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Old 07-06-2019, 02:18 PM   #1
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Default Service fee to show up/troubleshoot

Do you charge something for a basic service call- to look into an issue? What does your service call cover?

I'm constantly harassing my boss to bill a fixed service call since he spends so much gas and time showing up to poke around and feels awkward charging when we technically "did nothing".

I still get paid for the time, but it seems ridiculous how much troubleshooting, explaining, and driving goes in for no cost. Most of these are also things he will exclaim "oh, god. I dont want to deal with this person/house right now." Maybe he wouldn't get so many calls to stop by and change lightbulbs/flip breakers if he charged something for it and stated that up front.

Most of this bugs me because I'm the same way when dealing with billing, money, and business. That's why I work for someone else! I want him to succeed and get compensated for all of the time and expertise he put into this.



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Old 07-06-2019, 02:23 PM   #2
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If I get out a tool belt or tester they pay for the service call. Even if it is just for 10 minutes. I will offer that they are paying for for an hour; is there anything else they want me to look at while I am here?

If I am just resetting a GFCI (or something similar) and especially if they are a senior or a returning client I will not charge the call.

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Old 07-06-2019, 02:29 PM   #3
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As soon as the tools or tester come out it's billable time, talk is free.
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Old 07-06-2019, 02:31 PM   #4
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If I get out a tool belt or tester they pay for the service call. Even if it is just for 10 minutes. I will offer that they are paying for for an hour; is there anything else they want me to look at while I am here?


That's kind of what I've been wondering in the case that one call might be 10 min and another 30 min.

On jobs where you are charging hourly rate, does the clock start when you begin driving to their location or is there a better way to pay for that? I could see a lot of people griping about that. We don't seem to include that.


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Old 07-06-2019, 02:44 PM   #5
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We have a fairly complicated method of billing depending on the circumstances of the call and the location of the client.

Generally speaking for residential, if it is during business hours and it is not an "emergency" I will start the clock when on site. If it is "after hours", generally the clock starts when I get into my truck and start driving.

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Old 07-06-2019, 02:48 PM   #6
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If I get out a tool belt or tester they pay for the service call. Even if it is just for 10 minutes. I will offer that they are paying for for an hour; is there anything else they want me to look at while I am here?

If I am just resetting a GFCI (or something similar) and especially if they are a senior or a returning client I will not charge the call.

Cheers
John
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Old 07-06-2019, 02:55 PM   #7
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Usually charge drive time, and, 1 hr. minimum, starting when I ring the bell. If it's a quick job, I'll offer a panel inspection to fill the hour, which often turns up more work.
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Old 07-06-2019, 03:01 PM   #8
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Do you charge something for a basic service call- to look into an issue? What does your service call cover?

I'm constantly harassing my boss to bill a fixed service call since he spends so much gas and time showing up to poke around and feels awkward charging when we technically "did nothing".

I still get paid for the time, but it seems ridiculous how much troubleshooting, explaining, and driving goes in for no cost. Most of these are also things he will exclaim "oh, god. I dont want to deal with this person/house right now." Maybe he wouldn't get so many calls to stop by and change lightbulbs/flip breakers if he charged something for it and stated that up front.

Most of this bugs me because I'm the same way when dealing with billing, money, and business. That's why I work for someone else! I want him to succeed and get compensated for all of the time and expertise he put into this.
Your boss is an idiot and you should not be following his lead.

There is no way in hell that I would go do any troubleshooting without getting paid.

His idea that he doesn't like getting paid for doing nothing is stupid. He IS doing something, HIS PROFESSION. If the homeowner could do it, they would. But they can't, they need a pro to figure it out.

Think about all the white collar people out there making the big bucks using their mind, would they not charge for their time because they "did nothing"?

I will walk my customer thru basic things over the phone. Reseting breakers or GFCIs, changing bulbs, etc. Sometimes they give resistance, I explain that I want them to do that because if I come out I have to charge for a service call even if it is something simple. This way my ass is covered.

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That's kind of what I've been wondering in the case that one call might be 10 min and another 30 min.

