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Forum topic by 404 - Not Found posted 06-18-2012 10:01 PM 2573 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2969 days

06-18-2012 10:01 PM

UPDATE (I’m like Stumpy now!) (no offence Mr Nubs)
It doesn’t look as bad now I’ve got my head around it, just for a laugh, I invite you all to pitch in your guesstimates. The drawings at post no. 30

I went to look at a job on Saturday which I am 99.999% certain will amount to nothing.
A very narrow (7”), high (48”) and long (78”) TV Console for a 40” flat screen, which is to pivot (somehow) to allow the screen to be pushed back against a wall or be pulled out so it’s in a corner position so it can be viewed.
I’m sitting here wondering how many hours of my life I’m going to lose working out the logistics of this and preparing a drawing of something that might work (did I mention the access for wiring and wrapping it around and over a gas fire flue? clear the curtains, negotiate the carpet), looking up special hinges, finding something that will do as a jockey wheel etc, doing a costing, only to be told (1) “that’s much more expensive than I thought it would be” or (2) “I’m going to put up a wall bracket instead”.
I know you have to expect these kind of things, take-the-rough-with-the-smooth and all that, and I’ve done tricky jobs before, but this time it’s just an ask too much, I know it, I can feel it in my water.
So, whinge over.
The Irish way of dealing with this particular problem (No.1) seems to be to go look at something and then never, ever call back (or say you’ll be round on __day and never, ever turn up).
The Irish way of dealing with this particular problem (No.2) would be to just put in a price that is ridiculously expensive as a deterrent.
I don’t really agree with either of the above.
Of course, the honest thing to say would be “I can design this job for you and work out a price which will probably be prohibitively expensive, the design might take 3 hours charged at €20 an hour” but I don’t think that will fly either.
So, what do you do?

37 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4932 posts in 3960 days

#1 posted 06-18-2012 10:11 PM

The Mississippi way:
Discretion is the better part of valor.
So there….:)
I’d leave this one alone.


View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3191 days

#2 posted 06-18-2012 10:31 PM

When you are there looking at the job you have to be up front and honest. 1) I cannot wrap wires around a gas fire flu, that would be against the local building code. 2) If the placement of the set is wrong, tell them why. 3) Look at the alternatives in the room that might be a better placement. At this point you need to open the conversation up to the alternatives, make recommendations, and incorporate as much of the customer wants as you can. Tell them you can make a detailed plan and estimate, based on the alternative. Also be mind full are the electrical supply and cable wires routed properly, will there be a need for electrical contrasctors or will cable need to be rerouted. People will be positively responsive to a professional assesment.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2986 days

#3 posted 06-18-2012 11:34 PM

I have done overly complex (either design and/or customer hassle) bids before and I have learned to charge for the research and proposal. It’s just fair. However, this is the part that I do guess on in advance—based off of my general experience, I can reasonably guess that it will take me X hours to come up with a very precise outline of the project. So then, for example, I will tell the customer it will cost $60 to get a full bid on the project which will include all the parts, a full design preview, breakdown of costs, etc. I also then give them a set limit of design changes (within that price) – let’s say 2 minor revisions. If they want something totally different, we have to re-approach and it will cost more.

If the customer is willing to pay several hundred dollars for whatever they’re getting, they should be okay with this. If they’re not sold on using you and are price shopping, it weeds them out before you bother with the headache.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10479 posts in 3429 days

#4 posted 06-19-2012 12:00 AM

tyskkvinna hit the nail on the head.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2487 days

#5 posted 06-19-2012 12:29 AM

Back when I was doing remodeling I would give free estimates. They were worth what the client paid for them. If the client hired my services I would provide a full, detailed drawing and a breakdown of the parts and processes needed.
It always bothered me when I started out to do a lot of work on an estimate only to have the client give the job to someone else and when I would get a chance to look at the finished product, they had used the plans and drawings I had worked for hours on but got no compensation for.

Providing a high estimate and a general idea of the work and plan free weeds out a lot of the price shoppers in a hurry.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View chrisstef's profile


17386 posts in 3006 days

#6 posted 06-19-2012 12:52 AM

The way that i have dealt with situations simliar to this is to talk to your client and explaain to them that its a fairly complex project that will require a number of time consuming steps. Explain the flue issue, the hardware issues to make it swivel, and a few of the other headaches. It helps if you are with them and can show them exactly what your talkin about. Then …. “if this is something your serious about, i certainly would like to have the project,i would love to give you something amazing, but the steps required to do this will take roughly “x” amount of hours to just plan. Being a one man show (or whatever that case may be), if i spend 4 days working on all the details and i dont get the job, im eatin hot dogs for 2 weeks (or spam, or whatever else sucks). Still interested?”

That schpiel has helped me out a bunch.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3160 days

#7 posted 06-19-2012 01:50 AM

+1 to what Lis said.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Gatorjim's profile


217 posts in 2205 days

#8 posted 06-19-2012 02:49 AM

This brought back a memory of a job I put a bid in for a small remodle job at a church. The pastor asked me if the bid included labor I told him that it did. He supprised be by saying that they were hoping I would donate the labor. I didnt get that job but another time I put a bid in for a deck that I didnt want to do at all. I only bidded on it because they were a friend of my x-inlaws. I figured the job and doubled it figureing that would kill it but nope I got the job and got paid to and they were thrilled.

-- My theroy in wood working will be. If I'm not enjoying doing it i won't do it.

View Ted's profile


2847 posts in 2211 days

#9 posted 06-19-2012 03:10 AM

but I don’t think that will fly either.

