being said, an example of a service call to replace a damaged rotor: $50 labor, $26 RB 5004, $.85 3/4" barbed elbow = $76.85. A 2 valve manifold? $50 labor, 2 RB DV's @ $33, 4 1" 90's @ $1.10, $1.10 1" slip T, 3 waterproof wirenuts @ $1.85, $22 10" valve box = $149.05 total T/M.

Rob

PurpHaze
03-08-2006, 08:02 AM
Rob has good points. Basically what he is saying is that although a simple repair may only take a few minutes there's a lot of overhead on that simple repair. By factoring all the overhead of insurance, equipment, parts, etc. you can see how a minimum charge amount can get into the realm of what everyone else is charging.

Rainman7
03-08-2006, 08:09 AM
Do you charge a standard service call charge PLUS repairs? Service call $50 +replace head $50+ ect...

What happens if you send someone on a service call for a bad rotary and he finds the customer put a planter on top of it without realizing it?

Good customers you may not charge. Making a habit of not charging service calls will eat away at your bottom line.

-Ray

Johnson_inc
03-08-2006, 08:32 AM
I am sure everyone here has there own methods. I start the clock when I pull up, and stop it when the work is complete. In addition to the labor, I charge list on all the parts I used.

My thoughts on this have changed over the years, but if i have to stock a van and am expected to carry that overhead and be sure i always have the parts on hand to do the work, I am not going to "deliver" those parts to your house at my cost. I will be charging for that "service"

Thoughts on not charging for a service call, even though it takes 10 min. Used to do that and I have found it becomes hard to stop. Customers start calling for little things and dont expect to be charged. Adjusting a controller, changing a nozzle, adjusting a rotor.... whatever it may be, if you have to drive to their house you should be charging. You could just as easily been somewhere else making money.

Glenn

PurpHaze
03-08-2006, 08:44 AM
Right on. Time + experience/knowledge + overhead = service charge.

DanaMac
03-08-2006, 09:01 AM
There are lots of posts on this if you want to search for them. Every year we talk about our rates and how we charge.

$50 for me to show up, and this covers the first half hour of labor on site.
$56 per hour (may go to $60 per hour this year) billed in 1/4 hour increments.
So if it takes 45 minutes, $50 service call fee, plus $14 for additional 15 minutes, plus parts. If it takes 2 hours, $50 service call fee plus $84 for the next 1.5 hours.

Yes, some good customers I will occasionally reduce my rate. Just yesterday I had to replace 1 Rainbird T-Bird head with a RB 5004. He called said right where it was, had it marked. I showed up, replaced it, turned on zone at the manifold, adjusted it, and was done in 12 minutes. Broke down the bill showing $50 service call fee, $24 rotor, totaling $74. Then showed a $15 discount for a total of $59.If it is a brand new customer, no discounts. Full rates.

What happens if you send someone on a service call for a bad rotary and he finds the customer put a planter on top of it without realizing it?

If that happens, I will still go through the entire system to check things out, manke any adjustments. They called us out, they are paying a fee. Once again, if it is a long time good-old-lady customer, you may decide to just move the pot and go on your way. I have also at times not charged someone for that kind of little thing, knowing I will be coming back in a month or so anyhow, and find a way to add it to that bill.

Green Sweep
03-08-2006, 04:53 PM
Someone on this forum had the saying "If they balk at the labor rates, then tell them to call a plumber" under their name. I apologize for not remembering which one of you had this, but I' ve always thought about that saying. That saying just about sums everything up. Plumbers AND electricians can command $80 & up for a service stop. We have to have general irrigation knowledge, plumbing knowledge, & electrical knowledge. Granted, all of this knowledge is not needed to replace a rotor, but it is essential if you service systems on a daily basis. So why should our rates be questioned? To be honest, most of my customers do not question them & the ones that do, will let Joe Trunkslammer service their system at 1/2 of my price...... until their lawn browns out, or flowers wilt & they cant get a hold of Joe. Then they call us.

Rob

ESprinklers
03-08-2006, 09:43 PM
We charge $45.00 per man hour (1 hour minimum), plus retail cost of materials.

Jason Rose
03-08-2006, 09:56 PM
Well thanks for all the responses! I just learned that I am Joe Trunkslammer! lol! Although I don't have a trunk I certianly don't charge the rates suggested here and I don't feel that there is any way I could here. If I tried I'd likely be either hauled off to jail or the nuthouse for trying to charge $75 to $80 to replace a rotor that cost me $8.00 and 10 minutes of time.

I feel that $30 each to replace rotors is more than a fair price to myslef and my customers and frankly the last job I did I replaced 14 and charged $22 each.

Plumbers don't get $80 an hour here either...

I have heard tales of a local irrigation contractor trying to charge those rates and the stories are still going around about what a shifty theif the guy is. Tales of how he disassembled sprinklers to show all the parts to make it seem like they are getting something for their $75. Taking advantage of old ladies and so on...

bicmudpuppy
03-09-2006, 02:05 AM
Yes, $75/hour is a little pricey for your neck of the woods, BUT it still sounds like you are giving it away to me. What do you figure your labor COSTS you? What would any other trade in your area make? It amazes me that the prevailing wage for most of Kansas is still $8.75/hour including benefits for landscape/irrigation/general labor. But, even using that number, 8.75+unemployment insurance+social security+comp+overhead will put your labor rate at near $30/hour. To ask for a $40 service call and include the first half hour of labor in that service call would still be very fair. In over 20 years at this, I have never had a customer complain about the price of parts. They moan and groan about how much you are charging and how long you were there all the time. Let them complain. It makes them happy. Be fair, but get paid what your time is worth. Now, about parts.....Retail is for the hardware store. Take what every that part cost you and multiply. I like 2.5x for most things. Rotors, slip fixes, and the like 3x or better. If it is a supply house only item, mark it up. You have a Lowe's in town. Lowe's will beat your supply house price on many things. Don't be afraid to save the money and buy it there, but mark it up. 2x, 2.5x, or even 3x. If they want to complain, tell them to go down to Lowe's and install the parts themselves. You delivered the parts with the knowledge and accessories to install them properly. At this point, many new guys will say they don't have those overhead expenses. If you don't include them now, you never will either. Someday, you want to climb out of the ditch and hire someone else to do the "fun" parts for you.

