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Everything posted by mac6986

  1. There are a lot of people here asking for insight on how to price particular jobs, so here is a fool-proof way to gauge what you should be charging for a job. This is going to be long-winded, but there is a lot of information to consider. You could ask 20 different members what they would charge for the same sign, and you will most likely get 20 different answers. The reason: OVERHEAD. Everyone has different needs, and they charge accordingly. You need to calculate what it really costs you to make the sign other than materials & time. I was very guilty of this in the beginning. I knew what it cost to make the sign, so I would find out what comparable shops in the area would charge. I would drop my price to get the job, but I also did it because I felt guilty for charging so much, knowing what the materials cost. What I didn't know, is that I was leaving a lot of things out of consideration. EVERY SHOP IS DIFFERENT. You need to figure out what you need to make, to cover expenses and make a profit on each job. Its nice to do things for free or at cost, but you are in business to make money, right? So here we are. You have a customer that wants a nice, big 4' x 4' window graphic. Single color vinyl, and the old graphics need to be removed. Cake job right? These are my bread and butter jobs. Customer says that he wants a proof and an estimate prior to signing off on the job. The proof, a no brainer. But how much am I going to charge? You need to know your shop rate first. How much is my time worth? What bills do I need to cover? Am I paying myself? Am I paying employees? These are all important things to know before you ever give a number to a customer. First off, find out all of your monthly expenses pertaining to your business, MINUS MATERIAL, this is charged seperate. (spreadsheet attached at the bottom) **Home Businesses** - the best way to figure out how much of your home expenses to include in your business expenses, divide the square footage of area in your home devoted to your business, and divide that by the square footage of your home. that will give you a percentage, i.e: 250 sq ft / 1000 sq ft = .25 or 25%. This is not exact when it comes to things like electric and water, but it will get you in the right ballpark. Monthly Overhead: These items should include Rent, utilities, equipment loans, services (accountant, courier, cleaning etc.) Subcontractors, licenses, association dues, equipment servicing, software purchases/subscriptions, vehicle expenses/gas, taxes, insurance, & payroll. Now this is just a short list of major expenses incurred, that most might forget about that aren’t doing this every day to make a living. As an example, mine comes out to $2,415.00 Monthly Gross Wages: If you’re paying yourself too, (which you should) decide an amount you'd like to make per week, add 30% to cover taxes, and multiply that by 4.34 (the average number of weeks per month: 52 divided by 12) and you have your average monthly salary plus taxes. So, I pay myself (relatively cheaply) $500 per week + 30% = $650 x 4.34 = $2821.00 Add that all up, and that is your monthly "nut" that needs to be covered before you ever make a profitable cent. I know I haven’t covered material, but that comes into play later. So I need to cover $2,415 + $2,821 = $5,236 every month before I am profitable. Calculating Your Shop Rate: So now we have a good idea of what I actually have in the way of expenses, and I really need to make more signs to cover all that! Speaking of making signs, how many hours a week would you say you actually devote to actual sign production? These are your actual Billable Hours. this is a vital piece of information in calculating what your shop rate is. With a little bit of time, you can figure out how much time you are actually spending making signs. This isn’t difficult, it just takes a little discipline to jot down the actual time you start and stop while working on signs for a typical week. its not uncommon for a smaller shop (like myself) to have one person doing everything and only spend 15-20 hours a week actually producing signage. Most of us are not as productive as we would like to think we are, especially if you have a home business, all sorts of distractions get in the way. That’s part of life. But be diligent with your time tracking to find out how much time you actually spend producing products. On any given week, I spend 18-22 hours making signage. So we'll use 20 hours as the benchmark. Now, I don’t know about you, but I like my time off with family and friends. That needs to be accounted for. I take about 3 weeks off combined thorough the year for holidays, birthdays, and vacations. That Gives me 49 production weeks per year. 20 x 49 = 980 Annual Billable Hours. We're almost there! Its all a "simple" math equation now! Monthly overhead: $5,236.00 x 12 months = Annual Overhead $62,832.00 Divide your Annual Overhead: $62,832.00 / by your Annual Billable hours: 980 = Hourly Rate Before Profit $64.11 Add your profit percentage: 25% (you decide what you should add on) to your hourly rate: $64.11 = $80.14 - Hourly Shop Rate Now you know what each hour you are making signs should cost. Don’t sell yourself short, this is a service you are providing, and most of your price is going to be time, not materials. Back to the Customer Sign: Time: So, 4' x 4' single color vinyl sign with removal of existing and new installation. Simple logo and text design, time - 30 min No revisions, customer gives ok Set up cutter & time to complete cut - 20 min Weed & Mask - 20 min Travel to & from worksite - 15 minutes to, 15 minutes from Time to remove existing graphics & clean window - 60 min Set up and install new graphic - 30 min So The total time on this sign is 3 hours and 10 minutes x Shop Rate of $80.14 = $253.78 in labor Materials: ORACAL 951 - $1.27 Per Sq Ft x 16 Sq Ft = $20.32 in vinyl RTape ApliTape 4075 - $0.12 per Sq Ft x 16 = $1.92 in transfer tape Total material cost - $22.24 Just about done! Now you don’t want to just move material through your shop, and break even. You have to account for waste, so you mark up the material. I normally markup higher on small jobs and less on larger jobs. This one I'll do 3x material cost $22.24 x 3 = $66.72 Material cost to customer Add your time and materials $66.72 + $253.78 = $320.50 You now have an accurate price that takes into account all of your expenses, the time it took to make it, and the time it took to install it. When I first started I would look at this and say to myself "How can I justify over $300 when I know that it only cost me $20 in materials?" That was the un-educated, younger version of myself. There's more than just material in the price of the sign. Find your shop rate and don't be afraid to price accordingly. Your time is valuable. If a customer can't appreciate that, move on to the next customer. DON'T SELL YOURSELF SHORT! Dont forget to get the spreadsheet below Shop Rate
  2. mac6986

