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Custom Run's - Various questions - input3/24
A recent exchange over a job that we will not be doing just has me wanting some feedback from others out there.
We're a small shop, reputation for locally sourced lumber, custom profiles. Were recently asked to design (which of course has the implication of running) a custom trim package for a customer. I am well aware (or at least I thought) of what the only other shops in my area (really only one) are getting in the way of setups and averages per foot for various stock profiles and then the increase for customs and the only large shop in the area will not even entertain customs.
Well, after some quick initial sketches this customer came back with a number from a shop I was obviously unaware of that was mind blowing (to me). This then opened up a conversation with a bunch of other issues that made me glad to pass on the job however Im still head scratching.
Are any of you operating in a market where your charging $0.20-$0.30/lf for poplar moldings, regardless of custom, profile, or width, no setup? This would mean for instance a 6+" wide cove crown, lets say 90', for $18-$27 in molding costs (no material)? Or perhaps 90' of wall member, face profile and back cut for $18.00? This shop also quoted $0.20/lf for straight lining which I assume would include a rip to get to a blank though the customer could not clarify (not that I pressed).
We have plenty of work so its of no issue but hearing numbers like this always makes me wonder how(and am positive the customer isnt lying to get over on us).
There are other issues as well, customer supplied material (s2s), they've stated they will not have the job run if they dont keep the knives (which rules us out because we keep the knives), and so on.
Every once in a while I get one of these that leaves my head spinning and, to me, sounds so out there I have no choice but to ask.
My math here is, a stock 5 1/4" poplar crown run by the thousands in a production shop is running 1.50/ft around here retail with about $0.40 worth of material leaving $1.10 for the rest of it, and we're not even talking custom.
Any input is appreciated.
"Are any of you operating in a market where your charging $0.20-$0.30/lf for poplar moldings, regardless of custom, profile, or width, no setup?"
Ummmm….no, not here anyway!
I don't do a lot of millwork so not sure how my prices compare to others, but I can run some small simple profiles for about $0.25 LF per inch of width. There would be a setup fee which usually runs about $75 for a basic profile. If it's a profile that needs multiple runs then I charge per setup. I also mark up the material about 20%. Haven't had anyone looking to supply there own material, but I would be hesitant to do so.
I usually keep the knives as well and haven't had anyone ask for them. Having said that if someone did want them and the knives were paid for by the job, (which for custom they always are), I guess I'd be fine with that.
I wouldn't worry too much about the other shop. I'm not the cheapest in town and don't try to be. There's always going to be someone around who's cheaper and usually there's a reason. It's the client who has to be worried!
I would charge $.20/ft to measure it. Forget about actually milling it.
I have a feeling the pricing in this situation will change once it gets to that point and the shop in question is likely tossing out some very low numbers initially for bait.
The wide custom profiles are of course what I'm referring to. The crown detail for instance. A wall member with face and back cut, ceiling member with face and back cut, and a 6"+ cove crown, totaling $0.60/lf to run (all three pieces). In small quantity to boot starting from s2s.
As I mentioned, these just come up occasionally and I find them so baffling I can't help but to toss them out.
I learned to charge that way from a friend who used it in his shop. I was a bit skeptical at first, but in the end it worked out better for me and was a profitable way to go. As I said though this is not my bread and butter by a long shot! I'm a small shop running through a shaper, not a multi head molder. But for the jobs I get every so often it works out OK.
I agree with you though, there's no way a shop is doing all that for $0.60 per foot. I had a guy, (contractor), come to me to price some kitchen cabinets, just the boxes and he would install himself. I e-mailed him the quote and he replied that his most expensive quote yet was less than half of what I quoted. I let him know I couldn't buy the materials for what the other quote was but wished him well. As I said, there is always someone out there willing to cut their own throat to get a job. I don't think twice about it as I'm not looking to compete with those guys.
I'm with JeffD here - his pricing structure is almost exactly the same as ours. The only time I exceed the .25 per inch of width is if we are running a very twisted or "cross grain" material which requires slowing down the feed. I bump up the price another dime for that.
And yes, we always keep the knives. Our custom knife grinder charges us usually less than "list" pricing, We have in excess of 500 sets of custom knives that has gotten us this price break from him. Shop policy is "knife cost" is charged up one time front, but remains the property of our shop. Should the client return for more work - he pays only the setup and footage charges for the repeat work.
I have had on occasion clients who supply their own material. For this I also bump up the price. If the material looks shop worn with dirt, etc. I tell them I just don't have the time to do this. Supplying their own usually means I have to straight line rip or joint before running it, that also incurs more costs.
