Why I’m raising our plumbing service prices

For the past three years I’ve done everything I can to keep my plumbing and heating service price increases to an absolute minimum. The ten years previous to that saw virtually no increases at all.

In the pursuit of maintaining this, I’ve looked at cost efficiencies, cheaper suppliers, reduced marketing costs – pretty much anything I could do to stave off a major price increase.

But there comes a time when, enough-is-enough, and you have to accept that there is no longer an alternative. I can assure you it really is the last thing I want to do.

So here is a detailed explanation as to why the prices have gone up more considerably in recent months and, more importantly, why companies like mine, still provide amazing value for money, even if we are slightly more expensive than some of our larger competitors.

 

Nobody wants to make annual increases
In an ideal world, a company such as mine would simply increase prices annually, in line with inflation, and that would be fair all-round. Increases would typically be minimal.

However, no company with a good customer-centric ethos, wants to do this.
Understandably, many customers (especially regular ones) would see this as being too frequent, perceiving the raise to be greedy.

It creates a situation where you have to absorb the extra costs this end, and consistently take a hit on margins, just to stay competitive and hireable. If you put your prices up, and your competitor down the road doesn’t, you’re in trouble.

At some stage, all service providers have to raise their prices to a level that will enable them to make profit and remain in business. If they don’t, they die.

 

Finding good staff has almost crippled me
One of the biggest unexpected rises in expenditure I have faced is staff hiring costs.
My god; you have no idea.

I have always prided myself on being able to provide and maintain a team of such professional, dedicated, and experienced technicians. They are amazing. But none of it happened by accident.

I say ‘unexpected’ because over the last five years or so, the standard of candidates has gone down drastically. I won’t go into detail. But, suffice to say, having to spend vast sums on agency fees and jobs sites, only for an employee to leave within weeks, is a huge financial blow.

Sadly, this problem has only become worse, and it means the best talent is in demand, and can (rightly) command higher salaries. I pay my team well, and give them as many perks and benefits as I possibly can. Thankfully, most of them have been with me for many years.

 

Larger companies make their money in other ways
So, many of the larger competitors (I won’t mention any names) do manage to keep their prices on the more competitive side. However, they employ sales trainers and deploy tactics such as ‘upselling’

Where a member of my team would never even consider suggesting a service or upgrade that wasn’t needed, a larger company considers that an essential part of their business model.

Their technicians are trained, incentivised, and paid to get as much out of a customer as they possibly can. All wrapped up with a smile and a sense of urgency.

They also, typically, apply much higher margins on boiler hardware, making it hugely more expensive for the customer.

The bottom line: I detest this kind of business practice.

 

Why smaller is better
We are so much more personable. We apply smaller, more realistic margins to outside goods.
We look for ways to actively save you money, always putting your purse or wallet first.

It’s a culture thing. Myself and the team are just of a calibre that we know how we would wanted be treated as customers ourselves. Why wouldn’t we treat others like that?

We are also happy to give advice for free. Naturally, there are limits, but always contact with any questions, no matter how silly you think they might be.

 

I want to stay in business
If I don’t put up my prices to a point that enables me to comfortably afford my costs, and even make a small profit at the end of it, I might as well pack up shop.

I’d be better off just being a self-employed plumber. But that has never been what I wanted to do. I wanted to build a good company, create a first-class team, and give my customers the best plumbing service in the UK.

Thanks for reading. I hope you understand.

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