Hastie Group won’t be the last to go under

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This week in the news, we heard Hastie Group went into administration causing their 2000 plus employees to become unemployed. Fortunately the Master Plumbers Union was able to find employment for most of their plumbers that were left without a job. My heart goes out to the managers of Hastie Group and their employees.  Unfortunately this won’t be the first or last engineering firm to go belly-up due to the uncertainty surrounding the global economy.

I have admitted on my blog that of late, work has been quiet. This week I have a lot of jobs on and it’s been such a blessing after a few hard weeks of little work.

One of my growing concerns in the trade is the difference in pricing from other plumbers competing in our field. I have found the pricing to be different in the commercial and residential fields.

To give an example, we recently gave a quote for approximately $20,000 for some plumbing works and to get Brisbane City Council Certification.

The client decided to go with the lowest price of $6000! We re-looked over our quote to see if we had doubled up (which we hadn’t!) and realized, the fixtures alone cost more than what this plumber had priced.

It’s these situations that make me scratch my head and nod my head in understanding why so many plumbers are falling victim to going bankrupt.

Knowing how to estimate properly and quote competitively is a skill that all plumbers need to know. My dad has a great saying “I can go broke at home”.

We know when to walk away from a price that is ridiculously low. What’s the point of doing a job if you haven’t allowed enough money to cover your own wages to do the job? You are basically doing the job for free. So many plumbers just don’t get it, sadly.

As a consumer what can you do when you are looking to get plumbing work done?

1.If it’s a fairly big job like a bathroom renovation get a minimum of three quotes. Don’t go for the cheapest! Go for the middle of the range price.

2.Ask friends and family for a trustworthy plumber. Their price shouldn’t come into the equation if you want a good job to be done. Nearly all my work comes from word-of-mouth.

3.For small maintenance jobs, correct pricing for a plumber is *$70-$90 call out fee and approximately *$60-$150 per hour or part there of. Why is there such a big difference in pricing? It all depends on what their call out fee is; if the call out fee is lower, their labour rate will be higher and vice versa. Anything cheaper than this rate CONSUMERS BEWARE. Anything higher than this rate ask questions – unless it’s out of hours OR for a specific use of machinery to fulfill a service – like finding a water leak or using a jet-rodder machine to unblock drains.

1 in 10 elderly people go without using a plumber because they can’t afford the cost. If you have plumbing problems and your budget is tight, be open to the plumber. Get their advice on what needs to be done to fix the problem. Ask if you can pay monthly to get the work done or if they offer a seniors discount.

The worst they can say is no. If the work is to be paid monthly, plumbers need to get it in writing and get you as the client to sign to agree to the payment terms.

Consumers can also fall victim to plumbers that go bankrupt – especially if they are in the middle of an unfinished project. All I can say is go for a reputable plumber. The Master Plumbers Association in each state has a list of reputable plumbers in your suburb. If you get your plumber from this list, you should hopefully have no issues.

*Plumbing rates as stated above are what are current in the workplace and are only for small maintenance jobs only.