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Crusader

Headaches running a business

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I'm a self-employed carpenter which is quite different to being a Luthier or running a guitar shop, but I want to share some of my experiences  because I think you might have similar stories

Talking about prices, there is a door company who advertise on tv and their prices in some cased are 4 times what I would charge (with no fuss) And yet I get people who see my quotes and ask "Why is it so expensive?"

Some people come out with these "tactics" (ie.) I spend half an hour measuring and adding up figures then tell them the price, and they say the last guy's quote was a $100 less. So I say "well get him to do it" and they reply "Ooh but he can't get here till March"

I had one job where I was fitting skirting throughout the house and in the meantime the lady had all the relatives over for lunch and a bit of tv. When it came time to do the loungeroom, I had to explain to them that I needed to get to the wall behind them. So they shuffled the armchair forward a few inches.....

I had a lady who wanted me to put the hinges of a door the other way round so the "knuckles" or "pins" were not visible. So I explained that the door has to open outward, but she still wanted the knuckles on the inside. I explained again that if you put the hinges that way round then the door would open inward. She still didn't understand

On a shelving job I didn't do once, the guy saw the timber I had, and said its not the same as the existing timber. I said its Meranti just the same, yet he insisted that it was different. So he took me inside and showed me what he was talking about, and all the timber supporting the shelves had short grain, like 45 degrees. I said you can't just go and buy timber that has grain like that, and he reckoned "yes you can, if you go down to Bunnings they have it in the shelves"........This guy expected me to go hunting round hardware stores to find timber with matching short-grain timber that will support shelving, which you would never see anyway.....

That's just a couple of things I can think of at the moment. I'm pretty sure Luthiers would also get some outlandish expectations. Are there any stories you want to share?

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I'm self employed as well, doing computer related house calls mostly for households. And yes, I could tell similar stories all night long!

As software piracy is illegal getting caught would end my business and ruin my economy. Yet there's been people thinking that being a pro I should know and tell them how to get licensed and copyrighted stuff for free...

Also, being a pro I should know how to get rid of a nasty virus in 10 seconds, rather on the phone...

There's one company advertising computer maintenance from €10 in every newspaper. I start from €30 for half an hour and even that's dirt cheap considering I don't charge the mileage within 10 miles from the market place. Yet there's complaints about the price.

There's a joke going around: Would you come help me with renovation/move/gardening if I paid you €13.90? Nope. Would you help me for a bottle of vodka? Yeah, sure, when do we start? Guess how much is the local price for a bottle...

I used to be a sales representative and found a few books worth reading: Frank Bettger's How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling (available even on YouTube!) and the two books by Dale Carnegie: How to win friends and influence and  How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Agreed, they're a bit old but the philosophy is still valid. What I like the most is that they don't ask to be greedy and cold hearted like some other books of the same ilk do. 

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I’m not self employed but I find, in IT anyway, people think they know better.  I work at the local hospital and the physics guys all think they could tell me how to do my job.  It’s alright until they cock up then you don’t hear from them😀

my wife is self employed and works on an appointment basis.  When she gives people available slots they still ask for one that’s already taken.

Another one is the people who knew you slightly socially think you owe them something.  They even ask outright for friends and family discount.  I wouldn’t have the neck on me to do something like that.

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51 minutes ago, willliam_q said:

When she gives people available slots they still ask for one that’s already taken.

Oh, so very true! Right after saying "I'm retired, I have time" they ask if you can't make it sooner.

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Yes I have similar situations to all those. I've had people ask me if I would clean the gutters

Some of the things people ask is comparable to ..."Err, no the pickups need to be under the strings" But I suppose with guitars most people who play them have a good knowledge of how they work

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Oh the stories I could tell. Having had my own Construction Company as well as being in IT, being a cabinet maker and also guitars. God forbid that the customer is always right. That's plain and utter BS. I have walked away from many $$$ over the years knowing that my sanity was worth much more. LOL!!!

MK

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11 hours ago, MiKro said:

I have walked away from many $$$ over the years knowing that my sanity was worth much more.

