You may have seen them: a six-wheeled van with a billboard-sized ad on the side, sometimes exposing a photo of a white-faced middle-aged woman on the phone, suggesting that everything in life is better now, she is She found a plumbing and HVAC company in short boots. Or, you have already called one of these colored full-page ads in the yellow pages. You know that kind of people, they make you feel warm and fuzzy, and define everything you want to hear. How to use each credit card logo in the sun? Does this give you peace of mind, if your unplanned pipeline emergency makes you a cash shortage, then you should simply use plastic without further consideration? Is it the 800 number, the fire is hot, does it imply below: "The hotline goes directly to Maytag Man, he waits patiently waiting to heal your flustered mind"? Welcome to the world of flat rate pipelines and HVAC advertising!
I bet this is something you don't know unless you of course hire one of the companies – $125 to $400 per hour. If you don't know that they will charge the rate, don't be laughed at because of your ignorance, because the rate will cover up the price of each part they say [blinking].
Ok, I will show you the black magic behind the MO of the fixed rate model. Then, if you find yourself paying for one of these companies after the next test, maybe you won’t get stuck in the heart of the sticker. Stopped state. Or HVAC emergency.
Among the self-employed people in the HVAC and plumbing industries, some have long struggled to find their own decent lives, including myself. Traditionally, we charge by hour, plus a moderate amount of material to increase the price. In the early 1980s, as a service technician for two second-generation fuel companies [Tenney Fuels and Ferns Energy Center], my starting salary was $3.75 per hour, 10 cents above the minimum wage. These companies charge $25 an hour and profit from the sale of parts, furnaces, burners and boilers, as well as fuel oil, which brings the largest share. Then, in 1983, Tenney was sold to the hot-selling "oil merchant" and my salary increased to $6.90 per hour. At the same time, the new fuel group raised Tenney's tax rate and began charging customers, from pipe threading compounds, some detergent sprays in the tank to quick drying [cat litter] to absorb the oil, and we sprinkled it on the floor. It doesn't matter if I clean the burner electrode porcelain at random, customers still need to buy a toxic spray cleaner. The name of the game changes from the highest quality service and installation work [at a reasonable price] to tapping as fast as possible and maximizing profits in every possible way, regardless of quality. The new company even introduced technicians who have been trained in new methods in other branches to show our service department how to do the job. This shocked me, the green horn, because every traditional custom that has been given to me over the past two years has clearly and painfully disappeared. The shock that customers who have been working in the company since the company's inception has been a painful experience for them and for me. Until the 1980s and 1990s, the endangered old school was gradually threatened with extinction, and we are all used to the feeling of family business. The Big Boy enters their entrance with smooth, magnificent, and imaginative signs, and the corporate logo that flaunts makes us-employees and customers feel intrusive.
In 1988, I almost brought this new model into my own prison and appealed to the affirmative statement that I placed on the console of the service car – anything that affects the peace of mind, so that I can achieve it through another soul. – A painful day for men to work. At this point, I was hired by a plumbing contractor, and he seemed to embody the new school's philosophy of attracting customers with all the value customers can afford. Although I have been in the industry for 8 years, on the first day of my work, I was an experienced colleague and junior technician who started to “show me the ropes”. By noon, he managed to open an eight-hour bill for everyone, charging each client the time it took to go home and return to the store. Whether there are 3 customers living on the same street, this is still their round-trip journey all day, as if they were the only service call on the day. During our rounds, a profit-motivated technician charged a customer [my dentist] with a light bulb in the stove and he broke his head. When he was there, he only wiped off the dust on the stove. The bill totaled more than $300. Next, he charged the customer with an ignition transformer that was not damaged. He then asked a 93-year-old woman to wipe the dust and new fuel nozzles in the mobile home in the mobile home, but paid $285, even though the woman begged her to be almost unable to cope with the late husband. 39; s social security check. [A month later, when the lady called for an emergency, she found my duty technician. I went to her house after normal working hours and found that the total control of the burner failed, so I I replaced it… it was free to compensate the bath water that the technician gave her a few months ago. I lied to my report and pointed out that the phone was not chargeable due to improper electrode adjustment.]