SprinklerGuy
03-09-2006, 09:03 AM
Keep in mind for the most part your rates can be lower....especially if they are a mow client.....and if you do the repair the day you are there...special trips may require special rates....

Hank Reardon
03-09-2006, 10:49 PM
Right on. Time + experience/knowledge + overhead = service charge.

Don't forget PROFIT; a component many don't calculate into the equation.

PurpHaze
03-09-2006, 11:01 PM
Don't forget PROFIT; a component many don't calculate into the equation.

Very true. :clapping:

HBFOXJr
03-13-2006, 09:50 AM
What to charge is a math question and the formula never changes. Please research old posts as DanaMac suggests as there is a ton of knowledged to be gained.

There is also a ton of information to be gained from estimating educators like Jim Houston and Charles Vander Kooi.

Using other peoples numbers in your business may be fiancially disastrous for you, not to you best competitive advantage and is a disservice to the industry as a whole.

Be professional, be educated.

Mdirrigation
03-13-2006, 04:16 PM
We charge a " trip fee" then an hourly charge after that , billed in 1/2 hour increments. What is the customer realy paying for ? Your experience first , your truck , your oil changes , the time spent picking up parts , the phone bill , the time talking to them on the phone and scheduling the job , gasoline , tires , wages , materials , advertising , insurance , taxes etc, etc.

Time is money plain and simple , prices are geographic . Here million dollar homes are everywhere . A simple 2 bedroom rancher in a working class community in decent shape brings $ 325,000. Our prices reflect the cost of living in this area. ( Maryland )

Charge what you need to make to make a good profit , and go as high as the market will bear .

jerryrwm
03-14-2006, 12:32 AM
Well thanks for all the responses! I just learned that I am Joe Trunkslammer! lol! Although I don't have a trunk I certianly don't charge the rates suggested here and I don't feel that there is any way I could here. If I tried I'd likely be either hauled off to jail or the nuthouse for trying to charge $75 to $80 to replace a rotor that cost me $8.00 and 10 minutes of time.

I feel that $30 each to replace rotors is more than a fair price to myslef and my customers and frankly the last job I did I replaced 14 and charged $22 each.

Plumbers don't get $80 an hour here either...

I have heard tales of a local irrigation contractor trying to charge those rates and the stories are still going around about what a shifty theif the guy is. Tales of how he disassembled sprinklers to show all the parts to make it seem like they are getting something for their $75. Taking advantage of old ladies and so on...


I don't know what your market will bear for pricing for labor. But if you are not charging for your work at a fair price then you will be basically doing it for free after you factor in everything that goes into that service call. The time it ook for you to originally pick up the parts from the supply house, the time that it took you to drive to the job, the costs of driving that truck, the insurance and licenses you have, plus the knowledge that you may possess that made them call you in the first place. It's not just about unscrewing a defective head, and putting in that $8.00 head.

As I said in an earlier post, I told a customer that my rate was $65.00/hr plus parts even if it took me 15 minutes, but if it would make him feel better, I would sit around and drink coffee and chat for the balance of the hour.

And I still think if you are a professional irigator, you should be right up there with the plumbers for hourly rates.

jerryrwm
03-14-2006, 12:35 AM
Well thanks for all the responses! I just learned that I am Joe Trunkslammer! lol! Although I don't have a trunk I certianly don't charge the rates suggested here and I don't feel that there is any way I could here. If I tried I'd likely be either hauled off to jail or the nuthouse for trying to charge $75 to $80 to replace a rotor that cost me $8.00 and 10 minutes of time.

I feel that $30 each to replace rotors is more than a fair price to myslef and my customers and frankly the last job I did I replaced 14 and charged $22 each.

Plumbers don't get $80 an hour here either...

I have heard tales of a local irrigation contractor trying to charge those rates and the stories are still going around about what a shifty theif the guy is. Tales of how he disassembled sprinklers to show all the parts to make it seem like they are getting something for their $75. Taking advantage of old ladies and so on...


I don't know what your market will bear for pricing for labor. But if you are not charging for your work at a fair price then you will be basically doing it for free after you factor in everything that goes into that service call. The time it ook for you to originally pick up the parts from the supply house, the time that it took you to drive to the job, the costs of driving that truck, the insurance and licenses you have, plus the knowledge that you may possess that made them call you in the first place. It's not just about unscrewing a defective head, and putting in that $8.00 head.

What do you charge when you fire up those Dixons or the Walker? Does it upset you when someone does it for less than you did? Same principle with irrigation service work.

As I said in an earlier post, I told a customer that my rate was $65.00/hr plus parts even if it took me 15 minutes, but if it would make him feel better, I would sit around and drink coffee and chat for the balance of the hour.

And I still think if you are a professional irigator, you should be right up there with the plumbers for hourly rates.

Z_SCAPES
03-14-2006, 12:38 AM
General labor rates: 1 skilled irrigation tech. 2 hour minimum @ $100 then $45 an hour pro rated at 1/4 hour ($11.25) increments + mtls. marked up 25%-110% depending on part(s) + a $10.00 gas surcharge . I very seldom run into someone who complains about the price. And if they do you dont want to work with those people any way their just a headache.