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How Should I Figure Out What to Charge?

The Beginnings

I've doing upholstery since 1966. During the first years I worked for my dad. He took pictures of his work. Eventually he used his pictures to create an estimate manual. Each picture was numbered. Then he had a list of numbered prices and yardages that corresponded with the picture numbers. Clients would look through the pictures and find something that look like theirs. Right then they could see what the labor and yardage would be for their piece of furniture Giving each estimate didn't require much effort at all. To go with that estimate manual my dad had a mindset of "Do it quick, do it cheap." He had a number of upholsterers what did work for him. They did the work quick and slapped it out. High quality wasn't much of a concern. (There was a number of furniture that got rejected and my dad ended up fixing much of it so that he wouldn't have to fight with the upholsterers about it.) That  seemed work for him, but not for me. For many years my focus has been on doing my high quality. My dad and I had many words over that (but that's another story)

Figuring It Out

Over the years since Dad died I eventually had to figure it out for myself (and I'm still looking for, or developing, better ways that match how I  do business. My current methods includes a price page on my website here: [url=http://winterssewing.com/node/72]Upholstery Labor Prices[/url] I give price ranges and yardage ranges. I never give an exact price over the phone. I can give a closer estimate from a picture, but I still accompany my estimated price with a disclaimer phrase (as I already mentioned, in a link, in a previous message.

How do figure out my pricing structure?

Some upholsterers are very diligent and organized about timing how long it takes them to reupholster each piece of furniture. After some time they build up a reference showing how long each piece of furniture has taken them to reupholster it. I admire these professionals. In my mind, I'd love to do this. However, I work at home. In reality, I have some many interruptions (many of my own making) and am not that organized to do that.

So, what I've kind of done and go by kind of a "per yard" base labor pricing, and then that is adjusted by the complexity of the furniture. For instance, if I figure charging about $50 per yard as a "fluid" starting basis, and if the chair takes about 6 yards of fabric, then my base labor would start around $300. Then I look to see if it has extra banding on it, or lots of cording, or other special detailing, or anything else that would take extra work. From that I adjust (raise) the base labor cost. Then I add on any of the others in the component pricing list.

Component Pricing

I get so many interruptions each day that it's hard for me to judge my time. Instead I do what I can "component pricing" I figure a certain price for a certain type of furniture, then I add-on for additional items (i.e. skirts, new foam, attached pillows, channels, spring tying, etc.) Consequently, I don't spend a lot of time figuring out prices. I just list everything out on my estimate form.

An Example Price List.

For an example of what I'm currently doing, look at the upholstery Labor Price List on my business website. I'm not the most happy with this system, but, for now it at least gives me a starting point. Whenever I need to give an estimate, I just go to my Labor Price List (Which I've copied to my estimate form) and make adjust ments to the price as explained above.