The exact time I pay the customer's bill is the piece rate. Otherwise, if I didn't charge them, for example, to replenish factory parts, go to their home and go back or finish a day of paperwork, I didn't get paid for that time. I thought that the company boss was a criminal who made a living in his own way, and missed the early-honest and ethical company in Tenney and Ferns. I feel that the current company not only deprives the customer [in many ways, it cannot be fully explained in this article], but also illegally deprives me of my salary, because I did not correctly fill in the daily paperwork, thus depriving me [employee] of the interests.
For me, the last straw was the company's charge to the 84-year-old woman, Kay O&Brien, because a plumber who didn't know the oil stove made a few calls. When I was finally dispatched to solve the initial problem and other problems he managed to create with the help of ignorance and ignorance, I suggested that she call the general office and explain [complain]. The homeowner’s daughter [company bookkeeper] told her to “pay the bill, otherwise we will bring you to court!” This incredible, heinous lack of gratitude makes me feel as uneasy as Kay. And profoundly affected my attitude, which is different from what I felt when working for any previous company. I quit the opportunity to attend company meetings and events, and I was finally fired. The boss said that I was "not a teamworker", I agree, at least not in his team, which made me embark on the loneliness of self-employment…
After five years of hard work, I realized that during that period of pure anxiety, I could make more money for the employer of the new school. My income only barely looked at the poverty line. I couldn't see the other side. I stared at the Jones family. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't take courage. Soon, my wife left me to find a lawyer. [Whether it’s the rich or the poor, what happened? I think she chose the rich.] I didn’t succumb to work for Man, but chose to risk my luck as an inventor [see my article Lessons from the development of inventions]. "] By the way, just like jumping out of the plane without first checking that the slide on your back is not really a backpack full of bricks.
Just before the fall like "The Old Man on the Hill", a company wanted to sell me a fixed-price franchise and put some trucks in the sales booth with the highest amount of advertising mentioned above. I rejected their invitation because their business model and methods look like Voodoo. Bankruptcy seems to be a more attractive option. A local plumbing company owner did buy the franchise, and soon he concentrated all his energy on the service, and his excessive drinking showed that his behind-the-scenes pressure clearly forced him to decide to change his business model. The franchisee's Holy Grail sold him. Since the past, he has had many service vehicles that have never had an inventory level. He has a huge color ad in the phone book, and the monthly fee must be more than $1,000. [I paid $250 for a black and white quarter-page ad.] He has a bold red number 800. The slogan is that I know he is not smart enough to dream alone. The ad with a credit card logo on the bottom convinced me that he had used a flat fee. I visualized him with a voodoo doll similar to his customer, squeezing them until their wallet spilled out of their pockets, and the cash that flowed away from them let him grab it – in the "flat rate" pricing book Instructions for printing on a secret page. I am skeptical about his morality, because it seems that he has bought something that implies profit over quality, fairness and full disclosure. I thought, "If it screams like a duck…"
I considered the approach behind the new buzzword "Unified Rates." As a creative thinker and problem solver, I think this approach is clever and juxtaposed with the old-fashioned income-generating approach. From my humble point of view, I have studied the core issues in trade, but I also lack a sense of accomplishment related to self-employment. The competition is fierce and there seems to be no way to raise prices without losing bids, customers and sales. I feel that I am on the cliff of failure, and that the sanctified Taoist who is doing honest work at a fair price seems to be out of date. Moreover, there seems to be no way to cover the costs of employees and the necessary benefits they usually require. I suppressed my malicious tone with the idea of reservation, so that when the respondent said a request such as "vacation," he would not notice. "Insurance"; "holidays", like the lava from the volcano, made me patiently anxious about cinder. Out of a certain embarrassment, he did not know, nor would it reveal that I did not have these favors. Once upon a time, I really liked everything he asked for at the family fuel company. Still, it seems ironic to provide others with what I lack by not working for Men.
