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Author Topic: figuring out how to charge  (Read 1998 times)

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Offline bkaimwood

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #40 on: November 17, 2017, 06:59:36 am »
YH  Took the words right out of my mouth. I wonít even walk down to the barn to hook the mill up to the truck for $.12 a board foot. You canít possibly stay in business charging $45 an hour with $200,000 in equipment unless someone gives you all your equipment. 😂 Doing wide slabbing is an altogether different animalÖ As you already know, few people can even saw that big, so not that you need to take it advantage of the situation, but you very easily could be charging at least 2 to 3 times what a standard mill fee would be. Your new customer is best off being your competitors customer at the rates mentionedÖ He clearly sees no value in your services or being able to saw as big as you can, or the 40 inch logs that he provided.  Craigslist and the market in general is flooded with sawmills, new sawyers, portable sawmill services, wood slabs, rough cut lumber and related materials...at least in this area. It hurts us all to some degree, how ever the impact is relatively minor and short term. We are in it for the long-haul. There are plenty of guys out there charging anywhere from $30-$60 an hour to run portable sawmills.  Iíve seen lots of them comeÖ And lots of them goÖ And the cycle continues. We are double that price, and pretty darn busy. For wide sliding, we are triple the priceÖ And pretty busy there too.  Never compete on price alone. You will lose.
BK

Offline LaneC

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #41 on: November 18, 2017, 07:10:08 pm »
  First off, I don't have a mill. I have always wanted one, but physically I cannot do it. However, if I could, would it be, "acceptable" I guess would be a good word to use, if a new sawyer milled at a good bit cheaper rate to gain experience. In other words, let the customer know the only reason you are cheaper than anyone else, is because you are trying to gain experience, and as you gained experience, you would go up on your price. I don't know, but it seems that the type of folks that are really trying to get more than they are paying for, may not mind that they are not getting a well experienced sawyer as long as they think they are getting more than they are paying for. I hope this makes sense.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #42 on: November 18, 2017, 07:43:34 pm »
Lane,

   Sure it would be okay. If a guy just wanted to practice I am sure he could post notices on local feed stores and trade papers and such and find folks who would be glad to let him cut free or pay a little. As long as you notified them up front should be just fine. If you screwed up on some wood could still use it for firewood or such.

   If so I'd keep a log of what kind of wood and how many bf I had cut (I do that anyway) then when I wanted to start charging more I could use that as experience.
Howard Green
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Offline starmac

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #43 on: November 18, 2017, 08:02:00 pm »
LaneC, I do not know what all your wants consists of, nor the extent of your physical capabilities.
That said, a hydraulic mill is not a lot of physical work, infact if you have or can get a helper, you can sit in a chair and do the milling.
As far as working  (sawing) cheap to learn. The only thing I knew about a mill when I got mine was I wanted one, I was totally amazed at how easy it was to cut nice uniform boards pretty much from the very first cut. Now that said, our spruce is very forgiving and from what I gather from reading this forum is easy compared to other species. I do know I start with straight logs, and have never put any thing on my mill like some of the stuff I see pictured on here, I think my mill would quit me if I did.
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Offline LaneC

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #44 on: November 18, 2017, 10:53:33 pm »
Thanks for the replies. Sitting is about how I would have to do it most of the time. I just would not like to bid a low ball figure and knock someone out of an opportunity that did this for a living. Like WV. says, I could practice on their logs, but surely letting them know up front about the experience level, or lack there of I should say.
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #45 on: November 18, 2017, 11:31:19 pm »
I had some experience milling my own logs before I cut my first customer log, but there was a learning curve and apprehension in possibly butchering up someone elses wood.  The solution to initial success for me was to go slow and concentrate, something pretty much impossible if milling offsite at a customer property or a customer is present talking in my ear.

My solution was to have the customers bring their logs to me, I'd fit them in the line and call them when the lumber was ready for pickup, typically no more than a week or two.  So I could take my time without bystanders distracting me.  I charged by the bdft, so speed didn't matter, quality and yield was the goal.

