Quantcast

Pricing a kitchen, how to get the work AND make a profit?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

johnelliott

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
0
Location
Near Swindon, Wiltshire
I make kitchens, and also do revamps (new doors, drawer fronts etc). Sometimes a combination, eg revamp plus new wall units. Whatever the customer requires.
I had a PM from somebody discussing pricing. This person has been asked to quote on a project and wondered if I had any could provide any useful input.
Yes, I believe I can. It's taken me some time to learn this stuff, and my ideas are still developing, and I am very much open to suggestions, this is where I've got to up til now
First thing to decide is what is the aim. To make a kitchen, or to make money. In my case it's the latter. I operate a business and every month I have loads of bills to pay. As with any business, if more goes out than comes in then it's definitely :( time. Very imoportant to work out how much money you need to take each week. In my case it's about £2,000, so when pricing work I think in terms of £400 per day (there is two of us, BTW)
What's the customer's aim? Generally to get a nice kitchen at a good price. Good price? Well, they certainly don't want to pay more than necessary, but it can be surprising just how much money people will pay for what they want.
Your job is to convince them that you can provide what they want and that it won't cost them more than they would pay elsewhere.
Lots of research needed.
Go to MFI and a couple of the pricier firms and prepare to be amazed at what can be sold for quite a lot of money.
I'll add more to this when I get time.
John
 

johnelliott

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
0
Location
Near Swindon, Wiltshire
Anyway, go to some kitchen providers with a plan of your target kitchen (take your spouse with you so that they think you are serious) and find out the real price of a decent kitchen.
With this information you will be able to see how much YOU (who will be providing a better kitchen and a better service) will be entitled to ask for.

You now have a duty to ensure that the customer benefits by buying your kitchen, and at a price that is beneficial to you.

To do this you need to SELL your services. If necessary read some books on selling and marketing. Alternatively there is plenty of selling info on the Net.

I've learned that customers don't have the same perception of 'hand-built quality' as we do. Solid wood often means solid pine to them. They don't get the difference between veneer and solid. They will tell you that they understand these things but they don't.
Make sure they understand the benefit of buying from you. Real benefits include personal service, better design, the ability to make cabinets in non-standard widths thus filling those awkward gaps, the fact that you and not some dodgy sub-contractors will be installing, think of some others, there are plenty. One that does well for me is making wall cupboards that go all the way to the ceiling, try getting that from MFI!

Now you've got the sale and at a price that suits, you now need to build and install that kitchen at high speed. More on that later, as I need to go and carry out a high-speed installation now

John
 

Adam

Established Member
Joined
10 Sep 2003
Messages
3,768
Reaction score
0
Location
UK
johnelliott":2n0zgig1 said:
One that does well for me is making wall cupboards that go all the way to the ceiling, try getting that from MFI!
I thought they were banned now under EU regulations? Too much danger of heavy things falling out from a height causing injury?

Adam
 

johnelliott

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
0
Location
Near Swindon, Wiltshire
Adam":1cz831yf said:
johnelliott":1cz831yf said:
One that does well for me is making wall cupboards that go all the way to the ceiling, try getting that from MFI!
I thought they were banned now under EU regulations? Too much danger of heavy things falling out from a height causing injury?

Adam
Do you mean wall units that go all the way to the ceiling are banned, or only those that go above a certain height? Some of the places I work in have quite low ceilings.
I hadn't heard anything about this, but then I don't know where I would need to go to find out. Any info you have would be appreciated.
John
 

johnelliott

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
0
Location
Near Swindon, Wiltshire
Back from an installation, almost a complete waste of time. Took out an old unit and found there was a leaking stop cock behind it. Fortunately the plumber can come on Monday and sort it so that I can carry on.
Goes to show the need to build in some contingency to one's pricing structure.

