Pressed for Time: How Plumbing Press Tools Can Help Profit Margins

Anything that can boost speed and efficiency on the job is beneficial for profitability, especially when other factors might threaten to cut into those margins

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You’re always looking for ways to do a job faster without compromising quality.

Completing jobs in the estimated time (or faster) allows a company to take on more work and earn more revenue while keeping clients happy. Conversely, taking longer than expected results in fewer jobs completed, less revenue and unhappy clients. 

And the margin of profitability is slim. Consider this estimate for a simple residential water heater replacement:

Installation billable hours

1.5

Hourly break-even rate

$300

Labor + 35% net profit margin (NPM)

$692

Materials

$575

Materials + 35% NPM

$885

Total Flat Rate Price (FRP)

$1,577

But what if the installation takes two hours instead of 1.5 hours? That’s only an additional 30 minutes, but it eliminates nearly two-thirds — $150 — of the original net profit on the labor.

This need for speed is one of the reasons pressing is replacing soldering and welding as the preferred way to join pipe for many plumbers. Pressing delivers a 30 to 90 percent time savings for 1/2-inch to 4-inch connections, depending on the material. Connections can be made in as quickly as seven seconds or less.

Pressing saves time in other ways as well. It connects when wet so there’s no need to drain the system. Since no flame is required, setup is minimal and free of worries about fumes and venting. The need for burn permits and fire watches is eliminated. Less equipment also means less time transporting it to and from the work site.     

Not only does press technology save time (and money) on the job; the most significant savings may be upfront. The technology is simple. Position the tool and press a button — it’s really not much more complicated than that. Teaching a tech to solder or weld requires far more training and investment on the part of the company. With less training required for pressing, techs can get into the field sooner and start completing jobs. All of which saves a company money. And without the need to hire or train certified welders it’s easier for a contractor to recruit and deploy workers, an important edge when hiring in the trades nowadays.

Pressing is not only faster than soldering and welding, it’s also more reliable. For example, at Viega our press systems remove the variables found in traditional methods of pipe joining and stabilize the labor required to install. For even greater confidence, Viega’s Smart Connect technology easily identifies un-pressed connections during pressure testing.   

Here’s another example of how pressing can improve profits — adding a gas line for a new cooktop:

Billable hours to route 20 feet through crawlspace to range

3

Hourly break-even rate

$300

Labor + 35% NPM

$1,384

Materials

$60

Materials + 35% NPM

$93

Total FRP

$1,477

What if the installation takes two hours longer than estimated because the crawlspace is full of junk? That’s a labor loss on the job and $923 of total revenue left on the table. Pressing pipe can’t unclutter a crawl space, but it is a smart way to keep time on your side.

About the Author

Bo DeAngelo is manager of technical training at Viega LLC.  



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