It’s one of the toughest challenges for self-employed plumbers and tradespeople in general. Who’d be a plumber?
How much should you charge?
Typically, there are a couple of fears when it comes to pricing yourself as a plumber:
- you’ll over quote, leading to lots of “sorry, we’ve decided to go with someone else” replies; or
- you’ll under quote, get the job and then find out three weeks later during a conversation with your mates that you “could have charged far more than that”.
Neither scenario is particularly palatable, but they do illustrate how hard it is to get it right.
The good news? You can rely on some tried-and-tested techniques for pricing yourself for success.
There are, broadly speaking, five elements which impact the pricing of every plumbing job, and we’re going to break them down for you, below.
1. The competition
It’s highly unlikely you’re the only plumber in your neighbourhood, so take plenty of time to research what the competition is charging.
Make a few calls and speak to friends and family to see what they’ve paid in the past. You’ll quickly build a picture of the competition and get a feel for the going rate.
2. Industry standards
According to research, the average hourly rate for a plumber in 2019 sat somewhere between £40 and £60.
It’s important to pay attention to these industry standards because the last thing you want to do is price yourself completely out of (or under) the market.
Use those industry averages as a guideline, and consider where you might fit in, given your experience and the types of service you provide.
3. The plumber has needs too
You need to put food on the table and keep the roof above your head, therefore it’s vitally important you take into account your own salary needs.
There’s nothing wrong with doing this, either. You’re on your own, without a PAYE salary to fall back on if zero work comes through the door, therefore your pricing needs to take into account the cost of living.
This doesn’t mean you should factor in a forthcoming trip to the casino when pricing a job, but it does mean you need to build your own costs and salary requirements into every quote. Unless you’re living like a king and constantly buying kit for the business, that shouldn’t inflate your pricing any more than the competition.
4. Materials and expenses
We touched on this above, but it certainly deserves its own place in this list.
Pretty much every job you undertake will require materials and expenses (that includes your mileage and the wear and tear on your vehicle), and this is where flexibility must enter your pricing strategy.
Every job will be different, and you’ll almost definitely encounter unforeseen issues along the way. Therefore, your pricing needs to not only cover materials and expenses, but also be transparent about the possibility of additions.
Customers will appreciate this honesty and be far less likely to complain when you reveal that there’s a cost you couldn’t have accounted for until you lifted that floorboard.
5. Job size
The size of each job will – and should – significantly impact your pricing. But this is where that hourly rate becomes so useful.
Larger jobs will take you longer, and therefore the price must increase as a result. It’s why offering ‘off-the-shelf’ fixed pricing for jobs isn’t a profitable strategy for a plumber.
Remember to include research time, too. If a job requires you to go away and do lots of pre-planning and investigation to find the best solution for the customer, build that into your pricing as well.
Not as tricky as you thought, eh?
Just bear in mind that pricing yourself is a continual process. You need to continually revisit the five elements above to ensure your pricing is relevant and capable of producing a great income.
Never put aside what your time is worth, either. If you know what you’re doing and provide brilliant customer service, people will quickly recognise that and reward you with plenty of referrals.