Why Free Estimates Aren’t Really Free

Why Free Estimates Aren’t Really Free

Any successful business person will agree with the age-old saying, “Time is money.” This saying is especially important when talking about “free” estimates in the service/repair industry. To a consumer, a free estimate for plumbing repair sounds like a “no-brainer” — the repair guy comes to your house, checks your pipes, states a price, and the only thing left for you to do is say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

But these free estimates are simply a lure for higher prices, and secretly cost consumers more money in the long run. Plumbers lose money on free estimates by spending time, travel, and labor. These costs are passed on to paying customers in the form of “worst-case scenario” estimates and therefore higher contract prices. In short, free estimate plumbers must charge more money per job in order to recoup their costs, and this “free” estimate is now costing you money.

When a plumber gives a customer a flat-rate price, a plumbing repair which may take 1 to 3 hours may be estimated at 5 to 6 hours to cover a worst-case scenario. Unlike car mechanics (from whom flat-rate pricing is derived), in service/repair plumbing, the customer is always present during the repair. This often makes the customer feel they are paying too much because they see that a job quoted at 5 to 6 hours only took a couple of hours to finish.

Accro Plumbing does not give free estimates on routine service and repairs, because these small jobs usually only take between 1 and 3 hours, so what you see is actually what you pay for. However, we will gladly give “no cost to you” estimates on remodels, where the estimate is a smaller percentage of the work to be done.

For routine service, repairs and installations, we can give you an estimate by discussing your situation over the phone. This may help you decide if our time is worth your money. As a master plumber, I am often surprised by customer expecations of plumbing repair. Real life is not like those remodeling shows on TV, which are sponsored by “big box stores.” Of course those shows make things look easy, otherwise you wouldn’t buy their products and attempt to do things yourself.

Professional plumbers do not normally shop at big box stores, so homeowners are our best customers. Plumbers purchase trusted brand parts from reputable supply houses. Better parts, better fitting, and better materials equals professional results, fewer call-backs, and happy customers!