runaway fuel/inflation costs??

How are you guys dealing with the effects of the costs of fuel and inflation?? I have been getting a *LOT* of calls from tire kickers, and folks wanting to get it done for free. I have a bunch of regular customers that are doing without because they can't afford the needed repairs, and my service agreement renewals are way down too. I have been talking about this for the last couple of years.... and it seems that what I predicted is coming to pass.
Are you using your service call fee as a loss leader to get your foot in the door, then raise the labor rates in your flat rate book?? or... are you charging a fuel surcharge?? or??? I can tell you that folks in this area can't afford to pay the $75 service call that I charge, and assuming 30 minutes one way (with last years fuel prices) it costs me $167 to put a truck on the road. Yes I am charging a fuel surcharge for more than 15 miles one way.
I know that you guys in the big cities are getting a lot more $$$, but the same still applies to you too. At this point, I am contemplating keeping my service call fee the same for the time being, and adding to the fuel surcharge, plus increasing the labor rate in my flat rate book(again). I dunno, business is way down, and I am not seeing hardly any of the other companys trucks on the road either. How are you guys handling this??
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The economy sucks... What's the answer, dunno maybe open up a gas station or an oil refinery!
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Yep
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KJPRO wrote:

Hire an Air conditioner assassin! ;-P

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Don't count on them going under anytime soon...
They have low prices for a reason. They cut corners that cost their customers in the long run! Their work not only looks/works like shit, but it ends up costing the customer in operational costs. That's a cost that not many clients can understand. It's an electrical bill and they don't see the direct cost for running their A/C. Most people can't understand that their equipment can be running (and working) yet it's not running to it's top performance.
Hell, for that matter, not many technicians understand what it actually takes to make the equipment efficient. All they care about is getting it running and making it to the next call on their list. Large companies are the ones making the money. They hire people to run their calls, if the serviceman doesn't get many callbacks or complaints... all is well. Does the said owner of that business care if the customers utility bills are high? Nope.
My point is, till the end user understands some basic info and knows what a quality job looks, runs and sounds like... all bets are off. The lowballers are going to get their share of the work and we are the ones that get to clean up the mess while having to justify our high prices. Yep, I said justify... because, even though the client gets the shaft, they still THINK you should be able to do the job correctly for the same cost as the hack.
Not only that, but their are companies here that cut one job and make it up on the next. They like to play the buddy system and make themselves look good while ripping off the "litlle ole lady" or the person that doesn't know any better. They just heard from "this guy" to use this said company, not knowing that "this guy" got a deal on his system or repair and the new guy is going to be paying for half of it!
It's all "clear as mud" to client.
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In my part of the USA, fuel is a little over a buck a liter.
--
Christopher A. Young
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