MarkN1975

Advice on pricing for a client...

Recommended Posts

Thanks to all of you. Much appreciated. These days I cover much of what it takes to go from inquiry to delivered product on my website. People seem to want to understand why it’s so much more expensive to have me build custom furniture than everyday retail offerings so I let them know and understand what it takes.

Some aren’t interested and just want a price, others appreciate the transparency. Either way the information is there if they want to read it.

I’ve learned not to be intimidated by price. Some buy some don’t but short changing myself to hear a yes gets me nowhere.

I actually started to charge a cover fee for an estimate in the end. That way if it costs a lot of time and effort to research, develop, design, provide samples and consult on a project to get the pricing info together, I didn’t work for free.

I’d value thoughts on that too.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually started to charge a cover fee for an estimate in the end. That way if it costs a lot of time and effort to research, develop, design, provide samples and consult on a project to get the pricing info together, I didn’t work for free.

Thats one way to seperate the tire kickers from actual customers.

Let them know that you charge a design fee up front In the inital meeting.

It will be added to the cost of the piece  when you recieve their deposit.

I wouldnt charge repeat customers though. Especially if they referred clients to you.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After 40+ years I've learned to detect the tire kickers from the questions they ask. I guess it's an instinct learned from expensive lessons and experience.  Sometimes the statement  " I can make your dreams come true but it won't be fast or cheap " is the sort of challenge that weeds out the tire kickers from the clients worthy of the attention to detail that comes from all of those expensive mistakes we all make. To imply they can't afford it is occasionally quite successful at hooking the client with the appropriate funds to make a difficult request become reality. Then you must rise to the occasion and deliver... if that's not scary as hell you are either over confident or just plain stupid. 

Never ask an inebriated craftsman a question that started over 4 years ago if you can't handle the truth.....

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's interesting how people react to a craftsman regarding pricing. They ask the furniture maker for a discount. Do they ask the grocery store for a discount? The barber or hair stylist? Auto mechanic? I built custom fishing rods for seven years. People would tell custom builders-  I can get a fishing rod at Walmart for 30 bucks. The reply is- Yes, and they all look alike. Every one of my rods was unique, no two alike. Same with furniture as the customer will want something different.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Bankstick said:

It's interesting how people react to a craftsman regarding pricing. They ask the furniture maker for a discount. Do they ask the grocery store for a discount? The barber or hair stylist? Auto mechanic? I built custom fishing rods for seven years. People would tell custom builders-  I can get a fishing rod at Walmart for 30 bucks. The reply is- Yes, and they all look alike. Every one of my rods was unique, no two alike. Same with furniture as the customer will want something different.

I usually give those people the directions to the nearest Walmart. Someone offered me $40 for the bocote coat rack i made because they saw something similar on amazon. I laughed the wood alone was worth double that.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do a lot of work for a local trophy shop and they called me in recently to come in and meet with a prospect wanting a custom piece to set on a desk.  I met with the prospect and we exchanged pleasantries for a minute, then he showed me his sketch and asked if I could build it for $35.  Without blinking I said, "We've used $35 just for me to drive over and meet with you."  There was dead silence for 5 seconds and I never looked away.  He finally laughed and said, "It was worth a shot!"  The piece ended up around $250 and he was thrilled, even referred others to me for work.

A long time ago I learned to cut the job but not the price.  This is my price for the piece you want built - period.  Back when I built dining tables, conference tables, and other large furniture pieces - mid 80's to early 90's - I was often asked to build a dining table sized for 10 people and to do it for $2k (I don't recall what we charged but this will work for discussion purposes).  I would reply that I can do it but it will only seat 8.  You can sit closer together or pay $2,500 for the 10 seat size - your call.  In every case they paid the higher price to get what they wanted.

While I don't recall providing a price breakdown I'm sure it has happened a few times.  But as a general rule I just provide a price and timeline and stick to both.  If I go over on the time I estimated it would take to complete the job then that's on me.  Just like if I finish a job in 5 hours that I thought would take 8, and charged based on it taking 8, then I've been more efficient than I planned and made a little more 'per hour' than usual.  But it balances out with jobs that take longer than I planned.  If I was charging by the hour for labor I might look at this differently, though.

David

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm nowhere near the skill level to charge people for my work. A colleague asked me to make a dining room table for him; I told him it would take a long time and not be cheap, even if I only charged for materials. He later asked for a cabinet for his bathroom. Eventually he had someone else make it for him.

Guess I won't be quitting my day job any time soon at that rate :) 

Most people who shop at wally world or ikea have no clue the cost of good hardwoods, or the time and equipment investment required to get to the pont of commercial viability. The assumptions they make for a car mechanic or other professions don't take into account the same things are necessary for good furniture. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with you, Chip Sawdust. People don't realize what it costs for an independent auto repair shop. Plus the computer to do all the diagnostics.

Chestnut, good answer! Then when what they buy falls apart, you can build a piece of furniture that will last. An example is the antique furniture that was built 100 years ago or even older.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Mr. Mc Jones said:

I actually started to charge a cover fee for an estimate in the end. That way if it costs a lot of time and effort to research, develop, design, provide samples and consult on a project to get the pricing info together, I didn’t work for free.

Thats one way to seperate the tire kickers from actual customers.

Let them know that you charge a design fee up front In the inital meeting.

It will be added to the cost of the piece  when you recieve their deposit.

I wouldnt charge repeat customers though. Especially if they referred clients to you.

 

Thanks Mr. Mc Jones - Actually, I should clarify... I charge a cover fee up front for development etc but it comes out of the down payment if they place an order if that makes sense?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use to reface a lot of cabinets in the day. On the phone I could pretty much give them a price.  how many doors and drawers all I needed to know for the main price. 

 

Some call back some don't.  I was busy.....

 

When I priced out cabinets I give the base price and tell them the bare bottom on  getting cabinets....if they expected more they will upgrade....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Someone told me they couldn't  believe the price of kitchen cabinets. I told them I couldn't  believe people spend so much on a car knowing it will lose value daily....when I was 20 I bought my first house. All my friends had nice cars but rented. I'll  take the nice how and crappy car...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, BillyJack said:

Someone told me they couldn't  believe the price of kitchen cabinets. I told them I couldn't  believe people spend so much on a car knowing it will lose value daily....when I was 20 I bought my first house. All my friends had nice cars but rented. I'll  take the nice how and crappy car...

I had a crappy house and a crappy car. I made the house nice, sold it and was able to afford a nice house and nicer car..... it's funny how that works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.