Yeah, but doesn't that make you the customer? "Paying" the other one many $$$ for your sanity... And you were right, weren't you?

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All of the above,  I worked as a self employed software engineer for a while and up until I started building guitars I also used to do a lot of freelance web development as a side gig. I often used to get new clients that would haggle on the price, I used to just tell them to look for someone cheaper, they would often come back a couple of months later agreeing to the original price. Or I would get what I considered to be 'dead leads' that would come back 18 months later and agree to my price after not finding anyone better for cheaper, then they would bicker because I've increased the quote 🤣 After a bit of experience with awkward customers, I soon learnt to realise which ones were going to be awkward from the off and purposefully priced myself out of a couple of jobs, as mentioned above - losing out on some income is often better in the long run for one's mental health.

It hasn't happened yet, but as soon as a potential guitar build customer starts trying to beat me down, I will tell them to find another luthier as I did with IT customers. 

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4 hours ago, ADFinlayson said:

....as soon as a potential guitar build customer starts trying to beat me down, I will tell them to find another luthier as I did with IT customers. 

BINGO! you apply what you learned from one business to another

Something else just popped into my head. When you're selling something on Gumtree or eBay or whatever, don't you just hate it when a potential buyer comes out with "what's your lowest price?" when its $xxxx "Or Nearest Offer"? That's another situation when I have let a deal go because its just not the way I do things

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21 minutes ago, Crusader said:

BINGO! you apply what you learned from one business to another

Something else just popped into my head. When you're selling something on Gumtree or eBay or whatever, don't you just hate it when a potential buyer comes out with "what's your lowest price?" when its $xxxx "Or Nearest Offer"? That's another situation when I have let a deal go because its just not the way I do things

yeah my dad had a similar situation this week. They've just changed their car, they give my sister their A3 and have advertised her little VW Up thinking it would be easier to sell as a first car. Had a couple of messages saying "will you take £x or £y?" before evening seeing the car. One of them was taking the piss and the other one he said ok to. So they showed up to view and then said would you take even less. He told them to do one :) 

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5 minutes ago, ADFinlayson said:

advertised her little VW Up thinking it would be easier to sell as a first car. Had a couple of messages saying "will you take £x or £y?" before evening seeing the car.

Yea, I find those guys tend to be 2nd hand car dealers looking the best price, they’ll text not phone.  They’ll also text everyone else on gumtree at the same time to see who bites.  

they’ll always offer a lowball offer as plenty of people are desperate to sell.

i once had a guy offer to swap his Ford Fiesta with my low mileage Bmw 325i coupe...I told him to get lost as well

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9 hours ago, ADFinlayson said:

.... He told them to do one :) 

ROFLMAO

Yeah this "What's your lowest price?" thing is a tactic that people started 20 or 30 years ago, but I'm old-school and ONO means "Or Nearest Offer"

The presumption is that you have a lowest price set in your mind and they are digging for that, ie. cutting to the chase. That's fair enough but when you don't want to do that and they keep pestering for "your lowest price" it is very annoying

The fact is I don't have a "lowest price" set in my mind, I go by how I feel at the time. If I think a buyer is a dealer or rich enough I will be firm. But if a young guy turns up and has genuinely put together all the money he can muster then I might let it go for less than expected

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4 hours ago, Crusader said:

I don't have a "lowest price" set in my mind, I go by how I feel

Having set prices is a good backbone against haggling. If you can say that you've been charging a certain sum for a task, the customer has a hard time trying to convince even himself that he'd be qualified for a bargain especially if it makes him look poorer than your average customers. If money really is an issue, making an offer by social grounds can be considered as charity which in turns can give you a good reputation.

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7 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

Having set prices is a good backbone against haggling....

I should have pointed out I was talking about selling personal items. In my carpentry business I generally don't haggle and have set prices for everything. However there is a blur between the two. Totally agree with you though

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I sell personal services... Some can be charged by the hour, some by the project and there's always some blur depending on the additional chores. But it helps to say that I have a set price for the hour and a set price for a certain task in the basic state.

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