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Topic Options
#2013521 - 01/12/13 03:31 PM Pricing larger jobs
SuperTuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/07
Posts: 110
Loc: Manhattan, Montana
Hi all,

I just finished an action rebuild on a '70s Steinway, and it got me thinking about streamlining our pricing procedures for the next one.

This time around, we ordered all Steinway parts, and it was very straight-forward hourly billing for the piano store we were working for, but I was unsure about what parts mark-up would be appropriate for a private client.

Can you suggest a percentage for mark-up on larger parts orders? I'm sure this is all across the board, but I'd like to have a firmer reasoning before pricing the next job.

Thanks! And I hope you're all warm - we're still flirting with getting above 0F today!
_________________________
Elizabeth Heppler, R.P.T.
www.hepplerpiano.com

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#2013554 - 01/12/13 04:38 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3348
Originally Posted By: SuperTuner
Hi all,

I just finished an action rebuild on a '70s Steinway, and it got me thinking about streamlining our pricing procedures for the next one.

This time around, we ordered all Steinway parts, and it was very straight-forward hourly billing for the piano store we were working for, but I was unsure about what parts mark-up would be appropriate for a private client.

Can you suggest a percentage for mark-up on larger parts orders? I'm sure this is all across the board, but I'd like to have a firmer reasoning before pricing the next job.

Thanks! And I hope you're all warm - we're still flirting with getting above 0F today!



You'll probably get lots of differing answers regarding price markup; I know some technicians who don't charge markup on anything, but I personally don't agree with this. Anywhere from 50%-100% markup is appropriate. Sometimes, companies have recommendations, such as Ronsen and Dampp-Chaser, so you can use those as guides when needed.

PS Stay warm. Here in Chicago, we haven't dipped below 10F that I know of. Less than an inch of snow, too! Most unusual for us.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2013638 - 01/12/13 08:03 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 212
Loc: Georgia, USA
When considering overhead, ask yourself, "What does markup pay for?"

The answer, of course, is that it pays for portions of your overhead costs. That overhead includes any of the indirect costs of staying in business, including the time you took to order the parts, open the box, etc. and goes as far from that as your heating bill. Unless you want to try to calculate every minute portion of those costs which should apply to a particular contract, it is good to have a percentage factor to add to your real costs - added to real labor costs, and added to real supply costs. Also, keep in mind that the cost of the supplies and parts should include the shipping.

If you look back at last year and find that your overhead was $20K, you can use that total to establish that percentage factor. Personally, I like to add 60% to the big stuff, such as sets of hammers and strings and whippens, etc., but think it is better to double the cost of the small items. (I remember hearing someone who deals with very small parts and hardware saying that they needed to actually use a higher multiple, due to the tedium of handling, packing and inventory work related to the items.)

In rebuilding we sometimes compete against new products. Sometimes we compete against other rebuilders. More often, however, we are working with clients who trust us and want us to do the work, so we can actually find ourselves wanting to do the work too badly for them. As I get older, I have begun to take the advice of a good friend, “You do goooood work, so price it and think to yourself, ’That’s what it costs, so that’s it.’ It is what it is.” After all, have we regretted more jobs because we underpriced them and suffered the consequences, or because we overpriced them? Oops, I remember a lot of underpricing in my past.

Of course, a well-developed bidding sheet with lots of categories to jog your memory and to break down the details is a good thing to develop (or to imitate, if you find someone else has one that you like).
_________________________
Lavender Piano Services
Established 1977
Tuning, Concert Maintenance,
Rebuilding & Restoration

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#2013651 - 01/12/13 08:44 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19465
Loc: New York City
As long as a tech explains a markup for parts(which I assume is done), I don't see any difference between marking up for parts or charging more for the labor. The net result is the same.

OTOH if I was having work requiring new parts done, I think I am paying for the tech's knowledge and labor and would far prefer to pay a straight hourly fee or a fee for the job based on an hourly estimate of time. If the tech wants to charge for the time it takes to order or unpack something I think it's OK, but how long does that really take?

If a tech charges more than his cost for the parts without telling a customer about this(and explaining it as they choose) I think this could be considered less than ethical. Also, I think many customers would ask for a breakdown of parts and labor, so if one tech charges twice the amount for the the same part I would find it rather off putting.



