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It's all about the $$$$ :-)

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  • #455897
    thedude306
    Moderator
    Foam Lake, SK

    I know it’s a regional thing, and a “secret” sorta thing, but I really struggle with what to charge for jobs.

    Typically I go with a rough hourly estimate (a range) plus materials. I haven’t lost on too many things but I haven’t tackled many big projects so it’s been pretty straight forward.

    On kitchens I have my linear foot calculation and “style” costs. I only do three door styles so it’s also pretty easy…

    But I am starting to get into some furniture making (pretty basic so far) but I really struggle with what to charge. I got permission from my client to post pictures of these simple benches I am building.

    They are made from reclaimed lumber. Which apparently I can charge more for these days. It matters to some. Pine/fir legs with cedar tops. It’s well made, but I wouldn’t consider it “fine” furniture just yet. I spent about 1/2 day on it so far and will have another few hours into it once it gets finished. The second one will go faster.

    What would you charge for it??

    IMG_3310 by Brad Taylor[/url], on Flickr

    Or how about stuff like this. Little old lady brought me a rocking chair that she said was her mothers baby chair. The screw had stripped out and someone tried to use a plastic plug and just made a mess. I drilled it out and put in a proper wooden plug. Stained it and replaced the screw with a proper period screw. The finish was pretty rough and it really needs a complete strip…

    I had maybe 20minutes into it…. I didn’t even charge her for it. I bet she brings baking or perogies over this week. (small town stuff, I know as I would have charged an hours rate in the city.)

    IMG_3307 by Brad Taylor[/url], on Flickr

    IMG_3306 by Brad Taylor[/url], on Flickr

    Brad T
    Self employed Pro since 2014!!

    #455904
    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Moderator
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    I do not really know there is a specific rate anywhere and a lot depends on the project. In the long run it is based on estimating your time and what you want for that. In addition to your time, you need to cover your equipment costs. Whether it is wear and tear on them or replacement. A lot of guys neglect the equipment cost, they think that “it is paid for so I dont really need anything for it” when in fact if they want to keep nice equipment, they do really need something for it. On top of that is a profit. If you do not make more than wages out of a project, you have a job, not a business.

    I think every business is different based on their productivity and what the owner is looking to get out of it.

    #455905
    ChadM
    Moderator
    Rogers, Ohio

    Pricing can be tough, on both small and large projects. You are right, the region you are in plays a big part on what your numbers up being but the equation pretty much stays the same. What do you want to make a year? What is your overhead (insurance, power/heat for your shop, etc)? What is your mark up for profit? Michael Stone has a really good book (http://www.amazon.com/Markup-Profit-Contractors-Guide-Revisited/dp/1572182717/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452737312&sr=1-1&keywords=markup+and+profit) on mark up and profit – I learned a lot from it.

    Here is his website:http://www.markupandprofit.com/

    Chad

    A Working Pro since 1993

    Member since 12/07/2013

    #455913
    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    I too struggle with pricing…after I finish an estimate, I almost always feel like it’s too high, but after looking at the numbers again, I feel like I’m making very little. Sometimes it works out better than others, but I try to estimate the amount of time a job will take and apply an hourly rate. The tough part of that method is accurately estimating the time…I can count up what materials I will need without much difficulty, but putting a time on things has proven to be tough.

    As for your example pieces, I’d probably charge around $200 plus all materials for the bench. I don’t own a Domino, but it seems like the joinery is fast with one. I’d likely use my Kreg and plugs or M&T (but that would drive the price up as its slower).

    I might charge $50 for the chair repair. You just fixed the stripped screw and stained the plug, yes? Not the whole chair?

    Do you find that you are successfully landing jobs or are people running from your prices? That should tell you if you are charging too much…if everyone says Yes, then you should consider raising your rates.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #455914
    jkirk
    Moderator
    halifax, nova scotia

    furniture work is a bit tougher to price.. reno’s you know your gonna either have a fixed price or do it by the hour depending on the scope of the job

    ive found with furniture. you might estimate the amount of time its going to take but then you missed something which means more time but you want to honor your price quoted. or you give a price and they think its way to high.. its tough to try to find that happy medium. maybe dan can give some insite into this. hes a cabinet and furniture guy

    heres a tip, dont fart in a space suit

    #455917
    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Moderator
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    I have the same Issues Jon, in a lot of estimates, I look at the final numbers and say to myself “holy Sh1+, that is way to much” but when I check the numbers, nothing seems out of line. I am always apprehensive when presenting the number. wehn we do get the job and it is a fairly good percentage of the time, we typically make our numbers. once in a while we miss them and about the same amount of the time we beat them. I guess the good ones make up for the bad and hopefully you have a couple more good than bad. In the end, if you are happy with what you make at the end of the year, that is all that counts, not what others are charging.

