You charge what?

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ceb58

Senior Member
Location
Raeford, NC
I know many of you as I have have ran into this more than once. You give an honest estimate and the homeowner, contractor goes into cardiac arrest screaming your are charging too much. I found this today and although it is not electrically related I am thinking of trying it the next time I run into a situation like this.


A customer asked me how much it cost to make a table....
I answered him: $ 1500
He said: So expensive for this job?
I asked: How much do you think it would cost you?
He answers me: $ 800 maximum... That's a pretty simple job right? !"
- For $ 800 I invite you to do it yourself.
- But.... I don't know how to.
- For $800 I'll teach you how to. So besides saving you $700, you'll get the knowledge for the next time
- It seemed right to him and he agreed.
- But to get started: you need tools: A table saw, a planer, a top, dormants, etc...
- But I don't have all these equipment and I can't buy all of these for one job.
- Well then for another $250 more I'll rent my stuff to you so you can do it.
- Okay, he says.
- Okay! Tuesday I'm waiting for you to start doing this work
- But I can't on Tuesday I only have time today.
- I'm sorry, but I'm only available Tuesday to teach you and lend you my stuff. Other days are busy with other customers.
- Okay! That means I'm going to have to sacrifice my Tuesday, give up my tasks.
- I forgot. To do your job yourself, you also have to pay for the nonproductive factors.
- That is? What is this?"
- Bureaucratic, tax, vat, security, insurance, fuel etc.
- Oh no!... But to accomplish these tasks, I'm going to spend more money and waste a lot of time!
- Do you have them? You can do it to me before?"
- Okay!
- I'll make you all the material you need. Truck loading is done Monday evening or Tuesday morning you'll have to come by 6 loading the truck. Don't forget to be on time to avoid traffic jams and be on time
- At 6??? Nope! Too early for me! I used to getting up later.
...
- You know, I've been thinking. Y ' all better get the job done. I'd rather pay you the $1500. If I had to, it wouldn't be perfect and it would cost me a lot more.
When you pay for a job, especially handcrafted, you pay not only for the material used, but also:
- Knowledge
- Experience
- Study
- Tools
- Services
- Time to go
- punctuality
- Accountability
- Professionalism
- Accuracy
- Guaranteed
- Patents
- Sacrifices
- Safety and security
- Payment of tax obligations
No one can denigrate other people's work by judging prices.
Only by knowing all the elements necessary for the production of a certain work can you estimate the actual cost.
I did not write this dialogue, but am sharing it to support craftsmen and entrepreneurs.
 

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
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__dan

Senior Member
omg so many times I have seen this, so many stories to tell. one time I finally got the last check from (my accountant's gf at the time, a mortgage writer in the mornings and house flipper in the afternoons). I knew I did the job only for him and would not have even talked to her. The first story they told me when I looked at it was how they had the sherriff after their carpenter (gc remodeler) for taking $10,000 and then not finishing their dilapidated 1930's built reno. I told them the job (he had bid) was minimum 60k and the only mistake he made was underbidding it. He was employed by the school system as a carpenter and they were trying to give him jail time (they may have stopped on that after talking to me).

Oh yeah, getting the last check on my 5k bid with an hour of travel time (he was my accountant and a life saver).

I call her chase her call her chase her. Finally she agrees to meet at the job, another hour one way. I'm there and she's fast walking from one corner of the bungalow to the other on the phone for 20 minutes (probably more than one call). I'm standing there in the center not moving the entire time (this had taken one month to arrange). She was only there because I had called him and told him it was his problem.

Finally she stops in front of me and I'm still not moving. She scribbles out a check in three seconds and hands it over, but as she does so (I watch) her fingers fibble. The check starts travelling to the floor, but I was so stressed out that I was standing there watching the whole thing in slow motion. The check is doing this really slow axial rotation as it travels to the floor. This took an apparently really long time. I watched it happen.

Finally the check reaches the floor and I'm still standing there looking at it. Then she says "that's your check".
 

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
These people probably think the cashiers at WalMart make $4k an hour just because that's the amount of money they put in the register.
 

James L

Senior Member
Location
Kansas Cty, Mo, USA
Occupation
Electrician
I gave a price to a general contractor for a couple of puck lights in a display cabinet, and the customer thought it was too high. Here's how it transpired, through text:

Him -
Of course now they are telling me they think that is really expensive. What Puck lights are you using do you have a link or something you could send me? They are asking

Me -
The cost of the fixtures is the least of it. The price is in the expertise in knowing what to install, the skill to know how to do it, the risk of cutting into cabinetry, the accompanying materials and time to install, the warranty responsibility, and the time it takes to justify my pricing at every turn.