Edited by pianoloverus (01/12/13 09:13 PM)

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#2013665 - 01/12/13 09:16 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: pianoloverus]
accordeur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1207
Loc: Qubec, Canada
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
As long as a tech explains a markup for parts(which I assume is done), I don't see any difference between marking up for parts or charging more for the labor. The net result is the same.

OTOH if I was having work requiring new parts done, I think I am paying for the tech's knowledge and labor and would far prefer to pay a straight hourly fee or a fee for the job based on an hourly estimate of time. If the tech wants to charge for the time it takes to order or unpack something I think it's OK. but how long does that really take?

If a tech charges more than his cost for the parts without telling a customer about this I think this could be considered less than ethical.



Here in Québec where I am, I have a good supplier of many parts and supplies. Pianophile.

They have different prices. One for techs and another retail.

I have not looked at the difference, but would not be surprised that an item would be double the price.

Because I get the tech's price, I am providing my customer with a service, and am usually as well taking care of their piano.

Marking up price, being down the line of distribution. That's how it works.

Sure, as a tech, I can say I will charge you an hourly rate. As a customer do you want to hear that?

If I say new hammers are 1000$, (just a number) and guarantee my work. I take a risk, but am confident.

If I tell you that my shop rate is 75$, and that the hammer job should take 12 hours... parts included.

Piano technicians make a living like everybody else.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca

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#2013666 - 01/12/13 09:19 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3876
There is a cost to order, organize, store, and retrieve parts. The mark up covers that cost. While I believe in honesty towards the customer, I don't think a reasonable mark up on parts without mentioning it to the client crosses any ethical line. How much? 25% to 50% would be an average, I would think and 100% is probably not unheard of, especially for inexpensive parts.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#2013668 - 01/12/13 09:27 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21666
Loc: Oakland
I assume that every auto mechanic or appliance repair service will have a markup for the parts that they sell, just like every other retailer. There is no reason why piano service should be different.

There are rules in California that must be followed to distinguish taxable parts from non-taxable labor.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2013673 - 01/12/13 09:42 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Everyone in their right mind marks up the wholesale cost otherwise, why sell it in the first place? A friend of mine works at major retail store in town here. She says that the "highest requested item, gets marked up the highest in price. In other words, the more in demand it is, it can be marked up anywhere from 400 % from their actual cost, to as high as 1,000 %." That, to me, is dishonest but, I say it only to make a point. Everyone that sells, sells retail, not wholesale and if they claim they're selling wholesale, they're not or they wouldn't be in business for very long.

And yes, we all have charge according to or abilities and definately will charge more for more knowledge.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#2013681 - 01/12/13 09:57 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1183
Loc: Tennessee
Greetings,
I may be an anomaly, but I don't even think in terms of what the parts cost when I am bidding a complete job. Parts can run a couple of thousand dollars to do an action, and that is a minor part of the total cost. It helps to only do complete jobs, so there is only one figure to remember. Sometimes, a piano only needs hammers to get the biggest bang for the buck, but for the professional, when the hammers are gone, so are the key bushings, and dampers. Front punchings, new keyframe felt, the list just goes on until you are looking at a total action. This is easy to price.
I know what totally rebuilding a Steinway action takes out of me, and I know what return keeps me from feeling taken advantage of, so my pricing is pretty simple. I now have a long history of rebuilding actions, with lifetime guarantees,(mine, not the customer's),and most of them still live in this town, and have been under my care and heavy use for the last two to three decades. I can make the case that even though $1900 seemed like a lot to rebuild an action in 1981, the school has gotten 31 years of trouble free use out of it. Quite a bargain, and now, spending $12,000 on an action seems expensive, but 30 years from now, it will look like a bargain.

After you have done a few of the bigger jobs, you will find your own way to present your work. I charge my customers what I pay for parts, and I tell them that. Then I charge enough for my labor to reach a price where it is worth my time. Customers seems to appreciate knowing that they are paying for my skill, not my ability to mark up my parts. It works for me, not saying it would for others.
Regards,

