Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

City service?

DanHolohan
DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,353
What’s your biggest challenge doing service in a busy city?
Retired and loving it.

Comments

  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,827
    "Oh, it stopped working Monday, but we waited until 6 PM Friday to see it it would go away on it's own. By the way, we have an event scheduled at 7 AM Saturday that we can't postpone."
    Grrrrrr!
    mattmia2
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,353
    edited September 12
    Grrrrrr indeed!
    Retired and loving it.
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,668
    Customers don't like to pay big $$$$ for traveling time?
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,353
    Does everyone talk about travel time?
    Retired and loving it.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,117
    The big city near me is Philadelphia. I don't go, for any price. Logistical nightmare, traffic nightmare, parking impossible. You need someone to literally ride shotgun with you. Don't know how they do it in NYC. Plenty of work in the burbs.
    steve
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,428
    I am in Western MA but did a few jobs in downtown Boston.

    Leave the house by 4:30 at the latest

    Fight the traffic down the MA Pike 90 miles

    Park a few blocks from the job (hope you can find a spot)

    Run out and feed the meter all day or fight to get into a parking lot or garage (watch the roof racks on the van).

    Load all your tools on a hand truck all strapped down (don't forget anything). Drag it through the snow banks and side walks over to the job. The boiler room is on the 34th floor.

    Wait on the elevator

    Now you can start working.

    If you leave for lunch or a break and there's no job box you might kiss some tools good buy. The locals don't like "outsiders" coming into their town

    Repeat the above to get back home about 6:00pm (if your lucky)

    13 1/2 hours get paid for 8

    Lucky I didn't have to do this on a regular basis. Maybe once a year for a week or two

    I herd that in NY City the tech rides the subway with his tools and a parts runner drives around delivering supplies and additional tools. Don't know if it's true

    And maybe I don't want to know

    Did an electrical job on Newbury St in Boston once (high rent shopping district).

    The reason?

    A guy that was on the board of directors for the company I worked for owned the building.

    I had to go to Dorchester to get the electrical permit, that was a days work by itself.

    Once the job was done I had to get the inspector their to inspect before I could get the POCO to install the meter

    You can't even imagine how many phone calls I made or how much time was wasted on this.

    The inspector wouldn't take my calls.

    I must have left 20 voice mails.

    If you called headquarters the just told you to call the inspector and leave a message.

    Meanwhile I getting plenty of heat because the "big shot" wants his meter so he can get power.

    It took me a week to finally get a call back from the inspector


    Remember, they don't like out of towners coming in.

    It worked.

    I never wanted to go back

    I always told my boss, "stay out of Boston don't cross RT 128 loop" He didn't always listen.

    The unions down their have trained their out of work members to watch for out of town trucks and to follow them to see where they are working




    PC7060
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,353
    @EBEBRATT-Ed, you always tell a great story. I’m shaking! Thanks. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 453
    @EBEBRATT-Ed; Are you sure you weren't in Pittsburgh, Pa. The problems are the same only the roads and buildings had different names. Since I did not own the company I got paid for all my hours including travel time to my home.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,415
    edited September 13
    The traffic delays in Seattle cause havoc and can add hrs to a service call. Customers are told that there is a trip fee and they often are resistant to paying the charge. Traveling within the city could easily add 1-2 hrs per call and will eat up any profit if not accounted and charged for. Then there are the customers who have not maintained or serviced their equipment in 10 years, and wonder why it doesn't work or why it's so expensive to fix.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,353
    @Paul Pollets, how is parking these days?
    Retired and loving it.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,415
    edited September 13
    Parking is never easy downtown, as the city reduced the amount of spaces by installing bike lanes. Seattle is also a "low rise" city, with only the downtown having very high density and enormous growth.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,415
    Unprecedented growth and the teeming masses of highly paid tech workers is promising for the service business as well as renovators. The real estate prices are now amongst the highest in the country. Most service workers can't afford to live in the city and must commute in the g*d-awful traffic. My next door neighbor sold his house 6 years ago for $350K. It went on the market yesterday for $1.3mil. It will sell within 3-5 days.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,402
    ratio said:
    "Oh, it stopped working Monday, but we waited until 6 PM Friday to see it it would go away on it's own. By the way, we have an event scheduled at 7 AM Saturday that we can't postpone."
    Grrrrrr!
     My motto for that:
    “Poor planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part”.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    ratio
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,668

    Does everyone talk about travel time?

    Utility used to send us out for no heat service at night. Travel time was easier. No longer. Big cities get nastier as they grow but they continue to grow. Most counties in US lose population each year.

  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,019
    Back in the 90's I did a lot of work in Manhattan and Governor's Island. The only good part of it all was we were never too far away from street corner meat on a stick. Mmmmm.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 453
    @HVACNUT; when I was in the NAVY and stationed in the canal zone, Panama, we would go to the corner and get "steak on a stick". It was 2 years before i realized that it was lizard on a stick and not steak.
    ratioHVACNUT
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 2,691
    1. $3,000 in parking tickets per month. Can't avoid them. Parking meters for commercial vehicles cost $13 for a maximum 3 hours usage but it costs more to have workers leave the job to go feed the meters or find a new available parking space.
    2. Service entrances. No building staff gives a damn about getting contractors up into the building in a timely manner. I personally have waited over an hour for a service elevator.
    3. A full day of service work in Manhattan means moving two guys in a van from 3-5 addresses per day. that typically equals to about 4.5 billable hours of work while paying 8 hours of expenses.
    4. Tolls
    5. My 6 service vehicles use about $4,000 in gas every month.
    6. The Plumbers Union. It used to be that if you wanted to work in the city then you had to sign the collective bargaining agreement and unionize your field staff. These days, far fewer buildings require Union cards for workers to enter the building but we've still got Union plumbers on our staff which means we still pay all the fees attached. The pay rates for Union employees are fair and justified. The additional remittances can swallow your profits.
    7. Theft. Every few years I get a van stolen with $20,000 worth of tools and materials in it. The van itself of course costs close to $40,000. Only the van and the tools are insured, but you have to document all your tool purchases.

