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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I do woodworking as a side business while working full-time. Each month we take on orders for the next and try to make sure we don't over book our off hours and get burned out. The problem is most of my orders are custom and even when I try adding extra hours they seem to take longer then expected.
If this if a problem that you have had in the past advice would be appreciated.
 

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David
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Welcome to the forum! What are you building each month? How are you selling your work? Got any photos?

I rarely give a finite deadline on larger custom work, preferring instead to use a general timeframe. Small jobs often come in with a definite deadline and I always meet those deadlines a day or two early when and where possible. On jobs that require customer input at various stages I won't give a deadline unless they are very responsive. If they take 3-4 days to respond to a question then all 'deadlines' are off.

David
 

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and a hearty welcome aboard as well.

when I started my "hobby" of sign making, I was working a full time job.
as the community grew, so did my "hobby".
to keep up, I hired a helper to work the business while I held onto my day job.
the business grew - so I hired another helper - then another - then another - up to six (6) employed at one time.
my 5 year contract with my employer expired so I resigned from my comfy day job and stepped out into the Self Employed world. and never looked back.
of course, this has so many variables involved, it is unreal - and very unpredictable.
this is just an example of what "can" happen to some hobby shops and part-time entrepreneurs.
wishing you all the best in all your adventures.
it would be nice to see some pictures of some of your projects.
 

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Smart and Cool
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I do woodworking as a side business while working full-time. Each month we take on orders for the next and try to make sure we don't over book our off hours and get burned out. The problem is most of my orders are custom and even when I try adding extra hours they seem to take longer then expected.
If this if a problem that you have had in the past advice would be appreciated.
Sounds like even though you pad your time estimate, it takes longer than you estimated.

The only way to fix this is to identify what is taking longer, for those jobs you ran over on, look at where your time was spent, if there is a consistent area that runs over time wise, add more hours there.

Or take a look at all of the jobs that ran over, determine the average percentage you went over, and start adding that to every job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sounds like even though you pad your time estimate, it takes longer than you estimated.

The only way to fix this is to identify what is taking longer, for those jobs you ran over on, look at where your time was spent, if there is a consistent area that runs over time wise, add more hours there.

Or take a look at all of the jobs that ran over, determine the average percentage you went over, and start adding that to every job.

Thank you
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited by Moderator)
Welcome to the forum! What are you building each month? How are you selling your work? Got any photos?

I rarely give a finite deadline on larger custom work, preferring instead to use a general timeframe. Small jobs often come in with a definite deadline and I always meet those deadlines a day or two early when and where possible. On jobs that require customer input at various stages I won't give a deadline unless they are very responsive. If they take 3-4 days to respond to a question then all 'deadlines' are off.

David
We use Facebook and word of mouth to bring in customers. We build mostly furniture from pine cabinets to oak build-in bookcases to beds or simple desk.
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This last photo is our current project and still in the works. I
 

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very nice work
what kind of wood is that for the glass cases ?
does the front slide up and back in a track like a Barrister ?
 

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where's my table saw?
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Next time, keep an accurate record of the time it takes to build a specific type of project, case work, tables with plank tops, etc. and if possible separate individual the steps or assemblies by time required. Now you can have a better estimate for the future. If possible, try and go back and remember how long each step required. Also I recommend giving a "range", rather than a specific number. "$hit happens" and there's no real control over it sometimes, so you shouldn't be penalized for that. An "honest" estimate will always bring return customers.
 

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Bah humbug
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Speed and production come with experience.

What slows you down and how to improve on it..

I never kept records I the 80's on pieces and time frames and still don't today.
 

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you are right, lesson learned. when i first started i was in your boat. learned fast, i almost had to double my estimate to be (more) accurate. if you are like me, i spend more time on the small details (which makes the quality i wanted) than i expected. do it and don't look back...
 

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When I first started out, no matter how much I re-examined my estimates, I was almost always off by half in my time estimates. Finally decided to just come up with my best estimate for a job and double the time factor. Worked great for quite a while till I finally got a better grip on it all.
 

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I think one thing we all worry about in the beginning is that if we charge too much we won't get the job so we round down instead of up and then regret it half way through. There are jobs were it is better to over-bid, if you don't win the bid you have done yourself a favour. Jobs have to be based on what equipment you have to produce them, you can't compete with the big boys and attention to detail is not always a valid selling point as they have machines that attend to details well enough for most people.
Sometimes we have to find our niche and stick to it as much as possible.
 

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Our house building buddy, the Essential Craftsman, said that as a good contractor you should lose half your bids - i.e., do not underbid the work. And don't over promise on schedule either !! Much better to promise a longer duration and finish early.
 
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..................There are jobs were it is better to over-bid, ...............Jobs have to be based on what equipment you have to produce them, you can't compete with the big boys ...............
Sometimes we have to find our niche and stick to it as much as possible.
I agree with this 100%
Oftentimes, the way you get the jobs from the big boys is they overbid because they dont want to be fooling with the small stuff. The main thing is that the profit you need to stay in a successful business has little to do with competition. You have to charge what you have to charge.
Here is another unpleasant fact.....you are not in competition with other woodworking businesses, you are in competition with the world. It often boils down to your cabinets or a new car, your furniture or a new media center, etc.
 

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Bah humbug
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In. Commercial your bids are figured from 1-10. If your not between 3-7 on a bid they will toss you.

If the contractor knows you, he might give you a heads up.

From what I've seen on most forums is way over bidding.
 

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I do woodworking as a side business while working full-time. Each month we take on orders for the next and try to make sure we don't over book our off hours and get burned out. The problem is most of my orders are custom and even when I try adding extra hours they seem to take longer then expected.
If this if a problem that you have had in the past advice would be appreciated.
Figuring these things out takes time. I lost a few dollars of the years getting an education. It is hard to tell you what to do because we may make the same item, but with completely different processes. What I did was keep a ledger, as detailed as possible during every job. I logged everything, research time, meeting with clients, design, ordering product, picking up product. Then, each phase of production, stock prep, milling, fabrication, finishing. You do get paid for driving 20 miles to a clients house and spending 1-1/2 hours giving them ideas. Keeping a ledger like this is a pain, but will give you a true insight into how much you are making. Once you have a better idea of how much time you are spending, you can assign an hourly rate. Once I had that, I would usually add 10%. Over time, you can use this data to calculate, with a fair degree of accuracy, how much to charge for a project. Another thing I learned, never bid a project low because you really want the work. It will burn you every time.
 

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Bah humbug
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My bid sheet.. I modified it over the years..... this is all I needed to look at to bid..
20210406_083355.jpg
 

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It is a common problem for many new business owners to undervalue their time. They want to get customers and are willing to cut their rate to get the job. However, a truly successful business will have a happy owner as well as happy customers.
 

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Egg Spurt
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Including stray children as part of the job probably cost a lot more than you first imagined an they tend to cost even more as they age.. Are you prepaying for their college education or just leave that up to the customer?

Kidding..obviously.. I used to give estimates based on parts of a board or sheet of plywood and so on. One thing I quit doing is discounting a job because I might have some materials on hand then subsequently end up eating material costs. Now they pay for the full sheet or board even if I only use a small piece of it..
 
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