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#2013688 - 01/12/13 10:04 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: Ed Foote]
accordeur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1207
Loc: Qubec, Canada
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Greetings,
I may be an anomaly, but I don't even think in terms of what the parts cost when I am bidding a complete job. Parts can run a couple of thousand dollars to do an action, and that is a minor part of the total cost. It helps to only do complete jobs, so there is only one figure to remember. Sometimes, a piano only needs hammers to get the biggest bang for the buck, but for the professional, when the hammers are gone, so are the key bushings, and dampers. Front punchings, new keyframe felt, the list just goes on until you are looking at a total action. This is easy to price.
I know what totally rebuilding a Steinway action takes out of me, and I know what return keeps me from feeling taken advantage of, so my pricing is pretty simple. I now have a long history of rebuilding actions, with lifetime guarantees,(mine, not the customer's),and most of them still live in this town, and have been under my care and heavy use for the last two to three decades. I can make the case that even though $1900 seemed like a lot to rebuild an action in 1981, the school has gotten 31 years of trouble free use out of it. Quite a bargain, and now, spending $12,000 on an action seems expensive, but 30 years from now, it will look like a bargain.

After you have done a few of the bigger jobs, you will find your own way to present your work. I charge my customers what I pay for parts, and I tell them that. Then I charge enough for my labor to reach a price where it is worth my time. Customers seems to appreciate knowing that they are paying for my skill, not my ability to mark up my parts. It works for me, not saying it would for others.
Regards,


Very well said, the cost of the parts are not important to the customer, the total cost is. However you calculate it is up to you.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca

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#2013692 - 01/12/13 10:12 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21666
Loc: Oakland
Parts and labor need to be itemized separately in California.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2013700 - 01/12/13 10:37 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: accordeur]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19465
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: accordeur
Because I get the tech's price, I am providing my customer with a service, and am usually as well taking care of their piano.
What service are you providing to the customer if the customer isn't getting the discount?

If a piano teacher buys music for a student for $10 should they charge the student more than #10(assuming the whole purchase can be accomplished in a few minutes)?


Edited by pianoloverus (01/12/13 10:42 PM)

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#2013704 - 01/12/13 10:47 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: Ed Foote]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19465
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
I charge my customers what I pay for parts, and I tell them that. Then I charge enough for my labor to reach a price where it is worth my time. Customers seems to appreciate knowing that they are paying for my skill, not my ability to mark up my parts. It works for me, not saying it would for others.
Regards,
I think if customers had any say in the matter many/most would prefer this method. Or, at least being up front about marking up prices on the parts. I think the greater the transparency in pricing the greater the ethical standard.

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#2013711 - 01/12/13 11:12 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: pianoloverus]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3348
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
As long as a tech explains a markup for parts(which I assume is done), I don't see any difference between marking up for parts or charging more for the labor. The net result is the same.

OTOH if I was having work requiring new parts done, I think I am paying for the tech's knowledge and labor and would far prefer to pay a straight hourly fee or a fee for the job based on an hourly estimate of time. If the tech wants to charge for the time it takes to order or unpack something I think it's OK, but how long does that really take?

If a tech charges more than his cost for the parts without telling a customer about this(and explaining it as they choose) I think this could be considered less than ethical. Also, I think many customers would ask for a breakdown of parts and labor, so if one tech charges twice the amount for the the same part I would find it rather off putting.



Wholesale prices are more or less confidential, which is one of the reasons supply companies like Schaff, Pianotek, and Pianoforte Supply only sell to technicians. When I initiated opening accounts at each of these companies, I was asked where I got my training, and one actually demanded to get confirmation from my mentor.

There is no ethical obligation to tell the customer about any markups. Does Macy's or WalMart or whever you shop disclose this information to you? No. You should just assume you're paying markup.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2013729 - 01/13/13 12:04 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: pianoloverus]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1311
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

If a tech charges more than his cost for the parts without telling a customer about this(and explaining it as they choose) I think this could be considered less than ethical. Also, I think many customers would ask for a breakdown of parts and labor, so if one tech charges twice the amount for the the same part I would find it rather off putting.


Huh??
Which part of the world do you live in where you do not inherently understand that EVERY thing you buy has a margin built into it that is greater than what the person selling paid for it? WalMart? Your local auto repair shop? Gas station? Groceries? Your local hospital? You are ALWAYS paying a markup unless someone specifically told you that they are giving it to you for cost.

Why do you feel it's OK to discriminate against piano technicians? What is different about them that they shouldn't charge a markup if they choose? Or, why should they have to reveal their costs to you? Does WalMart tell you their markup and margin?

Here's another way to think about it from a different angle . . .

Suppose your piano technician had a business selling computer parts. Wouldn't it be OK (ie expected) for him/her to have a markup on those items? If so, then what rationale is there for him to not have a markup on piano-related items?