    #455919
    thedude306
    Moderator
    Foam Lake, SK

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I ordered it from the library tonight.

    I do have a pretty good handle on costs and equipment. Better then most. I know what it costs me per hour to keep the shop lights on with insurance, tools, consumables and electrical etc.

    Oy, what do I want to make a year….or what can I make a year. Tough questions. I’d be happy to make 50k with off farm work. I would like it to be closer to 80k with the same work. Small town is definitely tough for speciality work. (Furniture and custom kitchens).

    I went $250 on the bench and when they came and saw it today they wanted another. It made me feel like I wasn’t charging enough! But when I gave the quote I thought I was way too high! I’ll be done the second one in a third of the time as well so that helps.

    I’ve quoted about 15 projects since our move in the fall and the benches are the first to come through the shop. I’ve done a couple other small repairs, but no commissioned work.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that struggles with it.

    Brad T
    Self employed Pro since 2014!!

    #455934
    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    I went $250 on the bench and when they came and saw it today they wanted another. It made me feel like I wasn’t charging enough! But when I gave the quote I thought I was way too high! I’ll be done the second one in a third of the time as well so that helps.

    $250 all in…including material? I think that’s a good number for a well built piece. Good point about the second bench going faster…that really where the money is made. When you can do the same thing enough times and get faster and still charge the same rate, that’s just a bonus, IMO.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #455941

    Numbers are hard…selling your numbers is a game. In reality you should try and forget the numbers when you sell and just sell yourself and services. (I still struggle with this)

    I think $250 was a good price…maybe a little low but not much. As you gain history for that type work and track your time you will be able to gauge pricing better. I have done a few furniture projects and find it harder to get my regular hourly rate for that type work. I would like to do some more of that type work as filler work but in my area there isn’t a big demand.

    It has taken me almost 15 years of owning my own company to really grasp the true costs of making money and staying in business. I am pretty confident I will always look at my estimates oh say “Holy Chit”…if I don’t then I am worried…lol!

    Andrew

    A Working Pro since 1995!

    Member since March 26, 2014.

    #455953

    Just a comment about pricing, you can always price a job to get the business but are you making any money for the time and effort? I have had people ask me to make something but when you tell them just the material cost for the lumber, the majority are unwilling to even cover that cost. Point is in making furniture, only a few folks are willing to pay a good price for a well built and finished solid wood item.

    #455959
    thedude306
    Moderator
    Foam Lake, SK

    Yup, $250 all in. Not enough for the materials which I had already reclaimed but didn’t value high enough. Well at least not for the two cedar slabs. At least it’s a start!



    @PI_Woodworker
    I totally agree. It’s a different world making furniture. I’ve picked up a few ” hi end” catalogs and price lists over the year and try and use that as a guide. I’ve been meeting with people and I am trying to change their outlooks. Quality cost money. And most people know this. Look at al the junk furniture and kitchens that don’t last. But very few want to pay. I’m lucky that this is second income….or I would starve this year!

    Brad T
    Self employed Pro since 2014!!

    #455968
    whitehill
    Pro
    Ottawa, ON

    Numbers are hard…selling your numbers is a game. In reality you should try and forget the numbers when you sell and just sell yourself and services. (I still struggle with this)