On jobs where you are charging hourly rate, does the clock start when you begin driving to their location or is there a better way to pay for that? I could see a lot of people griping about that. We don't seem to include that.
I charge a set fee for up to an hour of troubleshooting and making small repairs. That time starts when I get to their front door. Most times I can troubleshoot it in far less than an hour. If it goes over an hour, I stop and talk to them about either doing another hour or going the opposite direction and installing a work-around.
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Old 07-06-2019, 03:15 PM   #9
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As soon as the tools or tester come out it's billable time, talk is free.
No, the minute you get dispatched is billable time. Because, at that point, the customer or potential customer has been advised of the fees and has agreed to it.
And "talk" is not free. It's un-billable time that is calculated and captured in the billable hour. Just like trips to the supply house, getting permits, arranging inspections, doing accounting and all the other non-billable time spent running a business.
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Old 07-06-2019, 08:30 PM   #10
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Veterans, or, active, deserve that same courtesy. IMHO.
We belong / sponsor a program that takes care of our currently serving and retired CAF members as well as RCMP and other members of the defence team.

https://cfappreciation.ca/everyday-discounts

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Old 07-06-2019, 10:19 PM   #11
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We don't usually charge for phone calls. We usually charge a daily rate because the service footprint is up to 3-4 hours drive from the office. As a consequence we schedule usually 1 service call per day so a "dry fire" run means we are out a whole days income. Usually we charge if we show up on schedule and for whatever reason the customer isn't ready.

The exception is sales/quote calls. We don't bill for estimates. So sometimes we convert a service to a quote call. So if for instance I drive up and it's obvious that they let the smoke out we will just do it as a quote call and get part numbers. Sometimes with repeat/good customers like if it just needed a slight change to a VFD setting or walking them through something, I just tell the office it's a sales call and we let it go. Good will goes a long way towards making future sales, particularly if it's a regular customer or not really far out of the way. We're not consistent about this but we try to be reasonable whenever possible.

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Old 07-06-2019, 10:53 PM   #12
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I'm in the "if a tool comes out, I charge" camp. I also do as was said, if a good customer or senior and all I do is reset a GFCI I won't charge.


I had a lady ask me on the phone if I gave free estimates. I explained that I did depending on what it is. If it's a new install or something major like a panel change, then the estimate is free.
She goes on to say that she wants a panel change. She said "so that's free for an estimate?" I said it was. Then she said she wanted some things fixed and wanted an estimate on that while I was there for the estimate. I forget exactly what it was but remember it would require tools and troubleshooting. I told her I would have to charge for that as there was no way to estimate unknown things.
"But you said the estimate was free and you will be here already, so why would you charge for that?"


I told her if I have to use tools then it is a service call. Next thing I heard was "CLICK"


I'm convinced she had no intention of having the panel change, she just wanted some free work!!!
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:30 AM   #13
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I'm in the "if a tool comes out, I charge" camp. I also do as was said, if a good customer or senior and all I do is reset a GFCI I won't charge.


I had a lady ask me on the phone if I gave free estimates. I explained that I did depending on what it is. If it's a new install or something major like a panel change, then the estimate is free.
She goes on to say that she wants a panel change. She said "so that's free for an estimate?" I said it was. Then she said she wanted some things fixed and wanted an estimate on that while I was there for the estimate. I forget exactly what it was but remember it would require tools and troubleshooting. I told her I would have to charge for that as there was no way to estimate unknown things.
"But you said the estimate was free and you will be here already, so why would you charge for that?"


I told her if I have to use tools then it is a service call. Next thing I heard was "CLICK"


I'm convinced she had no intention of having the panel change, she just wanted some free work!!!
I get these same calls once in a while. "Do you do free estimates? My lights don't work in 3 rooms, can you come and tell me what's wrong and how much to fix it?".

I explain it in two ways. First, I tell them that free estimates are for new work that they want done, something that they can explain to me what they want. If they don't know what they need and I have to go troubleshoot a problem, they have to pay for that time. If they keep pushing, I will just say "I am giving you the free estimate right now over the phone, it will cost you $xxx to have an electrician come in to troubleshoot your electrical issue, that is the estimate".

By then they realize that they are not going to get over on me and either back out and look for another sucker, or schedule the work.