Him -
I'm just trying to get them a cost man. I'm not questioning your costs they are

Me -
I know. That's the answer you need to give them. The pucks are 3-pack for about $30.00
Very minimal indeed. But it seems they have no sense of the value in hiring professionals

Him, later -
ok they want to do the pucks

Me -
What did you tell them?

Him -
I just copied and pasted your text


I just don't have any patience for it anymore
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
If the first thing somebody says to me is "I want a price on..." I know they are price shopping and are not going to like my price so I don't waste a lot of time with them.

If the last thing they ask me is "How much do you think that will cost?", I will give them a quote. About half the time I get the job. If they react negatively, I tell them "running a properly licensed and insured electrical contracting business is expensive. I'm sure you can find an unlicensed hack to do it cheaper, but you get what you pay for." Sometimes this convinces them, sometimes not. Odds are, if I get the job, I'm going to regret it.

I will not explain any further than this. If they want further explanation, I'm not going to get the job.
 

Besoeker3

Senior Member
Location
UK
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
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Like it!
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Occupation
Field coordinator/ technical support
I gave a quote to wire a house for a new general contractor that I worked with before when he worked for another contractor. He thought I was too high, and had his carpenter wire it. I talked to his old boss later on, and he said it cost him more to have his guy do it than what I quoted, and was too embarrassed to tell me. they had to redo a lot of it after the rock was up! LOL!
 

romex jockey

Senior Member
Location
Vermont
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Electricity

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Truck Signs / lettering / vinyl

Tires



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Tax Preparation

Interest

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Bank Charges



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Unique to the electrical trade

Permits

Licenses

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Inspections

Trade Association

Subscriptions

Memberships

Dues

Retainers

Safety PPE

-Lock-out/Tag-out kits

-Fall prevention harness

-Arc-flash clothing

-Hard hats

-Safety glasses

-Hearing protection



Tools

Company Tools

Safety Equipment

Ladders

2-way Radios

Test Equipment

Replacement Parts

Parts Storage

Damages

Tool Replacement

Job site storage



Misc.

Trips to Supply House

Theft

Uncollected Money

Collection fees

Unbillable Hours

Commissions

Call Backs / Warranty work

Shortages

Bad Checks

Delivery

Credit Card Sales

Drug Testing



Legal

Legal advice

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Advertising

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Business cards

Signs

Radio / TV

Newspaper

Flyers / brochures

Material Purchases

Inventory



Labor

Wages

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Dispatcher

Answering Service
phenomenal 480!
I would only add aspirin....:) ~RJ~
 

winnie

Senior Member
Location
Springfield, MA, USA
Occupation
Electric motor research
As a DIYer I like to say that a proper installation requires tons of skill. You can pay for that skill with study time and redoing your mistakes, or you can pay cash for someone else's skill.

When you do the math, the professional is often the cheaper approach.

Jon
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Location
-
Occupation
Engineer/Technician
How about those that say “all you have to do is..” or “it’s not that hard” after you give them a price...
I had got to the point where I would say “if you know what needs to be done and can do it, why did you call me?”
glad I quit all of it..
 
I recently had a plumber out to replace maybe 40' of galv water pipe and redo the laundry connections. Sure, I could do it, maybe, but as I watched all the problems he found (and as a 2-day job legitimately turned into 5*), I was happy to pay his rate and have someone else crawl around under the house. (I did save a bit by digging part of the unexpected trench in the front yard.)

OTOH, most of the galv has now been replaced.

*40' turned into closer to 120', including 9' under the front lawn; practically every galv joint was rusted and some pipes crumbled under the wrench, but he knew what to do.
 

McLintock

Senior Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Electrician
My wife has done child care for most of her life. As this same conversation with every family. She’s at the point she just says here’s my rate take it or leave it.


“ shoot low boys their riding shetland ponies”
 

Rdcowart

Member
Location
North Carolina
Occupation
Electrician
I went to a call this past Thursday. The customer wanted an estimate to wire a mini split. I should have known when I asked him if he had gotten an estimate from an hvac company to install the mini split. Man he looked at me and said yeah they want to much to install it Im going to do it myself. I gave him an estimate of $1575.00 plus tax which would be $1685.25 after taxes this includes permits and my service fee. He backs up and says why is it so much My buddy said he can do it for $500. Then he asked me if I could cut my price down, and I told him nope that’s what it takes for me to run a company. He then asked me for a price break down.
$79 plus tax service fee
$100 permit
$475 material with 25% mark up
$921 labor
$110.25 tax
Then the customer asked how long will it take you to do the job. I told him a hour and a half give or take, plus the time I will have if I have to meet with the inspector. He proceeds to tell me that you can’t justify changing over $400 dollars an hour. I finally just look at him and tell him that he is paying for the quality of my work, the warranty, my knowledge, and for my time which valuable to me.
He finally says I’m going to just pay your service fee and have my buddy do it. I couldn’t help it I laughed and said your buddy is doing it for the cost of the material. 🤣🤣🤣
He paid me my fee and I left.
 

