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Thread: business question?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Delton, Michigan
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    17,474

    business question?

    in the "retirement thread" bob mentioned turning down several jobs in woodworking that was for, friends of his family, or himself.. now that brings up a question.. doing work for friends can turn friendships into bad times..so those of you making some income off woodworking,, whats your thoughts on this.. is it a good idea, or are there certain criteria that needs to be done to maintain a safe situation to avoid the bad times???
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    DSM, IA
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    Larry, I think it's a great idea to make items for friends and family. As long as you are up front about everything and tell them exactly what to expect I think it will work out fine. I haven't made much $$ on it, but I have sold several items to friends and family. I haven't had any transactions turn sour yet. I know I've sold myself short several times and I've also had friends give me more than I have asked because they thought I was to low...A couple of pieces have had problems and I either fixed it or replaced it with something else....right now I'm looking for some wood to knock on too.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North West Indiana
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    6,099
    Oh I don't know, no cost, no problem!
    Uhmmmm, what else can I add in a sarcastic note???

    I think I know where Larry is coming from on this post. My mom is trying to commission him to make her a solid wood kitchen for their retirement home on my farm. She taught with a guy that made sheds, doll houses and such. His shop burnt down this summer and he is not rebuilding. So she met Larry and Randi at our home and they went with us to my birthday supper at the tavern where the delicious steaks are served. I mentioned to her that Larry could build her a kitchen and it would be outstanding.

    So, I see the problem I created for him. On one hand he doesn't want to ruin a friendship (he won't) and on the other hand, he wants to make a profit for his time (which he is entitled to). So that is a little more background information for you folks to help him.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  4. #4
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    Nov 2006
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    Delton, Michigan
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    well where i am at in this, is i have a possible job but the friendship of this family is worth more than any dollar amount.. i might get for the work mentioned..yet i cant do it for it free,, that doesnt keep me fit either
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North West Indiana
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    6,099
    Quote Originally Posted by larry merlau View Post
    well where i am at in this, is i have a possible job but the friendship of this family is worth more than any dollar amount.. i might get for the work mentioned..yet i cant do it for it free,, that doesnt keep me fit either
    See my above post Larry, beat you by a milisecond!
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Amherst, New Hampshire
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    That's why I haven't charged for anything so far Larry. For my wife and kids making stuff for free is no problem. I only ask for a little help with paying for hardware or fancy wood if the project is really big. I had my daughter pay for some of the punched tin on the pie safe I made for her.

    The reason I have turned work down for other family and friends is that they seem to want a deal all the time. A $1000 worth of project for $200 or something like that. If they agree to say, $500.00 and they are not happy with it for whatever reason then I'd feel obligated to give them their money back.

    I think I'll start selling stuff but only to leads I get from my wife or kids. I will have them sign off on design and finish before I make it and collect 1/2 up front.

    It sure is a dilemma though.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Decatur, Alabama
    Posts
    518
    I have done a few things for fee to family and friends, although mostly I prefer to make gifts. My dilema is I don't really feel like the quality of my work justifies a reasonable hourly wage at my work speed in the shop. It's a hobby for me, so I don't really bust my tail working on it. If it were a full time job, I'd work twice as fast probably, so my rates have to reflect that.

    I try and start pricing things at what they're worth, comparible to a similar product of similar quality. Then I look at the hourly rate, and level of interest I have in the project. Ultimately I have turned down a number of jobs because I dont' feel like I can provide a good product at the right price. I don't like charging a friend more than I think the final product is worth, even if it's only a modest rate for myself. When the deal makes sense for both parties involved, then I've taken a few projects.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    new york city burbs
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    why not just offer up a price after working up the numbers, and its either a yes or no answer.
    Human Test Dummy

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
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    I've had no issues charging for the items I have made at a price I thought was fair and we both agree on.

