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#2120460 - 07/20/13 08:56 AM Quoting prices / hours per job
Jazzyb Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/20/13
Posts: 6
Many years ago when I was at college we were given a really handy list of piano repair jobs with a guide of how long each job should take, I have no idea what happened to it but really wish I had a copy, searching the net for something similar but to no avail. I have done restoration work in workshops for the last 20 years but never really had to quote per job as I have always worked for other people on an hourly basis. I have just emigrated and am in the process of staring up my own tuning/repair business, obviously I am starting to get requests for quotes and just wondered if there was some sort of standard list that anyone knows of so I am not over/underestimating prices. Sorry for the long winded question, I probably could have said it in one sentence... thanks for reading!

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#2120495 - 07/20/13 11:01 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
TunerJeff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 476
Loc: Oregon Coast
The booklet you are looking for is Joe Garrett's Labor Repair Guide. He compiled all the various tasks that we do and created a listing of jobs/hours, very similar to what an auto mechanic uses to determine his labor costs, and made a book out of it.

You can find this on the PTG website (www.ptg.org) under resources, books, and 'piano technician business'. Oh, and a whole bunch of other good books and CDs, too.

http://www.pianotuning.com/products/books.htm

Voila!
_________________________
Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
TunerJeff440@aol.com

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#2120686 - 07/20/13 07:55 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: TunerJeff]
Jazzyb Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/20/13
Posts: 6
Many thanks!

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#2120716 - 07/20/13 09:16 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1310
Loc: Michigan
The PTG still handles the booklet developed by Newton Hunt with hourly figures for various repair tasks. $10 for non-members.
_________________________
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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#2120897 - 07/21/13 07:59 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: TunerJeff]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: TunerJeff
The booklet you are looking for is Joe Garrett's Labor Repair Guide. He compiled all the various tasks that we do and created a listing of jobs/hours, very similar to what an auto mechanic uses to determine his labor costs, and made a book out of it.

You can find this on the PTG website (www.ptg.org) under resources, books, and 'piano technician business'. Oh, and a whole bunch of other good books and CDs, too.

http://www.pianotuning.com/products/books.htm

Voila!


Yeah and I HATE those books for the very reason that that's what mechanics use.

A customer should pay for the amount of labor the job actually took, not what a book says it should take. Different techs work at different speeds, and some are more efficient than others.

It's because of books like those that you pay for 2 hours of labor when the garage takes 45 minutes to actually do the work. Many years ago, I was at a dealership for a job that was written as three hours labor per the book. 45 minutes later the car was done and they still expected me to pay for three hours of labor.

From experience, you'll learn how long certain jobs take and what you need to charge. You'll mess up as you're learning, most likely by underestimating the amount of time, but chalk it up to learning. Don't make the customer pay for the mistake; it's a learning experience and you'll be accumulating knowledge along the way.

There have been times where I ended up charging the customer less than the quote because I got better at the particular job I was doing, and ended up not taking the amount of time I projected. Want to make a customer really happy and insure good word of mouth referrals? Charge them less than you said it was going to be.

Seriously, base your prices on your experiences as you're working. You'll be far more accurate. Disregard the "price books." I think they're a form of collusion anyway.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#2120909 - 07/21/13 08:51 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7677
Loc: France
Depending of the age of the instrument, quotes can be upraised by 1/3 sometime more.

Experience allow to keep that lower, when we can avoid usual mistakes, but some repairs are always necessary and we do not do them on recent instruments.
_________________________
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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#2120992 - 07/21/13 12:48 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
TunerJeff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 476
Loc: Oregon Coast
Loren,

I feel your pain! I prefer to do my own mechanic work, right up to swapping out a transmission or changing a timing belt...but once in a while I do not have the time or tool to change something out...and I get the same treatment. I needed a front-end part change, went to the mechanic thinking the job required a special compressor for it, and watched him pop one wheel and 6 nuts to get the part out. Took him 20 minutes....but the book said 2 hours. So, I got bill for 2 hours. Hate it.

