View Full Version : I don't think I did too good... (Pricing)

10-03-2005, 03:25 PM
I picked up a little welding job making 6 gate frames for wood privacy fences. I quoted the guy $75 and the materials (not including gas, wire, saw blade etc.) came up to $171. I picked up the steel today.

That's only like $200 profit and that's if I don't screw up anything and have to go back for more http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//eek.gif

I'm not complaining because I'd probably just be cutting and welding some other project but I'm seeing that profits can be thin for you guys doing it for a living unless you price it right.

10-03-2005, 03:37 PM
Welcome to the wonderful world of self employment. So far today I have a profit of $25.00. If nothing else comes in today I will have earned $2.77 per hour today.

10-03-2005, 03:38 PM
lol...sounds like me

i went to drop off a custom job that i did for someone...she didn't like the color i painted it.

i told her she could buy a can of spray paint at home depot for .99, she didn't buy it.

granted, i wasn't taking a loss, but i quoted wrong and was only taking a profit off about $10/hr.

now she wants me to meet her 50 miles away, with it repainted.

when she emails me, i'll tell her i will, for an extra $50...should close the deal, and i can sell to someone else for twice as much.


10-03-2005, 03:39 PM
congrats Evan you're working for almost a gallon of gas an hour...

makes me feel bad for complaining about $7.25 an hour steady

[This message has been edited by operose (edited 10-03-2005).]

10-03-2005, 03:44 PM
hey hoffman..
you know, you should really get yourself a cleverer nickname http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

> materials (not including gas, wire, saw
> blade etc.)

thats where it'll bite ya. 4" flap disks are $2.50 a pop out here. $200 profit on 6 frames is $33/each.. or about 40% of your cost. add in your other expenses and that might be down to 30%.

then again i dont really know any details.. maybe they're just simple rectangular frames with no hindges/painting/etc.

trick is to get out good work as fast as possible. do all your cutting, then your fitting, then your welding.. if you can get them done in 2hrs.. about 20mins each, it wouldn't be so bad. make a quick plywood/2x4 jig if they're all the same size.

unless one gets into custom work, this standard stuff is hard to make a buck on. considering you can buy chiwanese gates, with wood slats & hardware, out of the box from the Depot for $50.

if you find its something you like doing.. and would like to make a little money at the same time, get in touch with local builders/contractors and esp. architects in your area. they're always coming up with crazy stuff that needs to be custom-made.

most of all, have fun / wear your shields.

John Stevenson
10-03-2005, 03:54 PM
The other week I wasn't having a very good day, [ nothing unusual ]
Phone rings and some guy [ unknown ] say's "Can you tell me how much you will charge me to........"
So I butted in and said "if you have to ask you can't afford it" and slammed the phone down.

Now that is customer relations for you http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

John S.

Edit, one of my customers is a father and son concern. Father is past retirement age but a decent guy except he's forever hitting the wrong button on the speed dial.
One day he called me three times during the day by mistake.
Last time he called I said "George, have you ever thought about voluntary euthanasia ?"

I won't post what he said http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

[This message has been edited by John Stevenson (edited 10-03-2005).]

10-03-2005, 04:49 PM
Yeah, There is nothing like bidding a job, sweating your butt off all day under a welding helmet then add things up and find out you paid the guy for the privilage of working on his stuff. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//eek.gif.Best ones are where you tear up $50 worth of tooling on a $10 job.Don't get me wrong there not all bad but it is easier to remember the ones you blew out of the water than the ones you made out on. And always remeber self employment means you get to set your own hours (all 24 of them http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//rolleyes.gif )


Jim Koper
J&R Machining

[This message has been edited by jkoper (edited 10-03-2005).]

10-03-2005, 05:09 PM
"Best ones are where you tear up $50 worth of tooling on a $10 job."

Happens all the time with me. I'm scared of what is going to happen when I start running out of the tooling that I have picked up at autcions cheap.

I am finding that custom work simply isn't worth the time it takes. I always underbid, as I figure it's just like what I make on a consistent basis...with only extra material or whatever added.

I always forget that I have fixtures made up for my daily moneymakers. Granted, the welding fixtures are made out of plywood and scrap wood, but they get it all in the right place for tacking everything together. Then once it's solid, I can do the finish welding on it.

I am starting to understand time/materials on a "buy the tool or build it basis", but on a quote job, it's much more difficult. I guess that is where a lot of shops go under.

I need to move to a small town and charge materials plus 25 bucks an hour for fabrication, no quotes. Develop a name for myself as being a good guy, and people will bring their work to me either way, knowing the cost will be honest.



Your Old Dog
10-03-2005, 06:13 PM
I engraved guns full time for two years. I did reasonably well until I would let someone talk me into doing something I wasn't comfortable doing or felt just bit beyond my ability. In nearly every such case I lost money. I'm now content to collect my paycheck from the mailbox at work and I got more time to play at home!!

