Customers have every right to do their research before hiring a plumber for their next project, and why not? It is their hard-earned money that is leaving their pockets after all.
So, Plumbers hear questions like: Are you PIRB licensed? Is your company registered with IOPSA? Qualified? insured? Can you charge less for this? Do you quote free? Please clean up before leaving. The list goes on and on.
Unfortunately for plumbers in South Africa, checking a consumer’s reliability is not so simple. Most of the time plumbers rely on their gut feeling and hope that the consumer won’t be too difficult or pay late.
So how can plumbers avoid difficult customers early on so that they don’t end up pulling out their hair doing the job or grinding their teeth as they chase after money owed once the job is complete?
We have put together a few tips to help plumbers avoid these situations.
1. Charge a call out fee
This is probably the best way to check if the customer calling for a quote respects your time or not. Quoting is a lengthy process. It takes time and money to travel all the way, inspect the job and settle over a quote. It’s only fair for a plumber to charge a call out fee. If a customer is not willing to pay a call out fee then they may not be serious about having the work done. For help calculating your call out fee, download the App Plumbers specifically designed to assist plumbers in calculating an accurate and fair call out fee. Download the app here.
2. Listen closely to what they say about the previous plumbers
Of course if the work is not to standard and is incorrectly installed, consumers have every right to complain, but if someone is bad-mouthing the previous plumber and is speaking ill of them for no apparent reason, they will probably try to find faults in your work too.
3. Watch out for late payers
If your customer is too eager to get a discount or keeps on trying to negotiate a lower rate, this should ring a warning bell. You may need to insist on a deposit prior to commencing the job. You don’t want to get caught with someone who values price over quality and hard work. If you have done work for a client before and you had to wait for payment, the odds are good that they will do it to you again. Sometimes it is good to lose a customer who pays poorly.
4. Follow your intuition
When you have been in the industry long enough, you develop a sixth sense. While trusting your gut feeling can be risky, it can be very necessary. Most of the time, a first meeting is all you will need to decide to work for the customer or not. The trick is to be very observant.
Start with a checklist for yourself: Do they have a clear idea of what they need to get done? Are they realistic enough to know what timeframes are unrealistic? Are they complaining that the cost is too much? Watch out for those looking for continuous discounts.
5. Ask them for their budget and time frame
Your time is precious so use it wisely. Instead of spending an hour discussing high end finishes and extensive renovation plans only to later find out that their budget is for a basic installation, ask them about their budget first.
Most of the time, the discussion will end there.
6. Do some reference calling
Customers have the advantage of looking at their Plumbers licenses, certificates, work experience and so on, but Plumbers can do the same! Ask customers about the plumbers they have worked with before and call them to do a reference check, more than a few bad testimonials should be enough to ring an alarm.
7. Have everything written and signed
From the initial quotation where it is best to be as detailed as possible. Document when and how they are going to pay for the work done, who buys the material and how will the costing of extra work will be charged, get them to agree to all the terms in writing and have it signed by them before the work starts. If they disagree or try and negotiate too much, they will probably continue to do so throughout the job.
8. Ask them what aspect of work are they most focused on?
If a customer doesn’t have realistic expectations, giving them charge of the project can prove to be a disaster.
Let them tell you what they want but set the agenda yourself and walk them through the project scope, completion timeline, variations, materials and payment process. Ask them what matters the most to them. Quality, time or cost and you will be able to make an educated decision on the project going forward.
9. How many quotes have they requested already from other plumbers?
If the customer has approached multiple other plumbers before getting a quote from you too, it can possibly show their priority is the price and not the quality of the job.
10. Look for the right attitude
If a customer has called for a job, the plumber is under the impression that they want to get the job done. Respect for a plumber’s time is the number one rule for business. Are they calling for an emergency job that should have been done a long time ago? This may indicate a concern when it is time to pay for the job. Are they trying to suggest what the job should cost? They may understand the value of your skills.
If you are new in the industry and have just started running your own business, you might bump into the wrong customers more often than you would like.
But not all small businesses have the luxury to say no just because your gut tells you to. If time is on your side, be accommodating and patient. Take a few minutes to chat and laugh with them to see things from their eyes. But do your homework, before saying yes to your next job.
On the 6th of November 2018, IOPSA's operations manager Steve Brown went to Just Domestic T/A Domestic Industries to offer some on site training and assistance on SANS 10254 and the logging of CoC's on the PIRB system.
This is what they had to say about their experience:
"Dear Mr Steve Brown
RE: Thank you
Team Domestic place on record our sincere appreciation and gratitude to you and IOPSA, for offering your valued service by empowering our team with the inter-active meeting session held this morning at the Domestic office.
