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Just had an interesting experience. Took some end mills down to be sharpened. Great guy, has a shop in his basement, sharpens for lotsa folks.

$5.00 each for my 1 X 3 end mills, yeah that's cheap. Also brought him some 1-1/4 inch cutters I wanted made into 10 degree dovetail cutters. He was lost in thought for awhile and finally said $25.00 each! I couldn't help myself, I told him that was way too cheap! Told him if he had said $75.00 or even $100.00 each I wouldn't have batted an eye. We settled on $50.00 each.

So, am I screwing myself? No, I just take as good of care of my vendors as I do my customers. I want him to be glad to see me coming. I told him that standard stuff you should be competitive on (he's too cheap there) and on custom stuff you should bid high. He'll probably spend more than an hour on each of those when he could kick out 10 - 15 regular cutters. Give a price you know you'll be happy with and tell the customer you can have it ready the next day. If only half of them take him up, he's way ahead. Remember: you don't want more business, you want more money! Some people will do anything for more business.

I know: pricing's a bugger. I told a guy one time he should double his prices. He said he'd lose half his business. I said "wouldn't that be great"? Half the work, same money! And time to do more jobs.

If you're going to go out of business, do it raising your prices, not lowering them. Seen that over and over.

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I once had a man ask me to make something for him. I gave him a price that I thought would be fair for both of us. He insisted it was to cheap. He suggested twice what I quoted plus another fifty dollars. I did the job. He paid me HIS price. I was quite pleased of course. Wouldn't it be nice to deal with people like that everyday.

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I agree with you. Yesterday I had a client come into my shop and wanted to know if I could straighten his pick axe. I said yes and I quoted him a price and he thought it was to high and started to leave. I said wait a minute I will fix this one for you and you can watch. So I straighten and retempered it. I did not charge him for it and told him to go home and try it. If it worked come back and pay me the price I quoted him. He came back with two more to fix and ask for buisness cards for his buddies. Don't be afraid to charge a fare price for your work.

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I had this happen with some furniture I made out of wood. I set a price, and the customer doubled it after seeing the quality. They were bike racks for the garage, made out of plywood with some paint. I didn't even fill the voids before painting, and was already charging materials + estimated time (and I estimated time high)

Apparently he found what I was coping, and I was charging about 1/4 the price.

Phil

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Keeping your customers happy is one of the main keys to running a business. I have also learned, quality work is also a huge factor. I built a fence for a resteraunt in a small town and the customer gave my card to some people. They wanted me to build a fence simmilar to one the I made for the resteraunt. They already had in their minds that I was going to build their fence. The couple didn't even get other quotes, I gave them my bid and the wife told me that she thought that was too low and added to my quote. My selling points are quality and honesty.

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I usually take the opposite approach to HWHII for those little walk in jobs. I will suggest they go grab a coffee and let them know where the Tim Hortons is. I tell them to come back in half an hour and have the job ready for them when they come back. I won't do one of those jobs for less than $20 and if it only takes 5 min they might feel ripped off. They come back half an hour later and we are both happy. Neighbors and freinds get these jobs for free of course.

I had a guy come into the shop a few months ago with 4 big box store 1/2" cane bolts, he wanted another 90 degree bend 5/8" from the existing one bending the bar back on itself (not a 5 min job but not a big job) I quoted him a fair price I think it was $25, he complained that was more than the bolts cost him and was too much. I simply told him it was not worth my while for less and went back to work. He immediately told me to go ahead and was happy with the bolts after his coffee, I didn't make more than shop rate on the job but I am glad I didn't have him staring over my shoulder. I can go broke sitting on the couch at home or forging things I want to make I don't need to do it making other peoples things.

I think I paid $15 the last time I had a 1x3 endmill sharpened, that guy is cheap.

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Just had an interesting experience. Took some end mills down to be sharpened. Great guy, has a shop in his basement, sharpens for lotsa folks.

$5.00 each for my 1 X 3 end mills, yeah that's cheap. Also brought him some 1-1/4 inch cutters I wanted made into 10 degree dovetail cutters. He was lost in thought for awhile and finally said $25.00 each! I couldn't help myself, I told him that was way too cheap! Told him if he had said $75.00 or even $100.00 each I wouldn't have batted an eye. We settled on $50.00 each.

So, am I screwing myself? No, I just take as good of care of my vendors as I do my customers. I want him to be glad to see me coming. I told him that standard stuff you should be competitive on (he's too cheap there) and on custom stuff you should bid high. He'll probably spend more than an hour on each of those when he could kick out 10 - 15 regular cutters. Give a price you know you'll be happy with and tell the customer you can have it ready the next day. If only half of them take him up, he's way ahead. Remember: you don't want more business, you want more money! Some people will do anything for more business.