    is this price-able?

    Seems pretty cut and dry. Don't price what the customer "expects", Figure a price that you can do it for at your current capacity. You're not gouging the customer, its a fair number that accounts for your time, overhead, and materials. Quote the job what its worth to you. If you get it, you'll have a nice paycheck coming your way. If they don't like the price, there's no use slashing prices because you're only taking money out of your own pocket. The materials will cost the same, its still going to take the same amount of time to do it. They don't like it, they can shop elsewhere and you can take the next job that comes in. No use stressing over a job that you haven't been awarded yet.
  3. mac6986

    price quote?

    I would be about $600 a truck, but the cleaning I would charge hourly. it looks simple and straight forward, but sometimes that old glue is tough to remove and you might have to go over it a couple times to get it all off. +1 on WD40 Rapid Remover & a Scraprite works wonders too.
  4. mac6986

    ATV plastics...

    Those small accents, I would mask it off and use plasti-dip. adheres well to low-energy plastics and it's removable. Think of it almost as a type of "spray-on vinyl"
  5. mac6986

    Yea, I get their postcard in the mail once a month, I tried their free trial, its pretty much the same car, different color. Shipworks does intergrate across almost all major ecommerce platforms, and the major auction sites. I have it running my Shopify, eBay, Amazon, and Etsy stores. the last time I used the on-website shipping platforms for ebay or amazon, they were charging me about 2.25 for a 3 oz first class package with tracking. I get the same thing through stamps for 1.93. It doesn't sound like much but compounded over thousands of orders all year, it adds up fast. just like you said, it works out better different ways for each business. I just find myself doing less steps and getting the same tasks done in less time, than the way I used to on each site and paypal.
  6. mac6986

    it comes down to convenience and streamlining. If you have a significant volume of items to ship, its integration capability is amazing. Plus the other big auctions sites actually inflate the postage prices and give you a "discount" off that inflated price. I use, runs $15 a month + postage. I also use Shipworks, that runs $20 a month. with the two combined, I can come into my shop in the morning, and I have a stack of order packing slips that are paid and ready to be shipped. Then with 3 mouse clicks, I can print off all the shipping labels for all the orders ( mine are usually all the same weight ) . A process that previously would have taken me an hour or two now takes 5 minutes. It will then mark all the items shipped on their respective sites, upload tracking information and send the confirmation emails. I have on average 40-50 orders, collectivley, across 4 sites per day. I look at it as I hired a shipping employee for $35 a month.
  7. mac6986

    Store Front Signage question from a newbie.