But, for a newbie technician-type, the 'Book' makes sense. It lets someone know how long something SHOULD take, and gives them a goal to shoot for. I do not suggest that we follow the example of the car-mechanics, and charge 'labor-rates' from a book. I certainly don't carry one with me, and find that pianos are individual enough that flat-rate estimates are NOT going to reflect how long something will take. But, as a training tool? As a way to understand how long something should likely take? In the specific situation of a new-tech trying to understand what might be a reasonable guesstimate for a job? I have no problem with that. So...I give the link.

Regards,
his last auto bill,
Bleagh!
_________________________
Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
TunerJeff440@aol.com

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#2121068 - 07/21/13 03:05 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
showard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 123
Loc: Hortonville, Wisconsin
I agree with the concern over what car mechanics do regarding the rate books, but I think that piano work is a little different. It is true that some technicians will do the job much more quickly than others, but I feel like both books that were mentioned give a fair assessment as to what a job would take the average well experienced technician to do the job. As has also been mentioned it is a good guide for the inexperienced technician to start with to know how to price a job that he or she hasn't had a lot of experience with. I have found in the past when it is a job I haven't done that many times it will take me longer than the book says, but I still just charge the number of hours according to the book and try and improve on my processes so I can hopefully speed up and do the job at a quicker pace the next time. It's all part of the learning experience.
_________________________
Steve Howard
Piano Technician
Owner of Howard Piano Industries
www.howardpianoindustries.com

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#2121081 - 07/21/13 03:26 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7677
Loc: France
those are quotes for basic work done in optimal conditions.
Then when for instance you select shanks by tone, or you modify hammers before gluing them, those prep times add on.

Installing new parts on a decent instrument can be straightforward.

Changing strings , tuning pins and underfelts on a relatively modern piano will be fast once you are used to the job.

The same on a piano 40 years older will not fit the time similarly.

I tend to work as if I was on a new piano, but some points are always adding to the basic quote. small repairs, even cleaning.

Those guides are useful anyway, for instance for regulation time, hammer reshaping, common maintenance.

But changing double wedge dampers on a Steinway is not at all the same job as on most other grands.

Also, gluing hammers with a gig go fast, but how is the result ? are they perfectly lining? how strike line tweaks are taken in account ? how will hold the glue joint? If one have to spend the same time to travel and paper them than to glue them, better do the job better at first time, dry mount, adjust individually, travel the head while gluing them, and line their shoulders on both sides, as done in good places. With experience in the end it is faster.

I have a list with 560 lines of jobs , with parts prices.
Rarely use it.







Edited by Olek (07/21/13 03:28 PM)
_________________________
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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#2121108 - 07/21/13 04:14 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: TunerJeff]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1310
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: TunerJeff
Loren,

I feel your pain! I prefer to do my own mechanic work, right up to swapping out a transmission or changing a timing belt...but once in a while I do not have the time or tool to change something out...and I get the same treatment. I needed a front-end part change, went to the mechanic thinking the job required a special compressor for it, and watched him pop one wheel and 6 nuts to get the part out. Took him 20 minutes....but the book said 2 hours. So, I got bill for 2 hours. Hate it.

But, for a newbie technician-type, the 'Book' makes sense. It lets someone know how long something SHOULD take, and gives them a goal to shoot for. I do not suggest that we follow the example of the car-mechanics, and charge 'labor-rates' from a book. I certainly don't carry one with me, and find that pianos are individual enough that flat-rate estimates are NOT going to reflect how long something will take. But, as a training tool? As a way to understand how long something should likely take? In the specific situation of a new-tech trying to understand what might be a reasonable guesstimate for a job? I have no problem with that. So...I give the link.

Regards,
his last auto bill,
Bleagh!


I have a different perspective about work value. The work is worth the same to the customer (even when I am the customer) regardless of how long it takes. If I have a problem with a car -- or a piano or a kitchen sink, etc. -- it is worth some maximum dollar value for me to have someone make my problem go away. If the cost exceeds the value I place on that service I'll proceed with another alternative which has become more economic in my scale of values.

For example, if it costs 3/4 as much to have a tire repaired as to get a new one, I'll just get the new tire. Less than that, it really doesn't matter how long it takes. Sometimes, even, faster is worth more to me than slower. I'd rather have my tire/phone/computer repaired in a few minutes while I wait rather than having the car/phone/computer unusable and pick it up in a few days. If the plumber charges too much to fix the sink, I'll get dirty and do it myself. The point is, my values are based on my needs, not the speed of the repair person.

