Plumbing issues are no joking matter. Whether it be a broken washing machine or a pipe leak under the house, all deserve prompt attention. So, where does a professional plumber draw the line between scheduled calls and emergency requests. Perhaps a closer discussion on this issue will shed some light on this controversial topic.
Are Plumbers Naturally On Call?
There are two types of plumbers: those who do basic repair and those who do construction and remodeling. It is only natural to assume that repair plumbers are on call for emergency repairs. While many have appointments scheduled for basic repairs, all of them will have gaps in their schedules. Wouldn’t it be the best customer service for plumbers to have some project management skills to balance their schedules between emergency and planned repair jobs?
Not everyone agrees with this, especially plumbers. When a plumber has to drop everything he has planned to come to your house at a minute’s notice, it affects his reputation with those who already have planned to meet him. Therefore, his rates for local plumbing emergencies will be higher to account for potential lost clientele.
One solution is to communicate with scheduled clients ahead of time that times are approximate for non-emergency appointments. This would allow flexibility in his schedule to account for local plumbing emergencies while still managing the expectations of his loyal non-emergency clients. Setting such a precedent is the key to maintaining good customer service without risking his professional reputation.
Should One Simply Accept The Costs?
With that said, there are no doubts that expensive repairs are frustrating to the struggling homeowner. Prices are exorbitantly high for even a simple repair, so you must ask yourself, is this truly an emergency. One solution would be to ask the plumber for instructions on how to minimize further damage while you wait for his availability to open up.
Unfortunately, most plumbers are very busy with full schedules, so you may have to live with the water off for a solid 24 hours, for example. All in all, the nature of the service dictates higher pay for a plumber that sets aside other clients to help you. Wouldn’t you expect the same in your own business?
Establish A Relationship Early On
Service businesses are relationship businesses. The best way to ensure a plumber pays you attention and cuts you a break is to establish a relationship with one for basic repairs prior to contacting him for emergency work. This relationship will put you as a priority because instead of risking the loss of another client, he will know that he could lose a relationship with you. One idea is to schedule the plumber to assess any problem areas in your home, or to do a service check or even install some fixtures, and pay him for his basic time. This may identify problems ahead of time while building that valuable relationship you can rely on in the future.
How High Are Emergency Plumbing Repair Costs?
A final way to look at the situation is to be prepared for the worst. If you can’t change the industry standard for handling emergencies, then think ahead of the game and know what you will have to pay should something go wrong. Often, the problem with paying a plumber for an emergency repair is the shock factor. Don’t be caught off guard. Know that most plumbers charge by the hour, and must account for drive time off-hours and efforts in getting the parts quickly. This will likely mean a $100 surcharge in addition to elevated hourly rates for weekend or night work.
Don’t presume that all plumbers are taking advantage of you. Plumbers work business hours just like other companies, and seeking help in addition to an already full workload would mean time and a half anywhere else. It is no different here. Be fair, and don’t complain at something that is not likely to change anytime in the near future. Simply be prepared for the inevitable with some savings set aside for such an emergency situation, and you won’t feel so grumpy with the plumber when you need him.
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