Knowing Your Worth & Justifying Your Costs as a Gas Engineer

by | Oct 30, 2023 | Doing Work, Growing the Business, Management Skills, Technical Knowledge, Workflow & Getting Paid

How to know your worth and justify costs

As with any trade, there’s a huge variance in the quality of service in the gas industry. You have those willing to go the extra mile and guarantee a top-tier job, and then those who do the absolute bare minimum.

Knowing and being confident in your work’s value is essential for gas engineers. We all know that pricing strategy plays a hugely important role in the success of your heating & plumbing business (read more about that here). But there’s more to it than the numbers: The confidence in your work and being able to justify costs to your customers are two important parts of the game. 

We spoke about the topic with Luke Stanyer, the owner of Blue Bulldog Plumbing & Heating. Read on to hear what he had to say as well as 7 ways you can justify your prices.

How to know your worth

For the most part, prices reflect quality – but it’s not always that simple. It can feel like a race to the bottom when it comes to pricing strategy, with gas engineers going lower than they’d like out of the fear of not getting enough work. But it’s a double edged sword, as lower prices and more work mean you have less time – and quality often suffers as a result.

Recognising the value of your experience & craftsmanship

Gas engineers who have all the experience, skills, and effort necessary for a good job have happier customers, get fewer callbacks, and complete safer gas systems. For all these reasons, gas engineers of this calibre should feel able to charge a premium. 

The difficulty is that these engineers are not always able to convey the value of their experience & craftsmanship. Luke was faced with this experience himself at one point: “I can walk into a job and know what’s wrong and have it fixed really quick”, he said – but the customer then questioned why his prices were so high if the job was so quick. Luke put it best when he said “It took me 15 years to do it in 5 minutes”. It’s his experience and result he’s charging for, not how long he was there for. 

They could have easily found a cheaper company, but they would have taken much longer and ended up charging a similar rate anyway. “I shouldn’t be penalised for that” he adds, explaining to the customer how his experience and skill affects his pricing. 

Evaluating the effort you put into each job

Luke also understands and respects the effort he puts into each job: “In this trade, you can’t just walk away from a job. If they’ve got no water, you’ve gotta stay until they’ve got water. Or if you’ve taken out the toilet….” he explains. To him, it’s important to always give a job his best: “I’ll always give 110%”.

This is never more evident than when he walks into a property with shoddy work done before him.

Comparing yourself to the competition

From his years as a gas engineer, Luke has had more than his fair share of experiences with shoddy work. “The worst is walking in after someone who’s generally a cowboy”, notes Luke. Describing one experience in particular, he says “nothing was level, the toilet and the basin were a mess, and we had to rip it all out and start again”.

“My problem is I’m not cheap compared to some people”, says Luke. “There are people around me that are cheaper, but when I walk in afterwards and see the work…it’s all wonky, or they’ve put so many joints in, not bothered to get the benders out… it’s just little things like that. And you think if they’d done a little bit extra, it would have looked better and worked better”, he elaborates. 

Jobs like these can be an absolute nightmare, but it should at the very least help build confidence in your pricing and craftsmanship. If you do better work, you should charge accordingly.

How to justify your costs

Customers can’t be blamed for not understanding the complexities of a job, but you should do your best to communicate your value to anyone you’re hoping to work with. They need to understand the benefits of working with a skilled engineer if they are to choose to work with you instead of the cheapest option. 

There are several different strategies you can take to justify costs:

6 Ways to justify your costs
    1. Be transparent with your pricing. A huge portion of customers are sceptical about “high” prices simply because they don’t understand what goes into them. 
    2. Highlight and showcase your quality of work. This can be done through marketing, case studies, or simply as you speak to customers over the phone. The goal is to give customers a clear picture of what they’re paying for, and what they can expect (which is incredibly important for customers careful with money).
    3. Ask for reviews. This will help potential customers see that those who’ve previously worked with you value your work. 
    4. Explain the long-term benefit of getting a quality job done. Quality work should mostly speak for itself, but you can also explain that they may end up spending more in the long run if work isn’t done to a standard that will last.
    5. Prioritise customer relationships. Customers that feel valued and appreciated will be more likely to spend a little more.
    6. Use premium materials. This might be less relevant for boilers, but all the piping and any plumbing work you should have materials to match your craftsmanship. 

With a little bit of effort, your work will justify its own cost. Once you get your foot in the door with a first job, your quality craftsmanship, hassle-free customer service, and anything else will help encourage repeat business.

Why it’s important to price appropriately

There’s lots at play when running a successful heating and plumbing business, but pricing strategy is crucial. It can feel like there is a constant pressure to lower prices just to remain competitive, but this ends up with companies struggling to meet their bottom line, cramped schedules, and a lack of free time. 

From our experience and having spoken to Luke, it’s clear that there’s two problems at hand: knowing the value of your work, and justifying its cost to customers. Finding a solution to both offers a healthy business cycle where your profits are enough to drive growth and success. 

Next steps:

If you’ve been thinking about implementing software into your workflow to save time, here’s what you can do next: