A Plumbing Story

There is an old story that goes something like this: A man calls a plumber to his home to solve a problem with one of his pipes. The plumber looks around and listens for about 10 minutes, and then he grabs a pipe wrench and hits a pipe three or four times in the same place. The problem is quickly solved. The plumber then hands the man his bill, and the man is shocked to see that the invoice is for $200. The man objects, “How on earth can you charge $200 for simply banging on a pipe three or four times with a pipe wrench? I demand that you clarify this bill.” The plumber takes the invoice from the man, recalculates it, and hands it back. The invoice now reads:

Item one: Hitting the pipe with a pipe wrench–$2.00

Item two: Knowing to hit the pipe with the pipe wrench–$99

Item three: Knowing where and how to hit it–$99.

If you’ve ever had a plumbing problem, and you are not a plumber, you know that doing it yourself is probably the most expensive option available to you. It isn’t what you do, and you don’t do it enough to do it well.

We sometimes struggle to capture value, when we believe that one part of the value that we create is the only value that we create. This story about the plumber is a perfect example. Hitting the pipe three or four times was not the real value the plumber created and wasn’t perceived as being particularly valuable–even though that is what solved the problem. Knowing where and how to hit the pipe was where the real value was created. If the plumber priced his services only for the actual work–and not the knowledge and experience he applied to the work–his prices would be far lower and wouldn’t capture the real value he provides.

It doesn’t matter what trade you are in, the same message applies. A true professional makes it look so easy, that many times, the homeowner thinks they can do the job. You have the knowledge and that is where the value lies.

This is one of the great reasons I encourage plumbers to use a price guide or flat rate book. If your book is set up properly with information about your company, your excellent employees, and a great warranty on labor and materials, you put yourself ahead of others. Then you follow the book line by line and page by page, and build value about your company, your knowledge and experience, and value in the length of your warranties. You are no longer pulling prices from the sky, but creating a value price. Many tradesmen forget the fact that it took them 4 to 7 years to qualify for a license. Then it took many hours of classroom training. And finally several years of supervised hands on training to get it right.

Build value on all the knowledge you have and how you are using it in your customer’s home to help their family stay safe. Remember, it is not necessarily what you do. It’s knowing what to do and when, because you have the knowledge. Plumbers protect the health of the nation with sanitary drainage and potable water. Don’t ever forget it!

If your plumbing business needs a tune-up to make more profit, or your group needs training, contact The Plumbers Coach™. Detailed personalized business coaching and training for plumbing contractors. Get more information at www.theplumberscoach.com, like us on Facebook @ ThePlumbersCoach, follow us on Twitter @T_PlumbersCoach and on LinkedIn at KeithGlass15.

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