I know: pricing's a bugger. I told a guy one time he should double his prices. He said he'd lose half his business. I said "wouldn't that be great"? Half the work, same money! And time to do more jobs.

If you're going to go out of business, do it raising your prices, not lowering them. Seen that over and over.


Outstanding advice and I hope everyone is paying attention. My primary bread and butter "day job" has been managing various types of contract manufacturing plants for the past 30 years. The thing I see time and again is the desire to get bigger, do more sales, hire more people, etc - next thing you know, the accountant says you are making less money than last year or worse, you LOST money! Right now, my boss has me looking at a company to acquire where the owner should have sold out two years ago, but now he is sick and sales are down and they are laying people off and their customers are leaving...you get the picture. In a month or two, it will just be an asset sale in what continues to be a 'down' market and the guy will be lucky to make 15% on his original capital investments.

Don't be afraid to ask a fair rate for good work - it makes you happy to do the job and the people who can afford it won't care because they got what they wanted. The rest can go pound sand...

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Grants right ( I find my self saying that a lot these days) I have a pretty good system I think in regard to a micro job ( anything less than an hour ) Without going into great detail If its something I dont mind doing for someone I dont mind doing it for... it will always be gratis. I have found a hand full of people abuse this service, In which case they immediately get a full rate price... The 4th time a guy comes in with a "it will just take you a min" job in a week he is most likely going to at least buy my lunch though...

And I think it is very important to reward people who go beyond the call of duty... In all my time as a metal fabricator i have only received one "tip" I had totally miss understood what the lady wanted and completely fowled up her gate. She gave me a scale drawing with measurements and while standing in front of her house ask me to base the gate on the drawing but match the architecture of the house. The house had 4 massive windows that formed a cross at the peak of the roof... so I built the gate so the infill matched the lines of the house, and was quite pleased with how it turned out... the gate was finished, only thing left was hinges and a latch when I sent her a photo for approval... She responded quickly and was angry... She said I gave you a picture of what the gate was to look like!! What is this! I said you ask me to match the architecture of the house.. she replied I just meant I wanted the angle on the top of the gate to match the angle of the roof!... I apologized and said I would make it right... I started cutting apart the old gate and more or less destroyed it in the process... so starting from scratch I built her a duplicate of her drawing.. She gave me a $200 tip and a hug... and has referred three new clients to me resulting in at least fifteen grand worth of work...

I on the other hand over pay for things frequently. I had to have a shipping container moved today. I was quoted $250 over the phone. The guy showed up on time, did a great job and obviously was a master at his trade.. I paid him $300 cash and felt like it was worth every penny... I know that I will use him again and it will come back around... Service people who are good at what they do are a rare breed... Be good to to them and It will pay back in spades....

I make it a point to pay my friends when they help me... most refuse and I'll be forced to stuff it in a pocket of theirs while they are not looking... But I really value there time and effort and I will at the very least cover any expenses,

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I agree with the pricing issue whole heartedly. I sometimes price too low*, but most of the time, I charge as much as I can get. There's several other smiths in the area, and most of them bid everything way too low. I've talked with them time and time again, to no success. I'm talking about as much as three times the difference in price between them and me.

* Mostly, if I've underpriced myself, it's either the job was a lot more difficult then I thought it would be, or it's something I've never done before, so I'll be on a learning curve and take a lot of time practicing to do the job. One of my last jobs fell in the former. It involved forge welding fire baskets. While one is easy, standing all day in the heat of August forge welding made the job a lot harder then I though. Took me three times as long as I had priced. I had to take a lot of breaks, but two hundred forge welds later I was finally done.

Edited by Gerald Boggs
grammer

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Be very wary of doing anything for free... The customer will think that they owe you a favour and may not come back in case you think that they're scrounging.

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about the only jobs i do for free are straightning tent pegs and such ... some people tip but i figure its a good will gesture . I have a tip jar at my shop at the museum some days its the only money comeing in ... i do demo and make stuff for people while they wait and ive been paid extra when they watch . priceing is a hard to figure sometimes but a lot of what i make i can compare to others items . ime working on more consistent finish tho as it seems to make a difference on percieved value . i tumble a lot of my product but on the road i currently cant do that . working on a portable tumbler for the hooks hangars and dinner bells .

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I have noticed one problem is that a lot of people think a blacksmith should do things for $.50/hr - like back in the "old" days. A weldor can drive up with his rig and get $50/hr and a machine shop can charge upwards of $75 to $100/hr but a guy who has taken the time to properly learn to use a hammer is supposed to sell ornate candle holders for $5 because that's what Wal-Mart sells them for. Although I once sold a lot of craft stuff I do not try to compete there anymore due to the imports. Instead, I make what no one else will attempt.

