I know that there are many ways to bid cabinet pricing, and I am not looking for anyone to tell me how to price my product. I would like to know what methods others are using, such as lineal footage, square footage, cubic footage, cost of materials plus labor, etc. I am also wondering how others deal with each species cost difference, and a raised panel versus flat panel situation. I guess the real thing I am looking for is a way to streamline my estimating, as well as making it more accurate at the same time. Less time spent doing paperwork means more time in the shop producing the final product. Thanks for the input.
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor G:
I am a proponent of material and labor estimating. In my opinion, that is the only accurate method of figuring custom cabinetry. We've developed Excel spreadsheets to take off and price jobs. Each item is priced breaking down materials, buyouts, finish materials, hardware, shop labor, delivery, drafting/pm time, finish labor, installation labor, etc. For common items, we have predetermined formulas in the spreadsheet that make them quick to price. Then we add the oddball work to the spreadsheet by adding the material and labor for those items. Our spreadsheets are linked to material sheets, so we can keep material costs updated. We can also change quickly from one material to another.
As far as raised panel vs flat panel, our labor factor would be changed for that particular door style. Material costs would also change, depending on if you're using a plywood panel or solid wood. With solid wood, our material factor would not be effected.
It's important to know your material and labor rates/margins to price with this method. But that is something you should know, anyway. That is one of the reasons I don't like square or lineal footage methods. There is really no reflection of labor rates in those methods. There is also no way to job cost (actual vs estimated). For instance, how many hours has someone bid for 8 lineal feet of cabinets, if that bid is not broken down into materials and labor?
I price per cabinet ft, then add drawers, doors/fronts/panels, crown, trim, extras, etc. But I usually check that number against my total cost to make sure I'm in line. I only use one type of plywood, one type of hinge, and two types of slides, so knowing cost is easy. To price accurately per ft, each bid must be done according to species, door style, panel style, etc.
I have 7 different materials libraries in CV. Each reflects the different species of wood used. If 42" uppers are requested instead of 32", price p/ft. of uppers is higher, of course. For specialties, such as island with bunn ft., I simply take added cost and multiply by 2.5, so $10 bunn ft. costs $25, etc.
Most of my work is simple cookie-cutter stuff (boring), so pricing isn't difficult. But when doing custom, such as a dining room or bedroom suites, I know no other way but to do job cost + operating cost + labor (per part).
Here is the real advantage. If the customer wants to add or delete something, I just make a quick change and have the new price. But best of all is getting a bid report that shows me a complete breakdown of all the cost elements. If I have to negotiate some, all the info to make an informed decision is right there. I can review labor or materials quickly to see if there is any room for improvement or bulk pricing opportunities that may exist. This doesn't seem to take any longer than by hand or spread sheet, and nothing is left out.