    Be careful with the plastic! low-energy plastic and regular vinyl dont get along. You'll put up the sign and a week later you have an angry customer asking why the graphics are peeling off the sign. I stick with hi-tack vinyl on plastics.
  8. mac6986

    Bought the Roland BN-20

    Former BN-20 Owner Things to consider: When printing, you do not get 20" of printable area. You only have 18.9" max. Account for 4" added onto the front and back of a job so the pinch rollers have something to grab if you printed with reg. marks for print-lam-cut alignment. so a 30" print job will give you a 38" sheet of whatever you just printed. If you're not using Roland Media, a lot of places don't carry 20" material. They will cut it for you but some places charge, others dont. another cost to consider. Even if you don't ever print white ink, you will still have to replace that cartridge every so often. the printer will kick on every couple hours while its in sleep mode and pump a little ink into the waste tank to prevent the heads from clogging. the printer will not run without that cartridge even if you're not using white ink. The best way to calculate the price of each job is to make up an excel spreadsheet that you can change the variables of material cost and markup to calculate each job. There will always be an exception and a variable with each job. you cant really just come up with a general cost per sq ft, and apply it to everything. You'll be ahead on some jobs, and losing your shirt on others.
  9. mac6986

    The mental phases of a larger order

    Inquiring minds and all . . . . . What was the product and how many?
  10. mac6986

    Wall Decal HELP

    Same here. only about 10% of customers leave reviews on etsy.
  11. After operating a home based business, and moving into a retail space, I can say it boils down to one thing. Is your business dependent on walk-in customers? If not, and you have a decent space in your home ( like a full basement or garage you can devote to the business ) stay home as long as you can, until you actually outgrow it and have the income to support it.
  12. mac6986

    Wall Decal HELP

    On etsy, you can reply to reviews of 3 stars or less, but no pictures. You can make your point that the customer was troublesome, and that the seller was right, but you still have the low review, and that will have long-term effects. best to just get rid of the troublesome customers, without letting them leave bad reviews.
  13. mac6986

    Wall Decal HELP

    In my experience with selling online, its a moving target. How much are you willing to help for the good reviews vs. taking the hit, and refunding the purchase. The customer may be extorting you because they feel duped (even though they weren't) but never the less, the fact is they have the power in this situation. You need to determine how much a bad review will have an impact on you. If you are a new seller, and have like 2 reviews, I would refund the purchase and move on. one bad review will drop your star rating significantly. In a market where there are 10 other sellers selling the same decal, a future customer will see "oh this seller only has 3 stars? I'll find someone else." and that's it. That's all it takes to lose a sale. Starting in the hole, is much harder to get your rating up than maintaining high ratings while your shop is in its incipient stages. On the other hand, if you have like 500 reviews and you're sitting on a 5 star reputation, Still make an effort to help the customer, but if they threaten a bad review, you can take the hit, and not be affected by it. You'll still be at a 5 star rating and the people that see the one bad review followed by all the other good reviews, will assume it was a fluke situation, or a fussy customer. I would re-write your shop policies and make them iron clad. "These decals are for interior use only. They are meant to be installed on walls that were painted by rollers or spray only. There is no guarantee that the graphics will adhere to special paint/brush effects and/or stucco style walls & ceilings. If you have any concerns, please contact the seller BEFORE purchase." Again, bottom line is the customer has all the power in this situation. you can do everything right, but there will still be customers out there that will misinterpret things and say its your fault. If your reputation isn't built yet, is it worth destroying it over the price of one decal?
  14. mac6986

    pricing this? and doing this?

    the sign faces are usually 1/8" - 1/4" acrylic. you can get the acrylic sheets from Harbor Sales, and they'll even cut it for you and you're going to have to figure in some sort of bucket truck. I assume that light box is about 20'-25' feet in he air? try lifting a sheet of 1/8" acrylic and then see if you want to be man-handling that 20 feet in the air on a ladder. bucket trucks can range in prices per hour or by the day. I don't know where you are located, but the few places by me will only rent it to you for a whole day. and that runs about $250-$300 for the day. your price is right for your shop if you accounted for all expenses and marked up accordingly. As far as how the payment is being taken care of, I would not have the customer pay the electrician separate. You are the contractor for the whole job. you get any outside resources you need, and you pay them yourself, then add a fee onto the end invoice and mark up each service. I contract an electrician, or a mason, I pay them, and add 10% onto the invoice that the customer pays. That's just how I do business.
  15. mac6986

    Pricing Help

    I read this as one sale, not two. $2.55 each decal. the decals are close enough in size to charge the same price ( the more expensive of the two once you figure out cost ) you said you know your costs, and they are your friends, you have to decide what you want to give away and what you want to charge for. that is just what someone coming through my door would get charged. what size material you cut on will change your costs.
  16. mac6986

