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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Blissfield, MI
    Posts
    78

    Default 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 Images Attached Images
    Modern Metalworking L.L.C
    Blissfiled, MI
    517-605-9481

    Miller Dynasty 350 Tig runner
    Hobart 3-phase mig
    Hypertherm 1000 plasma
    Mill
    Lathe
    Box break
    Shear

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Midland, Mi.
    Posts
    313

    Default

    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!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    North of Phila. PA
    Posts
    404

    Default

    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!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Most likely in Florida
    Posts
    111

    Default

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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Blissfield, MI
    Posts
    78

    Default

    Quote 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.
    Modern Metalworking L.L.C
    Blissfiled, MI
    517-605-9481

    Miller Dynasty 350 Tig runner
    Hobart 3-phase mig
    Hypertherm 1000 plasma
    Mill
    Lathe
    Box break
    Shear

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    356

    Default

    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
    mm210
    maxstar 150

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    DFW area
    Posts
    180

    Default

    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.

    ,
    "Gone are the days of wooden ships, and Iron men.
    I doubt we'll see either of their likes again".

    Circa 1920.
    Author:
    Unknown US Coast Guard unit Commander.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    732

    Default

    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
    TJ______________________________________

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, HI
    Posts
    103

    Default

    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.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Most likely in Florida
    Posts
    111

    Default

    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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