I still mill all customers logs at my place simply because with all the support equipment I have to mill logs for our business, it's a lot easier and more efficient.  I prefer to charge by the bdft because as my support equipment increased, my bdft per hour went up and I could make more money.  The customers didn't have to pay more, I could just simply do more jobs in the same amount of time. 

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Offline Brucer

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #46 on: November 19, 2017, 02:07:17 am »
... why the change to hourly over 16 foot?...

In my case, the price per BF starts to go up over 20' (which is the length of my mill). The price increases for every foot over 20' and takes a big jump at 26' (when the log is on the second 6' extension).

"How come?", customers want to know.

First off, the taper in the log means I'll be getting a disproportionate amount of lower value side lumber off a long log. A 30' D.Fir log with a 12" top will give me an 8x8x30' timber; or it will give me an 8x8x16' timber plus an 8x12x16' timber. 25% more high-value wood. And the price per BF for an 8x12 is higher than for an 8x8.

Second, I need auxiliary equipment (i.e., a front-end loader) to get the longer logs onto the mill. It takes extra time to jump on the loader each time I want to load a log. With shorter logs I just stage a bunch beside the mill and "Logrite" them to the hydraulic loader.

Third, there is a lot more work involved in dealing with 30' side lumber -- each piece has to be sawed into 3 shorter pieces. Same thing with slabs.

Finally, there is the matter of dealing with really long timbers. With ramps and roller tables I can handle a 20' 8x12 by myself without any machinery. A 30' 8x12 is going to require more time and some machinery.

These things all add up. I'd happily sell you a 30' 10x10 (to be supported by 3 posts), or 2 16' 10x10's for half as much money (to be supported by the same 3 posts). It's your money -- is the "wow" factor of that single long timber worth it? Some people think so, some don't.


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Online crowhill

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #47 on: November 19, 2017, 07:05:14 am »
15 years ago I was told to charge $1.00 per hour per horse power, 32 horse power total = $32.00 per hour, for the mill, then decide and add to that, what your time as a skilled tradesman is worth. Iím not sure that formula would hold true today with the increased costs of new equipment, but then again so have the earnings of a skilled tradesman.
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Online Kbeitz

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #48 on: November 19, 2017, 07:31:46 am »
15 years ago I was told to charge $1.00 per hour per horse power, 32 horse power total = $32.00 per hour, for the mill, then decide and add to that, what your time as a skilled tradesman is worth. Iím not sure that formula would hold true today with the increased costs of new equipment, but then again so have the earnings of a skilled tradesman.

Wow... My 13 hp Honda would send me to the poor house.
I charge $50 an hour and everyone is happy.
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Offline coalsmok

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #49 on: November 19, 2017, 07:59:24 am »
Qweaver has the the only swing mill I know of in this area. The problem he is fighting with is that many people donít understand that a swing mill can cut a lot larger log more efficiently than a band or circle mill large enough to do the same size log. Not handling a large oak is worth a lot of $$ and headache relief. This may need to be pushed as a value added aspect to sawing them with a swing mill.
 We donít move logs very far if at all with our band mill. Especially if itís near the limits of what I can saw, 10 mins setup is a lot easier than 10 mins fighting a large log with the risk of injury. Dad and I cut and removed some large pine from a yard this year doing this and you couldnít tell we had been there other than the stumps.
  There are small band mills scattered all around. I know a five in a less than 5 mile radius from my house. Circle mills are not all that uncommon either though the knowledge to run them well is fading I think. 
  If I had known a few years ago about a swing mill in the area I would have had a maple in a remote area of our farm cut up. Itís to hard to get a tractor to but I could have hauled out curly maple boards for days with a four wheeler. Itís spalted curly maple now on its way to becoming to rotten now though.

Offline dgdrls

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #50 on: November 19, 2017, 08:53:27 am »
I found this a while back when I was looking at the purchase of a mill.
It's not the ultimate, but it can help guide on expenses, costs and profit.