That said, from the way I do things, communicating parts price to the customer is irrelevant to their decision and I don't itemize. If I quote a job for $25,030 (which I just did two days ago) that is what it is. Period. It doesn't matter whether that is 1/3 parts plus markup plus labor or 95% parts and 5% labor. The figure is not negotiable and that's what it is. The customer's choice is to hire me or not. They aren't going to "DO" anything useful with any breakdown.

Also, I can recall having done some jobs where I felt "pinched" for having made an estimate too low. But I really can't recall having quoted too much.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2013825 - 01/13/13 08:57 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: kpembrook]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1183
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: kpembrook


That said, from the way I do things, communicating parts price to the customer is irrelevant to their decision and I don't itemize. If I quote a job for $25,030 (which I just did two days ago) that is what it is. Period. It doesn't matter whether that is 1/3 parts plus markup plus labor or 95% parts and 5% labor. The figure is not negotiable and that's what it is. The customer's choice is to hire me or not. They aren't going to "DO" anything useful with any breakdown.

Also, I can recall having done some jobs where I felt "pinched" for having made an estimate too low. But I really can't recall having quoted too much.


Originally Posted By: kpembrook


That said, from the way I do things, communicating parts price to the customer is irrelevant to their decision and I don't itemize. If I quote a job for $25,030 (which I just did two days ago) that is what it is. Period. It doesn't matter whether that is 1/3 parts plus markup plus labor or 95% parts and 5% labor. The figure is not negotiable and that's what it is. The customer's choice is to hire me or not. They aren't going to "DO" anything useful with any breakdown.

Also, I can recall having done some jobs where I felt "pinched" for having made an estimate too low. But I really can't recall having quoted too much.


I agree. This is my basic business model. And it works for me in a variety of ways. The most important is that it frees me from the tedium and allows me to view a restoration as a whole,i.e., this much work will produce this much response from the piano and this much money from its owner. This is a simple calculus with experience, a mysterious balance for the beginner.

Another reason is the occasional time where a customer has gotten several estimates, and asks about the higher cost of mine. When we compare, and they see that tech X is charging $5,000 for parts and $ 6K for labor, whereas I am charging $2,500 for parts and $10,000 for labor, it always seems to assuage them. They are usually more relaxed knowing that they are paying for more expensive labor over the same parts.

It also focusses more of the responsibility on me, which is as it should be. I give warranties with my work, so a parts failure is dealt with just like a workmanship failure,(there are far more of the former, but to the customer, they are one and the same). When a bunch of hammer flanges are floppy loose or a set of jacks begins freezing up after two years of moderate use, the repinning costs are mine. This is why I charge what I do, and it makes me particular about what parts I use.

I ate a lot of work because of underbidding early on. It is how we learn what we have to charge to be happy doing the work. I found out early that customers hate it when the costs exceed what they were told, and they remember the exchange as a gouge. So, my estimates are given as a "not more than" estimate. It takes some suspense and stress out of the equation for the customer from the beginning. Makes it easier to sell a job, too.
And I have overbid a job, and when it was all over, the bill came to about $ 500 less, (due to plating and finishing charges being slightly better). I have rarely seen a more surprised look, and that simple balancing of the payment due has resulted in several heavy referrals from this one customer over the years. It is good to have the headroom to overbid, because regardless of other things, they will remember that the final sting wasn't as bad as they were prepared for.
Regards,

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#2013903 - 01/13/13 12:16 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: pianoloverus]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2407
Loc: Olympia, WA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: accordeur
Because I get the tech's price, I am providing my customer with a service, and am usually as well taking care of their piano.
What service are you providing to the customer if the customer isn't getting the discount?

If a piano teacher buys music for a student for $10 should they charge the student more than #10(assuming the whole purchase can be accomplished in a few minutes)?

If the teacher buys in enough volume and is able to secure some wholesale accounts with music book distributors they are entitled to the same mark-up as any music store. I'm sure there are successful teaching studios that make substantial income from retailing music and educational materials. You seem to think this is ethically questionable for some reason.

Basic retail mark-up is double the wholesale price. That is typical, fair, and ethical. Technicians may choose to make more or less, but the OP was trying to get a sense of what is normal, and wholesale x 2 is very normal.