I've had a couple in which after explaining all that, they think they're slick and said "Well I do have some work I want done, can you come to give an estimate for adding lights to blah blah?". And I told them sure, I can look at it while I am there on the service call troubleshooting your issue lol
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:41 AM   #14
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I get these same calls once in a while. "Do you do free estimates? My lights don't work in 3 rooms, can you come and tell me what's wrong and how much to fix it?".

I explain it in two ways. First, I tell them that free estimates are for new work that they want done, something that they can explain to me what they want. If they don't know what they need and I have to go troubleshoot a problem, they have to pay for that time. If they keep pushing, I will just say "I am giving you the free estimate right now over the phone, it will cost you $xxx to have an electrician come in to troubleshoot your electrical issue, that is the estimate".

By then they realize that they are not going to get over on me and either back out and look for another sucker, or schedule the work.

I've had a couple in which after explaining all that, they think they're slick and said "Well I do have some work I want done, can you come to give an estimate for adding lights to blah blah?". And I told them sure, I can look at it while I am there on the service call troubleshooting your issue lol


I don't see a service call as an estimate.

Installing a new fixture, circuit, panel, etc is a free estimate.

If you are pulling plates/devices, or any type of troubleshooting it's a service call as you are providing service.


Most companies I worked for the first half hour was $x.00 and included the trip charge. The following hour(s) normally billed at the same rate as the first half hour.

I don't believe in giving away our work (with the exception of seniors, handicapped, veterans).
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:47 AM   #15
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I don't see a service call as an estimate.

Installing a new fixture, circuit, panel, etc is a free estimate.

If you are pulling plates/devices, or any type of troubleshooting it's a service call as you are providing service.
Sometimes it's just people trying to get something for nothing.

But most people just don't understand how it works. They think that it would be free to come tell them how much to fix their issue, not realizing the amount of work that goes into diagnosing the issue. Once I explain it to them, they are fine paying for the service call.
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:50 AM   #16
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Sometimes it's just people trying to get something for nothing.

But most people just don't understand how it works. They think that it would be free to come tell them how much to fix their issue, not realizing the amount of work that goes into diagnosing the issue. Once I explain it to them, they are fine paying for the service call.
It kind of relates to auto repair, a battery is $x.xx an alternator is $x.xx if you want it diagnosed properly the fee for that is $x.xx.
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:56 AM   #17
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It kind of relates to auto repair, a battery is $x.xx an alternator is $x.xx if you want it diagnosed properly the fee for that is $x.xx.
I think auto repair is actually something that skews people on this.

Many times you can find dealers/mechanics who will diagnose the issue for free. They put that cost into the repairs.

But that is so much different than what we do. The customer drives to the dealer/mechanic. The mechanic can connect the car to their computer while working on other cars, such as letting the oil drain. All cars are the same, they don't have decades of handymen and hacks installing garbage work.

For us, we have to drive to the customer's house and 100% of our time is monopolized on them. We have to sort thru many generations of wiring throughout a large house. It's not something we can do for free and hope to make the cost up in repairs. Hell, most of the time the issue is a loose connection, what do we do then? The troubleshooting is free but it's going to cost you $179 for us to tighten this screw.
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Old 07-07-2019, 08:18 AM   #18
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I think auto repair is actually something that skews people on this.

Many times you can find dealers/mechanics who will diagnose the issue for free. They put that cost into the repairs.

But that is so much different than what we do. The customer drives to the dealer/mechanic. The mechanic can connect the car to their computer while working on other cars, such as letting the oil drain. All cars are the same, they don't have decades of handymen and hacks installing garbage work.

For us, we have to drive to the customer's house and 100% of our time is monopolized on them. We have to sort thru many generations of wiring throughout a large house. It's not something we can do for free and hope to make the cost up in repairs. Hell, most of the time the issue is a loose connection, what do we do then? The troubleshooting is free but it's going to cost you $179 for us to tighten this screw.

I don't think I ever saw a shop with free diagnostics.

Other than places like Autozone that will do a code read for free.

You're right about the go to them though.
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Old 07-07-2019, 08:24 AM   #19
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The smaller places might not do it, but I know a lot of dealers and franchise places do.
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Old 07-07-2019, 03:19 PM   #20
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Bad advice is free.

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