A mature company with 15 technicians can generate enough revenue through the “time and materials” model, but I began to see that the prospects of my interviewed staff required a complete compensation plan, and I would never be affordable. The company pays them. As the customer questioned, "What, you charge $35 an hour? I can get this service for $25 an hour!" What I fear and hate most is the pressure to suppress more charging impulses, but this pressure has always existed. The biggest problem that needs to be solved in the transaction is that consumers believe that regardless of the hourly rate, someone should always seek a "competitive" offer. It sounds like a free market competition. By not charging for hours, but only for "materials", although the price is high, masking the true cost of the parts, the "flat rate" model seems to provide solutions to these problems I have experienced. I will explain.
Way of working
When you call a fixed fee company, it is usually because you are eager to resolve the problem of not heating, not hot water, or worse, to solve the problem of “no water”. Typical “flat rate” customers tend to use “yellow pages”, which are as attractive as steel and dial the number in the most compelling and engaging advertisements. The company behind the ad will anticipate their arrival. In a sense, like Maytag Man, he is sitting on the other end of the phone line waiting for unguarded and desperate voices. The troublesome voice is a common voice, the fixed-cost company's pre-packaged mantra is "Dear, please call ________." [In the blank space, fill in the name of the flat rate company.]; "All system repairs and "Maintenance"; "You will receive firm, prior estimates and fair, competitive prices"; "Better quality assurance"; "90 days without payment, no interest financing"; "Finally, one is always on time Military, otherwise you don't pay a dime"; "Never overtime pay"; "Before we start, you know the price"; "Clean, professional technicians"; "Instant response"; "Our price is based on established standards " _______ solved thousands of residential problems a year, and we can solve your problems now" – just like the Sabbath, it can alleviate the anxiety of callers. These lines allow you to quickly hook up when you need it most. Hey, if you get an experienced, clean, clean and professional plumber, he can let you approve the price before you work, and he smells very sweet [yes, there is an advertisement, it smells very sweet, plumber] You can slap in the face. Repair plastic, who will not call me? Indeed, fat graders are usually present in a short period of time, storing parts in a warehouse on wheels to solve your problem, and you will approve the price before they start working. However, their formulas and the intentions of some people are not just about attracting attention.
Many fixed-fee companies will tell you by phone when you call [not in an ad] that if you don't "approve the price" to resolve a diagnosed problem on arrival, you will be charged a travel fee [leverage]. By then, you've already found a technician in the jungle who can stand up for advertising. If they assure you that they can resolve your issue quickly, if you disagree with their price, you agree to pay for travel. Soon, the technician arrived, he told you in time that your problem is this, the cost of fixing it is… well, on page 7 of his fixed fee pricing book. Prices seem to be a lot, but you can't tell if the price is too high – it doesn't like to compare brand names with generics side by side on supermarket shelves. In addition, you are eager to let the children go to school, go to work, everyone needs to brush their teeth first. You have to drink water now! So, you dial out the Visa card, then he swipes in front of you and then stays in the basement for a while. After the repair is completed, the plumber who smells very good will go upstairs and say something good. When he actively walks out of the house, he takes away his disposable stolen goods, hoping that you will notice that he has not soiled the floor. It may be that you remember the most profound things he did when he visited.
On the way to the next service call, the technician whistled happily, knowing that he only earned $75,000 in commission [encouraging the sale of as many parts as possible] with a total income of $75,000. Some of them earn more than 100 a year!
[As the salesman of the company I worked for the last time, in 2002, I earned a 2% net profit commission, which was decided by the company owner, although I don’t know his calculations. After I resigned for a year, They refused to pay my commission check.]