__dan

Senior Member
One of the niches I fell into was wiring boiler changes for schools. We were chasing after public money, advertised bid plan and spec jobs, and I was a low bidder for the elec subcontract on a lot of them, probably 50 or so over time. No small ones and no private ones, it just happened to be that market niche, among others. For three different primes, over time, 10 years. We all knew each other.

It got to the point that I could just throw a number on it with 5 minutes on the phone with the prime and a few questions. One of the guys started out at the same time I did and is still a good friend to this day. This story was with him.

This instance was not a school but their Board of Ed building, a huge old landmark that occupied most of an entire downtown city block. Two boilers with a Heat Timer hw reset controller, no new pumps. 4 minutes later I gave him the low number over the phone at $2500. I knew the market. I would have liked to get more but I was the low bidder.

He told me what happened next (he's a friend, I love him). He was filling up his truck at the 12 pump place for that, looks over to the next bay and sees a guy with a cube van filling it. So he says to him, 'hey I've got this boiler job, it's $800, do you want to do it'. He did hire me for day labor for one day maybe to help him bring (CI) sections in, and I was good about not looking at the wiring, but that was it. I did look for the $6k wholesale cost Heat Timer but did not see it. All scenery is good, no problem.

So like clockwork every year for three years, every time they want to go into the heating season with heat, he calls me to ask if I want to help him change cracked sections at this humongous BoE building. Oh yeah, sounds like fun, and you pay me for it too !

Warranty period was three years for the sections. Last time out he asks me if I think it could be the pumps cracking the sections and there's no delay for the answer. Oh yeah, in the start stop cycle, the zones cool down but the boiler is still hot. Restart the pumps at the wrong time or the wrong way and you're shooting cold water into a hot boiler (it was always the rear sections that cracked, too cold return water compared to the hot cast iron section). Big boilers, maybe 16 sections and 25+ gallons of oil / hr firing rate.

So he says can you fix it. Oh yeah, I do that for a living (while I peek at the wall where the Heat Timer would normally be). Where's the Heat Timer. Oh we got rid of that, saved them some money (Heat Timer by itself could have taken 25% off their annual oil bill).

How much? It's $2500. That's where that stopped, It was out of warranty that year.
 

Fulthrotl

~~Please excuse the mess. Sig under construction~~
ellen rohr. flat rate pricing.

plumbers were her main customers.
i went to it, and actually started making a living.

customers want to know two things:
how much will it cost?
when can you start?

nobody cares about anything else. not really.

i only worked half a day last week. friday, i got up
at 3:30 am, drove to the spiffy part of long beach,
did a job. then i drove 2 hours to apple valley, did a job.
then, i drove as fast as i could an hour and a half to dana
point, did a job. then i drove home, arriving at 11:30 am.
drove 300 miles or so.

each of those jobs was priced at a days wages, plus expenses.
because a day of my life is being sold. they could have been on
three separate days. they happened to be on half a day. nobody
cares. flat rate price. emailed invoice. pay with a CC. thank you for the work.

most sparkies have a poverty mentality. i was talking with a good
friend who lives in DFW last night. he's a database geek. a headhunter
is courting him right now. i asked for what job description? he said
"principal architect database designer" which he got shoved on him
a year ago, with no increase in pay. so he's done it for free for a year.
and cut his spurs on the job. now, he's stupidly employable.

my spouse, who is compensation director for a health care organization,
laughed when she heard the title. "each of those words is worth $100k a
year". she's right. he's currently entertaining an offer of $475k a year.

working from home. in texas. not san francisco.

the funny part? he's jealous of me, 'cause i drive around staring at light
bulbs for a living.

distant pastures are always greener. that second job on friday? i walked in,
and the electrician is trying to troubleshoot the controls. i walk over, turn the
bypass timer, and the contactors pull in, and then release, and two circuit breakers
trip. and then nothing happens when i try it again. the time clock and bypass timer
both feed a common load, the lighting contactors. they were on different phases.

i've been there two minutes, and we have that solved. he hadn't programmed the
intermatic 2 channel asshological time clock either. every time he tripped the breaker
on the timeclock, it lost it's settings. some of the intermatic time clocks have a bug in
the firmware. you have to "reset to system defaults" to clear it before programming,
then it will save your settings to flash memory. otherwise, they lose their minds when the power
goes off. that took about ten minutes to program.

the electrician, nice guy, had been screwing with troubleshooting for a day, and was stuck.
i'm good at troubleshooting, 'cause i've had more years than him of making mistakes and
having to find them. that's all.

so, is it worth it only working half a day a week sometimes? yep.


.
 
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