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#1966124 - 09/29/12 08:51 AM Question about the business end from a new tuner.
mbick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 27
Loc: Culpeper, VA
Hi everyone. I extremely new to the piano tuning scene and I would appreciate your input.

Two years ago, I started taking Rick Butler's piano technology course. It wasn't until recently that my tunings were stable enough that I felt confident to tune anyone else's piano. (Stability was the hardest thing for me!)

Anyway, I know I need to tune about 1000 pianos before I'm really good at it, and I've only done about 5. My question is, given my inexperience, how do I decide what to charge other people? While I don't feel comfortable charging the same thing as someone who has been doing this forever, I don't want people to get the wrong idea about how much a good tuning cost and then balk later when they have to pay more.


Also, unless it is a good friend or relative, I don't want to charge nothing because I am providing a service and doing freebies implies I am providing nothing of value.

Any input would be appreciated.
_________________________
Martha Bickers
Future piano expert :-)

994 1/2 pianos to go.

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#1966128 - 09/29/12 09:18 AM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
Ryan Hassell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/09
Posts: 480
Loc: Farmington, MO
Hi Martha!

The way I did it, was to find a mentor. He was an older piano tuner which was looking towards retirement. We have a shortage of good technicians here in my area, and that was the motivation of teaching me, that he, himself would be able to retire and slowly hand off his customers to me. It's good to have someone else there to ask questions and get feedback about how your tunings are coming along. Don't just learn to tune pianos, but learn how to repair and regulate them as well.

It took me about a year of tuning many, many friends pianos (for free) before I felt confident to charge anyone. I'm sure other's will say that was a short amount of time. Are you trying to learn to tune aurally or with an ETD? I personally use the iPhone version of Tunelab. You will progress much faster and get more accurate tunings right off the bat. This is due to the fact that an ETD will give you visual feedback. I respect those that tune aurally, but that is a skill that takes years to learn and perfect.

Best of luck! You have come to the right place. There are many very talented piano technicians here on this forum!
_________________________
Ryan G. Hassell
Hassell's Piano Tuning
Farmington, MO
www.hassellspianotuning.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hassells-Piano-Tuning/163155880804
ryanhassell@hotmail.com

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#1966141 - 09/29/12 10:02 AM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
mbick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 27
Loc: Culpeper, VA
A local mentor would be great, but there are none in this area that I know of that would be willing to take me on at this time.

I periodically do one on one lessons with Rick, and I recently joined the Northern Virginia PTG chapter, which I think will be a great help. Really nice people there. It's about 1.5 to 2 hour drive, but well worth it.

Up until recently, I was only tuning aurally, which is how Rick taught me. It does take me a long time, however. Not long ago, I purchased a SAT IV which has helped my speed immensely. Also, without it, I didn't really know if the treble and bass sections were tuned anywhere close to correctly. At first I mostly used it to check and see how close my aural tuning in the temperament was to what the ETD thought it should be. I was pleasantly surprised at how close I was.

Now, I have been using it and trying to increase my speed, especially in the high treble where it seems I spend half my time trying to set the pins.

I appreciate that I did so much aural tuning before getting the ETD because I can see where it would be tempting to use it as a crutch and not bother with aural tuning.

Rick Butler's course is divided into two parts, the tuning side and the technical side. I haven't yet progressed to the technical side, but I have been doing a lot of reading and am itching to learn regulation and voicing.

This is a great forum. I've been lurking here for quite a while and finally decided to come out of hiding. Thanks for your reply.
_________________________
Martha Bickers
Future piano expert :-)

994 1/2 pianos to go.

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#1966153 - 09/29/12 10:29 AM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2445
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Martha, best of luck with your new venture! Sounds like you're off to a practical start. Ryan's advice is great - I second his comments.

One thing to keep in mind about tuning: If you can't tune a clean unison, nothing else matters.

When I reentered the business with my new technique, I also tuned a lot of freebies, practicing. I would also add that, at this stage, don't sweat taking a long time to get it right; getting it right is what matters more, and you can leave knowing you did your best.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1966174 - 09/29/12 11:22 AM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
mbick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 27
Loc: Culpeper, VA
Thanks Opera Tenor.

I do understand about making sure the unisons are clean. They will stick out like a sore thumb to anyone who has any idea what a tuned piano should sound like.