I think there is a level of unintended hypocrisy being expressed here . . .
Does anyone seriously charge their customers less if the tuning took a little less time than expected? Do you in fact want a customer standing over you with a stop watch wondering how soon you'll be done in the hopes they can save a few dollars?

That's why I don't charge hourly rates. My time is worth zero to the customer. What I accomplish with my time is worth everything. I charge for value conveyed -- not time spent.
_________________________
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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#2121121 - 07/21/13 04:38 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: kpembrook]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: kpembrook

I think there is a level of unintended hypocrisy being expressed here . . .
Does anyone seriously charge their customers less if the tuning took a little less time than expected? Do you in fact want a customer standing over you with a stop watch wondering how soon you'll be done in the hopes they can save a few dollars?

That's why I don't charge hourly rates. My time is worth zero to the customer. What I accomplish with my time is worth everything. I charge for value conveyed -- not time spent.


Actually, yes I do when there is a dramatic difference. I've gotten to customers homes who having been tuned 6 months earlier only required a twenty minute touch up. Yes, I discounted them. That said, I don't charge hourly for tuning. But I still give the customer a break when they really didn't need all that much.

Now that that's out of the way, you are talking about something different. You say you don't charge hourly rates. And that's fine! But what we're talking about is a book specifying how many hours a job should take, which I don't believe in. The job takes the amount of time it takes, not what some book says it takes.

The car garages have quite a racket. The book says to charge for 2 hours labor, they do it in one hour, and voila.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#2121193 - 07/21/13 06:10 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 384
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
The other thing about those publications that are dangerous is that revenue departments LOVE rate books and they will bring them with them on audits. I know Michigan used to have a pretty tough service law aimed at moving companies and auto mechanics keeping rates even amongst various groups.

Some of the more greedy states like TN use the blue book of pianos to come in and say you know that piano says its worth blank so why are you selling it for less? My response is that my insurance says its worth less but I will sell them all to you for that price. Show me the money.

The last rate book department of revenue showed me stated an elbow job on a spinet should cost 900 dollars? Does that come with valet stamp and bottle of good wine?. 30 dollars worth of parts and maybe if you are blind in one eye, have one finger to work with and are just plain slow it might take 4 hours. This is why a lot of people do not get repeat work and then sit around the campfire wondering... gee they didn't call me back. Just saying.
_________________________
J. Christie
Nashville Piano Rescue
www.NashvillePianoRescue.com
East Nashville
Bowling Green, KY
Scottsville KY.
Chamber of Commerce
Member/Sponsor

Putting inspiration in the hands of area musicians
Through restoration/renovation

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#2121379 - 07/22/13 05:29 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Nash. Piano Rescue]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
The other thing about those publications that are dangerous is that revenue departments LOVE rate books and they will bring them with them on audits. I know Michigan used to have a pretty tough service law aimed at moving companies and auto mechanics keeping rates even amongst various groups.

Some of the more greedy states like TN use the blue book of pianos to come in and say you know that piano says its worth blank so why are you selling it for less? My response is that my insurance says its worth less but I will sell them all to you for that price. Show me the money.

The last rate book department of revenue showed me stated an elbow job on a spinet should cost 900 dollars? Does that come with valet stamp and bottle of good wine?. 30 dollars worth of parts and maybe if you are blind in one eye, have one finger to work with and are just plain slow it might take 4 hours. This is why a lot of people do not get repeat work and then sit around the campfire wondering... gee they didn't call me back. Just saying.


Yep, exactly. $900 for an elbow job? Tell me what Lester spinet from that era is even worth $900.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#2121407 - 07/22/13 08:04 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
BenP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 166
Loc: South Jersey
I could be wrong, but I think these rate books that everyone is disparaging are intended as a tool to help the service provider give an estimate for the work. Not to compute your final bill.

