Passion or Profit?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

BrandonB

Established Member
Joined
12 Feb 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
11
Location
Bristol
Not sure if anyone occasionally watches the Skill Builder channel on you tube. James (a builder often featured there) has just had to fold his Ltd Company and take up employment.


This is the thought that re-prompted my initial thoughts about potentially looking at another career path. There seems to be so much you have to deal with a small example being answer the phone to a potential client, running through the options over the phone, sending over an estimate which you would probably spend 30 minutes/1 hour on to be sure it's accurate. Arrange and time and date to measure up, going to their home measuring up and drawing up the design, putting together a quote to go with the design. Submit the quote and design to wait and see if it's a yes or a maybe or to be told they like the drawing and someone has quoted less?

It just seems to off putting when you break down the amount of work needed given the return, whilst a plumber or sparky can charge what they like or pretty similar if not more than us on day rate and it isn't questioned and there's no overheads or very little overheads.....

I was gutted to watch that video and see James has folded his company for an easier life. His perspective, knowledge and overall performance on some of the jobs SkillBuilder has filmed looks to be a very high standard. Honest, hard working and taking on large jobs and seeing them through-out and still not being able to walk away with a profit. It really begs to answer the question. Is it really worth it?
 

johnnyb

Established Member
Joined
13 Nov 2006
Messages
1,884
Reaction score
361
Location
Biddulph staffs
I'm a member of a local woodcarving club and one of the members well over 80 ran his dad's joinery and building company in a local village. he had exactly the same problem( pre upvc) he couldn't make money making a door and as it took 2 days. he said he ended up surviving because most doors in the village were smaller than normal! off the peg was not possible although he said eventually they brought Canadian doors knocked them apart then built them smaller. another story was during the thirties he kept all his bricklayers going and as soon as the economy pick up everyone left...after that they just did joinery.
 

BrandonB

Established Member
Joined
12 Feb 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
11
Location
Bristol
I'm a member of a local woodcarving club and one of the members well over 80 ran his dad's joinery and building company in a local village. he had exactly the same problem( pre upvc) he couldn't make money making a door and as it took 2 days. he said he ended up surviving because most doors in the village were smaller than normal! off the peg was not possible although he said eventually they brought Canadian doors knocked them apart then built them smaller. another story was during the thirties he kept all his bricklayers going and as soon as the economy pick up everyone left...after that they just did joinery.
Yeah it seems other trades will do well from it or better than us beavers as they don't have the horrendous down payment of tools to do the job.
 

baldkev

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2020
Messages
1,513
Reaction score
672
Location
devon
and there's no overheads or very little overheads.....
That's not really true.... i know exactly what you mean ( how it looks ) but then...... they get a lots of small short jobs, which often need a trip to a supplier, travelling time etc, high insurances and liability, arguably more risk. Where plumbing and electrics really excell for cash, is medium scale site work.... i.e, a house build. More time in one place, better overall prices.
Big jobs the margins get screwed down so the profit drops.

I cant do poo, so i wouldnt be a plumber. Id have to be a sparky

Edit to add the registration stuff, be it corgi, nic, eic etc are all stupid prices, a bit of a cartel thing going on
 

BrandonB

Established Member
Joined
12 Feb 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
11
Location
Bristol
That's not really true.... i know exactly what you mean ( how it looks ) but then...... they get a lots of small short jobs, which often need a trip to a supplier, travelling time etc, high insurances and liability, arguably more risk. Where plumbing and electrics really excell for cash, is medium scale site work.... i.e, a house build. More time in one place, better overall prices.
Big jobs the margins get screwed down so the profit drops.

I cant do poo, so i wouldnt be a plumber. Id have to be a sparky

Edit to add the registration stuff, be it corgi, nic, eic etc are all stupid prices, a bit of a cartel thing going on
I know what you mean by nipping off to the suppliers etc but they still book a day's pay even if they've had to go to the supplier twice for a part. They always turn up empty handed and end up having to go to the supplier and start around 9/10am ahaha I'm aware of their tricks! I was getting at the fact they don't need large machines and various cutters to produce their product. Ok they have to eat up a few days every 2 years or whatever to renew licenses etc but we'll spend that on one machine and the rest!
 

doctor Bob

Established Member
Joined
22 Jun 2011
Messages
5,125
Reaction score
1,774
Location
Matching Green
After a while you learn how to ask closed questions to avoid having to do drawings and quotes for people who basically can't afford what they want. You also learn not to be fearful of pricing to the point that there is value in the project. One art which is rarely talked about is speed of manufacture. I see loads of people who can do it but have never had proper commercial workshop training and they are painfully slow, they rarely make decent money.
 

baldkev

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2020
Messages
1,513
Reaction score
672
Location
devon
After a while you learn how to ask closed questions to avoid having to do drawings and quotes for people who basically can't afford what they want.

