Too busy to price right?
July 7, 2014 | 7:00 pm CDT

As I write this I have just completed the bid package for our annual pricing survey. This year was a particular challenge to collect projects. Many people suggested for the survey expressed enthusiasm, but the improving economy meant they were just too busy in the shop to provide all the materials we were looking for to include in the bid package.

I guess that’s a good problem that shops are busy again. But it also raises concerns that it is too easy to overlook business fundamentals while scrambling to get work out the door. Just assuming that your pricing methods and costing are in order doesn’t cut it. Just as no amount of finish will cover up bad preparation on woodwork, there can’t be any profit if your system isn’t in place to build that into the price.

Taking time to look at your pricing and learn from what other shops are doing is a very worthwhile use of your time no matter how busy you are. For more than 15 years, our pricing survey has been the only industry tool to attempt to compare how custom woodwork is priced. For the people who provide projects, they get a golden opportunity to see how other shops would price a job they actually did. For those participating as bidders, it’s a chance to help the entire industry get a better handle on pricing and estimating. Furthermore, virtually all of the bidders in the past have told us that participation helped inform their own pricing.

Check out the projects in this year’s survey. Download the bid package (or request a mailed copy) and take the time to fill it out and return your bids. It will be time well spent no matter how busy you are.

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editor of FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.