Yellowhammer and Chop shop make very good points,  I was the same when I worked regularly
in the Survey Industry,  do half the jobs for twice the profit, 

best




Offline Blackhawk1

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #51 on: December 05, 2017, 01:45:10 pm »
Charging a fair price for quality work is always hard. Our current price structure is 120.00 per hour with all equipment and man power supplied, or 1.50 per board foot. We try to give the customer the most bang for his buck and send them home happy. We operate with a TimberKing 2000 and a Peterson ASM. Moving of anything heavy is done with a Kubota 95 HP skid steer. pallets are provided if needed.


Offline alanh

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #52 on: December 05, 2017, 02:19:58 pm »
I just learned the "charge more for big stuff" lesson this week. A nearby municipality ordered dump truck side  boards for six trucks, including 2 tri axles and decking for 3 20 ton trailers. They were o.k. with red oak because the town employees smash the heck out of everything well before it rots. I had plenty of logs and agreed to do it for the 2.00 bd ft they were used to paying. I didnt think too much of it when they called and asked to make the side boards 3" x 12" instead of 2", I thought "Cool, more bd ft." Note to self, a 3"x12" x 17ft soaking wet red oak board is very, very, heavy

Offline Dozer_Man

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #53 on: December 05, 2017, 03:08:04 pm »
I have been thinking more and more here lately of going to an hourly rate instead of a BF rate. For the fact that it would take into account half rotted, crooked, long, or very big logs and if they want to take a chance on them then that is on them. I have been charging $.30 a bf at the customer's site and they provide the help in off bearing and get the logs to the loading arms. There have been many cases where the owner of the logs is there helping and their neighbors come over and talk then there is no help and I am doing it alone or they say on the rotted or ugly logs lets just see what we get out of it. If they were being charged hourly they would think twice on these things or be charged accordingly. That's not counting if I have to split a huge log or price for hitting metal in their logs, that would be extra. In this business we got to make money to pay for our equipment and our time. If not then we might as well all be sitting at the barber shop talking about the days we used to saw because we wont be in business long.
Brady Crabtree
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #54 on: December 05, 2017, 05:05:08 pm »
When I'm charging by the bdft, every time the saw head moves down the rails I'm getting paid for it, whether it's a nasty log, rotten or otherwise.  That's because when the customer drop the nasties off, I get to look at them as I'm unloading them, and I point out the ones that are not any good, give them the option to not saw, and also give them the option for me to use my best judgement.  If they want an estimate, I have a can of marking spray paint and mark the ones to be skipped with a big pink "X" on the side and skip those for the estimate.

If they want me to saw the uglies anyway, (some people are like that, and if the logs or sticks are real bad or too small I just refuse) I'll do it and stack the garbage wood along with the good stuff.  Then when they pay, I tell them how much money they could have saved if they had been more judicious and not have me saw their nasty logs, and only saw the good ones.  So next time they show up, they only bring me good logs. :D

Either way, I don't saw for free, or even at a reduced rate, it's my mill and I get to make the final decision.   I once had a customer bring me a trailer load of some nasty logs and they were so bad I refused to mill them outright.  He started complaining so I told him to drive them down the road to another mill about 10 miles away.  He said he just came from there, and they refused him, also.  He said thought I would do it, even though the "real sawmill" up the road wouldn't. 

 
 
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Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #55 on: December 05, 2017, 06:21:27 pm »
 :D :D :D That's awesome. There's a dude local that saws for people with a similar demeanor, yet he's raised the bar by making them take the slab wood too unless they PAY him to dispose of it. *DanG...I'm doing it wrong. (not really since I just saw for myself)  :o
When I'm charging by the bdft, every time the saw head moves down the rails I'm getting paid for it, whether it's a nasty log, rotten or otherwise.  That's because when the customer drop the nasties off, I get to look at them as I'm unloading them, and I point out the ones that are not any good, give them the option to not saw, and also give them the option for me to use my best judgement.  If they want an estimate, I have a can of marking spray paint and mark the ones to be skipped with a big pink "X" on the side and skip those for the estimate.