So how do they reach high prices? Assume that the well pump pressure switch at the root of the water problem caused Flat Rater to lose $12, but you paid $379.25 [this is the fee you approved before you worked]. $ 379.25-$ 12 [conversion cost] = $367.25, which is the company's markup. If you hire a person with time and resources, for example, your home is $85 per hour, and the average price of the $24 switch per hour on the road, you will pay $194. Now, subtract $24 from the flat rate price of $379.25 and then deduct the labor costs you have paid from $355.25. But wait, there are more. Divide their labor by two [hours], and their equivalent hourly wage is $178 per hour – more than twice the time and material guys! You think, "How is this possible? He only stayed here for 45 minutes?" Then blot it, remember his booty and clean floor, and rationalize your concerns, especially the new balance of the credit card, you can do it anyway. Make the minimum payment. But don't forget to consider interest, raising the total cost of maintenance for a flat rate company to a new level that is not at the old school model. What is the pay cut for fixed rate technicians? 7%X $379.25 = $26.55, but this does not include his salary or high hourly pay.
These are of course the average, but you understand.
Some affordable homeowners set the price to a very high level, earning up to $400 an hour and then pleading guilty among the vendor's peer traders. I actually heard their voice on the counter.
It all depends on their marketing, coupled with an urgent consumer emergency, otherwise the entire business model will not be maintained. Consumers pay a premium for a company's way to let you know that he can find a technician there and equip the necessary parts within an hour. But this does not mean that a fully qualified technician will appear at your doorstep. Anyone can replace parts. In addition, the more parts they sell to you, the more premiums you pay… until he finally solves your problem. This is almost always the net income of the company, but it is a loss for the consumer. If an unqualified technician sells 3 or more parts to you, depending on the real problem and how long it takes to replace the part before finding the right part, the equivalent hourly rate will quickly rise to the above hourly rate. A range of $400. The mathematics is 101.
One of these companies is currently investigating densely populated communities with the support of large population advertisements, with a view to adding new customers, as many are one-off because of their last unnecessary economic baptism. When it comes to being brought to the cleaners, what is the price of the $950 Zoeller plastic sewage pump? Perhaps the $1,900 40-gallon electric water heater sounds appealing? I don't think so! Next time you get there, check out the price of Home Depot. Flat rate pricing seems to free consumers from information they should not see. They don't know what will hurt them?
These companies are more often franchise companies and appear throughout the country from California to New Hampshire. However, a local company [although I suspect that they are selling franchises is only a matter of time], there are 35 fully stocked trucks on the road in New Hampshire! Of course, there must be as many deaths as possible on the road.
Two schools collided
At this price, fixed-rate companies can pay employees' salaries better than non-fixed-rate competitors, attracting the workforce of old-school employees like me. However, talented, skilled and morally determined people tend to work for themselves. The dilemma is everywhere. I asked, if the money I paid them was only $40,000 a year, and the income was meager, why would anyone work for me? The fixed rate method answers this question because it solves the problem of how to make self-employed traders profitable, so they can also get the same benefits as employees.
The “new school” and “unified rates” have convinced me that trade has been going on for some time, and that it will never return to the days when I started as a fuel company technician for fuel companies. The burner itself as well as the previous coal burning system. Still, when the winds of change are changing, I still choose to work according to my very fortunate traditional ethics. I have given up on the idea that I will hire a lot of people and get a profit from it. Now, when I need a second hand to complete a job that requires multiple jobs, I work alone and hire another self-employed person instead of using a flat rate and using the customer. I do believe in business ethics [some people are laughing at my innocence]. Maybe I will never give up the old-style method, because I still have no patience for the sub-quality work done by the bottom of the bucket and some of the flat rate companies. Call it self, or call it nostalgia, I call it freedom, and I am free to choose to be satisfied with the work I do today without having to deceive anyone.
At present, once I only charge for working hours, I charge the total time for my customers, including two-way travel time. In addition, I charge for the diesel that arrives there. After all, the time and money to go to the customer's website is not my benefit; solve their HVAC problems – my main business.