I actually don't mind taking forever to tune a piano until it is as perfect as I think I can get it. What I worry about is driving the piano owner crazy if they have to listen to me tune it for hours on end, and then never want me to come back, lol. I do always try to do my best. A couple of weeks ago, I tuned two of the pianos at my church, and I made sure to do them early in the week so I could come back on Saturday and make sure the tuning was holding before church service on Sunday. I did find three unisons to tweak. I'm not sure anyone else would have noticed, but I sure would have.

Currently, if I use the ETD to assist, I can tune a piano in about 3-3.5 hours. It takes longer without the ETD, and I'm never sure if the high treble and bass are really where they need to be. I hope that one day with enough practice, I'll know what that sounds like without relying on an ETD. I'm not opposed to ETDs, but I view them as another tool, not the final authority.

I don't mind doing freebies if that's what it takes to get the experience I need, but I would also like to be building a client base that understands that I expect to get paid when I perform a skilled service for them. I suppose the reason I am leery is that I know people that have received free or discounted services/products (from me and other people) as a favor and then expect that that is going to be the norm through eternity, and act put upon when they are later required to pay for the same service/product. I suppose in this case it would be them doing me the favor by letting me get the experience I need.

I'm 46 years old, so I better get cracking or it will time to retire by the time I'm an "expert."
_________________________
Martha Bickers
Future piano expert :-)

994 1/2 pianos to go.

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#1966468 - 09/29/12 06:46 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2180
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: mbick
Thanks Opera Tenor. I don't mind doing freebies if that's what it takes to get the experience I need, but I would also like to be building a client base that understands that I expect to get paid when I perform a skilled service for them. I suppose the reason I am leery is that I know people that have received free or discounted services/products (from me and other people) as a favor and then expect that that is going to be the norm through eternity, and act put upon when they are later required to pay for the same service/product.
This IS where things can get dicey, and you've nailed it quite nicely. In my early career I did Public TV auctions and discount promotions. I quickly learned NOT to do that! Clients came to expect that the discounts and the auction prices were my real bottom line and adjusted their attitudes accordingly.

Is there a dealer in your area who will let you tune the "green" pianos in the warehouse or in storage? That helps with experience. Churches often have auxiliary or extra pianos that you can practice on.

Work your speed and confidence up, then start out charging full price. It'll save you a lot of grief later.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#1966488 - 09/29/12 07:35 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
Jim Frazee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 393
Loc: Westchester County, New York
I'm 46 years old, so I better get cracking or it will time to retire by the time I'm an "expert."

Maybe not. I started when I was 57, now I'm 65 and, while I don't in any way consider myself an expert, I'm at least decent at what I do. I work with a mentor, (a guru, actually) attend all the PTG functions I can (though not a member anymore) and just attended the Regulation and Touch Workshop at the Steinway factory. BTW, I have no intention of retiring - did that, didn't like it.

Consider attending the MARC in King of Prussia, PA next April and/or the National in Chicago next summer. Almost can't spend money any better than that. Simply put, the more you attend, the faster you'll learn. The nice thing about both events is that you can concentrate your learning on what your clientele's pianos happen to be, grands or uprights.

Most of all, keep on keepin' on - you'll be an expert before you know what hit you! thumb
_________________________
PianoPerfection
Teacher, performer, technician
Westchester County, NY

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#1966506 - 09/29/12 08:07 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1974
Loc: Philadelphia area
Charge the going rate when tuning for the public.

I think you'll be more comfortable after you get into the technical side of the course. If the piano doesn't work, you can't tune it.

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#1966529 - 09/29/12 08:51 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3360
One thing I've seen veterans say over and over is that most people cannot distinguish between a truly great tuning and a mediocre one. If your unisons and octaves are good, many will not notice a mediocre temperament. Don't undercharge. It's a huge problem when the public thinks that $50 is an appropriate price for tuning a piano! By undercharging, you not only cause problems for established techs, but you will cause problems for yourself in the future.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1966536 - 09/29/12 09:09 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: mbick
... I extremely new to the piano tuning scene and I would appreciate your input.

Two years ago, I started taking Rick Butler's piano technology course. It wasn't until recently that my tunings were stable enough that I felt confident to tune anyone else's piano. (Stability was the hardest thing for me!)

