Katie Sweep - "OW MUCH!"

I find myself all at sixes and sevens as I continually debate (usually OW Much 1with myself) the best thing to do about our future PRICE INCREASE!!!  As a Yorkshire lass… and a Yorkshire Farmer’s Daughter, I know all too well that people really do not like a price increase…not even a little one.

I find it so hard balancing the situation that is as follows;  Firstly - keeping the likes of lovely old Mrs Lady down the road happy, who’s chimney we have swept twice a year for the past 9 years, who seems to think I am always putting up prices and…

‘’Well you know Mr Dodgy so and so from up at what-yuma-call-it only charges £15.00!’’  … Hummm, and we have heard many a reason as to why! let’s just say you wouldn’t knowingly want to let Mr Dodgy so and so in to your home!
Any how I digress. Secondly - we really do want to set ourselves apart from the likes of the formally mentioned, as we are truly professional chimney sweeps, who have a real passion and pride for our work, keeping our customers and their appliances happy and safe

Seemingly to do this and truly distinguish ourselves, alongside being experienced sweeps and members of the NACS… and now with myself been a HETAS Approved Sweep (Sorry I do not think I will tire of mentioning this) you, or should I say ‘’I’’ need to invest! Keeping up with the latest innovative sweeping technology is not cheap, although very worthwhile I know. We really do want to give our customers the very best service we can and technology can certainly aid us in doing this, but in order to be able to do so we must charge slightly more to cover costs and reflect the quality of service offered. As the saying goes ‘You get what you pay for’.

With the prices of a sweep in my area ranging from £15 - £90 I know we shouldn’t have too much of an issue going from £40 up to £45 for a standard sweep, offering a discounted rate for multiple chimneys in the same property. I believe in charging a fair price for a good job well done, and after all, we do want people to continue to use, and to be able to afford to use our services year on year. We actually have a large number of new customers who ring to arrange a sweep, with no clue of what the cost may be and they are always rather surprised and pleased that we charge such a reasonable price as they had presumed such a service would be priced within the 100’s.

On the opposite end we really don’t want to feel we are overcharging. When sweeping a very straight forward chimney, for example a bungalow with 5 meters of twin wall flue coming from a good quality well maintained stove just down the road, that can be all done, dusted and finished in around 20 minutes, we definitely don’t want them feeling we have overcharged them. So it’s all about a happy balance, which is not always easy with such a range of chimney types and chimney issues to contend with.

Something our customers always comment on is that they really like that we are very clear about our prices and costing for our services, with no catches or additional unseen charges. Our prices are clearly stated on our website and voicemail service, and again mentioned when booking in. But of course there is, and always will be those who will never be completely happy with the price, and always the odd Yorkshire man who remembers when a sweep only cost ‘5 bob’ … however much that was? So with this they decide that it would be cheaper to do it themselves, this is then usually followed by their wife getting in contact with us shortly after and asking us to call and sort out the mess and conduct a professional certificated sweep.

It always amazes me, but yet I suppose understandable, that unless you are in business yourself, you give very little thought to the actual expenses involved in running a business. Things such as wages, (and soon to be pensions) Holiday pay and tax, vehicle running expenses, membership and training fees, insurances, advertising, equipment up keep, utilities, all those wonderful incidental costs, so on and so forth. The costs certainly tot up.

OW Much 2I have always said, and still maintain that if I won the lottery I would definitely still continue being a chimney sweep, as I Love it.  Uh and just think of all the amazing equipment we could have if money was no object. But alas, with myself having not returned to sweeping full time yet with my little ones still been so little, life is still a bit of a juggling act. But as they quickly grow I am super keen to be back on the road more myself, tootling about, just me and my sweep van, visiting our lovely customers, with interesting chimneys, soot, tea and biscuits! Wonderful.

Top Priority on this years’ shopping list is as follows. Full power sweeping kits for myself and the lady sweeps. With me adding to my existing Rodtech Biomass sweeping kit. New drills to accompany them, and with my NACS CCTV chimney inspection course coming up in August I suppose I best start looking at CCTV chimney cameras too. All very exciting, evolutionary and expensive!

It is always funny that whilst I look through the Screwfix catalogue at their selection of cordless drills that the majority of my friends are dreaming of the latest fashionable handbag... although I do like nice bags and things, I would sooner have a new rod bag.

So the grand plan is ... We are  going to having a slightly increased autumn/winter price and a slightly reduced Spring/Summer price. I am really hoping this, in time, will also help jee up the bargain hunters and also encourage more of our regulars to get booked in a bit earlier in the year, making room for more new autumn customers. We do all spend a lot of time letting people know there are many other days through the year to arrange their chimney sweep other than the first chilly day of late summer early autumn, when it becomes peoples number 1 priority and we just can’t keep up with demand.    
So with new equipment to purchase here’s hoping there is some good bargains to be had at the upcoming Hearth and Homes Exhibition that takes place just down the road from us in lovely Harrogate next month on the 12th,13th and 14th of June. I will be going along on Sunday the 12th so please do say hello if you spot me. I will be the very smiley lady as I am planning a child free, sweep shopping spree. (Find out what happened when Katie Sweep vistied the NACS Exhibition 2016)

Other exciting goings on this month include a bit more (this time domestic) Biomass boiler sweeping for me that I am hoping may also possibly lead to more future biomass work. Wedding season is officially here and our lovely lucky Val Sweep is booked and attending many Wedding services over the next few months, passing on lots of Luck to the usually quite surprised newlyweds. As I write this, I am slightly petrified as tomorrow evening I am heading to a local radio station here in York, ‘Vale Radio’ to pre-record their Friday evenings “Women in business” show, where I am the featured guest! I am rather nervous but it is definitely too good-an-opportunity to miss. I am thankful it is pre-recorded, but still I really hope I don’t start chattering nonsense with nerves rather than getting in all the important valid points and interesting things about chimney sweeping I would actually like to talk about. I hope to do us sweeps proud and educate the unknowing public.

-Wish me Luck!

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