If they want me to saw the uglies anyway, (some people are like that, and if the logs or sticks are real bad or too small I just refuse) I'll do it and stack the garbage wood along with the good stuff.  Then when they pay, I tell them how much money they could have saved if they had been more judicious and not have me saw their nasty logs, and only saw the good ones.  So next time they show up, they only bring me good logs. :D

Either way, I don't saw for free, or even at a reduced rate, it's my mill and I get to make the final decision.   I once had a customer bring me a trailer load of some nasty logs and they were so bad I refused to mill them outright.  He started complaining so I told him to drive them down the road to another mill about 10 miles away.  He said he just came from there, and they refused him, also.  He said thought I would do it, even though the "real sawmill" up the road wouldn't. 

 
 
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #56 on: December 05, 2017, 09:47:01 pm »
   I observed with a fellow member recently (who shall remain nameless :)) who scaled every log before sawing and that is what he customer paid for whether it made good lumber or scrap.

   I normally scale the finished lumber and charge based on that in hopes I will beat the scale estimates. But if they are small, crooked logs or special cuts I bill by the hour. I might start just scaling the logs before cutting as mentioned above.

   We have mentioned several times throughout this and similar threads all methods are fair as long as you explain up front and the customer understands and agrees prior to starting to saw his logs.
Howard Green
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #57 on: December 05, 2017, 11:19:01 pm »
I try to be as fair as possible, and final tally and charge after sawing.  However, since people bring their logs to me, I have everything setup to saw as efficiently as possible.  I tell folks I will mill the logs as if they were my own, which generally means a lot to most customers, because they can look at the wood in our showroom and see that I will get the best I can from their logs.  However, this is a full time business for me, and I'm losing money if I'm standing around or having a customer tell me to put a doubtful log on the mill and "let's see if it's worth sawing".  So I tell them everything is free until the log goes on the mill, then it's going to get sawn, whether it's good or bad because although mills are designed to load whole logs, they are not designed to unload whole logs.  So once the log goes on the mill, its going to get sawn and if nothing else come off in smaller pieces.  Then I hand them the pink spray can and most times they get the message and go back to their stack and start putting a few X marks on them.
I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that customers have no idea how much money is invested in a serious a sawmill operation, so don't realize what they are asking.  I had one guy not too long ago say he loved my mill and stuff, and he then asked me if it was more than ten grand.  I told him ten grand wouldn't even pay the taxes.
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Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #58 on: December 06, 2017, 05:40:10 am »
I had one guy not too long ago say he loved my mill and stuff, and he then asked me if it was more than ten grand.  I told him ten grand wouldn't even pay the taxes.

That's beautiful!  :D
I think it's inerrantly built into most people to devalue the work/equipment/achievements of others, and that propensity increases many-fold during a purchase transaction.

I recently had a dude who wanted to buy some of my most premium figured 12/4 curly maple. It's not cheap and I don't really care if it sells or not. During the haggle-cycle, he said, "Well, I could just get a mill, buy the logs, and make me own.". So, I responded, "Yes, you surely could have, but you didn't, which is why you are here.". While I'm usually always willing to adjust according to logic, volume, barter, etc. The "devalue haggle method" rewards zero return...in fact, it has the opposite effect.  ;D

A wise man once said, "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."
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Online terrifictimbersllc

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Re: figuring out how to charge
« Reply #59 on: December 06, 2017, 06:37:43 pm »
Ask him whether he likes to go out to eat or does he prefer to buy the restaurant instead.
DJ Hoover, Terrific Timbers LLC,  Mystic CT   2001 WM LT40SHDD (42HP Kubota, Accuset2, FAO's, Lubemizer, debarker, hydraulics everywhere), Peterson WPF 10-30 with chain slabber. LogRite fetching arch, WM BMS250 sharpener/BMT250 setter.