Anyway, I know I need to tune about 1000 pianos before I'm really good at it, and I've only done about 5.


With all respect and with no intention to offend, I would like to say:
First off, for someone who started two years ago, five pianos tuned is not exactly a high count. I know we all have busy lives and all, but five pianos is two years does not sound like the result of enthusiasm and commitment to your new chosen vocation. Two weeks OK but 2 years?
Second, I don't think anyone is ready to tune for paying clients after tuning only five instruments. That would be like driving a schoolbus after half a lesson as a student driver. (Thankfully with much less serious consequences, of course.)

You should not be tuning for paying clients until you are really good at it. Remember that someone who pays for a tuning and is not happy (likely, in the case like yours) will never call you back. You can't build up a clientele that way.

If they ask you about your experience, are you going to say "Oh. I already have five tunings (or six or ten) under my belt!"???

I suggest continuing to practice on as many pianos as you can.

But don't take my word for gospel - run it by the PTG Chapter at one of your meetings.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1966540 - 09/29/12 09:19 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21825
Loc: Oakland
Or practice on one piano over and over.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1966541 - 09/29/12 09:20 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Amen Beethoven!

HUGE mistake to undercharge. We all deserve raises too and when we have people that only charge a piddly sum, you screw with the whole system not to mention your screwing yourself. Do it for free instead and tell them why! Once you start charging, charge the going rate. But, you must be serious about tuning or forget about it.

In the long run, you will definitely pay for it literally later on because, first off, the vast majority of price shoppers in my 40 + years of experience with them, do not take piano tuning very seriously to begin with and tune their pianos VERY infrequently! Most are looking for cheap.

Secondly, they do not take very good care of their pianos. That is, many of them will just say when given an estimate "oh, it's good enough for little Johnny to play on" when it most definitely is not! They don't play it so, they don't care about it either.

Thirdly, because of this, many of the pianos that you will wind up servicing, are often the crappiest pianos.

Read articles about running a business!!!!!!!! That's one of the most important things about being self employed that you can do for YOURSELF. If you haven't a clue about it and you don't, you'll never make a decent living from it let alone build up your clientele like you should.

As your business grows, because you've learned how to make it grow properly, you will be able to start being a little more picky on what kinds of pianos you will tune and/or service. In other words, you will not always have to tune the crappiest pianos out there just because... wink
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1966583 - 09/29/12 11:28 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
mbick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 27
Loc: Culpeper, VA
Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply.

David Jenson: There are no dealers in my area, but I should be able to find quite a few of those "extra" church pianos that no one has tuned for 15 years. Speed and confidence - do you think Santa could bring me those for Christmas? wink

Jim Frazee - Thanks for your advice and encouragement. I plan on attending as many of those events as I can.

Jurgen - No offence at all taken. I perhaps did not word things as clearly as I could have. I did not mean I had only tuned 5 times. I meant I had only tuned 5 different instruments, which I am well aware does not make me a professional. My own piano has been tuned and detuned so many times I have lost count.

5 pianos in 2 years is not a great deal, I understand. I didn't have as much time then as I do now, which is why I am now ramping it up. (Without going into too much detail, holding down a job, running another business, and getting seriously injured in an accident all at the same time does have a way of putting a damper on extracurricular activities.) Anyway, I'm not looking for a pity party, just trying to move forward.

Which is why I posed the original question. I need to get the experience by tuning as many pianos as I can, but I don't want to ruin the market for other techs. I think David Jenson had an excellent suggestion about the "extra" church pianos because they usually don't get tuned anyway, so that wouldn't really have any market impact. I just saw one tonight, as a matter of fact.

I specifically asked this question about charging at my last chapter meeting, and the advice I got was never to do freebies. Good thing none of them actually work in my area.

Jerry, Beethoven, and Dave B:

I think I'm going to go with tuning for free and just being very clear that it is because I am learning. Then I'll start off charging the going rate for this area when I have gained the necessary experience and skill.

