[Job Insight] Installing Shower Valve Cartridges and a Diverter Spout

This is the second post in the [Job Insight] category. The first post was popular and many people asked for more so I will continue these posts as long as they continue to get good feedback. Originally I had called the category [Job Examples] but I think [Job Insight] fits a little better.

Job description: Install 2 shower valve cartridges and a diverter spout

This job came from a new customer who found my website. Luckily this customer only lived less than 10 minutes from me so this turned out to be a really nice, quick job. This job was scheduled in a day that had 2 other jobs already completed so this was my last job for the day. I arrived at this job at 1pm and was out of there by 2:10pm.

Getting the call

This client called me the day prior to scheduling the work. I happened to have some time after two scheduled jobs so I booked this one as the third job for the day. My first job was at 8, the next job was at 10:30, then this job was at 1pm. I went out to lunch just before arriving at this job.

When the client called, he told me that he had a shower that didn’t really switch from cold to hot. It stayed mostly cold. He also had a shower/tub combo in another bathroom and when he pulled the diverter, most of the water still came out of the tub spout and a little came out of the shower head. My immediate thoughts to this job were “piece of cake”. I knew exactly what was going on with both situations.

I told him over the phone that I knew what was going on. I gave him a rough quote of $125 for the labor and told him he’d have some materials cost added on as well depending on the type of shower valve he had, etc. He agreed.

Note: if I don’t have an exact price to quote over the phone I give a rough (but pretty accurate) price just to prequalify the customer. If they don’t agree to the rough price, then I don’t have to waste time driving out. I also make sure I mention to them that the price I’m quoting over the phone is a ball park based on what they told me and I would give an exact price after seeing the job.

Quoting the job

I completed two previous jobs before arriving to this job. When I got there the client showed me what was going on. I pretty much already knew what needed to be done before he even showed me.

So it turned out that he needed a new diverter spout in one bathroom (which I already knew from our phone conversation) and he needed a new shower valve (cartridge) in the master bathroom shower. That’s the one that was having problems switching from cold to hot and vise versa.

He also showed me that he bought these new trim kits for both bathrooms as well as the diverter spout. I have quite a bit of experience with Mixet shower valves because a lot of homes in this area were built with them.

In the bathroom that needed the new diverter spout I could see that the Mixet shower valve was looking pretty bad. Since he wanted to change out the trim kit in that bathroom anyway, I recommended that we change out the valve in there too because it was probably on it’s way out just like the other one in the master bathroom. He agreed. Luckily, I carry these cartridges in my van because I come across them often. I happen to have two on had as well which is kinda lucky too because normally I only carry one.

So as for the quote:

I only charged him for installing the 2 shower valves because I would need to take off the trim kit to get to the valve anyway and I thought it would be nice to include the installation of the diverter spout as well. You’ll see I’m going to make good money on this job so  I wasn’t worried about bundling it all together like that.

The quote was for installation of 2 shower valves at $75 each for the labor and then $30 parts for each valve.

($75 x 2 = $150) + ($30 x 2 = $60) = $210

Completing the work

Everything went smoothly as expected. I installed both shower valves, both trim kits, and the diverter spout and tested everything. Sorry no picture on this one.

Finishing up

After cleaning up, the client paid with his American Express card and I sent him the invoice right on the spot. I collected the payment and sent the invoice using my iPad and the ServiceM8 app. In the same app I’m also able to check out of the job and mark it as complete. This shows me the exact time I was on the job too.

Time on the job + hourly rate

I started this job at 1:00pm and finished at 2:10pm so that’s 1.17 hrs total. That’s from setup to cleanup and doesn’t include drive time but this job was very close to me. I love it when that happens. So for $210 total – $34 for materials cost = $176 / 1.17 hrs. = $150/hr. My target hourly rate is $100 per hour so I had no problem achieving that and surpassing it on this job.

Notes about the job

As you can see I made $176 for a little over an hour of work. This is exactly why I prefer smaller jobs over larger ones. I prefer to get in and out and on to the next job. Keep in mind, I don’t rush jobs at all. As you gain more experience doing certain jobs you naturally become quicker at them. This is also the exact reason I do not charge hourly for my services and why I also recommend that you go flat rate as well.

You also read earlier that I had those shower valves in my van already. This saved me a trip to pick them up at the hardware store. If there are jobs that you come across often, start stocking the parts in your work vehicle. It will save you time and gas thus increasing your profit and hourly rate.

You may have noticed that I charged $30 for each valve. These Mixet valve cartridges cost me about $17 or so. I usually mark up lower priced materials at a much higher rate than higher priced ones. After all, it’s extremely convenient for the customer when I already have the cartridges in my van. It allows me to get the job done faster and get out of their house. I also had to put up the money to stock those parts and keep them on hand until someone needs them. I consider the markup justified.

Any thoughts on this job? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Steve Kelly says

    Another nice write up Travis. Thanks for this one. I have long struggled with the mark up on products like this. I usually mark up 10% and sometimes even 20%. I think I will employ your idea of a larger markup on smaller priced items. Thanks!

  2. says

    Hello Travis,
    I have read your articles here off and on, because they tend to be at the top of google results when I’m researching handyman related stuff for my handyman business (so props to you for nailing online google/SEO skills). I have a few questions.
    One, do you use square or the serviceM8 payment option? I’ve researched ServiceM8 recently based off your recommendation, and noticed they’re more expensive than square. What are your thoughts on that?
    Two, with serviceM8, can you have the customer sign for the work before you start, and then after for the work performed? I just got ripped off yesterday, and have realized I need to protect myself (and the customer) by having a form for them to sign, detailing the work.
    Three, HOW do you do your inventory tracking and COGS?? I have been hitting my head against the wall trying to figure out how to keep track of and manage that! There is software out there, but most of what I’ve come across is crazy expensive for a one-man handyman business. I’ve been trying to carry TV mounts on my truck, because I do a lot of those, but I don’t know how to manage inventory (and I want to start carrying more parts for those simple jobs that will usually need a part, like supply lines and stuff). Also, do you have a “inventory budget”? Unfortunately, godaddy bookkeeping doesn’t do inventory tracking.
    Thanks for your posts, and your job insight posts! It would be awesome if you did a post on your using serviceM8, and also how you handle your bookeeping end/how to systematically put aside money for business (taxes, inventory, profit, overhead) and also personal (how to pay yourself and not just be constantly putting money into the business and thinking you’re broke).

    Thanks, Nate the Handyman

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