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Do You Work For Free?

 
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Old 05-31-2014, 06:55 AM   #41
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


If you want $45/hr you have to prove that you're worth it. So when you raise the question, "Do you work for free?" My answer is usually "YES" but it's not ever really free. It's just enough work to make them want more.

Every time I see a flat-panel TV on the wall with 100 wires extending from the bottom of it I'll offer to hide all of that crap in the wall. It takes me 15-20 minutes to fish it all through, then another 15 minutes to place all of the equipment on a small table and to hook it all back up.

Sure enough the HO usually asks me what I'll charge to do the same thing in their bedroom, then the referrals start coming in.

It's all about what people value and how you can change their perception of what is "valuable". I'm sure those same customers who balk about your prices probably have thousands of dollars worth of furniture, jewelry, and artwork.. none of which does ANYTHING functional to improve the house.
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Old 05-31-2014, 07:49 AM   #42
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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Originally Posted by mstrat View Post
Agreed completely! I hate when my customer can buy paint from SW cheaper than I can...their pricing scheme is horrible anymore. Local paint shop is getting my business now.
Agree SW has lost their evelasting mind.
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Old 05-31-2014, 08:54 AM   #43
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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Originally Posted by tedanderson View Post
If you want $45/hr you have to prove that you're worth it. So when you raise the question, "Do you work for free?" My answer is usually "YES" but it's not ever really free. It's just enough work to make them want more.

Every time I see a flat-panel TV on the wall with 100 wires extending from the bottom of it I'll offer to hide all of that crap in the wall. It takes me 15-20 minutes to fish it all through, then another 15 minutes to place all of the equipment on a small table and to hook it all back up.

Sure enough the HO usually asks me what I'll charge to do the same thing in their bedroom, then the referrals start coming in.

It's all about what people value and how you can change their perception of what is "valuable". I'm sure those same customers who balk about your prices probably have thousands of dollars worth of furniture, jewelry, and artwork.. none of which does ANYTHING functional to improve the house.
Screw that, next time someone asks me to hide the wires for a TV they already mounted themselves I'l tell them to call Ted Anderson he does it for free.
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:42 AM   #44
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


I would definitely go with a project price and qualifying the clients. And, what was said before: go commercial and upper end clients.

With commercial, it's "business money" not personal money. Therefore, it's important that the business looks good, and, get's back to business ASAP. So the quicker the job is done, the better. Plus, the business "makes money", residences don't---they cost money.

On the other hand, high end residences tend to be owned by people that have a mind set of: I want it done right, I want it to look good, and, although cost is a factor, it is also down the list. People with high end houses tend to look at things in a business mind set. Their houses reflect on them, they don't want their other high end friends coming over pointing out what a crappy job some contractor did.

My painting story is: my wife and her brother own income property. For a while, I was taking care of these places ( a time when I actually had spare time ). Nonetheless, the duplex needed a paint job desperately.

My wife's brother who lives in a 2 million dollar house (only because of rising home values), in a mostly white, upper class neighborhood, in an exclusively upper end area......said what most homeowners say, which is: "just slap some paint on it". This is his mentality.

He had work done on the duplex by a handyman that did work on his house (ie: cheap work, done cheaply). The paint was so thin in the interior, you could see right through it.....didn't even look like his used primer. I found this out when I painted the interior.

Anyway, we didn't just slap paint on the house. I washed it, primed it and bought a sprayer and sprayed it. Plus all the extensive prep work before hand. The moral of the story is, I ain't doing this again, the work is way too hard for me.

I am always impressed by good painters and I gladly take painting tips from them. But on almost all the residences I see and most of the commercial jobs I do, the painting is done by large crews of Mexicans, who seem to be the only ones doing painting around here anymore.

PS: the only painting I do now (as an electrician) are some areas in my own place. I hired a painting contractor to do all the big stuff (95% of the job).
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:05 AM   #45
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


The most expensive painter I know charges $35.00 hr for labor and pays his guys very well.

My guess is 45 is alittle high, like mentioned above, bid everything why tell your hourly?

Painting on the other hand is seen as one of those "easy" jobs that "anyone" can do, I know that a quality paint job is really hard and takes a huge amount of skill. Sure a can of cheap int. paint is cheap, but what about exterior primers on and on...... that stuff is not cheap. Quality paint is not cheap.

I have seen some awful paint jobs over the years both professionals and homeowners.

Carr, here is my thought for you, I do all my drywall work except when I don't have time or it's more than 20 sheets. I charge a ton of money to do drywall work. An outrageous about of money. Why? Supply and demand, white guy drywallers with no addictions, in high demand. But I bid all my work out there is no hourly charge or talk of hourly rate. So no one knows what I'm making.

I use two guys to help me do drywall occasionally but they charge $35.00 hr for both of them and they come as a team, which doesn't work for me on small jobs. If they would lower their rate considerable for both of them 20-25 range each as a team. Or only one of them would show up I would gladly pay $35.00 for one guy.