Edited by rysowers (01/13/13 12:17 PM)
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#2013913 - 01/13/13 12:33 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4215
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Wholesale times two which amounts to 100% markup( 50% profit)is completely normal and in many cases low.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2014026 - 01/13/13 05:56 PM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
SuperTuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/07
Posts: 110
Loc: Manhattan, Montana
Thanks, and wow, this got into a lot more than I expected! I've usually used a regular 100% mark up, and was just wondering if a lower one was appropriate when the part was, say 1,353.00. However, since I tend to underbid the number of hours I put into a job, I guess there has already been a built-in discount due to my own inability to make much profit! I know some companies promote wholesalex2+shipping. The university I work for wants their own specialized price list. (So far, in 13 years I haven't given it to them, just promised a discount.)

Bottom line is, in doing the paperwork, I couldn't believe that an action job is now about $6K. Just sticker shock of my own, I guess. I don't adjust easily to inflation! wink
_________________________
Elizabeth Heppler, R.P.T.
www.hepplerpiano.com

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#2014286 - 01/14/13 08:31 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 212
Loc: Georgia, USA
There are cycles in the category that one might call mid-grade piano rebuilding. In tight times, its seems that a family or church will elect to spend on big repairs, in lieu of buying new. In my area there are times when I have been caught by surprise by the inflation which has occurred. This is bound to get worse, as our dollar loses even more value. I like your phrase, "sticker shock of my own.” This is precisely what I have faced. When I have a surge in rebuilding – an up cycle - I often realize that my mental estimates are low due to inflation of costs and supply/part prices.

Just as an example, back when there were four distinct piano supply sources on the eastern seaboard [Ford, Schaff, American, and Tuners] you could order hammers from several sources at all quality levels – some as cheap as $50-60 per set. You could buy 15, 30, or 60 hammer treble sets. Now the multiple sources of U.S. manufacture are simply gone. Gone, also, is the competition for price and for variety. The reasons, then, for the sticker shock and the difficulty of mentally keeping up, are three-fold: Loss of multiple inexpensive choices (when appropriate), loss of domestic manufacturing, and the ever troublesome loss in our dollar’s value.

Part of that paper work you also mentioned is keeping track of those increases and keeping track of real work times for the purpose of review and correction. Calculating the percentages for mark-up is MUCH easier than this tedium, no? Institutions, such as a college especially, will have trouble adjusting to sudden corrections. We may see an increase as an unavoidable structural adjustment caused by recognition of our own previous underpricing. They could see it as a reason to search out a different technician or as a reason to tip over that balancing point to not repairing and instead buy new.

Surely, at least for me, this “sticker shock of my own” has been on-going. (I may as well confess.) Maintaining a healthy business and a reasonable income, however, demand that we develop an immunity to it. The thought, "It just shouldn't cost this much," is a road to poverty in our inflationary world."
_________________________
Lavender Piano Services
Established 1977
Tuning, Concert Maintenance,
Rebuilding & Restoration

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#2014289 - 01/14/13 08:42 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7897
Loc: France
Usual margin here is the original price * 2 but the second amount incluede tax, (20% )..

When the cost of the parts is high and there are much hours inclueded, I prefer to lower parts cost, than use cheaper parts with normal margin.

Example hammers plus shanks from major brands...

I believe the job is done sooner then.
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2014334 - 01/14/13 10:29 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: kpembrook]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19465
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

If a tech charges more than his cost for the parts without telling a customer about this(and explaining it as they choose) I think this could be considered less than ethical. Also, I think many customers would ask for a breakdown of parts and labor, so if one tech charges twice the amount for the the same part I would find it rather off putting.


Huh??
Which part of the world do you live in where you do not inherently understand that EVERY thing you buy has a margin built into it that is greater than what the person selling paid for it? WalMart? Your local auto repair shop? Gas station? Groceries? Your local hospital? You are ALWAYS paying a markup unless someone specifically told you that they are giving it to you for cost.
I think the difference is that when one buys say groceries they give you the groceries and that's the end. If a tech only bought a pinblock and handed it over to the client then I'd understand a markup. But that's not what happens.

If I hire someone to do a repair in my home and this requires buying something from the hardware store that costs $100 I wouldn't expect the person to charge me $200 for the part. If they wanted to charge me for the time to get the part I would consider that reasonable.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/14/13 10:41 AM)

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#2014341 - 01/14/13 10:42 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4215
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Middling groceries or pin blocks amounts to the same thing. The middle man buys from the wholesaler and sells to you retail.

Any repair service person does this. If you want different then purchase the parts and do the job yourself.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2014342 - 01/14/13 10:45 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
+ 1 Dan.