Can you post a couple of good examples? Almost all of my customers are regulars, but on occasion i get new ones ( through my customers ) and you kind of have to feel them out ( not literally )

Yep speed is definitely a factor. A proper joiner would do the workshop based jobs far quicker than me.
 

johnnyb

Established Member
Joined
13 Nov 2006
Messages
1,884
Reaction score
361
Location
Biddulph staffs
in Cheshire there is a shortage of joiners. every job tells me so. plenty of chancers. this weeks job is a neurosurgeon and they have had three previous no shows.it helps to sugar the bill a bit.
 

doctor Bob

Established Member
Joined
22 Jun 2011
Messages
5,125
Reaction score
1,774
Location
Matching Green
Can you post a couple of good examples? Almost all of my customers are regulars, but on occasion i get new ones ( through my customers ) and you kind of have to feel them out ( not literally )

So as an example on a kitchen sale the following are important:
Do you have a budget in mind
Have you had other companies quote, if so which ones
What type of appliances would you like
What size is your kitchen, do your have plans.
Medium size kitchens start from..............., how does that work with your budget
Which design did you like on the website, that one was about £X'000.

You are trying to establish their budget as a main criteria, however if they won't give you a guide then suggest one to them, "the kitchen sounds a nice size, normally kitchens would start from £40k but if you want a higher spec level then the price will increase"

Sometime they bluff you out but usually you pick up a vibe thats when I start talking about a refundable design cost on accepting the quote.
 

Droogs

Is that chisel shar ... Ow
Joined
14 Mar 2013
Messages
5,441
Reaction score
2,407
Location
Edinburgh
When I'm approached by a new customer, the first question I ask is "You do know the cheapest case I make is £500 and that I require £300 deposit for that to cover the cost of initial materials and design time? This is for a fairly plain new case for either a PS or Xbox if it is someone looking for a computer desk the deposit is £1200 with prices starting at £1800 and in all cases they supply the IT/Console components they want in the build. Admitedly I only look to make maybe make at most 2-3 cases or 1 desk in per quarter when I'm actually working but then it is only a part-time business. Though I do make exceptions if a project really interests me or I like the person. Once they are happy to proceed I am open about the true cost of veneers,wood and any pre- fabricated parts bought in such as powered gas lifts, slides etc or even if the design is to have things like Lapis Lasuli or marble included and explain I charge them what it costs me - no mark up. I also explain that the rest of my bill is my labour/time to make the project and explain if there is a lot of work involved it can take upto 100 hours to make something with a marquetry image that includes semi-precious stones and precious metals and that they cost a lot too.
 
Last edited:

johnnyb

Established Member
Joined
13 Nov 2006
Messages
1,884
Reaction score
361
Location
Biddulph staffs
speed comes from organisation investment and specialisation. the wooden window company is based in an old focus store! it has machinery I never knew existed and delivers countrywide. its a volume manufacturer about as far away from one man in his workshop as its possible to get.
 

doctor Bob

Established Member
Joined
22 Jun 2011
Messages
5,125
Reaction score
1,774
Location
Matching Green
speed comes from organisation investment and specialisation. the wooden window company is based in an old focus store! it has machinery I never knew existed and delivers countrywide. its a volume manufacturer about as far away from one man in his workshop as its possible to get.

That's not the speed I was talking about, my discussion on speed is more about confidence and seeing others using techniques you may not know about, shortcuts etc, but also bringing production skills into a small shop.
 

BrandonB

Established Member
Joined
12 Feb 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
11
Location
Bristol
So as an example on a kitchen sale the following are important:
Do you have a budget in mind
Have you had other companies quote, if so which ones
What type of appliances would you like
What size is your kitchen, do your have plans.
Medium size kitchens start from..............., how does that work with your budget
Which design did you like on the website, that one was about £X'000.

You are trying to establish their budget as a main criteria, however if they won't give you a guide then suggest one to them, "the kitchen sounds a nice size, normally kitchens would start from £40k but if you want a higher spec level then the price will increase"

Sometime they bluff you out but usually you pick up a vibe thats when I start talking about a refundable design cost on accepting the quote.
To be honest, I usually tell the client in the first conversation an estimated cost margin and ask what is their budget for the project. It's upfront but will save you alot of time and energy trying to make up their mind and you'll establish what the client expects given the cost. Also never give the client a drawing with measurements when closing in on a job. I've recently had 2 clients agree to go ahead and I sent them the drawing before sending the deposit invoice. They pulled away and found someone who would do it for less, after spending days or weeks of finalising and re-drawing their install.....
 

seanf

Established Member
Joined
25 Aug 2021
Messages
94
Reaction score
60
Location
UK
Why can't we be like IT guys
I can tell you now that customers are no different in the IT world. There's no shortage of people asking for hugely complex applications to be delivered in exchange for £3.75 and a couple of spare buttons or worse for free and a share of future profits that will never arrive

