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#2158192 - 09/26/13 06:36 PM How far will you travel to tune?
dynamobt Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 739
Loc: NH
I'm asking for what you would consider to be the outside edge of your range?

What would infuence you to change your mind and increase the range? Type and size of piano? Willingness of the client to get on a regular twice a year tuning program? No, you have a range and that's it?

Do you generally add a gas and driving charge to your usual rates? At what distance do these fees kick in?
_________________________
1918 Mason & Hamlin BB





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#2158266 - 09/26/13 08:56 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2466
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
I add on at greater than 50 miles. My two farthest customers are ~100 miles away. One of them is quite unique:

_________________________
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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#2158274 - 09/26/13 09:14 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
Roy Rodgers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/09
Posts: 348
Loc: Ranger, Texas
I drive 160 miles one way twice a year to a small town to tune 8 pianos in a day. Makes for a long day, but it's not too bad. Have been going to this one town for about 6 years now twice a year. Most of the rest of my work is within a 60 mile range. I do have to figure in the cost for driving up and back, but spread out over 8 customers makes their part of the cost a little less than it would be if I had to go for only one job.

If I have to schedule other work and have to go back for the one that needs extra work then I have to figure in the cost of the drive as well as the work.
_________________________
Tuning and repairing pianos since 1981 in Ranger, Tx. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Roys-Piano-Service/173273022711505

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#2158276 - 09/26/13 09:22 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
RonTuner Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1677
Loc: Chicagoland
I usually try to limit the ride to about 30 minutes - distance can vary due to expressways... Following "friends of friends" has extended that up to about 45 mins one way.

Ron Koval
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

my piano videos:
http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=drwoodwind


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#2158439 - 09/27/13 06:54 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
I've traditionally worked around a seventy-five mile radius. I never charged for mileage; rather, I would just get a bunch in whatever area I was going to. Back in the "glory days" I'd schedule 7+!
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#2158707 - 09/27/13 05:22 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
Gerry Johnston Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/13
Posts: 119
Loc: Haverhill, MA
I live in Northeastern MA and the area is fairly densely populated. Most of my work is withing 10-15 miles of home. 20-25 miles is about the furthest I will travel. Since my service area is relatively compact I have not found it necessary to add on a travel charge. Although, I can certainly understand why technicians servicing rural areas would need to do so.
_________________________
Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
www.gjpianotuner.com

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#2158842 - 09/27/13 11:52 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3896
I will go wherever, if it pays to do so. Every tuning charge includes a certain amount of travel time or travel miles before I start charging for travel. Travel adds up quickly because it's not only the cost of running my car. There is also a labor cost of sitting behind the wheel when I could be tuning a piano instead.

Based on that, driving 1 1/2 hours each way to tune a piano is at least double the regular rate or more. Most prospective clients won't pay that much, so my service area becomes self limiting.

Tuning multiple pianos in a distant place helps spread the travel charge between clients. I still incur the travel cost, so I still charge for it. This is a business, and I have to cover my costs.

Each business will be different. I would encourage you to determine your costs to drive and tune a piano, then apply that cost to you pricing policies.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#2159021 - 09/28/13 10:57 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1847
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Re: Travel

When just getting started, whatever it took and wherever it took me.

Once established:

Service orders (tuning/warranty) from dealer/manufacturer, distance was unlimited and billed per agreement.

My own business: In addition to the normal tuning/service fee, beyond the county - basically a 20 mile radius - travel time billed the same as service, by the hour (but reckoned in quarter-hour increments). Plus a set per mile rate based upon projected* fuel expense, maintenance, repair allowance, insurance, taxes, and replacement cost.

Hotel, meals, are extra of course.

*Annual pro-rata basis.



Edited by bkw58 (09/28/13 11:03 AM)
Edit Reason: *Addition
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com

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#2159050 - 09/28/13 12:22 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
Dennis Kelvie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/17/07
Posts: 158
Loc: Caldwell, Idaho
I travel about 900 miles in a 'loop' to several little towns about 14 times per year. My individual rate goes up $10 per instrument min, and I never go for fewer than 18 pianos. I have been doing this for 34 years now. . .