    OA is right.
    The way to price is to consider the value to the buyer of what you are providing. That can be really hard to get your head around!
    We’re biased by what we think the thing is worth, or what people other than the buyer (for a custom job) or target market (mass produced) might think.
    Time and materials cost is a way to set the lowest possible price – you don’t want to lose money. But it should not influence how high you will go. The only people who will value your work on a time and materials cost basis are those who think they can do it themselves, and why would you try to sell to them?
    Festool is a great example. Their tools are pricey by some standards, but if you’re a contractor who can save an hour a day using one of their tools instead of an alternative, the value is there. The person who buys Festool doesn’t do so based on what they think it cost to make, but on what they can make with it.
    If that bench you built was exactly what the buyer wanted, you aren’t selling them time and materials. You’re selling them what they want and (presumably) can’t get any other way!
    The high end of what you can charge is set by alternatives (e.g., a mass produced item that’s close to what they want limits how much more than it you can charge), and by absolute budget.
    I think you have two options, Brad. If this is strictly a side business to farming and you don’t want to market yourself outside the immediate area, then go time and materials for now, and make some money. If you want to build this up into a higher margin business, then target a particular segment of buyers who you believe value what you offer (whatever your unique differentiator is), figure out roughly what they’ll pay, and increase prices as your reputation grows.
    Note I’m not a contractor and this advice comes from experience in other areas. I think good pricing practice is universal (and seems universally difficult).

    #455969
    RonW
    Moderator
    Holladay, Tn

    Just a comment about pricing, you can always price a job to get the business but are you making any money for the time and effort? I have had people ask me to make something but when you tell them just the material cost for the lumber, the majority are unwilling to even cover that cost. Point is in making furniture, only a few folks are willing to pay a good price for a well built and finished solid wood item.

    Good point Lon. I always seem to loose money doing custom furniture for people. Way to many hours involved.

    Ron

    A Working Pro since 1994!

    Member since March 26, 2014.

    #455974
    Sorpa
    Pro
    Pierrefonds, Qc

    I would’ve charged more than $250 for the bench. It doesn’t matter that you had the wood. You had around 3 hours in the making. I’d go $100/hour for the labor (skill,blades,equipment,electricity,sand paper,etc,etc) and profit.

    #455995
    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    It seems to be a simple formula,,,,,,,,,,,It’s guessing the labor that kills me.

    ((Materials Cost + Direct Labor Cost) * Overhead) * Profit = Price

    #456021
    r-ice
    Pro
    Durham region, ON

    I go high enough so that only the serious people come to me. Everyone knows I am expensive so i don’t get the lowballers coming to kick the tires. I get enough to keep me busy and enough so i have time to do my own stuff.

    #456069
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    Just a comment about pricing, you can always price a job to get the business but are you making any money for the time and effort? I have had people ask me to make something but when you tell them just the material cost for the lumber, the majority are unwilling to even cover that cost. Point is in making furniture, only a few folks are willing to pay a good price for a well built and finished solid wood item.

    Good point Lon. I always seem to loose money doing custom furniture for people. Way to many hours involved.

    Anything one off always has a lot of hours involved in set up and getting everything just right. Accurate pricing is an art that comes with experience after losing a bunch of money underestimating several jobs.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #456079
    Doobie
    Moderator

    If you can’t price it for time and profit, don’t do it unless you want to ‘pass it on’.

    #456081
    58Chev
    Pro
    Etobicoke, ON

    I try to figure out the cost of materials then give a dollar figure. I haven’t done reno’s in a while as I get tired of the ones that want it done for free.

    I had maybe 20minutes into it…. I didn’t even charge her for it. I bet she brings baking or perogies over this week. (small town stuff, I know as I would have charged an hours rate in the city.)

    Sometimes this is payment enough, especially if the work wasn’t that extensive.

    “If you don’t pass on the knowledge you have to others, it Dies with you”
    — Glenn Botting

    #456095
    smallerstick
    Pro
    North Bay, ON

    Great thread, Brad, very timely for me, too. My only experience pricing for earning a living was in a Barbeque catering business I owned. Same concerns; equipment costs, outside labour, food cost, prep and cleanup time and so on. Roughly speaking, there are similarities.
    I came to a standard that I used for rough estimates going in to a bid, a number referred to in the restaurant business as COGS (cost of goods sold). If your COGS was 20 – 30% of the price, you would do ok on the job.
    As others have pointed out, there are different concerns in pricing custom work especially with complex joinery in the mix.
    I’m going to be using the COGS formula to begin, starting on the high side. It’s much easier to lower your price that it is to raise it. Six months into a business you find you have to raise prices 20% to stay afloat, you’re screwed.

    Brad, the rocking chair repair could be considered good will. Not much time invested and a whole lot of people will hear what a good guy you are. Can’t buy that kind of advertising anywhere.

    BE the change you want to see.
    Even if you can’t Be The Pro… Be The Poster you’d want to read.

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