This was not only beneficial to the field team, but also to our administration team as well, as it assisted us to further understand the certificate of compliance logging and certificate of compliance installation.
We pledge, as always, to work with you and deliver to our client’s optimum quality installations and service and to further our relationship with clients and IOPSA as ambassadors in the plumbing industry.
Once again, we thank you for sharing your knowledge and look forward to more similar learning sessions.
Mr I. Govender"
The survey was open to anyone to complete but the main communication channels were through IOPSA and PIRB.
CPD points were made available for all PIRB registered respondents. More than 85% of the responses received were from PIRB registered plumbers and 35.9% of the respondents were from IOPSA members.
Therefore the results could be seen as representing the views of the Formal Plumbing Sector. Other efforts are underway to gather input from the informal sector, but this is proving to be very challenging.
The survey will be conducted annually by IOPSA in an effort to gain meaningful data and trends. As this is the first such survey there is no comparative data but in future there will be. The survey will be conducted in August each year.
For more information please contact the IOPSA national office on 011 454 0025 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Institute of Plumbing SA (IOPSA) is proud to announce the appointment of Steve van Zyl who will take over as the National Technical Manager, a role which has proven to be a crucial and much needed role within the industry.
Steve started his career in 1992 as a filing clerk for SA Eagle. He then went into the insurance industry in 1993 and worked his way up the corporate ladder and only left in 2012 to become a qualified plumber and follow his passion. Steve is currently a licenced plumber with the PIRB, a qualified electrician as well as a licenced residential gas installer.
Steve joins the IOPSA family with a wealth of plumbing and industry knowledge as well as a passion for the trade.
“I want to make a better tomorrow within our industry and not just uplift standards but uplift those in our trade” says Steve while speaking about his vision going forward.
Last but not least, IOPSA would like to extend a very special thank you to Steve Brown for enthusiastically stepping in to carry the technical load for IOPSA.
We ask for your continued support and enthusiasm as Steve transitions into his new role. Please join us in officially welcoming Steve to the IOPSA family.
Many plumbers may find it difficult to understand the standards, and some may even believe that the standards and the required CPD point system are out to make our lives difficult but, The Institute of Plumbing SA (IOPSA) have put together a list of 9 ways to earn 29 CPD points for FREE!
For more ways to earn CPD contact the IOPSA National office on 011 454 0025 or email us on email@example.com
IOPSA KZN Committee traveled to our always welcoming sponsor On-Tap in Pietermaritzburg for a Plumbers evening. The attendance was superb once again with a large number of plumbers, hungry for knowledge.
The meeting went very well, a big turn out with a lot of enthusiastic members and non members in terms of their questions and willingness to participate in the conversations positively towards the current COC process. - Gareth Jeary IOPSA KZN Chairman.
A huge Thank-You to John Becker of On-Tap for his sterling efforts as well as Team Rifeng's Glenn Fischer on their presentation and generous Sponsorship.
The Institute of Plumbing South Africa, in collaboration with PCD College, have made available eight full plumbing learnership/apprenticeship bursaries to deserving candidates wanting to obtain their plumbing qualifications.
To find out more information please follow the below link to download the official letter.
Bursaries letter link 2018 - Click here
The IOPSA KZN Committee were delighted to kick off their first Bosses Breakfast at the Builders Warehouse Riverhorse Valley, on board the Grohe Tour Truck on the 29th of March 2018.
The event was a celebration of those IOPSA Member Companies in KZN that attend meetings regularly and provide input and insight within the Region. Special thanks is extended to Patrick Gordon of Cobra (Lixil) as well as his support team on board the elegant Grohe Truck.
A further thanks to Gail Whitear for the insightful Motivational talk – albeit with a mischievous crowd, she provided our guests with the tools to develop and grow even further.
The KZN Region is privileged to have Steve Brown as a mentor, and are thankful for his presentation highlighting the benefits of IOPSA and creating awareness of the multitude of projects that IOPSA have on the go. IOPSA KZN wish to commend those that travelled from far; Ballito 50km, Pietermaritzburg 80km and Port Shepstone 132km. Another successful event within a dynamic expanding Region.
It goes without saying; use a Professional Plumber to ensure that you are protected from bad workmanship not only for Material damage, but you are protected from death and serious injury. Below are some images of a T&P (Safety) Valve that was blocked off in 2010 in the KZN Region. The results disastrous to say the least.
The Mythbuster's show us in great detail what actually happens when the safety devices are not utilized on a Hot water cylinder (Geyser). In this snippet you shall see the 200lt Geyser Cylinder turn into a Water Rocket and shoot 152m into the sky - then return to earth. Imagine this shockwave of 100g's going off in your home. One cannot express enough the Importance of COMPLIANCE. Take a look: https://youtu.be/rGWmONHipVo
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