Actually, Jerry, I have a B.S. in Business Administration and 18 years of experience in being self-employed and running successful retail businesses. Before that I worked for a CPA firm as a staff accountant for 7 years. (BTW, I hate accounting but I will never regret the knowledge I acquired there.) There are many business management skills that overlap to all businesses, but then there are industry specific aspects that one needs to become familiar with when new to a field. That is one of the reasons I appreciate this forum. And I am never adverse to reading any material that will help me further my business. wink

One very practical problem I have run into is that I am so used to tuning my baby grand, that when I tune an upright, my arm quickly tires. I am trying to find an upright to have at home so I can develop the proper muscles. I was originally thinking of finding an old upright, but I know so many people around here seem to have spinets, that may be a better practice instrument. Space in an issue right now, so I need to choose wisely.

Thank you again everyone for your very thoughtful replies.
_________________________
Martha Bickers
Future piano expert :-)

994 1/2 pianos to go.

Top
#1966593 - 09/29/12 11:44 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Hey, what do you know! Finally a person that has some serious business knowledge too!!! Perfect!! So many people go into business (especially this one) without it and fail or do extremely poorly. Good!!! Now, you only have 995 pianos left to tune yet! haha.

Sorry to hear about your accident. That sort of thing sucks..

PTG offers many business courses too at the convention level and at seminars. Most are excellent.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1966605 - 09/30/12 12:08 AM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
mbick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 27
Loc: Culpeper, VA
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses fail because people pursue something they are enthusiastic about, but don't have any idea how to manage the nuts and bolts of the operation, or even have any idea if they have a market. Seven years of my retail experience was in the pet industry. During that time, I saw so many people open up specialty pet shops, and then close up a few months later because while they loved snakes or birds or whatever, they had no people or business skills. Fortunately, my business wasn't one of them smile


Now about those 995 pianos. Since I still have to make a living, if I can squeeze in 3 different pianos per week, hmmm, it will take me almost 7 years to reach my goal at that rate. Good thing I never really plan to retire.


Edited by mbick (09/30/12 12:08 AM)
_________________________
Martha Bickers
Future piano expert :-)

994 1/2 pianos to go.

Top
#1966849 - 09/30/12 02:32 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1974
Loc: Philadelphia area
mbick, The tiredness your experiencing is very likely your technique. The hammer grip will change with the obvious change of arm position from grand to upright. There are small adjustments in grip and arm position for every brands and size. Stay relaxed when tuning.

It seems you have reached the point where you are ready to spend time with some techs.

I'll add this taken from page 57 of the "Steinway & Sons Technical Service Manual", ...Steinway & Sons stresses the importance of aural tuning. Developing piano tone is a mechanical and musical art. Solid aural tuning exercises and develops the musical ear, giving the technician a greater ability to master the methods used in tone building."....

and then goes on with a A3-A4 temperament.


Have fun!

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#1966932 - 09/30/12 05:00 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: Dave B]
mbick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 27
Loc: Culpeper, VA
Thanks Dave, I will!
_________________________
Martha Bickers
Future piano expert :-)

994 1/2 pianos to go.

Top
#1967258 - 10/01/12 11:09 AM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
RTO Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/16/11
Posts: 4
Martha,

I am also fairly new at this. What I decided to do was to give all of my new clients a "new client" discount. So, on the invoice, I put the regular going rate for my area. Then underneath that I write 15% discount for first time customers. That way, they know that when I come back to tune for them again, they should expect the regular rate. I won't do this indefinitely, but for the first several months in business, that is my plan.

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#1967274 - 10/01/12 12:04 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4954
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Martha,

I remember when I started tuning, I decided I needed to make the same as a mininum wage worker even if I only tuned 1 piano a day. At today's minimum wage, that would be $58 for a tuning.

How does this sound? Charge what YOU would be willing to pay for one of your tunings. And when you can tune better, charge more.


Edited by UnrightTooner (10/01/12 12:10 PM)
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1967393 - 10/01/12 04:37 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1974
Loc: Philadelphia area
RTO, Why do you offer discounts to new clients. Aren't your regular clients more deserving? How do you handle referrals? What is your regular customer going to think when they hear you gave a discount to their referral?

I've found over the years that customers shopping price rarely become regular customers.

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#1967451 - 10/01/12 05:49 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2445
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
What everyone here has said about charging too little is spot on.

I've learned that i either charge my retail rate, or I do it pro bono(and make sure they know the retail value of what they're getting) - nothing in between.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1967499 - 10/01/12 07:46 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: OperaTenor]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
I've learned that i either charge my retail rate, or I do it pro bono(and make sure they know the retail value of what they're getting) - nothing in between.
Some tunings are not worth the retail rate. Why should a seasoned veteran charge the same as someone with minimal experience, whose tuning will a) not be as good and b)not be as stable i.e. not last as long?

Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
getting it right is what matters more, and you can leave knowing you did your best.
These are not one and the same thing. When you are a student, even your best is probably not "getting it right".

I stick with "learn to do it properly before you hang out your shingle" and don't charge trusting clients for your training and practice. I realize some people see it differently. Sadly, we have even had a few posters here who tune for $$ when they can't even tune a solid unison, as their videos show. Not OK, in my books... Maybe I'm the result of old-fashioned training and ethics, in which case I apologize... blush

_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1967505 - 10/01/12 08:03 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: Supply]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3360
Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
I've learned that i either charge my retail rate, or I do it pro bono(and make sure they know the retail value of what they're getting) - nothing in between.
Some tunings are not worth the retail rate. Why should a seasoned veteran charge the same as someone with minimal experience, whose tuning will a) not be as good and b)not be as stable i.e. not last as long?


This is a fair point, but at the same time, most people who get their pianos tuned can't tell the difference, even if the result is complete rubbish. It's unfortunate, but a lot of people don't make much distinction between buying gas and getting their piano tuned. With that in mind, I'd rather have everyone charge somewhat in the same ballpark and let the market decide who is worth hiring.

Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
getting it right is what matters more, and you can leave knowing you did your best.
These are not one and the same thing. When you are a student, even your best is probably not "getting it right".

I stick with "learn to do it properly before you hang out your shingle" and don't charge trusting clients for your training and practice. I realize some people see it differently. Sadly, we have even had a few posters here who tune for $$ when they can't even tune a solid unison, as their videos show. Not OK, in my books... Maybe I'm the result of old-fashioned training and ethics, in which case I apologize... blush


I agree in principle, but who decides what the threshold for "properly done" is? Even among RPTs, there is a wide range of skill level.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1967515 - 10/01/12 08:17 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1104
Loc: PA
Hi Martha,

What are your long term goals? Do you want to only tune pianos? Or, do you also want to tune and repair? Tune, repair, and rebuild? Do historical restorations? Consulting?

I'm lucky in that I had the opportunity to be school-trained. So, when I graduated, I already tuned a wide variety of pianos. But, the business wasn't exactly waiting for me... no one was knocking down my door demanding I tune their piano.

I started out by getting old uprights, reconditioning them, and then reselling them. At that time ('79 and early 80's), they were available for little to no money. I was able to resell them to folks who could not afford newer pianos. But,they and their kids had at least playable, reliable instruments to use.

This was a good way for me to continue to develop not only my tuning skills, but also repair skills, which are important, too.

Edit: Perhaps you could create your own variation on this? smile


Edited by daniokeeper (10/01/12 08:20 PM)
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1967527 - 10/01/12 08:46 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: RTO]
mbick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 27
Loc: Culpeper, VA
RTO,

Thanks for your input. I think different things work in different areas/markets. My experience has been when people are charged too little, they tend to take it for granted it will always be that way. In your market doing the discount could work out. It is good that you have your regular rate listed on the invoice.

I was kicking around an idea today about how to transition from tuning for free to charging a fee. One possibility would be to send the people whose pianos you practiced on a thank you letter and enclose a coupon/voucher for a small discount on their next tuning, clearly giving notice of your regular rate, as a thank you for entrusting their instrument to you when you did not have much experience. I do not know that I would actually do that. As I said, just kicking around ideas.

Mostly I am leaning towards free or full price.
_________________________
Martha Bickers
Future piano expert :-)

994 1/2 pianos to go.

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#1967531 - 10/01/12 08:52 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: UnrightTooner]
mbick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 27
Loc: Culpeper, VA
Hi Jeff. How did your customers react later when you started charging more? Did you make many small increases or just one or two larger jumps?

By the way, I am so grateful for all the input I have gotten so far from this forum. It's always good to be able to learn from other's experiences.
_________________________
Martha Bickers
Future piano expert :-)

994 1/2 pianos to go.

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#1967536 - 10/01/12 09:16 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: daniokeeper]
mbick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 27
Loc: Culpeper, VA
Hi Daniokeeper,

My long term goals are to tune and repair. I don't have the space right now to rebuild, but I would like to at least try it someday. I am trying to get a "junk" piano right now to practice doing things on I wouldn't dream of doing on my good piano, at least not until I know what I'm doing. I'm sure that's how most everyone starts out.

