Plumbing is a system that allows fluids to travel through pipes, tanks, valves, and other gadgets. Its origins date back to ancient civilizations, including Rome, Greece, and Persia, which used unique methods to transport water, remove wastewater, and irrigate crops. In modern times, plumbing is the main system for water transfer. The three primary systems of plumbing are:
Plumbers are responsible for managing plumbing systems. They install and repair pipes, plumbing fixtures that deliver and drain water (toilets, bathtubs, water heaters, dishwashers, etc.), valves, and much more. Plumbers troubleshoot to pinpoint a plumbing system malfunction, determine what equipment will be necessary to complete a job, then provide their clients with thorough cost estimates. Once their job starts, they might take on responsibilities that range from removing obstructions and cleaning drains to assisting in the overall maintenance of a septic system. Plumbers can also read blueprints to ensure building codes are being followed.
Many plumbers work as contractors or are self-employed. Those who are contracted with businesses commonly work full-time, including nights and weekends. They may also be on-call to take care of emergencies. Self-employed plumbers often set their own schedule and may only work during standard business hours.
While completion of high school is commonly sufficient education to begin a career as a plumber, individuals who enter this career often take courses at vocational schools, as well. Training might include a paid apprenticeship that lasts four or five years. During the apprenticeship, plumbers often learn how to read blueprints, utilize proper plumbing safety protocols, and follow plumbing regulations and codes for their area.
In many states and localities, plumbers are required to be licensed. Generally, individuals can attain a license after accruing an average of two to five years of experience and passing the appropriate test. Individuals can expand their career opportunities in plumbing by entering the field of plumbing design or becoming master plumbers or project managers. Plumbers can commonly find work on projects that include the new construction of a building or maintenance of existing buildings.
Whether you choose to contract or work as a self-employed plumber, you have the ability to set your own prices. A common way to decide how to bill for plumbing is by determining the services you offer and looking at average plumbing costs in your area. Many plumbers also examine their professional experience, credentials, and general industry standards when determining how to bill customers.
In plumbing, each job you secure can vary drastically, which could significantly impact the cost of your service. For instance, if you have a small job in which you can easily access the pipes in a building, you might charge a simple hourly rate. On the other hand, if you have a job where the first floor of a building has flooded, you might need to charge for the entire project.
Fortunately, you can choose the billing format that works best, whether it’s by the hour, by the job, or a combination of both. You can also decide whether you want to bill for the cost of equipment and fixtures (pipes, showerheads, toilet bowls, etc.) separately from your cost of labor.
Factors to consider when deciding what to bill your customers include your overhead costs. Also, consider additional expenses that could unexpectedly crop up during a job like the removal of old piping, protecting a neighbor’s home, or removing debris after a job is finished.
Before agreeing to a job, it’s a good idea to offer your customer an estimate. This gives you an opportunity to determine the scope of the prospective job and thoroughly detail the services you believe will resolve the customer’s issue. It also gives your customer a chance to determine if your terms best align with their needs.
A good rule of thumb when billing is to make the following calculations: 1) determine your overhead, 2) choose your base rate, 3) decide your total labor costs – then add it all up. This can help ensure you don’t undervalue your work.
Creating quality invoices for your plumbing services is an important aspect of your job. You want to clearly outline the services you are providing your client, including the cost of parts, equipment and labor. Indy makes it easy for you to create your own invoice for plumbing with templates that outline the desired format. Whether you use ours or create your own, here is information you should consider including:
Business Name and Contact Information
The top of the invoice should include your name, the name of your company, and important contact information, including your business address and telephone number. This way, your client has a way to contact you with questions or concerns.
It’s a good idea to create a logo that sets your plumbing business apart from your competitors and makes you easily identifiable to consumers. Adding it to your invoice can also help further brand your business.
Client Name and Contact Information
Your invoice should include your client’s legal name or business name, address, and contact details like a phone number or email address. This information is necessary for your records and as a way to follow up if an account goes unpaid.
An invoice number should be included on each invoice you provide to a client, and each should be unique. This is important for bookkeeping and tax filing purposes.
Invoice Date and Due Date
You should include on every invoice the date of the invoice as well as the date you expect the invoice to be paid (due date). Keeping track of this can help you determine when an invoice is past due and your client needs a friendly payment reminder.
The line item section of your invoice allows you to list the plumbing services you’ve provided to your customer. You can share the dates and times of service, number of hours spent each day, the cost per hour, and the total cost each day. The goal of using line items is to offer as much clarity to your client as possible.
If you’re not sure how to create your own invoice, take advantage of Indy’s database of invoice templates. Choose from a broad selection of options, and find one that best suits your needs. You can customize it for your clients. After you’ve chosen yours, you can automatically generate invoices and send them to your customers.
As noted previously, when deciding what to bill, it’s good to look at industry standards, your level of expertise, the specific services you offer, and the average pricing in your area. The average cost for a flat-rate plumbing job is said to range from $175 to $450 while the average cost per hour ranges from $45 to about $200 per hour.
Some options to consider when billing clients are the following:
When setting your rates, it’s also important to keep in mind business costs outside of plumbing jobs that could impact your bottom line:
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