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Discussion Starter #1
I had a customer request a bid for two built in shelving units to go on the side of a fireplace. I am going to use 3/4' oak for the project. The two cabinets approximate size are 2'X4'X5' The total for materials for this job $478.17 which included plywood,hardwood, stain/seal, hinges. The total I bid for the job was $850.00 which is to include labor,installation and staining. The guy told me that I was a little high but wanted to see what everyone else was thinking. He was waiting to hear back from one last shop on a bid and was going to be getting back to me. I am just starting out and thought that it was a fair price. I want to get my feet wet and get some work but do not want to do it for nothing buy charging to little on the later. What does everyone else think out there? Any advise would be great. Thanks in advance.
 

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Rule #1

My price is My Price. Do not, under any circumstances enter into negotiating your prices. My pricing structure is pretty simple, material list price x 3. Any discounts extended to me as a result of the volume of business I conduct with my vendors is mine. Any additional costs as a result of error on my part are my expense.

Ed
 

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Hubaseball, I've been negotiating with a customer through e-mail all day today on an upcoming project, I don't consider myself a poker player, but there is definitely sometimes the element of a standoff to see who's going to fold first. Business has gotten a little more competitive in my area and gone are the days of "name your price" and you get the job, or here's my price take it or leave it. I have a family to feed and have to put my pride second sometimes.

I've had to refer back to clever point counter point maneuvers to make a client feel more comfortable with a price. This particular job is around 9k and involves a lot of cabinet work that is to be a painted finish.

The customer would really like a natural finish, but understands the cost difference will be significant. My initial thought in my head is hoping that she goes for the natural finish price (make more) but I will be fine if she doesn't. The room these built-ins are going in has very nice natural trim around it. Casings, baseboard, french doors etc...

I complimented her highly on her choice of finishes in the room and told her how fortunate she was to have had a builder that could produce such a nice job. Most painters just slop on something out of the can and call it a day.

I made her understand that high quality natural finishes take any work up a notch in the "wow" factor when people see it, and expressed that it would certainly be advantageous to follow through with a similar finish on the proposed work.

I didn't make her feel rushed, and I simply told her to make her decision based on her gut feeling as to avoid any regrets down the road.

My point is, her hesitance was the cost. My initial reaction in my head was, "is she kidding me, this is a spot-on price for both of us"
I looked over the drawings again and began looking for things I could shave down the cost. There were none, except maybe using sheets of MDF for the cases if she went with the painted.

For a couple hours I walked through the job process in my head and thought maybe about shaving some labor off it. No dice. I know I was where I needed to be and couldn't budge. If I did, I'd be cursing myself every hour that I was working outside my profit window.

She e-mailed me back and mentioned that she knows the price is good, and she's confident she'd seen enough of my work to realize I'm the guy she wants, it was just a matter of figuring out how to swing all the projects on the list at once.

Had I known that from the start, I wouldn't have wasted half my day stressing over my bid.

You said you're breaking into this and want to be fair and focus more on doing an impressive job before looking to turn big profits right?

Well, just remember once you're confident your worthy of a better rate, than don't hesitate to hold firm. Everyone has seen shoddy work. Customers want to avoid it, and the experienced guys want to distance their work as far from it as possible to establish a good reputation.

I have a conscious that doesn't allow me to feel good just because the check is in my hand, watching a customer ogle over your work is something just as valuable.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well thanks for all the feedback. It seems that 3X the material list price is what everyone is saying. I am going to try that next time. The first paying project that I did I charged the guy 2.5X the material and he was happy with that. I think figuring out what to charge someone is harder then actually building some of the stuff.
 

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3x the material list works well with some things, but you would find that it does not even come close when pricing larger detailed jobs.

A recent job I finished included a lot of walnut, basically it was a butlers pantry that involved an 8x8 wall being covered in cabinets, some with glass doors and partial mullions. The whole project had some really neat customized work. The total cost of the material was around $1200. There is no way I could finish five weeks of work
for only $3600.

I understand some of you have regular jobs and this is not your primary income, as well as the market is different depending on where you live, but with I guess with time and doing things over and over again you may realize you're undercharging.

One of the worst things I hear from a new customer is: Well I heard your work is nice and you're cheap.
 

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johnep
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Well just to have an 8' x 4' table stripped of the french polish we had put on last year (very bad advice) and refinished in 40% two pack ACT? at a local shop is costing some $400.

We appreciate that hand finished work is going to be expensive. In the UK bulk of furniture is veneered particle board. Solid wood costs ks.

most expensive joiner is Lord Linley, the son of Princess Margaret. His work sells in k10s.

For basic work, 3 x cost sounds very reasonable. Hand detail would be costed at standard labour rate plus a premium.

johnep
 

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price?

Just at a glance your price seems low. If you are just starting it can be hard to put a realistic price on your labour. After a few projects you will get and idea how long it takes you to do various tasks and you can start to estimate how long an entire job will take. Once you can do this all that is left to do is multiply the estimated time by your hourly rate plus some extra for unforeseen hold ups. Big companies actually pay good money for people who can get this right and it is the only way to be competitive! I know a lot of small time operators who have gone to the wall because they didn't get it right so keeping a record of how long it takes you to do those tasks that seem to come up on regular basis is a good idea.
Snow.
 

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Andrew Close
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A recent job I finished included a lot of walnut, basically it was a butlers pantry that involved an 8x8 wall being covered in cabinets, some with glass doors and partial mullions. The whole project had some really neat customized work. The total cost of the material was around $1200. There is no way I could finish five weeks of work for only $3600.
Joesdad, you wouldn't happen to have pictures of that job, would you? :thumbsup: :yes: :laughing:
 

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Joesdad, you wouldn't happen to have pictures of that job, would you? :thumbsup: :yes: :laughing:

I was going to wait until they got their granite tops on the base cabinets to take pictures, but maybe I'll take a few tomorrow.

I'm going to be there for a couple days painting their natural cherry island cabinets distressed black to match their new table!:blink:
 

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I Have all ways believed you get what you pay for, that being said if you price cheap does the customer believe he is going to get what he is paying for, Your time is a valuable commidity, not only to you but to your family. Charge a fair market price and let your work speak for it self, this should keep both you and your customer happy.:yes:
 

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johnep
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Basically, time is money and this should be in your mind when buying tools. You can hand cut dovetails, or you could buy a leigh jig which can be infinitely adjusted and achieve the same result in a fraction of the time.
My local woodworker says his festool t75 paid for itself very quickly in time saved. Pocket holes are another great timesaver.

The aim should be best quality work in the shortest time and modern tools will help you achieve this.

By all means, if using woodwork for therapy to occupy yourself, then do everything by hand.

It has been said that if you make a charity of your business you will go bust very quickly. make good profits and then you can donate these if you wish.
johnep
 
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