I have a good mechanic, and he uses a rate book. He tells me how much labor the book says a job will take, and he quotes me a price accordingly. Since he is highly experienced, he often takes less time on the job than the book said, and when he bills me, he bills me by the actual labor time spent, not the book labor, so it usually comes out lower than the quote. But honestly, even if he charged me the quoted price, I wouldn't mind, as long as he did the work well. He's a skilled technician, and I'm paying him the going rate for the job - if he saves time, that's his benefit.

I think there are a lot of parallels for piano technicians. What is wrong with using a guide to give the customer a quote, and computing the final bill with your actual labor?


Edited by BenP (07/22/13 08:07 AM)
_________________________
Ben Patterson
Part-time Piano Tech
Rural South Jersey

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#2121409 - 07/22/13 08:07 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: BenP]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Ben, you not only have a good mechanic; you have an honest one. smile
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#2121419 - 07/22/13 08:56 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: BenP]
Mark R. Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2024
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Originally Posted By: BenP
What is wrong with using a guide to give the customer a quote, and computing the final bill with your actual labor?


That question cuts both ways. What if there is a snag, and the actual labor turns out to be more than the quote?
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#2121424 - 07/22/13 09:17 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
As a rule, I always figure high just in case. The customer usually ends up paying less than the quote. We both walk away happy. smile
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#2121445 - 07/22/13 10:06 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Loren D]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1176
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: Loren D
As a rule, I always figure high just in case. The customer usually ends up paying less than the quote. We both walk away happy. smile


Greetings,
Yes, I do too. Pricing is usually dependent on where in their career a tech is. At the beginning, without a reputation, a tech usually has to compete via price to gain the new business. This is as it should be, since their time will be worth more when they have more experience. A well-established tech is/should be more expensive, as they are less likely to waste time getting something done and their work is usually more efficient. That is why a book rate is only marginally effective, we all work at different speeds.

I price my work higher than the average rate for three reasons. First as a filter; there is more demand for my services than my physical ability can meet, so it makes sense to only work for top dollar. I do not want the kind of customer that is comparing techs by price, first! In fact, if I were pricing optimally, I would not have to be turning any work down. If I could just find 10 customers that would pay $10,000 for a tuning...
The second reason is that pianos often have surprises, ($750 for undiagnosed cracked Steinway rails??) and since customers HATE to be charged more than they expected, all of my estimates are given on a "not more than" basis. I put a lot of headroom in those estimates to insure against me taking a loss. This allows the majority of my jobs to come in for less than the customer was expecting and that really eases the environment around the check writing ceremony.
The third reason is that after 35 years, my work is sorta regarded as bullet-proof, so for performance work, I am selling a degree of insurance. The extra expense is, in my customer's opinion, worth it because, as one producer said, "It lets me stop thinking about problems that might come from the piano". This is reason enough for the beginning tech to have faith that quality work gradually creates its own market.

It isn't uncommon that we face the choice of cutting a corner, or making less on the job than we thought we would. The long term health of a reputation dictates eating the loss caused by poor estimates. It avoids bad customer relations and quickly teaches us to improve our estimating skills.
Regards,

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#2121492 - 07/22/13 12:06 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 384
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
Maybe someone should do an anonymous survey and find out what customers really think. There will always be someone out there that could care less what a service costs due to a techs skill level and I bet that those people are maybe 3 in 10 but probably a lower number.

Due to the so called recession, you-tube making anything look easy and internet search engines people are smarter and more careful with money.

I traded a Baldwin M for a low miles lift gate cargo van to a wholesaler last year. A pass-lock security issue came up with it( turn key no start lock-out). I went to a dealer because they have the monopoly on getting them fixed . I was directed to the 98.00 an hour sign and told to expect 2k - 3 k minimum including parts? They said sheepishly that you never know where those issues will lead? huh? and you are mechanics for a living? On a van with 14 k miles? not a warranty thing? Hmmm.

Internet searched it, found some clever Canadians had a solution. One tiny part came via mail. It took less than 30 minutes and I've never had an issue since. Was something learned? Yes. We know not to buy that brand of vehicle from now on and that is what I am talking about with pricing yourself out of work.
_________________________
J. Christie
Nashville Piano Rescue
www.NashvillePianoRescue.com
East Nashville
Bowling Green, KY
Scottsville KY.
Chamber of Commerce
Member/Sponsor

Putting inspiration in the hands of area musicians
Through restoration/renovation

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#2121497 - 07/22/13 12:27 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7677
Loc: France
On the other hand I once knew a car mechanic that asked so little people prefer to ask another one, knowing the guy was robbing himself by asking not enough to neighbors and friends...

