It has been an ongoing debate between plumbers and customers for many years: What is the most cost-effective way to charge for plumbing work? Is it better for a plumber in Springfield Missouri to charge by the hour, or provide a flat rate depending on the service? The short answer is that it depends on what type of work you need done.
Flat rates for plumbing jobs are appealing. It can be intimidating to call in a plumber and be unsure how much the work is going to cost. Having a total price given upfront can bring peace of mind. That's why we charge flat rate pricing for our residential customers.
We do this so people aren't charged a different price for the same job based on the speed of the technician who shows up. Also, people like knowing how much the job is going to cost up front. We always honor the estimate given, so regardless of the amount of time it takes to perform the task or any difficulties that arise, the customer is only expected to pay the amount quoted before beginning the work.
Plumbing companies who charge hourly vs flat rate typically have similar profit margins. Hourly companies make up the difference in service fees, travel charges, machine charges, their time starts when they begin traveling to your home, etc.
There is no single answer as to which is better, flat rate or hourly. It all boils down to personal preference. We charge a flat rate to perform drain cleaning on a main line and some of our competitors charge an hourly rate. Their time starts before they arrive. They charge a machine charge and a travel charge. If their drain cleaning takes longer than 30 minutes, they are more expensive.
So a flat rate is an insurance policy that you'll know up front exactly what your costs are going to be.
On a different note, some flat rate companies charge a small fee just to show up at your door and then an additional larger fee to actually clean your drain. They bank on people using them because they're already on the hook for their smaller fee before any work was performed and the customer is fearful that if they send them away, they will have to pay more for another company to come back out.
Some people love knowing exactly what the bill will be upfront and others prefer hourly because they might feel they could be charged too much money for a simple fix.
The reason we charge a flat rate for our residential customers is that you are paying for our expertise and the value of our service rather than our time. Is it really a better value to pay someone an hourly rate with less experience who may take twice as long to complete the same task?
We charge an hourly rate to our commercial clients, because they are a whole different type of plumbing and their plumbing problems usually require more diagnostic and exploratory work. However, we still bid their large projects like commercial boiler replacements, grease trap replacements, under-slab work, etc. Our hourly rate is reserved for commercial service calls only.
At United Plumbing, we firmly believe in charging fairly for our plumbing work and doing it in a way that maximizes our effectiveness with reasonable prices. If you have a plumbing issue, give us a call. Let us prove our worth to you.