Do You Know How To Price a Job?

Customers will cringe at your price. That’s their problem, not yours. Move on and learn how to price jobs appropriately to make a profit.
Do You Know How To Price a Job?
Offer customers understanding, education, professionalism and support. And take their money.

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You want to make more money. Good for you. And it’s good business. Here’s the problem. A customer balks at your prices. Nobody wants to spend money on plumbing and septic problems. As consumers, we would rather buy anything else! And, if you’re not sure how much to charge, you can be tempted to lower your price. If you do know, then you can confidently walk away from a sale if it’s going to cost you to make that sale. 

I’ll let you in on a great secret I learned about making money in this business: 

You’ve got to charge more than it costs.

Do you run accurate financial reports every week? Great. Then you know your costs and you know if you are making money. Or, are you just hoping there is enough in the checking account to cover this week’s bills? 

Maybe you know you should keep better track of the money, but you keep putting it off because you… 

  • Are too busy?

  • Are afraid?

  • Never learned basic accounting and finance?

I graduated at the top of my class with a degree in business administration and still didn’t know how to balance a checkbook. Then, I jumped into the family plumbing company and nearly sent it down the drain. I was busy, scared and embarrassed, but I finally found a mentor who taught me financial basics. I learned to crunch the numbers and it has made a world of difference. 

It’s time to clean up the mess you’ve made of your accounting program. As the owner, it is your responsibility to know how much money is coming in and how much is going out. Remember, it’s your money. 

First, get your financial reports up to date. Then, crunch the numbers. Put a simple budget together. Add up your costs of doing business and then come up with a top line sales goal that covers your costs and leaves you with a profit. Use a pencil and a columnar pad, or a simple online budgeting program. 

You won’t have a clue as to how much you need to charge if you’re just guessing at your costs. Don’t be tempted to match your competitors’ prices. Hint: They probably haven’t crunched the numbers either. 

If you are priced properly, you’ll probably be the high-priced provider in your area. You’ll be in good company. Notice how most market leaders are positioned when it comes to pricing — Starbucks, Band-Aids, Charmin. These winning businesses leverage the value of their products and services and skip selling on price. 

If you’re selling at the right price, here’s something you’ll discover: Sometimes your customers will balk. People whine about price because they don’t see the value in what you do and the services you provide. Or sometimes they are just frustrated because, well, it’s a plumbing problem, and they don’t really love spending money on these things. Out of sight, out of mind. 

Beyond sitting customers down and explaining the A-to-Z specifics of plumbing design and installation, which would completely overwhelm them, you can offer understanding, education, professionalism and support. And take their money. 

About the Author

Ellen Rohr is the president of Zoom Drain and Sewer LLC, and is a columnist for Huffington Post, PHC News, and a contributor to many business journals and trade magazines.

Contact her at


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