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Lotta time, little $$

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  • Lotta time, little $$

    Anyone have a lot of time in a project and cannot charge for the time you have in it? I have a little more than 30 hours in this up grade. A fellow wanted lift assist ramps built on this gooseneck, he had to slide them out from the rear and manually set in place but it tool me a lot of time engineering the best way and some trial and error. Plus I have a couple hours of mill and lathe work but I don't think I can charge him more than $350-$400 for such a job. Any thoughts?? Have this happened to you and how do you handle it? Here are a couple pics. I like the final design, turned out well.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Why can't you charge him more? If you are skilled and qualified to do the work, then charge for it! He would not get it any cheaper anywhere else!

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    • #3
      Don't know what you have into the job in materials or what you charge an hour for your time but it seems like you are asking way to little. If you have $200 in materials, (which seems too low) and you make $25 / hr, (Rate seems way too low for the skill level needed to pull off work that nice), you would have had 6-8 hrs to build this, (which also seems too low). I ask and regularly get $37.50 / hr as a general contractor and that a steal compared to guys I know getting $50-$65 / hr. or more. I usually want $175 for a 1/2 day of my time with my tools, $300 for a full day plus materials. I do better on a quoted job, figure rough max hours and then if I finish early or work a long day I come out ahead. Hey, I have to cover my fuel, tools insurance, truck, shop plus put money away for the winter when work is slow.

      Yes I eat some costs for really good clients. Make a run for a small job and just charge them time spent instead of the min. or under charge for hours, but those people come to me all the time. I can count on them to help me find work when its slow. They often keep a list of misc. work that they'd like to do but I can do it when there's free time.

      Guess what I'm saying is that GOOD SKILLS rate GOOD PAY! Don't sell yourself short without a **** good reason!

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      • #4
        Out of curiousity, did you give him any sort of estimate?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by root View Post
          Out of curiousity, did you give him any sort of estimate?
          He is a good friend and is in Florida for about another month. To be honest I did not figure it to take as long as it did. I went through a million different ways of doing it with the pros and cons of each. My biggest concern was to have a secure ramp in travel position. I know how road vibrations can beat the crap out of things and I wanted to make sure it would hold up. We did not talk price, he is not concerned, but if I charged him $40 per hour, your looking at $1200 for just a ramp re-work when the whole trailer is worth about $5500. I had all the material except for the 4' of rectangle tube which he brought over. I guess that's why I am struggling. I cannot get any work going out of my shop and I need to get the word out, mayby this will help and maybe I'll charge $450. Would sure help out.

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          • #6
            my honest opinion, you shouldnt have taken 30+ hrs to build two ramps, i have built ramps like that in less than 10hrs. if you charge him for 30+hrs of labour it is definatly not going to help your buisness

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            • #7
              When I fall into traps like that:
              (and get try to out of them as gracefully as possible)

              I call that sort of thing, 'Character building'.

              And,,,,,,
              I've noticed in the last few years,
              the older & older I get;
              the less, and less 'charachter building' I try to do.

              ,

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              • #8
                Charge for your time.

                My customers come to me with an idea first question is do you have drawings???


                If not I tell them up front that I charge $X per hour for drawing time If it needs an engineer then thy pay for that as well.

                Your customer brought it to you because you had the time to do it right he can pay for the service.

                Way too many craftsman are fearful of charging for, My CPA is always happy to see me because the minute he sits back down he hits the timer, we might not just talk business I still pay and pay and pay.......


                Collect what is due you. You did not go into business to give more of your time away did you?????

                TJ

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                • #9
                  Half of getting someone to swallow a bitter pill is presentation. So here's a couple of things to consider:

                  1. If your bill just says "xxxx -- $$$$" then it sounds more like buying an item in the store for a set price. Even a line item like "___ hrs x $___/hr" doesn't help that much because, without any context, how much time you should have spent or what hourly rate you should have charged is very subjective.

                  But if you give them at least a brief description of what you had to consider, what you did and the weight or quality of materials you had to use, then they get a better idea of what was actually involved. It no longer sounds like some one-size-fits-all item they can buy off the shelf or D-I-Y by themselves.

                  2. If you're only going to charge him $450 for it because you think it will be "good advertising," then make sure that he knows that he got a "friend's discount." Otherwise, everybody he talks to will come to you thinking they're going to get a cheap rate too.

                  So show your actual cost and fees on the bill and the amount of the discount he's getting:

                  Total Fees $$$$
                  Less: Courtesy Discount ($$$)
                  Amount Due $$$$

                  Then you can talk to him about the reason you gave him the discount (he's such a good buddy, you made it out of material you already had on hand, etc) And you don't give kind of discount to just anyone. So now he feels special

                  Once in a while, a friend will tell me, "Hey, if that's what it costs, then that's what it costs. I don't want you going broke giving me that kind of discount." Then he pays me the full amount -- over my mild objections.

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                  • #10
                    You are in a tough spot. Here is my opinion, for what it is worth. I would charge him what it would cost you to do the job if you were asked to do it a second time. You learned a lot in the process of doing this job, so write off some of that as "school" for you.