Like the grocery store and tech has to answer to him in the first place?
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Piano Technicians Guild
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www.grootpiano.com

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#2014343 - 01/14/13 10:46 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: pianoloverus]
Phil D Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 551
Loc: London, England
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

If a tech charges more than his cost for the parts without telling a customer about this(and explaining it as they choose) I think this could be considered less than ethical. Also, I think many customers would ask for a breakdown of parts and labor, so if one tech charges twice the amount for the the same part I would find it rather off putting.


Huh??
Which part of the world do you live in where you do not inherently understand that EVERY thing you buy has a margin built into it that is greater than what the person selling paid for it? WalMart? Your local auto repair shop? Gas station? Groceries? Your local hospital? You are ALWAYS paying a markup unless someone specifically told you that they are giving it to you for cost.
I think the difference is that when one buys say groceries they give you the groceries and that's the end. If a tech only bought a pinblock and handed it over to the client then I'd understand a markup. But that's not what happens.

If I hire someone to do a repair in my home and this requires buying something from the hardware store that costs $100 I wouldn't expect the person to charge me $200 for the part. If they wanted to charge me for the time to get the part I would consider that reasonable.


But the guy doing a repair on your home, if he is a trained professional, isn't going to buy the part at retail price. He will go to a wholesale counter or a trade supplier. And then he will charge you accordingly - you wouldn't have access to the parts at that price, nor would you have known what to buy. Have you ever been given a supplies breakdown on a home repairs job that had retail prices given? Or are you just assuming this is what happens?
_________________________
Phil Dickson
The Cycling Piano Tuner

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#2014353 - 01/14/13 11:01 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4215
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
+ 1 Dan.
Like the grocery store and tech has to answer to him in the first place?


Exactly. Along with the cost of the pin block or groceries is the cost of doing business. The repairs person has to have liability insurance, auto insurance, tools, knowledge, in the case of groceries health/food inspectors, licensing, building leases and expenses and on and on.

These things are not free.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2014356 - 01/14/13 11:10 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7897
Loc: France
Well if some parts where really sold us at a normal price that would be better : for instance a glued set of Yamaha grand hammers is expensive, almost as much as a pre-glued set of S&S heads.

See also the movers, that take the piano from the 4th floor to the workshop, then back (with stairs) . I have a special price with them, but I prefer to reflect it discretely to the customer, I feel no need or desire to have a margin on that hard job done by someone else.

I tend to spend the necessary time on any repair, be it a "simple" hammer/shank change on a Yamaha (pretty straightforward job usually).
At the occasion, I take care of the keyboard, (punchings, key end felt if necessary, correcting pulley and mortises) check and correct action centers, change the cloth of the cylinder, repair the pedals if necessary, etc etc.

So I know I could only change the hammers and shanks and be done in 2 days (plus a visit a few weeks later). ,

But the customer I work for generally expect the repairs to be done, the piano to have a new touch and a huge durable amelioration, and the day I understood there was no real "secret" for concert prep , but you do one operation then the other, without cutting corners or missing this or that, I understood also how to obtain a durable result.

Many pianists are really not exigent because they are not accustomed to quality , but I can promise that they hear it coming one step after the other, and in the end they make the difference and appreciate a clean tone, not something full of defects and white noise (generally managed so the noises are the same everywhere, as when hammers are brushed and fluff all around the strike)

Well, Out of topic... very often the customer is more than happy to pay me for all the hours passed on the instrument, particularly when they see the job done (I dont take the action to the workshop for a hammer shaping, as are doing many techs) .

Then for expensive parts I only add my time and the minimal margin that is necessary if you buy something and sell it (if you make no margin you loose money not only because of the time passed to order but because it add to your revenue) .

I believe I would have a problem to ask 4000 USD for a hammer set=shanks, but on the other hand I will not use "replacement parts" if the instrument is asking for original ones.

For a hammer change, the differnce will allow for a key re weighting /evening of weight, while I see many actions that where repaired without any control on the key weight.












Edited by Kamin (01/14/13 11:12 AM)
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#2014362 - 01/14/13 11:18 AM Re: Pricing larger jobs [Re: SuperTuner]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2407
Loc: Olympia, WA
Unless you are in business is very easy to underestimate the costs of being in business. Our expenses run about $50,000 a year. That's another area to get sticker shock!
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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