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I've been sewing things together for 30 odd years. Mostly as a hobby but I have worked in shops many years ago as a regular job. I've been working with marine canvas stuff for almost 10 years. The last several years I have had more and more "can you fix/make this for me?" from friends and referrals around the marina to the point where I have recently taken the step of formally "going into business".
I'm generally pretty good with the making and repairing of things though I'm always looking for new or better techniques.
My questions are coming on the business side of things.
Some of these things I may need to discuss with my accountant but I'll start here.
I can easily keep track of my material costs and time spent on the work. If I'm repairing an existing item like replacing windows in a dodger, I've charged time and material as separate line items since in my state labor is not taxed i.e.: - My cost of materials and any markup as -$xxx + %% tax for a materials subtotal and a labor charge and any applicable trip/delivery charge added for a total bill.
However, if I make a new thing like a grill cover would I bill as a time and material charge with taxes only on material or as a single item with taxes for the total cost?

Along those lines -
When I'm working a project I keep track of all my materials and my cost. Do you folks provide customers with a detailed invoice of all materials used such as X number of snaps, XX yards of fabric, XX feet of strap... or do you just lump sum the "materials"?

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@Larry in OK
I separate everything out as line items on my invoices. I keep labor separate because in our state labor is not taxed either. They pay my markup % on all materials and the labor that i set up for each job. I know having the line items all out there is more work in the long run, but when i show that to a customer it looks professional (In my opinion) and they can really see that it isn't just a simple thrown together job. Each line details the materials like leather, vinyl, cloth, foam, etc. and how much of it was needed. Then same with labor. I break it down to each part of the job. Say I do a seat repair and a headliner. Two separate lines with descriptions.

That's just how I do it. Everyone has their own way that works for them. Hope it helps. Good luck!
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I line item the Fabric, Vinyl, Leather, Batting, Foam and Zippers. Even though I get materials wholesale from different suppliers, I charge the customer full retail as that's what they see at a local fabric store or online as a customer. I found out that in the beginning I charged too little for upholstery work and my pay per hour was horrible. Once I decided that either I was going to make money or close shop, I began to feel less pressure and started getting better jobs. I am still learning here as well but so far, I can retire from my normal job and this will be a good retirement supplement. There are always customers now asking for quotes and sometimes I have to turn down work because I have too many jobs stacked up.
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Well, three months in and I'm making progress. I'm starting slow intentionally and not really putting my name out too much going off word of mouth and handing out business cards. I've only taken on 7-8 jobs so far but each has been educational and profitable. Biggest job was an oversized bimini on a very good friend's sailboat, it was done (mostly) in the Sailrite style. Currently making a stack-pack type sail cover for my local marina, essentially duplicating an existing cover.
One of my biggest problems so far has been underestimating how long something will take me to do, getting better at that, just a matter of experience I'm thinking as my skills increase my time will decrease and I can find the happy point.

This forum has been a great knowledge base to draw from!
@Larry in OK . . . Good to hear things are moving along with the business. I've taken on 4 jobs for over the fall/winter months 2 of them are done, 1 nearly done and the 4th is just starting.

Just to share some of my thoughts about the business of doing upholstery (so far) . . .

In total, I've quoted 8-10 jobs, and it does seem like there is a fair amount of price shopping, so a good % of the quotes don't result in booked jobs.

I don't break out material and labor, unless it is absolutely necessary from the customer's perspective. So far it has not been an issue. I just quote the job scope & any relevant details and the bottom line price. I do have one customer that wanted to buy the materials, so I quoted labor and miscellaneous supplies as a single line item.

I have an estimating spreadsheet where I plug in relevant data on cushion sizes, added features, and extras to come up with a price. Then I add in a certain amount for supplies and any other items (or effort) that may be relevant. I sometimes spot-check my estimates with the time it takes me to do the actual job (or at least portions of the job), so I can see if my estimating process is on target.

I also factor in some intangibles ($$$) into the quote if I feel that there is an amount of unknown about the job. As, such it is best for me to just quote a bottom line without any details.

I am learning with each job, as you mentioned. Some about the work itself and other factors about the customer relations, which is probably the bigger part of the learning. I also project net profit with each job, considering all of the projected material and other costs. Then I can compare projected vs. actual as I complete jobs.

I also factor up material cost to cover my time in procuring, handling, etc. I have found that theses 'costs' can be as much as a 40% uplift on the price of the material.
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