Choice of materials-
Normal kitchen carcases are made from MFC (melamine faced chipboard) usually 15mm or for real luxury, 18mm!. One of the main problems with MFC, apart from its sheer grottiness, is what do you do about end panels? Flat pack kitchens usually use a flat panel veneered to match the doors.
When I did hardwood kitchens I couldn't find any veneered board that was a decent match for any of the solid wood I could get, so I had to make up solid wood panels where I needed a side panel.
Anyway, now I use 18mm birch ply for my cabinets. The insides I finish with oil and varnish, and the outside I paint to match the painted doors I do, or to match the adjacent walls. Works well and looks great.
The other advantages of birch ply are- nicer to work with (if you don't mind an occasional splinter) and it takes screws much better too, which is important to me as I use pocket screw joinery

I believe that unless you can ask maybe £20,000 for a medium to large kitchen, then hardwood doors are out of the question. They take too long to make, and the customers can't see enough difference. Go into any B&Q and see hardwood doors at prices that would barely cover to raw materials.
That's the main reason I stopped doing hardwood. Now I make my doors from ash-veneered MDF, simple Shaker style frame and panel, and paint them with water based Dulux. It's the modern thing, light and bright. I've taken out loads of dark oak raised panel doors and replaced them with mine. The difference it makes is considerable. Using the MDF I can make 10 doors a day fairly easily. My wife paints them by hand, she can't quite keep up but catches up while I am making cabinets.
This helps to keep the prices down to a level where competing with top-line MFI is a good deal easier.

Feel free to react to this stuff- add to it, argue with it, whatever

There will be some more later

John
 

Neil

Established Member
Joined
7 Oct 2003
Messages
1,016
Reaction score
0
Location
Ireland
Just wanted to let you know that your advice is being read & digested, John - keep it coming :)

Cheers,
Neil
 

Mdotflorida

Established Member
Joined
7 Nov 2003
Messages
275
Reaction score
0
Location
South Wales
This is interesting John.

I agree about painted doors being bright and modern. As much as I love looking at natural wood, I don't find a vast expanse of dark oak cabinets very attractive.

A question. When you make your cabinets how do you finish the exposed edges of the ply ?

Jeff
 

Adam

Established Member
Joined
10 Sep 2003
Messages
3,768
Reaction score
0
Location
UK
johnelliott":9i38ovek said:
Do you mean wall units that go all the way to the ceiling are banned, or only those that go above a certain height? Some of the places I work in have quite low ceilings.
I hadn't heard anything about this, but then I don't know where I would need to go to find out. Any info you have would be appreciated.
John
John,

I honestly can't remember where I've read/seen/heard this - it's just in the back of my mind. It could be utter drivvle for all I know! :oops: I *thought* that it was above a certain height, due to people falling of small stools etc, as they tried to reach the large pile of plates on the top sheld near ceiling height type-incidents.

I'm trying to think where such information would be available - but can't think of a good source, nor am I sure if I'm not talking rubbish either.

Adam
 

smiffy

Established Member
Joined
30 Oct 2004
Messages
45
Reaction score
0
Location
Fife
the gasman told me he was supposed to chain the cooker to the wall to stop it falling on me.
I recently got a range cooker installed and the guy said that the chain is actually to stop 'cowboy tradesmen' from pulling the appliance out too abruptly and pulling the gas feed out. Believe me...I have seen what he is talking about.

Cheers,
Raymond.
 

cambournepete

Established Member
Joined
29 Mar 2004
Messages
2,710
Reaction score
0
Location
Rangiora, South Island, Aotearoa
Adam":27t5bd6i said:
I *thought* that it was above a certain height, due to people falling of small stools etc, as they tried to reach the large pile of plates on the top sheld near ceiling height type-incidents.
They wouldn't like my new shelf for the cast-iron Le Creuset pans on top of the cupbaords above the cooker then :wink: Just as well my wife and I are both around 6ft tall :)

John,

Your thoughts here are very interesting - keep it up!

Cheers,

Pete
 

johnelliott

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
0
Location
Near Swindon, Wiltshire
Mdotflorida":179lwh89 said:
This is interesting John.

I agree about painted doors being bright and modern. As much as I love looking at natural wood, I don't find a vast expanse of dark oak cabinets very attractive.

A question. When you make your cabinets how do you finish the exposed edges of the ply ?

Jeff
The leading edges of the cabinets we paint to match the doors. This is necessary because if they weren't it would show through the gaps between the doors (the gaps need to be approx 3mm). I used to apply a hardwood strip to the leading edges of the ply shelves but now I don't bother. The danish oil does darken the edges quite a bit and although you can see the laminations nobody seems to mind. Of course, if they notice them at all then they are comparing them with the melamine edge bound 15mm chipboard shelves that they are used to. The chunkier 18mm birch ply looks much better. The Festool edge with a quick sanding 100g Metabo ROS sander set on 3mm orbit is all that is needed. Then one coat of oil and a couple of coats of water-based matt varnish

One thing that always happens when you specialise, and need to produce quickly, is you discover tricks. Because we use water based paints we have to deal with the grain that is raised by the water. Sandpaper? No thank you. We use a Stanley knife blade, held vertically like a scraper. Move it over the surface in up and down stripes like a lawnmower and it works great for denibbing and smoothing. Quick vacuum and it's on with the next coat.