That being said, we don't as a practice run moldings for homeowners off the street. Contractors are a different story, but for them it's always our material. Actually a very good steady flow of $$ with several contractors, especially the radius work they require. The biggest windfall from all of them is our 500+ collection of assorted knives! That allows us a pretty wide assortment of profiles, many times multiple runs using just parts of different knives to get a unique profile rather than buying new steel.
Like JeffD, we don't have a multihead molder, just our W&H as well as several shapers (most moldings are run on our 10hp Wadkin shapers or some dedicated SCMI 9hp shapers with the most common profiles. They have the power to run some pretty heavy moldings, and with the feeders set at fast feed rates make for some very profitable jobs!
Methinks the OP is right - the guy quoting low prices is coming in under cost, hoping for added costs later to make up for his "less than ethical" price structure. Bottom line is price for profit in your shop. Forget what any competitor is offering. That's a formula for losing time, effort and money. And the future of your business. Don't get caught in that line of thinking "okay, I'll lose a little bit here - but make up for it with more work from him down the road". That "down the road" never comes..
Using these examples my numbers are in fact a bit higher that yours in that we quoted roughly 2.25-2.50/lf to run that wide cove crown (6+"). Including the straight line and rip that may leave me low.
I didnt mean to say I'm looking at what other shops charge to set my pricing, I thought that was clear in my initial post. My pricing, which is my own, is right in line with any other source in the area as well as nearly everyone I have read here and elsewhere. That is to say other than this other shop.
Our shops sound very close in procedure. We run 2 W&H and shapers as well. No multi-head production molder. The large production shop I mentioned is in that league (multi-head) and they will not even consider a custom, period.
I didnt have a lack of confidence in my pricing I guess perhaps just hearing these numbers I wanted to vent and of course hear some reaffirmation that I hadnt gone cuckoo.
I just ran a small batch (300') of 4 1/4" base using a custom knife out of cherry. based on the assumption of .25 per lineal inch of width it would cost $1.07 per running foot of material plus material cost plus set up. seems low to me. I ran this on a small Weinig but your W&H would have worked just as well. I did clear finish the base and charged smidg over 2K which included the knife cost, set up, material and finish. I don't see a run cost as the material changes in width, seems like it would take the same amount of time. don't really have any answers but do have a lot of questions.
Your point about the pricing per inch of width with your example is exactly why I have always shy'd away from any form of fixed pricing schedule for custom runs. I could see it working out if I ran trim on a fairly regular basis and my setups were quicker however I too have small runs where I feel the $0.25/inch would be too low. Being a small run or part of a larger package has a lot to do with it for me.
I have heard the argument with regards to the knives for as long as I can remember. Actually some of the ones most irritated by it seem to be other small shops who dont run moldings. They want the knives and will even say they dont care if they throw them in the scrap pile they just want them because they feel they paid for them. We still keep the knives but I also feel I dont charge fully for design, templating, facilitating the ordering of the knives, and I take on that responsibility so it is what it is. Thankfully often times we are dealing with packages and there is no line by line quote so the knives are embedded in the bottom line.
Thats another issue I have dealt with on occasion when pricing packages we simply price the entire package. A customer will come back and want a breakdown based on profile because they have sent the package to a couple of places and now want to cherry pick the lowest price profiles from each shop. I wont break it out like that and make it clear that my price is based on the entire package. My operations on some profiles may be less expensive and on others higher. But I simply can not run any one profile in the package individually for what I can as part of the whole.
ML is in a better position of sorts dealing mainly with contractors who appreciate the service provided and likely dont have the time to nickle and dime and rather want a shop they can rely on for competitive price and quality product.
Im also in agreement that, other than some weight, space, chips, and some minor consumables (abrasives), running a 2" wide profile takes no longer than running a 6" wide profile. For me personally I dont even think I'd run 1/4 round for $0.25 alone. If someone walked into the shop and asked me to run 100' of 1/4 round I wouldnt do it for $25 bucks though I could tack on the setup charge.
I have a strange feeling the scenario I started this post about may be a shop feeling just that way. That they can run any width at a given feed rate and they are simply charging per linear foot through the machine but I still cant see it. As Ive mentioned, Im in no way chasing the job, Im just eager to see/hear the end result.
I would not charge less than your wholesale cost for the same moldings as they can't get them for less either .
first for bids I use excel spread sheet and figure bd foot per piece and number of pieces and cost per bd foot. For operations I use table saw with a stock feeder, 15 planer for sizing and Williams and hussy for the molding. I figure cost by .10 to .20 cent per lineal foot per pass on machine. So cherry shoe wood be .10 per foot for table saw, .10 for planer and .15 for the molder plus material cost.