Knowing your value. (I'm still learning mine.)

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goldfish21
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24 Oct 2022, 2:58 pm

Did a couple side jobs for a contractor I just met who has worked with a mutual boss a lot over the years.

One job was close to home and on my way, so I stopped in a couple times for less than an hour's work each time and charged $130 cash + he gave me $30 worth of new unopened material that I can use elsewhere. I knew I was charging low - to an industry colleague/and because I wanted referral business.

The other job I estimated $300 worth of material and said $1200.. he says $1200 + material so $1500. Umm, yeah! I say. I drive away and get a call in under 5 mins saying I can start in the morning no problem. I bought $290 worth of material but only used maybe $125 worth. (Oops!) He still figures I charged too little for the work and that the client would have accepted a price of $2000 for that work and level of quality etc with ease. He was concerned I won't make much $ on the job, but I told him I'm still doing Ok on it at that price.. I still have to go complete it possibly today if it's ready, and my rough math is that I'll make approx $90/hr cash on it. But apparently I could be making $120+/hr cash, more once I adjust a few things that save a lot of time.

He also told me he paid a guy $1000 for X work that's terribly done and I could have done it WAY BETTER and the client would have easily paid $1200 for a Good job. Another portion of a job he paid $4000 cash for and I was kinda shocked as it was Maybe $200 in materials, if that. I'm used to rough pricing of 10-15x material cost being pretty good, but that guy charged 20x+ material cost.

Small to medium sized jobs are worth Big Money vs. Very Large Jobs that people get volume discounts on.. and in this economy with demand so high, simply being Available with Skills AND you show up when you say you're going to show up and do the job = Get PAID!

Seems I should be creeping prices up and up until someone pushes back and says no, that's too much, and negotiates a lower price.. which is the advice I've given one of my bosses who charges too little. Seems I need to take my own advice and start charging more and more until even I think it's ridiculously priced and just keep taking ever more cash for my work until such a time when someone pushes back or things slow down or whatever.. and if this guy sends me some odd sized jobs here and there, all I'd need is a handful of contractors like him feeding me referrals and I wouldn't even need a day job.

Seems like crazy money to me.. but when I see the garbage work that others do and charge more money for I understand why people would be willing to call Me to do the job & pay me whatever I command almost. Sober, skilled, I show up when I say I will, my work looks Good, and I clean up after myself. These things are all HUGE in this industry.. and as bizarre as it is To Me, simply showing up is the most critical thing as others just flake out and then they're left without a skilled person to do the thing. I bet I could literally make a business card that says 'I show up and get the job done,' and make my phone ring all day long.


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goldfish21
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24 Oct 2022, 8:21 pm

Just taking a break to rest my arms and have a beer while I finish this job up. I figure another 2 hours absolute max including cleanup, so, I’ll actually end up making $100/hr or so for my actual working time.

And apparently I need to charge more because my work looks a hell of a lot better than people’s who are charging more than me, soooo.. that’s a nice confidence boost.

Maybe I’ll see if I can land some more small contracts rinse & repeat and just go solo instead of returning to union work.. and go back to union if I don’t have work. But hell, if I can make $75-150/hr when I don’t have work I can go to the beach, kiteboarding, or motorcycle riding.


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kraftiekortie
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24 Oct 2022, 9:12 pm

I would still keep my union membership, which you probably have.



goldfish21
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24 Oct 2022, 9:41 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
I would still keep my union membership, which you probably have.


They’d never kick anyone in my trade out. They Need more than they have.

Only really crappy workers/quality of work and people who don’t show up will lose jobs. But no one is getting kicked out of the union for going solo for a while. The union is too weak and not enough people want to do this trade soooo there’s complete job security for anyone willing to show up and do the work.

But while times are good there’s way more money in working for yourself. And with older guys retiring, people who want to own homes leaving, and so many people that are untrained and terrible at this work a guy like me can make bank if I make an effort to get small jobs I can take on myself.


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SpaceMartian
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26 Oct 2022, 6:29 pm

Glad someone out there is actually improving and figuring out what things are actually worth. I do struggle inmensly with money, there are some jobs that I found stupidly easy and that I charge too little for only for later seeing someone doing a WAY WAY worse job than me and making 5 times as much. Then I try to charge some more for next time but I feel like I'm ripping the client off, wich is STUPID, most people are jackasses, never actually thankful and I barely make any money at the end of the month giving how crazy expensive life is nowadays (true, I don't get many jobs because I don't look for them at all, I don't anounce myself, but still I do some). Also dealing with people burns me out real fast, I absolutely hate it. I wanted to stop doing ocasional jobs but no way I can survive without them, but no way I can hold doing them either.

Back to the main topic, glad you are getting to know how much you are actually worth, great job.



goldfish21
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26 Oct 2022, 6:35 pm

Thanks! 8

I’m also grateful to have contractor acquaintances the give me valuable feedback so I can keep increasing pricing until I get pushback.

I’m also going to invest in a few new tools that will speed things up for me as well as sell/get rid of gear I don’t use to make space.

I’m fortunate that I can ply my trade solo, late night if I want, just me and a radio. No one wants to get drywall mud or dust all over them. They just want to know I’ll show up and get the job done to the level of finish specified on time on budget so they can paint.


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