I know every task I need to complete any HVAC job, and the order in which it is performed. With 28 years of work experience, I feel different from many regular graders, who usually have only a few. Indeed, many parts changers are dressed in neat uniforms, dressed in neat uniforms, behind the wheels of turbulent billboards/warehouses, carrying about 25 large inventories… and pricing books for uniform prices.
Although I have a lot of complaints about this, I think that innovators of fixed rates are very creative and insightful in developing solutions to industry vulnerabilities. However, I feel that their approach is full of opportunities for deception and fraud. Not all bad, but take the following example as an example:
My client Cheri Whittaker's experience at a flat rate company is a good example. After seeing my 1⁄4 page black and white ad [$450 a month] in the Portsmouth phone book, Cheri called me a “free estimate” to replace her boiler at the Exeter home. As a savvy and knowledgeable salesman, I know enough about a lot of information before I agree to provide a free evaluation, which is what every person calling the ad in the phone book expects. If you make an estimate carefully and accurately, it will take a lot of time. Cheri's answer to my question – who is [fixed price] company condemned her old boiler two weeks ago – made me suspect that she just needed an honest and experienced technician to diagnose the problem correctly. I think I am her man and agree to provide an estimate.
After arriving at her basement, I noticed that the airlock on the fuel burner had been deliberately shut down, causing the fire to burn very dirty. The chimney emits black smoke and the boiler is blocked by soot. Soon, it will cause damage to the fuel burner. Cheri showed me the invoices and advice that the technician carried with me. The invoice lists a number of reasons for condemning the boiler – each false statement is intended to force Cheri to purchase a new boiler from the "comfort consultant" they plan to issue for estimation. If she does not accept their diagnosis and prescription, the technician will receive a commission of $700 that week. Imagine that he does this more than once a week, and you can see how easily he will get an annual salary of $100,000.
The boiler and burner were last repaired for more than a year before the Uni-Fin Company visit, so I knew that the company's technicians deliberately destroyed the boiler. Otherwise, the oil-deficient oil burner will cause it to malfunction within a few weeks and is close to this. To some extent, the technician's description on the invoice is correct: "The boiler is about to fail."
Cheri and her husband asked me to confront the Flat Rate Company in front of them, so I don't agree with this. Soon, the technician and his service manager arrived at their home and we met in the basement. Within 15 minutes, I proved that the company’s claim on the invoice was false and did nothing wrong. The Whitakers were not impressed with the answers and the expressions inside, and drove them out of the house and told them they would never come back. I started cleaning up the very dirty boiler and restored it to a good, safe working state for a few hundred dollars – a far cry from the $10,000 required to replace the boiler.
Cliché abounds in these situations, such as warning the buyer – "the buyer is careful." And, "If it looks so unbelievable, it might be." Consider all the claims, promises and guarantees in the phone book advertisement, then review the fees they charge you. Is the price high? Have you ever charged you such a telephone service fee in the past? What about the so-called travel expenses? Did you choose this fee but disapprove of its flat rate? Is the technician correcting the problem correctly for the first time, or is it necessary to call him back? Heads such as disposable scorpions, and secret slogans – "You agree to the price" – are designed to deceive laymen from paying attention to repair prices. These companies are smart and can get rich without doing a lot of high-quality work, but they do sell a lot of parts, which I think can promote economic development.
My mother and her husband were only taken over by a fixed-price company in California, paying twice the price for obsolete obsolete air-conditioning equipment, because the refrigerant destroyed the ozone layer and the equipment was eliminated. I hope that I can rescue them from the Werewolf's clothing comfort consultants, who sell them to them with the idea of replacing their running furnaces and condensing units, and then the company puts their disposable items at home. I don't blame the person who was bitten. I think the snake charmer is responsible for letting the snake bite.
But, hey, at least the owner of this one-hour fixed rate company is not satisfied with the work of The Man – what we have in common is