Start Charging What You’re Worth

Published by Naseem Muaddi on March 27th, 2012

It’s time to stop preparing estimates with the simplified formula of material + labor = price. The fact is, when customers come to our shops they are getting so much more than just material and labor.

Take a moment to think of all that the customers are really getting from us. How about the comfort of knowing that their cars are being worked on by qualified technicians in a secured and fully insured shop?  What about fast turnaround isn’t that worth something? How about our vast knowledge of the trade, the industry, the suppliers and the infinite amount of materials? That has got to count for something.

Most especially, how do you put a price tag on years of experience and an unblemished reputation?

Now ask yourself this: Are you really charging what you’re worth? If you feel like you’ve been undercutting yourself, it’s time to adjust your prices accordingly.

I’m not saying that we should all jack up our prices. But we should never be made to feel like we aren’t being paid an honest wage for our services.

Don’t be afraid to charge what you think you are truly worth. Educating the customer on all that their job entails and everything they are getting for their money is the best way to justify your prices and sell the job.

Agree/Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Haartz Corporation

11 Responses

  1. Kyle Caswell says:

    I view this as in much the same way. A trimmer is actually in many ways an artist, especially if you’re in the custom end of the field. living in a small historic town we have many festivals and art shows that artist come in from all over the nation to attend. Their prices of the items they craft and sell are indicitive of the fact they view themselves as artist. You’re right to to educate customers about what kind of service they’re being provided with. My fear is that many view the custom upholsterer as and end of the road for their project where many dollars have already been spent on paint, body, mechanicals, and such and that the trimmer can knock out a quick good looking interior for next to nothing. This clearly isn’t the case.

    • Nadeem says:

      I agree Kyle. In addition to the artistry of the craft (which should never be discounted), we’ve also got the uniqueness of our trade working in our favor.

      Mechanic and body shops are a dime a dozen – everywhere you turn. But auto upholstery shops are few and far between. Based on supply and demand alone we should be able to charge higher prices.

    • jeffromc says:

      I find most customers have usually spent more than they wanted to on paint and body work and hope you lower your price.Customers will spend their hard earned money if you tak the time to explain what you are doin to their car but a lot of shops don’t have people to talk to customers and do the work, sometimes the front office can’t explain the job as well as the tech .

  2. I have seen so many beutiful cars at car shows, only to look at the interior to find it to be poorly disigned and full of wrikles. they spent all their money on body and mechanicle.

  3. Roy says:

    In 1994 I had a customer from North Dakota with a 37 Chevy coupe. The car was professionally built and very nice. We were discussing the interior when I mentioned that he could do a lot of ground work like tack strip and insulation that would save him quite a bit of money. What he told me change how I viewed custom interiors and how I charge for them.
    He was a dentist and told me “I get 100 dollars an hour drilling teeth. I can pay you forty and I’m still making sixty an hour. You will do the job in a third of the time it will take me and it will be done right. I don’t want to do it.” I remember thinking “This is the kind of customer I want to work for.” He knew what he wanted and was willing to pay for a quality job that matched the build.
    From then on I bid the cars so I could do the job the way I needed to for a top notch interior. I found the cars I began to get were of better quality and the customers were much easier to deal with. At 50 an hour I still believe I am under what I should be charging and need to make a price increase soon. I haven’t raised my labor rates in a few years and am definitely behind the current inflation rate of the past year or so.

  4. roddin1 says:

    I agree with everything said above. As the fact on custom jobs, customers pay big $$ for that shiny motor, big money $$ shiny paint job. If they are going to be spending the majority of time in the seat of that custom car shouldnt they want to pay equal but fair big $$?? And the dentist saying rings true wish they all were that way. I have found explain just one aspect of a job and the customer feels educated and understands a little more of the overall job we have to do. Had a customer come by the other day were vinyl side bolster on his leather seat was shot I expalined what I had to do to fix the trashed vinyl and why it was vinyl and not leather. He called back and said dr. vinyl was going to fix it? We’ll see if he has enough to call me back after dr. vinyl actually see’s the damage??

  5. phillip says:

    ok i have to question on this, because this is an issue that’s been haunting my shop. i’m working my way thru college by running a one man custom upholstery shop… prior to opening my doors full time upholstery was a hobby, not a profession. i started working for friends, then friends of friends, then complete strangers until i got over run with work and decided to jump into the trade full time. my problem is, i have only a few years professional experience and am just starting to develop a strong name in the area for myself, my work is highly comparable to the other shops in my area (a large percentage of my customers are their now former customers), but there charging twice as much for it… i hate to raise my prices because i know they have years of experience that i don’t and they have an already established name in the area, but at the same time my schedule book keeps filling up and if my quality of work is strong enough that their customers are now choosing me instead, shouldnt i be doing better than half what their worth? how do you determine how much is fair for your area and your experience?

    • I think first you have to uncover why your prices are so drastically less than theirs before you make any adjustments. What do they offer the customers that you don’t?

      Is your shop licensed and insured? Are you working out of a business location or on the side from your home? How is your turnaround time compared to theirs?

      It seems to me you’re that the other shops in your area are charging fair market value while you are undervaluing yourself.

      Established shops are expected to charge more than those working on the side. If you’ve officially and legally made the transition from side work to a legitimate shop than you’ll need to change your prices to stay in business.

      The reason you are so flooded with work is because you charge half what your competition does. But that isn’t exactly an ideal situation. You’re working twice as hard and putting in twice as many hours for the same pay. If I were in your position, I would rather higher my prices and consequently take fewer jobs but all the while keeping the same amount of revenue.

  6. Phil Chitarra says:

    I agree with your theory, unfortunately if everyone doesn’t raise their prices it won’t work, just way too many “whores” out there willing to slash your price.

  7. martythetrimmer says:

    shops should be charging for the worth of thier knowlage and experiance, but many don’t as they feel they are not good enough (a comment I have herd many times)….as for working on the side, a shop I worked in years ago let the staff do side jobs on the weekend in the shop, we charged 70% of shop price and had plenty of work without making the shop look bad by working for nothing….we don’t need to suddenly jack the prices up, but we can bit by bit increase our charges as other aspects of the motor industry do….

  8. I figured out recently that I was only breaking even if not losing money on the custom jobs. The every day repair stuff I was making money on, but the custom jobs I was not. What I was doing, was I would quote a price based on what I thought the other shop in town would charge. That way I would hopefully get the job in the shop. One of my last jobs, I looked at how much time I spent on it and how much I make per hour on everyday stuff and how much I want to make on the custom jobs (which is slightly less than the everyday jobs, so I can justify working on them instead of the custom jobs). I figured out that I was leaving ALOT of money on the table, thousands of dollars in labor. So now what I tell customers is that it’s labor and materials. I tell them that I got by the hours worked on the car. If I quote the job at 100 hours and I take 120 hours to finish the car, then it’s not fair to me. Likewise if I take 80 hours to finish the car it’s not fair to them. So I go by actual hours on a digital time sheet. When customers here you explain it to them that way they are very receptive to it. I figure I would rather price the job to make money and lose it, than to price it low, get the job, and break even or lose money. I’m not going to pay to do the interior in anyone else’s car.


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