    I do have some family that asks for me to build stuff for them all the time. I tell them "Sure I'd be happy to help you do the work, when are you free?" They've never taken me up on that offer, so I don't think that's what they expected.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
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    I love these kind of posts. They give me something to chew on.

    Here is my view. Business is business.

    What is needed is to be upfront on both sides of the equation. Problem is some people have difficulty being that way with strangers never mind friends.

    My approach is this is what agreements are for or rather contracts.

    Yeah people hate paper work but i found that it prevents the fading memory that says "I thought you said this or that" or I understood that was included.

    So i give you my 5 cents to a contract. It aint difficult at all. Does not need to be written by lawyers because you would probably not go there.


    1) An agreement/contract is only as good as the intent between the two parties so it records the intent.

    Simply put i will make x and you will pay Y.

    2)What needs to be covered are.

    a)Specification of the deliverable

    Defining what will be made and to what degree of quality as best as one can. The less vauge and clearer the more understanding. This is where i think Sketchup is a great tool to be able to show a design and finish before one starts. Then attach the drawing and you have a basis of specification

    aspects that should be covered are materials (ie particle board or ply or solid wood,) and finishes (spray, hand brush, wipe etc) hardware to be used and who chooses the hardware and who purchases it/supplies it.


    b) Payment terms.

    Simply state the amount and the way in which it will be paid. So say 20% on signature of the contract, then work your way through on the deliverable stages (say visual inspection of cabinets before install, installation and then final completion.

    c) Define a method for costing and catering for changes/extras. If a person changes there mind after the job has been started it should be understood that even if it is possible to accomodate the change that a change incurs a cost.

    Lets remember there is always a overhead cost to the aspect of dealing with a change even between friends.

    d) Define risks and who carries them. This is not that difficult to do.

    Example I had a guy do my deck when we first arrived here. He wished to leave his tools in my garage. I said fine no problem but in the contract i stated that he agree that i am not liable for any of his tools should they go missing on my property.

    Same for material he left it on the driveway and then moved it to the back of the lot. At one point it was in two places and all around us was still open areas. This was cedar i felt it was attractive enough to steal. So i made sure to enclose a clause about loss of material on site.

    Same went for accidents. Say one of his guys fell off the deck before they had railings on. I made clear in the agreement that he was responsible for safety of himself and his personnel.

    Same for damage to property. I made him agree that were he to put a 4x4 post through one of my windows he was going to have to remedy it and agree to that fact.

    e) Define any regulations to which the job should comply. IN my decks case being a new comer i obtained the required permit. Town planner checked over the plans and required an extra couple of posts.

    Now in my deal and contract the contractor had assured me the plan he provided from the structural point of view was according to code. So i said fine any extra the town requires is going to be at his expense. (Why did i do this. Sounds mean right. But it would be easy for us not to have had that in the agreement and the guy could have designed and secured my contract on the basis of a plan that would not meet code and then all the extras would be real extras to the price. I wanted to know what i was in for upfront and thus be able to be in control of my own budget.
    This way his error cost him not me. But there was no bitterness because it had been made clear up front and he felt he was correct. So he ate the extra cost.

    f)Define delivery .

    When should x stage be reach and when should y stage be reached and what is the latest date for completion. Define a penalty. Yes this sounds mean to but it prevents the abuse either way. One can always wave a term after it is in the contract. One cannot get into the contract something that was not there to begin with unless one renegotiates the contract.

    My deck guy was a very happy chap and so was i. He never hesitated to sign the contract because both of us understood what each other had to do.

    I supplied plenty of barley hops at the end of each day for him and all his crew and he provided an extra or two that had not been in the price at his own doing.

    Same worked for my workshop and also happy contractors. Paperwork put every one at ease and made it clear neither party was out to take advantage of the other party.

    Best way to function ask Holmes.

    BTW in the case of both my contractors to date i gave them unsolicited letters of recomendation and offered in the letter for any prospective customer to be able to call me and view the work if they like.
    cheers

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