I usually make the trip over three days, and usually make a reasonable profit, according to my bankbook and spreadsheet.
_________________________
Dennis C. Kelvie
Piano Tuner/Technician since 1976

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#2160633 - 10/01/13 10:29 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
Honestly, I'll travel half way across the globe, as long as the customer wants to pay
_________________________
Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2160701 - 10/02/13 01:44 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Come on Gary, how far have you actually traveled for tuning?

Next week I am traveling to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (Canada) for tuning. That is about 2,500 km.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2160994 - 10/02/13 10:22 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
rysowers Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2503
Loc: Olympia, WA
I was talking to a nationally respected technician some time ago who travels around the country working on mostly high-end grand pianos. His rate is basically $1000 per day plus expenses. That sounded pretty reasonable to me.

I don't get why some technicians refuse to travel outside of a particular service area. My philosophy is to just charge enough to make it worth it. So ask yourself, how much would someone have to pay me to travel to location X so that I don't feel resentful?

I used to charge $1 per mile. But then we modified our system and now we have a graduated system where the further a client is the larger the per mile fee is. Now I charge around $100 to travel to Seattle (about 60 miles away). I don't do it a lot, but recently I had a client pay me the $100 plus they wanted me on a weekend so I charged another $100. That made it a $375 appointment. To him it was worth it to have someone he trusted, and the money wasn't the big issue. I love that kind of client!
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#2160999 - 10/02/13 10:40 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
Jbyron Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 525
Loc: USA
The reason I don't like to do it is because on a first service visit there is almost always a reason to return to the piano to do more work. Cleaning, repairs, parts replacement, regulation. There could be broken strings needing replacement, which can sometimes even require THREE visits to the piano. In such cases the customer would be better served by a technician closer to them, that is if they can find someone who does not just tune and run. Which unfortunately, way too many tuners do IMHO.
_________________________
Tuner-Technician



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#2161023 - 10/03/13 12:16 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: Supply]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3371
Originally Posted By: Supply

Next week I am traveling to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (Canada) for tuning. That is about 2,500 km.


Don't forget your parka! wink
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2161412 - 10/03/13 08:58 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
Jbyron, you sorta hit the nail on the head on why it's not smart to make these "exceptions" and travel huge distances just for a tuning. Lets say you just got home from doing one of these 2 hour away spots. You sit down in front of the t.v and crack open a beer. The phone rings, and it's that 2 hour away customer,saying what a terrific job you did on the tuning, HOWEVER middle C has a "slight ring", or that the sustain pedal has a squeak.
_________________________
Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2161534 - 10/04/13 02:03 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1847
Loc: Conway, AR USA
In long distance call-backs for post-service problems, a valid concern is raised. Making a complimentary 600 mile round trip to repair a pedal that decided to start squeaking would not be much fun. I cannot speak for techs who are continuously on the road. For those of us who operate from a home base - most of our customers being close by - it would constitute a major loss in both time and revenue to do this.

In the context of my own business (and not the dealers), the only very long distance work I agreed to do was annual maintenance on a concert grand(s) at institutions that already used the services of a local tech for regular tunings and service of other pianos - typically a College: practice room pianos etc. That way if subsequent unexpected issues were to arise, such as a squeak, or a wobbly unison, it was understood that the local tech would be asked to handle it. Though to my knowledge this never came up, I assumed that I'd pay for it if the problem surfaced within a week or two. Presumably, such would be a small thing, easily absorbed if the annual job was estimated correctly to begin with. I always requested that the dept chair or artist in residence be on hand to approve my work before returning home.

With these safeguards in place, things went fairly smooth.
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com

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#2161709 - 10/04/13 11:33 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: Jbyron]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: Jbyron
.. on a first service visit there is almost always a reason to return to the piano to do more work. Cleaning, repairs, parts replacement, regulation. There could be broken strings needing replacement, which can sometimes even require THREE visits to the piano. ...