Sean
 

johnnyb

Established Member
Joined
13 Nov 2006
Messages
1,884
Reaction score
361
Location
Biddulph staffs
there's not really any high end kitchen shops near me there's one called Daniel Wayman. the other one is low middle at best they make the mfc cabs and buy in the doors. I'm guessing you mean stuff like the speed of fitting drawers etc.
we did copy a style of kitchen from a company called mudd and company. but I had a partner so it was not so huge an undertaking. I'd probably not do it again as it reallyneeds specialisation and labour to do in a sensible time frame. have you always done kitchens bob?
 

doctor Bob

Established Member
Joined
22 Jun 2011
Messages
5,125
Reaction score
1,774
Location
Matching Green
there's not really any high end kitchen shops near me there's one called Daniel Wayman. the other one is low middle at best they make the mfc cabs and buy in the doors. I'm guessing you mean stuff like the speed of fitting drawers etc.
we did copy a style of kitchen from a company called mudd and company. but I had a partner so it was not so huge an undertaking. I'd probably not do it again as it reallyneeds specialisation and labour to do in a sensible time frame. have you always done kitchens bob?

Started off with a company making hotel furniture, then a company making freestanding oak furniture, then a business making high end fitted and freestanding furniture including kitchens. Set the business up in 2004 as a cabinet making business but drawn to bigger projects within a year we were 70% kitchens and the rest fitted rooms / freestanding. Still similar %age now.
 

topchippyles

Established Member
Joined
8 Oct 2014
Messages
382
Reaction score
80
Location
gwent
6X6 metre workshop is for hobby users and simple not big enough to run a business from. I have an 8x5m and there is simply no room to assemble anything and fit my machines in there.
 

cowtown_eric

Established Member
Joined
4 May 2006
Messages
128
Reaction score
64
Location
Calgary Alberta Canada
I've worked from home (til the bylaw officer visited), rented commercial space and watched my rent rise, rise , and rise again; been locked out by bailiff (not my fault) and needed a space to work out of.

I'm older and almost retired, but still do smaller projects, so went looking and found a makerspace (Protospace Wiki)

take the short video tour it's 6000 sq ft, with every tool I had AND MORE.


Now if you've rented commercial space you got an idea of what your utilities cost (light, heat, etc)

My Membership costs are 55$CDN/mo, and ya there's rules, and sometimes the machinery is trashed, but my semi-retired status gives me the time to make it functional, and with dang near 200 members, I actually enjoy teaching newbies (20 year olds whom have never used a TS for example) and imparting what knowledge my older pea-brain still retains.

Really 55$ a month membership is a pittance for anyone whom has their own shop.

Ja, it ain't yer own place, but let me ask you if you could afford a 5x10'CNC router and get training on it (40 CDN$) with no rental fees???? Well we just got one!

Moreover, Protospace has 2 laser engravers,3d printers, metal lathe and bridgeport type milling machine and a cnc milling machine, a welding shop, and electronics shop a space for light car repairs....

all stuff I often lusted after but could never afford purchase, rationalize space, let alone available time and training cost at local colleges.

I wish I had found the space earlier

Ero,if you don't investigate makerspaces in your area, you may be missing out bigtimenot just financially, but also opportunity and gpersonal growth opportunities

Eric @protospace
In Calgary
 

Devmeister

Established Member
Joined
16 May 2021
Messages
270
Reaction score
165
Location
Colorado, usa
This is the most difficult issue I have ever dealt with. I just lost my job as my company shut down. One of the biggest issues was under bidding jobs. And some of those jobs were not small. We lost about 4 million US dollars last year.

The next major issue was engineering of the jobs. A commercial job needs to be on paper! Precise drawings with accurate dimensions! How do you know what materials you need if your design is a couple of half buttocks sketches!

You need a two way contract. What are you doing! What are you not doing! Who pays for changes? Who takes the schedule hit on changes? What is your schedule and how does it change if other trades before you slip?

Have good material connections. Get wholesale pricing and charge your customers 15 to 20 percent more. You have to buy this stuff, sometimes collect it and sit on it. So it’s material handling and holding!

A good relationship with an architect or contractor helps. Always seek to have some work in the pipe at any given time.

watch every dollar or pound Dont spend anything unless needed. Keep bankers away as they complicate things especially in down cycles. Keep rent and major machine purchases to minimum. Rebuild a tool in you down cycle instead of buying new.

Hope this helps. For me this is the third shop that has gone **** up! My own shop succeeded but it was a 7 day per week adventure. After dinner you spend time doing accounting, job estimating and other business functions. It can destroy a marriage and ruin a family life.
 
Top