    Pricing Help

    in this case, you would need to decide how good of a friend this person is. You have the rest of the information you need. If It were a new customer walking through my door, on my 30" cutter cutting out of 30" rolls, $700, out the door. Then just charge him for the roll of material. The value of the product is your time and knowledge of how to make the end product.
  17. mac6986

    Pricing question Knowing ALL your expenses is the only way to know you're not short changing yourself. Yea, you could gross $600 on the project, but how long does it take you to do it? can you get it done in a couple hours? or will it take you two weeks, and then is that price really worth it?
  18. mac6986

    Pricing Help If he were a really good friend that got me parts at cost, I would charge materials plus time, but no markup on either. so you're really only charging him for your time.
  19. mac6986

    ebay issues

    Etsy is great during the holidays. I just sell mugs there. average maybe 7-10 sales a week, but come Christmas, I had 1100 sales in the 6 weeks leading up to the 25th. then back to less than 10 a week until valentines day then, it was another 200 in the 2 weeks leading up to V-day.
  20. mac6986

    ebay issues

    I'm dealing with these very issues on a weekly basis. I know this has been the norm for a while now, but it still infuriates me. Typical case of blaming the victim. We (the sellers) get screwed over with harassing emails, "no show" packages ( even when the tracking number says Delivered), charge backs, & ebay customer service cases opened against us. So when we leave negative feedback on a buyers account, now we are the a$$hole. So ebay cuts you off at the knees and wont let you warn the other sellers that this customer is nothing but trouble. Product of this "everyone is a winner" generation. I have been migrating to Amazon and having a much less stress than on ebay.
  21. mac6986

    Store Front Signage question from a newbie.

    To answer your question, If you don't have good painting skills, you can use the vinyl as a mask and paint your sign onto the re-purposed palette boards. a few simple techniques and you can create a very good looking, vintage distressed painted wood sign. Might take you a little more time to make, but not much more in materials, and you can charge much more for it than vinyl on aluminum. as far as mounting goes, i would use french cleats top and bottom, blue concrete screws to hold the brace to the wall, and you're done. here is a quick example I did for a friend. Base coat of blue, a little grey and red dry strokes around the edge, then a layer of crackel, placed the vinyl letters down, painted over the whole thing with brown, and removed the vinyl lettering while the paint was still wet. let it dry, then a few more passed with the grey and red dry brush for more depth.
  22. mac6986

    Best way to apply vinyl without wrinkles or bubbles?

    CAST! CAST! CAST! for wrapping only! Heat only for wrapping!! adding moisture under something your wrapping is asking for trouble. Cast is thinner, easier to conform, and has a lot more give and stretch built into it. Most wrap vinyl will have air release channels. Makes life much easier. Calendared is already pre-stretched due to the way its manufactured. Its more brittle and tears with moderate stretching. Using calendared to save a few bucks will be outweighed when your customers dont come back when the graphics peel and wrinkle because calendared is not designed for wrapping.
  23. mac6986

    Need help with sublimated mugs

    The main thing is each mug/coating manufacturer is different, and the different combinations of ceramic compound and coating will affect the way heat transfers and dissipates, therefore the image quality. Bottom line, if you have a mug you like, you'll have to experiment with your press to get the quality that you want. Every different mug brand I have tried, I had to change the settings from the suggested time/temp, and no two brands have the same time/temp/pressure. Main areas of concern: 1: adequate press pressure 2: make sure your transfer and substrate are clean (sounds like common sense but very easy to overlook ) 3: transfer is tight against substrate ( I've never had an issue using heat tape on mugs ) 4: making sure your press temp is actually what it says on the dial (a cheap temp gun will tell you if it is or not.) With the mugs I use, I can take them out of the press, and leave the transfer on till they cool to the touch. If you decide to hot-peel, you have to make sure that you peel it right off. The ink is still off-gassing and the mug coating is still able to accept the ink. if the transfer happens to touch the mug again in a different spot, you'll get a ghost image ( which is kind of what it looks like in your picture)
  24. mac6986


    oh, thats been taken care of already, and a new package has been sent & delivered. If it weren't so expensive, I would use UPS over the Post Office.
  25. mac6986


    you think this one is bad, check this out: Priority mail 2-day shipping from NJ to NC order placed on 12-17-14 packed and shipped on 12-19-14 The Package didn't leave NJ until the day it was supposed to be delivered 12-22-14 STILL HASN'T BEEN DELIVERED. over a month later, nobody knows where it is. The picture below was captured today 1-29-15