Cheap Is As Cheap Does

We don’t get many complaints and when we do we try to resolve them as quickly as possible to the customer’s satisfaction. One complaint that is harder than most to resolve is when a customer talks to some other plumber who says he would have done a particular job for way less than we charge. I don’t think we’re the most expensive plumbing firm around, but it’s hard to deny that you can find many other plumbers who will work a lot cheaper. How can they do jobs for so much less than us?

For one thing, some plumbers don’t operate on the square. They may be unlicensed, lack adequate insurance, neglect to pull permits, fail to pay taxes and so on. Many of them are one-man operators that work out of their homes or a garage and fall under the radar of building and licensing authorities. Ultra-low overhead enables them to work cheap, but do you really want do business with someone that cuts so many corners? If he’s dodging the building authorities and tax collectors, do you really think that person would hesitate to cheat his customers as well?

I don’t want to suggest that all low-priced plumbers are cheats and crooks. Many of the cheap plumbers are good mechanics who want to do a good job, and they may operate legitimately in accordance with licensing and other regulations. But if they don’t know how to run their business correctly, they don’t stay in business for long. Some of them have gone bankrupt several times. They simply reopen under a different name.

The cheapest plumbers cut so many corners in running their business that their customers lose in the end, even though it may seem they are getting work done at a bargain price. Let’s compare some of the ways we at Dutton Plumbing run our business compared to the people who work cheap.

  • Our employees undergo extensive scrutiny. Before we put a plumber on the payroll, we do background checks for criminal records, driving offenses, and they must pass a drug test before getting hired. It costs us time and money to do all this, but we want to insure that before we send a technician to your home that he or she is a person of top-notch character. Good people are hard to find, and if you don’t put effort into it, you can end up with some real bad apples working for you. Our technicians have uniforms and I.D. badges, so you can be confident opening the door to them when you’re home alone.
  • Plumbing sometimes can be a dirty job, but that’s our problem. It shouldn’t be yours. Our plumbers wear clean uniforms and put on plastic booties to avoid tracking dirt into your home. After the job is done, they are instructed to leave the work area cleaner than they found it. If they get soiled on a previous job, they will change clothes and if necessary shower before coming to your house.
  • Our technicians are constantly in training. Would you want to be treated by a physician whose knowledge ended when he or she graduated from medical school decades ago? Nor should you do business with any plumber who doesn’t stay abreast of the latest products, tools and techniques of the trade. Not only do our technicians attend regular training sessions on new developments in the plumbing field, Dutton Plumbing’s management team belongs to a couple of best-practices organizations that provide us with great ideas on how to run our business efficiently. The helps us to hold down expenses and serve you better – such as responding to calls in an hour or less most of the time.
  • Our vehicles are well marked, well maintained and well stocked. Our technicians don’t have to interrupt a job to run to Home Depot or a supply house to buy needed parts or materials. Also, the parts and materials we install are all professional-grade. We avoid the cheap junk you find in the plumbing departments of so many big box stores.
  • Our job pricing system protects you. Before our technicians do any work, they will diagnose the problem and tell you exactly how much the job will cost before they break out the tools. You have the option of agreeing or not agreeing to the work at the quoted price. If it takes longer than we expect, we absorb the extra cost. Compare that with the uncertainty of an hourly labor rate in which the meter can be kept running for as long as the plumber wants.
  • We guarantee our work. If a problem doesn’t get fixed to your satisfaction, we’ll come back at the earliest possible moment to make it right at no extra cost. The cheapest plumbers tend to argue and make excuses in response to callback requests.
  • Every time you call Dutton Plumbing, you’ll speak with a live person trained to respond to you courteously and efficiently. No messages left on answering machines promising to get back to you at some later unspecified time.

I could go on. I could talk about our extensive community and charitable contributions, the longevity of our staff, etc. But by now I think you get the point that if some other plumber tells you he can do some work much cheaper than we do, ask if he provides the same amount of customer care that we do.

I’ll conclude with an old joke that has made the rounds in our industry.

A plumber was arguing with another about charging Mrs. Jones too much for a recent job. “I told Mrs. Jones that I could have done that job for half the price.”

“So why didn’t Mrs. Jones call you?” asked the plumber who performed the work.

“She tried, but I wasn’t available,” the accuser said.

“Well,” said the second plumber, “when we’re not available we charge nothing.”