In a rural dept... he did good, but they could not trust him as being "The" mechanic for their pricey car.

But he knew a lot of tricks to make reapairs less costly whenever possible.

he repaired very old construction engines, a lot of strange things that noone knew yet how to deal with.

And his father was the last "charron" of the dept (the guy that put metal around wooden wheels of horse powered "cars")
Worked for some collectors too, for old cars, as he knwe how to make woodeen wheels.
_________________________
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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#2121616 - 07/22/13 06:05 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Ed Foote]
BenP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 166
Loc: South Jersey
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
The long term health of a reputation dictates eating the loss caused by poor estimates. It avoids bad customer relations and quickly teaches us to improve our estimating skills.


On the other (beginning) end of a career, I absolutely agree. I have "lost" money several times because I quoted a price that I considered a market rate, but ended up requiring more labor (or tools, or parts) than I had planned. I do not even look at this as lost money, but as gained experience. I do not ever charge more than I quote.

For what it's worth, neither does my mechanic. Maybe I have subconsciously learned a few things from him . . .
_________________________
Ben Patterson
Part-time Piano Tech
Rural South Jersey

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#2121858 - 07/23/13 10:22 AM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1749
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Pricing guides are a helpful frame of reference when one first hangs out his/her shingle. Ultimately, billing labor by the hour makes more business sense. There is good reason why electricians and similar service professions do it that way. I recall one piano accessory company coming out with a suggested price guide for techs installing its product: charge X-amount of dollars for the product and a tuning fee for the labor. (Or some other such nonsense.) Following that formula, I would have been operating at a loss.
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com/

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#2122019 - 07/23/13 05:56 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7677
Loc: France
The tuning fee used as a basis for anything is the source of all maintenance (or absence of) problems.

I compute with hours, but not much detail is given to the customer (I still gives much more than most).

A too much detailed proposal may give the customers the impression the piano is not worth repairing.
_________________________
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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#2123034 - 07/25/13 10:36 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3869
I do it the other way around = the tuning fee is based on hours, and hours are based on the income I want to make. So...repairs are also based on hours, not the tuning fee. Detailed proposals can work against you when the client shows your estimate to your competitor, who then proceeds to evaluate your estimate, line item by line item. I agree with Olek that it's best to do a more generalized quote.

I finished a job today that was a reg touch up, pitch raise, cleaning, replace back checks, sand hammer tails (the reason back checks were torn). I used the guide to refresh my memory on the time for back check installation, since I don't do that very often. When everything was done, three service calls in a two week period, the total cost exceeded estimate by $20.00 - I ate the $20.... smile
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#2123435 - 07/26/13 05:14 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7677
Loc: France
About backcheck, I recieved a colleague and his employee last day. He had a grand piano (historical one 1904) that was repaired partially in Poland and partially by him, delivered to the customer (a half day drive from his place)

Supposed to be "ready for regulation".

The backchecks where not installed or present.

He was lucky I could give him a renewed Steinway set, he had to buy the wires, come to my place at 9:00 AM with the action (4 hours drive) . measures, decide how to install, bore the holes, install the backchecks, they finished at 3:30 AM !

they also spend half of the next day to adjust the key frame to the keybed (piano was in water damage, hence the repair)

SO to say... about the amount of control one have to those gentle subcontractors, very kind they are but they do what they want (as using MDF screws for the grand shanks flanges)

SOrry for the OT
_________________________
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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#2123438 - 07/26/13 05:18 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Bob]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1310
Loc: Michigan
Quote:
The tuning fee used as a basis for anything is the source of all maintenance (or absence of) problems.


Originally Posted By: Bob
I do it the other way around = the tuning fee is based on hours, and hours are based on the income I want to make. So...repairs are also based on hours, not the tuning fee. Detailed proposals can work against you when the client shows your estimate to your competitor, who then proceeds to evaluate your estimate, line item by line item. I agree with Olek that it's best to do a more generalized quote.