I know what they are making and it doesn't work for me. Everything is math game and it's up to the consumer to see how the numbers work in THEIR head. Even myself as a contractor play the game you are up against.
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:42 AM   #46
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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The most expensive painter I know charges $35.00 hr for labor and pays his guys very well.

My guess is 45 is alittle high, like mentioned above, bid everything why tell your hourly?

Painting on the other hand is seen as one of those "easy" jobs that "anyone" can do, I know that a quality paint job is really hard and takes a huge amount of skill. Sure a can of cheap int. paint is cheap, but what about exterior primers on and on...... that stuff is not cheap. Quality paint is not cheap.

I have seen some awful paint jobs over the years both professionals and homeowners.

Carr, here is my thought for you, I do all my drywall work except when I don't have time or it's more than 20 sheets. I charge a ton of money to do drywall work. An outrageous about of money. Why? Supply and demand, white guy drywallers with no addictions, in high demand. But I bid all my work out there is no hourly charge or talk of hourly rate. So no one knows what I'm making.

I use two guys to help me do drywall occasionally but they charge $35.00 hr for both of them and they come as a team, which doesn't work for me on small jobs. If they would lower their rate considerable for both of them 20-25 range each as a team. Or only one of them would show up I would gladly pay $35.00 for one guy.

I know what they are making and it doesn't work for me. Everything is math game and it's up to the consumer to see how the numbers work in THEIR head. Even myself as a contractor play the game you are up against.
You can't bill out 35 bucks an hour and pay your guys that well still make money. As a rule of thumb to cover your expenses and put a couple bucks in your pocket you have to bill your guys out AT LEAST 2x their nominal pay.
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Old 05-31-2014, 12:36 PM   #47
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


Most dental insurance costs more for the actual insurance (annually) than if you just paid out of pocket for the services.

I go every six months: two cleanings and one xray.

If I needed anything major, most often it's not covered by the dental insurance. Sometimes, it's covered by the medical.
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Old 05-31-2014, 02:32 PM   #48
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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You can't bill out 35 bucks an hour and pay your guys that well still make money. As a rule of thumb to cover your expenses and put a couple bucks in your pocket you have to bill your guys out AT LEAST 2x their nominal pay.
You beat me to it. No way you can make money for yourself charging $35 an hour let alone pay your guys all.
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You ask for your money frequently, and you collect it quickly, else you stop working immediately.
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Old 05-31-2014, 07:30 PM   #49
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


Carr ,
I don't think its something you are doing .
Ive seen a big down fall in the ny area in the last few years .
Ive been in business for 35 years 10 years in my area now .
I remember in 05 and 06 when guys around the country where very slow and I still had plenty of work . In 10 11 12 I was going strong .
June 2012 things dried up around here .
I have all ways built additions on homes, the last 2 years( nothing ) I don't see this type of work going on any where .
Im not on line yet I have no website but I will soon .
Ive been working 35 years by Word of mouth job running job to job like a crazy man .
I think we are taking a hit now when other states are doing a little better .
I don't know why ? John
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Old 06-01-2014, 04:04 AM   #50
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


My favorite is when I quote a price over the phone and they just say "WOW!".

Then I ask if that is wow because it is so high or so low. I've had both answers.
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:09 AM   #51
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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My favorite is when I quote a price over the phone and they just say "WOW!".

Then I ask if that is wow because it is so high or so low. I've had both answers.
Just had one yesterday. Guy wants a new kitchen. Tile floor, cabinets, tops backsplash, the while kit abd kaboodle... He asks over the phone what's a good number, and said that he was going to sell so he didn't want to spend much. I told him $30k-$50k. He said, "wow, we that's high. We were thinking a lot less." I told him my labor would run $15k minimum, cabinets $5k-$12k and tops another $3k-$6k easy, abd that hadn't covered the floor tile or backsplash.

He kept coming back at me with what ifs, so I told him to check craigslist.
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You ask for your money frequently, and you collect it quickly, else you stop working immediately.
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:23 AM   #52
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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Originally Posted by BugmanBCE View Post
My favorite is when I quote a price over the phone and they just say "WOW!".

Then I ask if that is wow because it is so high or so low. I've had both answers.
That's why you have to get people to divulge their mental budget first, that way you avoid "sticker shock".
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:46 AM   #53
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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Just had one yesterday. Guy wants a new kitchen. Tile floor, cabinets, tops backsplash, the while kit abd kaboodle... He asks over the phone what's a good number, and said that he was going to sell so he didn't want to spend much. I told him $30k-$50k. He said, "wow, we that's high. We were thinking a lot less." I told him my labor would run $15k minimum, cabinets $5k-$12k and tops another $3k-$6k easy, abd that hadn't covered the floor tile or backsplash.

He kept coming back at me with what ifs, so I told him to check craigslist.
Now you see, that is what a professional does....he offers a solution to the client's situation....in this case it's "check craigslist".

For me, I tend to get to the "craigslist" solution rather quickly with little discussion or debate. But there are also other viable solutions to these type of clients mentioned in the OP's opening thread:

Hire one of the fine craftsmen you see hanging around the Home Depot or Lowes parking lot...english language is optional.

