Thursday, September 22, 2011


eWhen I bid a job I itemize every single thing, each and every part of the job.  I learned to do this when I was in the construction industry and I did it mostly for me alhough it came in handy from time to time if I ever had a customer complaint.
   I do it for me because I forget a million things about a job if I don't actually write them down.  Selling art or a welding project is no different from construction, just a smaller scale, but everything applies.
I used to have a printed sheet with all aspects of construction neatly written down for me to fill in the blanks.
I had "clean-up" written several times on this sheet to remind me that each stage along the way needs to be cleaned up, debris hauled to the dump, things organized, tools put away, the site swept clean ready for tomorrow.  Someone has to do this.  It is expected, necessary and costs money.  No elves come in the middle of the night to do it for you. If a customer sees a mess that is what he will focus on and hunt for flaws in the production.  That is natural, but I always wrote it down to remind me how essential it is.
   When I price my art I look at my shop and add a few bucks for clean-up.
   There are a lot of costs that we don't account for.  The steel doesn't arrive here by itself, the canvas does not just appear, already framed and matted.  I need lights for welding, to see my paintings, electricity to run the welder and if I am feeling exuberant, maybe even heat on a cold winter's day.
   There are always supplies and I am consistently running out, more sanding disks, more paint, the turpentine, another canvas.  Never enough.  These are expenses that get added to the bill.  I need my truck, gas, insurance, even an occasional oil change or nothing gets delivered, nothing happens. Not without my truck.  I never count lunch, unless it is a really good job.  I have to eat anyway. But that is a cost to my living and so is my house, my studio, my garden.  If you want me to work for you then you will allow for these indulgences.  I have to be me in order to work for you.
   There are tons more costs.  I haven't even begun.  A million taxes, insurances and the cost of being in business. Cost of living.
   In real life I do a lot of small jobs but if this was all that came my way I would go out of business.  I like them.  They help in the cash flow.  Sometimes I learn a lot from the smallest of jobs.  It is a lot like the corner grocery store selling a pop for a dollar.  I am hoping that you will buy more or tell a friend.  It is the big jobs that enable me to do the small jobs.
   I itemize every job.  The cost of materials and getting them here and there, moving stuff, the welding, fabrication, design, painting, digging the holes, the amount of concrete, the final installation.  Sometimes I am asked whether I can "make it cheaper?"   Happily, I always say "Yes", which item did you wish to omit?


SooZeQue said...

That's the one thing I haven't mastered at all. I'm sure I make about $1 hr. That's what takes all the fun out of creating for me. Good thing I'm not in business of relying on my Art to pay all the bills - I'd be homeless. However, the price of Sanity is certainly worth something.

AutumnLeaves said...

Don't ask me why, Jer, but this reminds me of a Restaurant Impossible show I watched the other night. The restaurant was in deep financial trouble and one of the problems was that the owners didn't include their overhead in the price of their menu items. They only accounted for the cost of the food itself when setting their prices. Neither here nor there, I suppose, but that is what I was reminded of! LOL

freebird said...

I wouldn't point this out except it is the title of your post. Itimize is wrong - ItEmize is correct.

I am very bad at itemizing. I haven't really had to sell anything so I've been able to get by but when I think about what something costs I realize there is a lot in the background we don't know about when the prices are set. Everyone wants something for nothing but people can't keep going that way. We get that from China right now but the people there are getting tired of not getting anything for their labor. We'll be paying more soon and then maybe some jobs will come back to the U.S.