Whether you don’t think it will fly or not, if it’s the right way to handle the situation, then that’s what you should do. There can be only one of 2 results… A) you’re right, it doesn’t fly and you are off the hook from a job that you would undoubtedly regret getting involved with, or B) the customer surprises you and doesn’t even flinch when they give you the go ahead.

You gotta be professional, man…. impress them with your confidence and wisdom, earned through many years of experience. They are not just paying for a tv stand, they are paying for the service of professional. Stand up and deliver, and charge a professional fee. If they turn you down, it’s they’re loss… on to the next customer… somebody who can appreciate your professionalism. Attitude makes the difference.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Ted's profile


2847 posts in 2211 days

#10 posted 06-19-2012 03:12 AM

And if they say you cost too much, raise your prices. ;-)

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View bruc101's profile


1200 posts in 3542 days

#11 posted 06-19-2012 03:13 AM

I had on occasion done what Dallas was doing by giving the client the plans. After I got bitten a couple of times I stopped. If I get asked to design a kitchen or anything wood I get a deposit worth my time up front. Non refundable.

I’ll then call them into my office when I have everything completed and let them approve or make changes to their design. If they write me a down payment check then I’ll plot them off a set of plans of their design and will take their design payment off the final price. I let them look at their design on a computer first. If I go to their home they can see it on a laptop but no paper designs are with me.

If they decide to have someone else do the work for them then I still have my money for the time spent designing their project.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View lumberjacques's profile


72 posts in 3347 days

#12 posted 06-19-2012 03:22 AM

course, i tell the prospect that if they can arrange for my rent to be free, i can arrange for their project to be free….
my best approach to “weed em out” is “i’ll charge you $75 to go meet you, talk, and give you a bugetary price amount”. if i get the job, i’ll credit you the $75.
when i give a budgetary price, it includes making detailed plans, estimate, etc as well as the cost for making the detailed plans, estimate, etc.
if they are still willing at that point, i know that they are serious.


View Ted's profile


2847 posts in 2211 days

#13 posted 06-19-2012 04:16 AM

One thing you want to avoid is making it confrontational, especially since it’s not. Don’t tell them stuff like you have bills to pay too or your time costs money or any other ways of justifying your prices. If they respect you as a professional, there is no question about you charging for your services – it’s expected.

I look at what Jacques says (nothing personal Jacques, just being honest) as coming off cocky – i.e. confrontational. Many professional services charge a fee for estimates, like $60 or $75.. just a token amount. This is to pay for the time it takes to visit them and discuss the plan. They receive a professionally written receipt for that fee, which will be deducted from the total cost of the project, if they hire you to do it. Don’t tell them you charge for your time, unless they ask. If you do, then you are already trying to justify getting paid for your time, which you should never have to do. Act professional, be professional, and charge professional rates for the professional service you provide. If you act unprofessional, the customer will treat you accordingly, as they should.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Remedyman's profile


47 posts in 2197 days

#14 posted 06-19-2012 04:23 AM

After 10 years of remodeling when I was younger, I was amazed at how many jobs you could get by doubling or even tripling your rate. To many times I have seen people estimate a job fairly, say, I am not interested in this job, tack on 25+% and then get the job anyways.

Kind of interesting how it works out. I agree with everyone else. Be honest, be up front, and tell them that it is going to take you hours to get a real estimate and either they pay for that service, or you guestimate and when you start to go over budget they either suck it up then, or end up with a half finished project.

-- As long as our customers are happy, we have done a good job. Even if we are our own customer.

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3294 days

#15 posted 06-19-2012 04:39 AM

I bid projects all the time. It seems so simple to me that you can just say to them after the’ve explained what they want to do that you think it is going to be at LEAST this (Enter really rough figure) much. If they immediately reel back and try to get the price to half that then you know you aren’t ever going to be in a good situation with them. If they don’t flinch and immediately say okay lets do this then you know you’ve under bid them and you can work with them to get it done. If they seem on the fence then you’ve probably hit their budget right on the nose. It takes practice and a keen eye to not get roped into a deal you didn’t want to be in the first place unless it pays you well for your amazing experience and vast knowledge of custom furniture or fittings. You are well worth it and most people will not think so! Bidding is like that. The customer assumes that you really need the job and will try to get to your bottom most figure. OR, they had a figure in mind when they came to you and you just arent’ any where close to that. In which case you have to be willing to just walk away and move on to the next bid. The problem really arises when this is the only bid you think you will get in months and you have to at least make some money for the work so you can survive. Throw that feeling in the dumpster! You would rather live under a bridge than sell your valued work to a customer that does not appreciate you. If it’s what you do for a living then you have to make enough to live and should make more than that so you can live comfortably and stress free like they are! Worrying about how the tv stand is going to be constructed. As far as being professional, Yes be professional, but get paid for the work that you put out. So many business go under or suffer for VERY long amounts of time, going nowhere, because they want to be professional. You HAVE to make money to survive and if you are a startup or just feel like you are being cheated out of lots of your time then charge the consultation fees. It is your right and you deserve it. All this being said you will never make it far in your business if you don’t know what you are doing, suck at what you do, are a bad money manager, or just plain suck at customer service and can’t get along with people in general. running a successful business at any level is very difficult and I don’t mean to make it seem easy. You will work your but off and sometimes scrape by to put $100 a month into a savings account. But when you get to 60 years old you will be in a better place than all the others that did not know what they are doing and managed their assests badly.
rant over

-- LAS,

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