For example, a couple years ago, a contractor came to me with a need for a custom throwbolt for a period house renovation. The original bid was for 200 pieces but they were worried about matching the sample so I made two first articles and gave them to him at no charge. It was primarily a machining job but the parts had to be joined with a solid rivet and that was something that scared off the competitors. They were so happy that the owner doubled the order to 400 and did not quibble over price - it was something she wanted plus out of perhaps 30 phone calls, the contractor was unable to find anyone who would attempt it. As the project moved ahead, I was given several other jobs on time & material. I had earned their trust in the first encounter and eventually was awarded close to $20K out of that one house renovation. However, everything had to match - no creative excursions - and that was another lesson in giving the customer what they want...

Edited by HWooldridge

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Be very wary of doing anything for free... The customer will think that they owe you a favour and may not come back in case you think that they're scrounging.


Spoken like a true pessimist.... Truth is I do it for free just as much for me as for them. I like helping people who appreciate it because its rewarding to me. I do several hundred thousand a year gross and to me the extra $25 here and there would make virtually no difference to my bottom line, However feeling like I helped someone out and expected nothing in return pays great dividends via quality of life.... And I have made several good friends from the gesture. I once built a very complicated full suspension bicycle for a guy... Took me three months of evenings and weekends... for free, for a guy I didnt know from Adam... I did it because it sounded like fun, I wanted to see if I could do it and because I could see the guys passion for this bike ( he had spent two years drawing and perfecting the design.. had had a "frame builder" build him a prototype that was just horrible... I had told him I was not the right guy... up until he showed me what the expert frame builder had done... I said shoot I can do better than that...:) I am now good friends with the fellow, even though we are nothing alike (He is a high school English teacher at a Christian school, I am a tattoo'd hooligan blacksmith) and he has helped me more than enough to repay me for the bike

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I think I may have phrased that badly. I certainly didn't mean that one shouldn't help anybody, I merely meant that some people would rather things are kept on a business footing, they don't want to rely on the charity of others. I agree, there are many jobs that I would rather do for nothing that not at all.
My personal view is that if you help others whenever you can then there is no shame in accepting help when you need it.

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It really depends who you are dealing with if they appreciate your time and the craftmenship you posses. My motus operandi is usually to do the first small job for free if its a small personal item or a minimal fee if its larger. Their reaction to my generosity is what I guage to see if I want to work for them again. You can usually tell on their immediate reaction what they will expect in the future.

I agree with the walmart mentality though. A lot of the items I get asked about would end up costing several times the amount they could get from stores like walmart. Its frustrating for me because I would love to attempt them but I cant do everything for free.

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Larry,

Outsanding work on the bike (as always with your work)!

I agree with you that the occasional job for free sometimes gives you one of the biggest returns - it's just not measured in dollars.

I often do a free piece for someone because it "fits" and while I'm not operating anywhere near your scale, I've found over time, those gestures average out to benefit the ol' bottom line!

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Just one example of a "free" job that more than paid for itself.
A contractor(carpentry) that I had worked with at the yacht yard I was working at found out I did motorcycle work on the side.He wanted an old sidecar mated up to a mid size Jap bike.I told him I only work on Harleys and Brits.He`s a real card and talked me into just coming by and looking at the job.Long story short I did the job for him at his place using his gear and really enjoyed both his company and the challenge the job presented.Pretty much every nite he sent me home with something I could use.Came time to settle up and I told him he didn`t owe me a dime.
2 years go by with him constantly dropping off "little bits of steel"(wrought iron to heavy structural and none less than 8' long,great stuff)at the yard for me.
He found out we were building a new house and asked if there was any work I might throw his way.I asked him for an estimate to do the framing of the walk out basement for the modular house.He just showed up with his crew,did the job in one day and refused to accept a dime from me.
I finally got him back though.His son thought he`d like to try smithing.I dropped off a forge w/blower,leg vise,about 10 sets of tongs and various other tools and hammers I had doubles of(he already had an anvil).
He sold the rice burner,bought a Harley(from me) and we ride together when we can.

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Monstermetal,
Larry - monster make very pretty and substantial without having the end result look heavy! You have a fine hand and an eye for the understated. Great work! You possess more than a skill - most artists usually do.
Tim

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Monstermetal,
Larry - monster make very pretty and substantial without having the end result look heavy! You have a fine hand and an eye for the understated. Great work! You possess more than a skill - most artists usually do.
Tim


Shoot Tim... Very kind words... Not sure I deserve them but I so seldom get a pat on the back Im going to pretend like I do... :)

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