                    And next time, especially when working for a friend, discuss payment up front and anything that could make the cost escalate. And if it does start to escalate, I'd make it known to the customer before it gets out of hand.

                    Everyone that has posted has made good arguments one way or another. As many say, you did put in the time to do the job right, and that is worth good money. If you charge him the "full" price, that is valid too. Tough position indeed.

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                    • #11
                      Billing is tough. I have spent as much time trying to figure out what to charge as I have figuring out how to do the job. I have decided to stick to a set of guidelines and I don't deviate. I charge $75 an hour for my time spent actually welding, grinding installing, etc,,. If I have to make a run for materials I charge $40 flat. If I bid a job I put enough cushion in it to take care of the unknowns. My invoices have sections for materials, labor with a rate, an area that list other expenses such as picking up materials, and it all gets totaled up. I look at it this way, How many people on here have paid $300 to have their septic tank pumped out and it take 40 minutes. What about the A/C repair guy that charged you $350 to replace a $20 part on a Saturday? It's no different. If people could do it themselves they would. Maybe one day UNICEF will get into the welding business but for now we're the guys to see. Adam

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                      • #12
                        I had all the material except for the 4' of rectangle tube which he brought over
                        thats a statement that gets a lot of people in the red wondering how they got there. you had it on hand , but it didn't grow in the back yard. at some point you shelled out $100 or maybe more depending on what all you used.before you know it you start adding up your steel bills wondering why you spend $20,000 last year on steel and only billed out $10,000.
                        thats the first thing we think when its a friend, oh i got the steel,i got the wire, no biggie i broke a lath chuck or cutter. you still payed for the steel, payed to go get it (at $3+ a gal ) and bought the bit for the lath, still have to buy wire, still have to pay the electric bill. it all adds up and ya have to bill for it. if ya keep over looking the little stuff it will grow up and bi-ch slap ya. just ask your accountant.
                        back when i was making covers and selling them on e-bay i hated to pass on the extra expense as the fee's went up and mailing went up. but by the time i payed for the fabric, then the extra $ for getting it shipped to me, then the higher fee's then higher mailing out $ i could give mine and the wife's time away for free or charge more. like it or not ya have to pay for stuff to do the job, even if its already on the shelf.

                        good luck
                        if he is a real friend he will help you get the word out and get business regardless. if he is not, he doesn't deserve the discount.but don't pay him to do the job.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by root View Post
                          You are in a tough spot. Here is my opinion, for what it is worth. I would charge him what it would cost you to do the job if you were asked to do it a second time. You learned a lot in the process of doing this job, so write off some of that as "school" for you.

                          And next time, especially when working for a friend, discuss payment up front and anything that could make the cost escalate. And if it does start to escalate, I'd make it known to the customer before it gets out of hand.

                          Everyone that has posted has made good arguments one way or another. As many say, you did put in the time to do the job right, and that is worth good money. If you charge him the "full" price, that is valid too. Tough position indeed.
                          Well said, I too have used the "second time" rule. i also try and not get into open ended stuff with friends unless I have the time and am interested in the outcome. i am a part time backyard metal fabricator on road race cars. I do a lot "I got a little problem" work for my seemingly many friends with race cars. I use the one hour rule. If it is less than one hour from shop door open to shop door shut (plus an hour or two for general BS/beer time) I throw it down as a gimmie for my real friends. Real friends are the guys you spend time with when things are not broken or in need of more cage tubing) If after taking a look at the work it looks like I will be burning some real time and house stock or supplies I discuss money, taking the person into account. I always show what my retail time and standard shop costs are and what I think is reasonable for this one. I had a guy help me build my shop, he gets a lot of "gimmies". Sometimes the money is small and only to keep us both comfortable.

                          Originally posted by fun4now View Post
                          I had all the material except for the 4' of rectangle tube which he brought over
                          thats a statement that gets a lot of people in the red wondering how they got there. you had it on hand , but it didn't grow in the back yard.
                          Having stock in hand is not a reason to not charge something for it. You got the stock somehow and now is when that effort pays back. Even leftover from other paid work. This is deferred pay from the last job and storage fees.

                          Some folks don't understand the time involved in one off work. A trailer was made on an assembly line the work you did required fit up and thinking. The time spent welding was likely a small %.

                          Nothing gets work in the door like good work going out.
                          Last edited by Vicegrip; 02-22-2008, 11:38 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Vicegrip View Post
                            Some folks don't understand the time involved in one off work. A trailer was made on an assembly line the work you did required fit up and thinking. The time spent welding was likely a small %.
                            Very true, those who do not work in our profession have a hard time understanding what is involved in "redneck engeniring" and fabricating a one off part. Often when someone is laying out or fitting something it looks as if they are doing nothing, then they begin to weld and all of a sudden it is done. Much like watching a skyscraper being built. You watch all the equipment operators moving dirt around seemingly aimlessly and the foudation progress slowly, then all of a sudden the building shoots up.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Vicegrip View Post
                              Nothing gets work in the door like good work going out.
                              i couldnt agree with you more ...

                              i do all the welding on my buddy's 72 camaro rust bucket that were building....and now i got to weld up half a harley davidson frame

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