Another good thing about water based acrylics (such as Dulux) is that they dry so fast. Carrying units into a kitchen you are bound to get bumps and scrapes (on the units as well as on yourself). Quick dab of paint, dry in 15mins or less, no-ones the wiser. If it's an actual dent (as it often will be) then Pollyfilla quick-drying filler, and a couple of coats of paints and it's an invisible repair (try that with a sprayed finish)

John
 

Jake

Established Member
Joined
5 Apr 2004
Messages
4,921
Reaction score
15
Location
London
Forthed??? can one forth something?
Yeah but it takes forever, and when you finish you have to start all over again.

Perhaps you meant fourth?
 

frank

Established Member
Joined
10 Sep 2003
Messages
938
Reaction score
0
Location
cheshire
thanks john that was very informative better than any book and some good tips ,can i 5th it :p
 

johnelliott

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
0
Location
Near Swindon, Wiltshire
I must say I'm delighted by the positive responses to this stuff, thanks!

Cabinet making- As I said before, I use 18mm birch ply except for the backs which are 6mm (in reality more like 6.5mm) . I have an 8x4 cutting table with a sacrificial sheet of 6mm mdf to protect the top. Then I cut up the sheets of ply with my Festool stuff, 2.7 rail for rips and 1.4 for crosscuts.
I did experiment with cut list programs but found it quicker to apply a little common sense and pencil and paper. Say it's a cab 575 deep by 750 high and 565 wide (something that gets me work, try getting a 565 cab from a flatpack firm, you'ld probably end up with a 400 and a tray space)
So, first thing is to rip a trimming cut along one long edge, then rip off a 575 width, then put that piece on the Festool MFT and crosscut it to the required lengths. Offcuts are kept unti they get below likely useful sizes. Very little of my ply ends up on the fire.

Before putting the cab together I have to remember to drill the holes for shelf pegs and to rout the slots for the back panel. I use a router for both these jobs, lovely clean holes (template with 12mm holes and a 12mm guide bush) and a Trend 6.5mm cutter (bit rare, these)

Dado's, don't need no *****ing Dado's!. 5 pocket screw holes on each base to side join. If the cab is going to be under heavy load then I use some Titebond polyurethane glue. This produces a very strong joint, and with careful cutting, very accurate too.Then a simple butt joint, clamps to hold it accurately while the screw go in and then uncramp and on to the next joint. I used to use biscuits, but the jointers aren't accurate enough. A couple of 50 mm wide cross pieces, one across the back where the top of the back panel will be (not all the way to the top or it will get in the way of the brackets), and one across the top at the front
Total time to make a simple base cabinet, about two hours.


A bit more on selling-
A wise man once told me, don't sell the features, sell the benefits. To woodworkers the benefits of a custom made kitchen seem obvious, but to customers they are anything but. No good telling them your kitchen will last thirty years if their present, cheapie kitchen has already lasted that long.
I've learned now to concentrate on the benefits like special sizes (fill that awkward gap), avoiding double cabs if it means the doors opening awkwardly, the cabinets all the way to the ceiling as mentioned before (means no awkward-to-clean wasted spaces, the fact that they will see their kitchen before it's installed, and anything wrong can be put right, and that they can probably have their kitchen quicker than from a national firm.
And I've also learned to always say something positive about their kitchen, like it's a really nice space, something like that, although I wait until I've heard what they don't like about it first!

John
 

Melville

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2005
Messages
14
Reaction score
0
Location
Derbyshire
John ,you say you use pocket screws,are these more cost effective than say the dowel type screw we see on a lot of cabinets. I would think the dowel screw would have more holding power and, they come with a step drill bit .that does the hole in one go.

I take it you are putting the screw hole on the blind side of the panel in which case you would only be entering 16 or 18mm of stuff ,do you find this strong enough? , although i have not used this method myself.

Do you find by hand making your cabinets that your market is limited to a select customer. Excellent thread though John, well done.
 
Top