The farther you travel, the more you have to be equipped (with tools, supplies, parts, brains, experience and time) to handle a wide variety of eventualities. And yes, there will always be certain things that are not really feasible. You cannot refurbish an action or replace a set of keytops in a service call. Most intelligent clients will understand.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2161791 - 10/04/13 04:04 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
rysowers Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2503
Loc: Olympia, WA
The point about call backs is well taken. It is prudent in further away jobs, to be extra diligent in test driving the instrument before leaving, and also to insist that the owner try every note and play the piano for 5-10 minutes. If necessary go out to your car for a few minutes and check messages, (or Pianoworld forums! smile ) check email, or make a call. That way the client can feel comfortable trying the piano before you leave. You don't want to just rush away to the next job in this type of situation.

Communication and having a clear policy is very important. Explain to the client that it is possible for something to go wrong with the piano within a short time after you leave. Just like it is also possible for your water pump on your car to go out right after you had your timing belt changed. That doesn't mean its the mechanic's responsibility.

I tell my clients that every piano is a work in progress and that even $100,000 pianos aren't perfect. That's part of what makes each piano unique and interesting. Not every piano is going to have all issues satisfied at one appointment. By explaining this you help sidetrack unrealistic expectations.

If for some reason things didn't work out well after you left a long-distance appointment, at least your local reputation is not damaged. So there is not as much risk as you might first think.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#2161804 - 10/04/13 04:38 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: rysowers]
Jbyron Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 525
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: rysowers
The point about call backs is well taken. It is prudent in further away jobs, to be extra diligent in test driving the instrument before leaving, and also to insist that the owner try every note and play the piano for 5-10 minutes. If necessary go out to your car for a few minutes and check messages, (or Pianoworld forums! smile ) check email, or make a call. That way the client can feel comfortable trying the piano before you leave. You don't want to just rush away to the next job in this type of situation.

Communication and having a clear policy is very important. Explain to the client that it is possible for something to go wrong with the piano within a short time after you leave. Just like it is also possible for your water pump on your car to go out right after you had your timing belt changed. That doesn't mean its the
mechanic's responsibility.

I tell my clients that every piano is a work in progress and that even $100,000 pianos aren't perfect. That's part of what makes each piano unique and interesting. Not every piano is going to have all issues satisfied at one appointment. By explaining this you help sidetrack unrealistic expectations.

If for some reason things didn't work out well after you left a long-distance appointment, at least your local reputation is not damaged. So there is not as much risk as you might first think.




thumb As always, very well said. It's no wonder you have a successful business. Communicating clearly and concisely is key.
_________________________
Tuner-Technician



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#2162002 - 10/05/13 05:59 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: Supply]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: Jbyron
.. on a first service visit there is almost always a reason to return to the piano to do more work. Cleaning, repairs, parts replacement, regulation. There could be broken strings needing replacement, which can sometimes even require THREE visits to the piano. ...

The farther you travel, the more you have to be equipped (with tools, supplies, parts, brains, experience and time) to handle a wide variety of eventualities. And yes, there will always be certain things that are not really feasible. You cannot refurbish an action or replace a set of keytops in a service call. Most intelligent clients will understand.


Jurgen, refurbish is not impossible, depending of what is expected, and where you will sleep at night wink

The best techs here often travel very far just to refine or adjust regulation and voicing, after the local ones did not success. (the opposite may happen as well !!)

For some repairs indeed the workshop tools are necessary.

Grand hammer and shank change can be done without the workshop, but not on any piano.
_________________________
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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#2162043 - 10/05/13 08:55 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1847
Loc: Conway, AR USA

The Expert

On occasion some of us will travel out of state to do the work, not because the local tech is incapable. In all likelihood he or she is well equipped for the task. Probably better than we.

So why are we called from afar?

It's called suit, briefcase, 100 miles away from home.
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com

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