My medium terms goals are to pass the RPT exams. I know that doesn't necessarily mean much to a lot of people, but I would like to and it gives me a very concrete goal education-wise to work towards.

My short term goals are to just get more practice in with as many different pianos as I can, so that I can reach the longer goals.

I'm not sure how much of a market there is where I live for reconditioned pianos. I know that with my piano students, the ones that use keyboards (ugh) instead of pianos do so because their parents don't want something that takes up a lot of space. (It's only on PianoWorld that I let my distaste for electronic keyboards come out. And truly, I would rather a child learn to play music on a keyboard than not at all.)

OT - what kind of danios do you have? Do you breed them?
_________________________
Martha Bickers
Future piano expert :-)

994 1/2 pianos to go.

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#1967577 - 10/01/12 11:41 PM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: Dave B]
RTO Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/16/11
Posts: 4
Originally Posted By: Dave B
RTO, Why do you offer discounts to new clients. Aren't your regular clients more deserving? How do you handle referrals? What is your regular customer going to think when they hear you gave a discount to their referral?

I've found over the years that customers shopping price rarely become regular customers.


Dave
As I stated in my post, I am new at this. Therefore, I don't have any "regular" customers yet. I am just starting out, so all of my clients are new. No one is "price shopping" with me. I am not even advertising yet. Just getting a few tunings here and there by word of mouth.

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#1967582 - 10/02/12 12:03 AM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
RTO Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/16/11
Posts: 4
Originally Posted By: mbick
RTO,

Thanks for your input. I think different things work in different areas/markets. My experience has been when people are charged too little, they tend to take it for granted it will always be that way. In your market doing the discount could work out. It is good that you have your regular rate listed on the invoice.


Well, this is just what I came up with. Because I had the same dilemma as you. I don't feel that I should charge the same as someone that has been doing this for years. But, yet I don't feel like my services are worth nothing. I have certainly done the "free" tunings with family and friends. But, now that I am ready to charge, this was how I decided to handle it. I'm certainly open to other ideas too. I have enjoyed reading everyone's input.

Originally Posted By: mbick

Mostly I am leaning towards free or full price.


So, how will you decide when you're ready to go from free to full price. What will be your criteria.....the number of pianos you have tuned....or how confident you feel about your tunings?
[/quote]

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#1967599 - 10/02/12 01:12 AM Re: Question about the business end from a new tuner. [Re: mbick]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1104
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: mbick
Hi Daniokeeper,

My long term goals are to tune and repair. I don't have the space right now to rebuild, but I would like to at least try it someday. I am trying to get a "junk" piano right now to practice doing things on I wouldn't dream of doing on my good piano, at least not until I know what I'm doing. I'm sure that's how most everyone starts out.

Excellent! One choice isn't necessarily preferred to another. But it's great that you have definite goals.
As for the 'junk' piano, it could be of genuine benefit to someone ( a student, a poor church,...), if you decided to recondition it.

Originally Posted By: mbick
My medium terms goals are to pass the RPT exams. I know that doesn't necessarily mean much to a lot of people, but I would like to and it gives me a very concrete goal education-wise to work towards.

Again, a definite plan. Excellent!

Originally Posted By: mbick
My short term goals are to just get more practice in with as many different pianos as I can, so that I can reach the longer goals.

I'm not sure how much of a market there is where I live for reconditioned pianos. I know that with my piano students, the ones that use keyboards (ugh) instead of pianos do so because their parents don't want something that takes up a lot of space. (It's only on PianoWorld that I let my distaste for electronic keyboards come out. And truly, I would rather a child learn to play music on a keyboard than not at all.)
[Emphasis added]

You have to go by your area and your local economy. You are coming to this with some actual life experience and an impressive business background. I would have confidence in your opinion of your area.

Originally Posted By: mbick
OT - what kind of danios do you have? Do you breed them?

I had 5 zebra danios in a 55-gallon tank. I don't breed them or anything. It's just that when I signed up for the forums here at PW and was trying to think of a screen name, I happened to glance over at the fishtank... smile
Edit: Are you an aquarist?


Edited by daniokeeper (10/02/12 01:19 AM)
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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