Choose a "contractor" who's pickup still says Datsun on the back. A dented camper shell with a broken out rear window on this pickup is a must.

Pick a handyman or contractor who has the following words and phrases stenciled, stick-on lettered, magnetic signage or any other low cost advertising on their 1980's van, mini van, pick up, station wagon or panel truck: " Discount", "Free", "Low Price", "Affordable", "BBB Approved", or "See our Ad in the Yellow Pages".

All these tips will help the client quickly get to the decision they were going to make anyway.
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Old 06-07-2014, 05:36 PM   #54
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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Pick a handyman or contractor who has the following words and phrases stenciled, stick-on lettered, magnetic signage or any other low cost advertising on their 1980's van, mini van, pick up, station wagon or panel truck: " Discount", "Free", "Low Price", "Affordable", "BBB Approved", or "See our Ad in the Yellow Pages".
can't help but laugh, there is a handyman who has a 1998 "mini-van" with his business name and all the "trades" he does nicely stenciled all over his van

it's easy to judge

but the guy is constantly 2-3 months out with his handy man jobs no advertising all word of mouth has three guys working for him and charges $65 an hr. plus trip charges he's a great guy alittle bit of a backwoods type but when you get past that you see hes not an idiot and he knows what he's doing

he just doesn't play the part of an angies list home advisor clean cut shinny certified contractor
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Old 06-07-2014, 09:36 PM   #55
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


I went to look at a basement finish job, while the wife kept saying she wanted it simple the husband kept saying he wanted all this and that all high end stuff. When I got home before wasting my my time figuring the bid I decided to call him, I told him you're looking at $60k to $70k. He's says I don't want to insult you but I was thinking about $15k. I told him you'll be lucky to get the bathroom for that and I hung up on him.

I don't get what people are thinking, do they think I'm working for minimum wage?
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Old 06-07-2014, 09:46 PM   #56
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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I told him you're looking at $60k to $70k. He's says I don't want to insult you but I was thinking about $15k. I told him you'll be lucky to get the bathroom for that and I hung up on him.
Yep. I went to a house for a basement remodel about 5 years ago and he told me his budget was "25". He began to detail all the things he wanted and I told him he was looking at a range of "40-50"

It turned out that he was talking hundreds when I was talking thousands.

People can be pretty clueless but I always clarify now when pre-qualifying and asking for their budget.
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Old 06-08-2014, 02:02 AM   #57
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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I went to look at a basement finish job, while the wife kept saying she wanted it simple the husband kept saying he wanted all this and that all high end stuff. When I got home before wasting my my time figuring the bid I decided to call him, I told him you're looking at $60k to $70k. He's says I don't want to insult you but I was thinking about $15k. I told him you'll be lucky to get the bathroom for that and I hung up on him.

I don't get what people are thinking, do they think I'm working for minimum wage?
Forget minimum wage, you aren't even buying all your materials for that.
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:48 AM   #58
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Sometimes its all about the delivery of your bid. I got tired of hearing the sigh after I dropped the numbers on them. I always write up the bid and send it via email. This eliminates a phone call, which I hate talking on the phone and gives the HO time to read it and understand what all is covered. These days I sell 80% of my jobs without ever even talking to the HO. The other 20% are older folks who don't like the email way. Charge what you feel you're worth and the market in your area will dictate how busy you are. Supply and demand come into play for me too. If I get a little dead spot in the calendar I may lower my price just to keep busy, but never a low ball bid or free. My wife and I always joke that some of our customers need to be told that we are a for profit organization.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:06 AM   #59
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


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Sometimes its all about the delivery of your bid. I got tired of hearing the sigh after I dropped the numbers on them. I always write up the bid and send it via email. This eliminates a phone call, which I hate talking on the phone and gives the HO time to read it and understand what all is covered. These days I sell 80% of my jobs without ever even talking to the HO. The other 20% are older folks who don't like the email way. Charge what you feel you're worth and the market in your area will dictate how busy you are. Supply and demand come into play for me too. If I get a little dead spot in the calendar I may lower my price just to keep busy, but never a low ball bid or free. My wife and I always joke that some of our customers need to be told that we are a for profit organization.
I email some. But the "higher" number bids I deliver in person so I can better explain those costS, see the reaction, and try to help them understand what's involved and why it costs what it does.

I just did that with a large deck. Bid was about$40k, they were anticipating $20k. The initial reaction was "No Way!". After a brief conversation it was, "can you do my bathroom now and the deck next year?"

I don't think that would've came about had I not been there in person.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:38 AM   #60
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Re: Do You Work For Free?


Why the discussion of working by the hour?

As a GC, I ask for a price and I want a total price, labor only, or turnkey. I really do not care what a guy makes an hour. This is like responding to people wanting bids broken out....no, I don't break out bids either. If a potential client understood profit and overhead expenses, plus the value of experience, they would be in our business.

There are times we make a few hundred an hour, and more....and times we make nothing. Price the job to cover all of your time and not an hourly rate. If you work by the hour, you are an employee.

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