10-03-2005, 06:33 PM
Unfortunatly quotes are a way of life in a job shop, and I don't think it ever gets easier. I am in a small town and have the reputation of being a "good guy" who can build and weld anything, I am one of the only shops around that will tackle aluminum,cast aluminum,pot metal,cast iron you know all the fun stuff. People still want to know how much it will cost.I regularly charge only what I think a job should cost, not how long it took when things don't go smooth. As far as $25 an hour+ material, I think you'll find by adding up all of you operating expenses $25/hr ain't gonna cut it (not if you want to have any decient equipment, replacing that tig welder when it goes poof gets expensive). There are a lot of hidden expenses it hard to keep track of on every little job. The hardest thing to deal with is when you get customers who can't understand why you can't build it for less than they can buy it from a place like JC Whitney or Tractor Supply. Some days it would be nice to just punch a clock and let someone else worry about it. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif


Jim Koper
J&R Machining

10-03-2005, 06:56 PM
The thing I have learned over the years is when bidding a job, take my quote and triple it. That'll be close to what it ought to be. I'm ALLWAYS bidding too low.
If I don't get the job, I didn't want the job. I got so much work now I don't know what to do with it all.

Tim Mehner
10-03-2005, 09:11 PM
I rarely do any outside work, but when I do it's done on a time and material type deal. I figure my time is worth $50 hr. and if they don't wanna pay me that then I don't bother with the job. However, this isn't my full-time job either.

10-03-2005, 09:30 PM
I do have the day job but when I move to the new place I plan on actually doing some work for local folks. I'm already doing some networking down there and there is a lot of work around for a guy that can/will handle the smaller stuff.

This job is for a local guy who moonlights putting up privacy fences and he's getting pretty busy with the housing boom around here. I figure I'll eat this one and go up on the next batch. Maybe If I deliver on time he'll agree to paying more but if not... oh well...

I'll be using the MIG on this one. I looked at some of his other gates and they looked like poop. I think the last guy was using a flux core MIG.

I cut most of the stock this evening and worked on the TIG while my band saw was doing it's thing. I'm going to use the little I make on this job to get a chop saw...

[This message has been edited by hoffman (edited 10-03-2005).]

Norman Atkinson
10-04-2005, 03:56 AM
So you think that you have problems?

I haven't been paid for 20 years.
Am I missing something? Answers on a £5 or 10$ note to :-

Droopy Drawers

John Stevenson
10-04-2005, 04:07 AM
You missed the post code out

Norman Atkinson
10-04-2005, 05:13 AM
I've tried that.
I've tried looking East to where the last miracle came.
Isn't life trying?


10-05-2005, 01:25 PM
Funny how self employment goes. Monday I averaged $2.77 per hour. Yesterday I averaged $53.00 per hour.

10-05-2005, 02:02 PM
Sounds like my day. I'm averaging about $5 right now, but I just dont have the motivation to keep going. It's a hot day. I can't wait til winter when I can get the shop warmed up to about 65 and fly around without having trouble breathing from lack of oxygen in the water that we have in the air right now.

I just quoted another job that I got (dont have cash in hand yet). I doubled my normal quote for labor, time will tell if I do any better.


10-05-2005, 02:51 PM
Quoting used to be a problem for me until I started to not give a ****. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif I try to come up with an honest evaluation of my costs; time, materials, tooling, etc. Then I double it. Then I sleep on it, come back the next day and double it again. (Generally)

I never EVER send out a quote that will not make me 100% profit. PERIOD. It is way better to have no work than take work that is going to loose you money. Of course I don't sell machine work as a primary product, it is just one part of an entire product that also involves some instrumentation and embedded systems programming at the least.

Here is another suggestion to all of those young'ns that have trouble quoting.

When you give a quote to the customer the first answer should ALWAYS be a no, or they should gasp for air, there eyes should bug out. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//eek.gif (Just like that) If they take your first quote you left money on the table. Remember you can always lower your price but its going to be really hard to raise it.

Yet another rule...When you have more work than you can do, raise your prices. That sounds simple but you would not believe how many people miss that.

As far as a goal for hourly pay I shoot for $50 an hour. Sometimes I get less sometimes I get more. Those times I get more are good. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

A job thats only going to pay $10? Ain't gonna take it unless she is *HOT* http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

[This message has been edited by jkilroy (edited 10-05-2005).]

10-05-2005, 10:27 PM
Faith! Its all a matter of faith.
When I plough a field,fertilize and sow the seed I do it on faith. Faith that it might rain enough to grow the crop. Faith enough that it wont rain while I harvest. Faith that the prices in the world markets wont have been ruined by huge government subsidies to their farmers in competition with me.
You guys just got to work harder to pay the taxes so subsidies can be paid. Have faith that we all get to eat tomorrow.
Self employed cheap food provider to the world.
Hang in there while I fix this harvester.Must be someone in town who could do it cheaper and better than I can.Yeah! the machine shop just closed beacause he wanted to retire to Queensland.The local school does not have a programme for machinist. We call them fitter and turners.
So theres my self employed gripe for the month.
Thought I had it tough until I saw those pictures of the NO storm. Guess we cannot have everything.
Be good to the dog.