Are you judged to be a rip off or screwing the industry?

Wherever plumbers hang out, the problem of pricing a particular job, or hourly rates is bound to be a common topic of debate, and has been for the 3 decades I've been in the plumbing industry, and unfortunately, there's no sign of it ending any time soon.

It's not uncommon, on various plumbing Facebook pages or anywhere plumbers gather, for debates to become quite heated over who is charging what and where.

One of the things I find truly amazing that plumbers who are judged to be charging (too much) are considered rip off plumbers, and the plumbers who are judged to be undercharging are accused of screwing over the plumbing industry. 

So it appears, according to many of your fellow plumbers, most plumbers will be judged to fit into one of the above boxes.  Either too expensive, or not charging enough.

Now here's where it starts to get a bit crazy, the same plumber can be judged by his fellow plumbers as both being too expensive/ (ripping people off), and too cheap, (screwing the industry)!

Go figure.....If you're a logical thinker, you're probably scratching your head about now, wondering how that's even possible to be judged too expensive and too cheap all at the same time.... And I'd agree with's pretty messed up.

The "simple" but not at all logical reason for this is it depends what the plumber judging you charges himself.

If he is......less expensive than you (you are seen as a ripoff) or if he charges more than you, (you're seen to be screwing the industry).

Makes perfect sense... NOT!!!. I'm with makes no sense at all. But that, my fellow plumber, is where you fit into the world of plumbing rates.  Ridiculous isn't it.... But gets even may want to stop reading now.

So....let's delve a little further into why this whole argument is so stupidly ridiculous, and makes no common sense at all. 

Did I hear someone say just use the going rate and that will be the end of the problem? 

I agree........that would be least it would if the going rate had absolutely one frigging iota of relevance to what it actually really costs to own and operate a plumbing business.  If it was one that pays the owner a real wage, makes a profit for growth, pays for help in the business areas that aren't the owners strong points, like accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, training etc, and paidstaff decent wages.... well then we could use the now 'customised to your business hourly rate'.

Here's an example of the advice being dished out on a popular Facebook group for plumbers.... (and note this is a major problem - plumbers who have no clue how to run a business passing on bad advice from generation to generation.)

"Old rule of thumb that was explained to me by an old plumber 30 years ago..... What ever a local postal stamp costs is your hourly rate in dollars. Example: it's now $1 / stamp so that equals $100/ hr.  I've been following this rule for many years and it works well with CPI increases and the like. Time tested and proven. But if you work for a boss..... You get "Uncle Tom" wages... Simple... Then a low $40/hr is what you get. I'd rather work 20 hrs/week at min $100/hr than run around for 40 hours for $40/hour and pay a shit load to the tax man... Note: 20% off for cash on completion of job."

WOW - This plumber thinks he is helping, but it's just another example of the stupid advice that gets given to plumbers, by plumbers who don't have a clue.  Hmmm, what year are we in now.... ?

And this is one of the reasons why what you charge for your service is so slow to change.... how daring of you to charge anymore than what the older guys say you can or should.

It's time for some fresh ideas in the plumbing industry.  Ones that actually work and are aligned in the world we now live in. 

What's the point in giving 'charge out rates' advice if it can't be proved with a calculator?

The theory the old plumber shared is just another piece of fabricated guess work, and shouldn't be taken seriously.

Just like the advice from the old guys at the plumbing supplies : "You shouldn't employ anyone or grow your business".

I personally believe you should be thanking the plumbers who are charging more than you, because they're actually helping move the industry forward. And they make it easier for you to charge more yourself.... next time you go to a job and find out another plumber was there and quoted more than you, be thankful to them instead of calling them a rip-off.   

Maybe, just maybe.... those more expensive plumbers aren't overcharging at all..... maybe it's you undercharging???  

Maybe the next plumber that comes along will think you're a Rip-Off because he charges less than you.....????

Love to hear your thoughts .......