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  • Estimating Time on Custom Work

    Hi All,
    Many of our projects are custom one-offs and often we are making 20 pcs of a bracket or a special part etc - not complex. It would be nice to have a standard structure to follow even though each project is different and not take hours in putting an estimate together. Any tips on estimating the time required for these custom projects would be helpful.

    Thanks
    Chris
    87' Mustang GT - Blown 306 Road Racer
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    www.ckvalentidesigns.com

  • #2
    I have the same problem alot of the time, no matter how long you've been doing it, its impossible to always know what your getting yourself into. to start I always sketch out all the parts and get an exact quote for the material, customers like that, I normally take that in advance. then i spend a few minutes "building it" in my head going over all the work needed step by step and then ball park the hours, and multiply that by my hourly to get price a. I take that number and add 30% to get price b. I explain to them that Its a custom piece and the labor charge will be between price a and price b.

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    • #3
      I kinda do the same thing. Estimate the time in my head based on similar projects I have completed in the past (if there are similar projects to comapre). Failing that I give the customer the option of building one for a straight hourly rate (materials plus my hrly rate). If they are happy with the first peice I can then offer them a flat rate for the rest of the brackets, frames etc.

      Eg. If it takes me 2 hrs to build the first one, I know I can probably make a fixture or jig and build the rest of the peices in 1.5 hrs per. I then charge 1.5 hrs per on all the peices including the first one. I eat the first half hour but end up making good money and happy customers in the long run.
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      • #4
        The most fair way to charge for the customer and the welder - is by the hour + materials.

        No resentments by from you or the customer.
        Clear agreement -no resentments

        If they insist on a price up front overestimate x 2 and you will come out about right.
        AND if it does not take as long as expected the customer will be surprised with a reduction in price.
        BUT NEVER charge MORE than the estimate given.

        Make sure the estimate is in writing otherwise the customer may add on extras DURING the job.

        How many times has a customer said I am on a tight budget, and so you worked hard to meet the goals and even given the customer a break and when you give the job to the customer and they see the work you do and then they say "Can you make two more for me?" Or make me something else. (After they said they had very little money)

        I try not to make assumtions about how much someone is worth.
        Last edited by Donald Branscom; 02-24-2011, 05:39 AM.

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        • #5
          one off is just that; one off. twenty pieces is a run.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Donald Branscom View Post
            The most fair way to charge for the customer and the welder - is by the hour + materials.

            No resentments by from you or the customer.
            Clear agreement -no resentments

            If they insist on a price up front overestimate x 2 and you will come out about right.
            AND if it does not take as long as expected the customer will be surprised with a reduction in price.
            BUT NEVER charge MORE than the estimate given.

            Make sure the estimate is in writing otherwise the customer may add on extras DURING the job.

            How many times has a customer said I am on a tight budget, and so you worked hard to meet the goals and even given the customer a break and when you give the job to the customer and they see the work you do and then they say "Can you make two more for me?" Or make me something else. (After they said they had very little money)

            I try not to make assumtions about how much someone is worth.
            So true.

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            • #7
              If I may add, If the job seems a little big, a worker should ask for a substantial downpayment.
              As I've seen customers come to our shop from outside of town for a road construction "" just to name one "" and ask us to build some funnel walls for inside a asphalt dumptruck.
              A co-worker build them and the customer never came back to picked them up.
              This is just one story and I can tell you a few.
              Snowmobile deck ramp stil sitting in the corner of the shop.
              End of truss bracket, for hanging a deck from the roof truss of a post and beam house.12 of them made to sandwhich 6X6 roof trusses

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              • #8
                Quoted "If they insist on a price up front overestimate x 2 and you will come out about right"


                Wow, is this what you expect when you ask your mechanic, plumber, etc. for a price?


                To answer the op, I know it's not a tip but estimating & quoting comes with experience. The more you have the easier it gets.
                Last edited by MMW; 02-25-2011, 05:34 AM.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Donald Branscom View Post
                  The most fair way to charge for the customer and the welder - is by the hour + materials.

                  No resentments by from you or the customer.
                  Clear agreement -no resentments

                  If they insist on a price up front overestimate x 2 and you will come out about right.
                  AND if it does not take as long as expected the customer will be surprised with a reduction in price.
                  BUT NEVER charge MORE than the estimate given.

                  Make sure the estimate is in writing otherwise the customer may add on extras DURING the job.

                  How many times has a customer said I am on a tight budget, and so you worked hard to meet the goals and even given the customer a break and when you give the job to the customer and they see the work you do and then they say "Can you make two more for me?" Or make me something else. (After they said they had very little money)

                  I try not to make assumtions about how much someone is worth.



                  Man I've got to disagree with that. What field does your company work in?, that might make a difference.
                  But an hourly rate means absolutely nothing if the buyer can't pin it to a production rate and unless you've done substantial work for the company in the past they just can't do that. That punishes companies who make their living on high production.
                  Hard money bids give the customer a number set in stone, that's what they want. Not an hourly rate "might take me 6 months might take me a year". That's waaaaay too much uncertainty and it's absolutely wothless if the prime is bidding the job.
                  Anyone with some bidding experience will almost always make more money on hard bid vs. T&M, excepting the rare occasion you dip into your contingency and that can almost always be foreseen.
                  T&M has it's (very limited) place usually in fast track design/build work that can't be bid whole but overall any company that's geared up for turning out work efficiently will kill the competition in a hard bid situation. That's where the money generally lives.
                  Anybody that "overestimates X2" does not have a grip on bidding work and will likely live thru a harsh learning curve. If you're paying attention to your business you just bid the job and sleep well at night.
                  My take.
                  JTMcC
                  Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

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                  • #10
                    Hey Chris, what i do is charge a welders rate and add material together at a 3 hour min. no matter if it takes 30 min.

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