    Is that enough?
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, Master Plumber
    in New York
    in New Jersey
    for Consulting Work
    or take his class.
    STEVEusaPA
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,827
    JohnNY said:


    Is that enough?

    It is for me! I don't even like working downtown. I'd do nearly anything to avoid even visiting a big city.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,353
    And in spite of all that, you do it so well, @JohnNY
    Retired and loving it.
    Erin Holohan HaskellDanHolohanmattmia2
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,428
    The customers end up paying for everything weather they know it or not. If they are not paying your out of business.

    Big hassle keeping track of everything though. And very stressful
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 720
    edited September 18
    Fortunately we don't tend to do much work in the highest density areas in Chicago. Chicago is more spread out than New York (Most walk ups are only 2 to 3 stories), so parking in most neighborhood not as much of an issue. But when we get in along Lake Shore Drive, the Gold Coast or Lincoln Park pretty much everything John said kicks in. We usually avoid these area because they also tend to be the places where people don't pay, argue over charges,etc. and are just plan rude. These really expensive areas also usually have some of the most decrepit and dangerous equipment in the city.
    We addressed the high cost of gas by going to the Chevy full size Express Van with the 2.8 diesel option. 21 MPG in the city when carrying 2500 lbs and up to 33 on the highway with twice as much bottom end torque as the 6.6 L gasser v-8. The fuel savings over the life of the van pays for the van purchase. We also insulated the interior of the van with 1/2 ductliner so the guys and tools are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

    Service calls at 10 PM on New years eve and the tech gets the heat on, but doesn't have all the parts for a permanent repair. The customer has a fit and thinks its wrong that he should have to pay for another service call to complete the repairs. ( of course he'd have a bigger fit if he received the bill to open the supply house, and the double time per hour for the techs time to run to get the parts and make the repair that night).
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,132
    World Trade Center

    Wait an hour or two just to get in the parking garage. Another hour wait for the freight car. If the NY governor is in his offices NO freight to the upper floors. 

    Moved East 20 years ago, dont miss it at all.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,457

    The customers end up paying for everything weather they know it or not. If they are not paying your out of business.

    Big hassle keeping track of everything though. And very stressful

    i work for a university in a moderate size city, it isn't anything like chicago or nyc but parking and building access and even traffic and routes to get to say a hardware store or supply house are still issues. Our bidding process more or less makes it so bidders can't add the cost in to their bid so we end up paying for it with quality. We get a building that looks nice from a distance but the plaster isn't straight and there are random plumbing leaks and floods where a joint wasn't made up right somewhere soon after it opens and none of the expensive products we buy get installed or configured correctly because no one doing the installation reads the manual or the specification or was trained by the manufacturer. Most of what I do is configuring and reinstalling things that we paid someone else to do.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,210
    Well, I did have to wait for a car to get out of my way one day, and random moose of course. 5,000 population with about 7,000 total for the entire service area I cover, so I don't have to deal with too much of the headaches of big city life. I can't even imagine having to try and get a service van around in a big city and do work there. Small towns are nice for my well being.
    Rick
    Ironman
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 828
    edited September 18
    There are no bad jobs, only poor pricing. It takes a lot of efforts to deliver service in certain areas, and we get well compensated for our efforts.
    CanuckerIronman
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 720
    As someone said earlier, either the customer pays for all these huge incidental costs, or the company goes out of business. We figure extra time and expense whenever working in these high cost areas of the city.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    Canucker
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,827
    Or the loss leaders are supported by gravy work. That seems to be our methodology.

    My beef is that I can pick out the jobs we have to pay to complete with something like 80% accuracy, but the office is invariably surprised…<sigh>

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,428
    I bid a job in Woburn MA (near Boston) about 30 years ago. It was installing all new VAV boxes (I think there were 75 of them) 3 or 4 story building, a new boiler and a couple of hot water coils in some roof top units and all the control wiring (new DDC system) The boiler and the roof work could be done during normal hours

    Problem was this was an occupied building, all the VAV boxes and reconfigured ductwork had to be done from 8:00PM to 6:00 am the next morning. Everything had to be cleaned up, rugs vaccumed desks wiped down. Any furniture moved had to be back in place You get the picture


    I took one look at this and didn't want the job ...at any price. But we were slow and my boss wanted it bad.

    I figured the job then doubled the price and added some more$$$$ to it.

    He kept chopping my # until it was back down to double the cost and I put my foot down and said I wouldn't do it for less.

    I told him there was as much labor doing the work ductwork and vavs as it was going to take to take down and put ceiling back up, vacuum clean up dispose of trash etc

    So we get the job at that number

    It was a nightmare but at the end of it all we did ok. It came in within 1% of the estimate. Still got lucky