What is being missed in these discussions is value conveyed to the customer.
Time has no intrinsic value. One part of the equation is legitimately what I want to receive for my efforts. I should have a sense of that -- as has been well explained in previous posts.

But, the other part of the equation is what benefit I am conveying to a customer. For example, if I just sit on their piano bench for an hour, I am conveying no benefit (other than warming the bench if it is a cold outdoor venue and the performer has a tender behind). If I sit on the same bench for the same hour and tune the piano, I am conveying value to the customer and legitimately earn a fee for value conveyed. Additionally, if I am able to sit on the piano bench of a 5' piano and somehow make it sound like a 7' piano after 1 hour, I have conveyed a lot more value to the customer than a mere tuning. So, we have 3 equal time spans of 1 hour. I might wish I could be paid for each at some given rate. But 3 different levels of value have been conveyed to that customer for the same 1 hour span. The customer wants to pay for value received -- not how much time I spent filling their space and breathing their air.

Now, here's how this plays out that a lot of people don't get:
Different services have different values to the customer.

Although we may think we are good tuners, most people don't really care how good we are. Good octaves and clean unisons will satisfy a huge majority of anybody's customers. (Thankfully, we hopefully have some customers that can actually hear, too.) The additional value of the super-tuner over the regular tuner is a relatively small increment. The utility of the piano is not greatly increased in the eyes of most customers. (Some, but not as much as we would like to think).

But, what if a key is sticking or a hammer is broken? All of a sudden, their piano becomes unplayable and their entire investment in the instrument is pragmatically worthless until functionality is restored. As it turns out, the local "tooner" isn't able to even effect the necessary repair, so the service is much less available. Getting that key repaired (or those keys repaired) takes on a more pressing significance and the value conveyed in making the repair in a timely fashion conveys far more value to the customer than tuning.

This is where we make a mistake with billing by time. Say a repair takes half the time it takes to tune a piano. If we only charge half of the tuning fee, we have significantly under-valued the service the customer has received. And yet, I find that many technicians consider repairs to be merely minor add-ons -- or perhaps even irritations that keep us from doing what we conceive to be our "real work" of tuning. When I regulate or voice a piano, I have enhanced the value of the piano in a way that a mere tuning has not. The fact is, other work we may do may be higher value than our tuning. I charge more for technical work than for tuning because there are fewer people qualified to do that work and because it really adds more value.

This is important as a concept to incorporate. If the way you account for your value is by the hour, so be it. But, you should have different hourly rates for different kinds of services.

_________________________
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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#2123467 - 07/26/13 06:44 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1749
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Keith:

I do not believe that anyone is suggesting that a techs' value is by the hour, exclusively. It should go without saying that it is quality work effected by the tech within the hour that produces value in fulfilling the benefits a client desires to obtain from such work. [Accordingly, I cannot understand the need for different hourly rates for different kinds of services as you suggest.] Notwithstanding, your approach has a certain altruism about it that should not be summarily dismissed. Thank you for elaborating.


Edited by bkw58 (07/26/13 07:27 PM)
Edit Reason: brackets
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com/

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#2123575 - 07/26/13 10:41 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3869
Speaking of value, or lack thereof, I've learned of a meeting in August where it is advertised all attendees get a free piano tuning.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#2125322 - 07/30/13 01:33 PM Re: Quoting prices / hours per job [Re: Jazzyb]
Sweet06 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
idk. im not a tech but i can relate. I bill my services based on the job im doing. sometimes it'll take 5 minutes, sometimes it'll take an hour. i still charge the flat amount regardless of how long it takes me. My customers pay me to do computer work for them. if they want XYZ done, i charge them for getting XYZ done, not how long it takes me to do XYZ. I think thats most fair for everyone. If i charged by the hour, whos to stop me from saying "hi mr customer, your ssl install took 3 hours due to xyz complications on your server". Theres no one to check on me, what if i got distracted doing something else ? Thats why I just charge for the job im doing.
_________________________
"Doesn't practicing on the piano suck?!?!"
"The joy is in the practicing. It's like relationships. Yeah, orgasms are awesome, but you can't make love to someone who you have no relationship with!"

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