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#15647
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"?

Thanks
#15656
@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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#15661
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.
Larry in OK liked this
#15898
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!
Thanks!
#15912
@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.
Larry in OK liked this
#16268
Larry in OK wrote: Sat Oct 01, 2022 3:11 pm 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 am also considering to have a coworking space that's why I visited this website and they have a very affordable yet quality coworking space and I think they've got something that I really need to help me start with my business.

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"?

Thanks
Hello! It's great to hear that you've been sewing for so many years and that you've decided to turn your hobby into a business. Congratulations on taking that step!

In terms of billing for a new item like a grill cover, it's common to charge a flat rate for the entire project that includes both materials and labor. You could include the taxes in the total cost so that your customer has a clear understanding of the final price.

As for providing a detailed invoice, it's always a good idea to provide your customers with an itemized invoice that breaks down the materials and labor costs. This can help them understand how you arrived at the final price and can provide transparency in your pricing. Including the number of snaps, yards of fabric, and feet of strap can be helpful, as it shows the customer the exact amount of materials used in the project.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any further questions.
Larry in OK liked this
#16269
Thanks for the tips and encouragement. Got pretty slow during the cold months but things have picked up now that we are warming up and people are getting their boats ready.

For "new" items I quote a flat price that includes local tax. Just seems easier that way. For things that I have done several of, like sail covers, I worked up a base price list and have a price for common "add ons" like slits for lazy jacks at additional cost per pair.
On repair jobs I will work up a detailed invoice showing materials used, which includes a mark up for my time and any shipping costs incurred as well as tax and a separate line item for labor.
#16359
Taxation depends upon your state, but the first thing you have to determine is if you are doing repair work, custom fabrication or manufacturing.

Repair work, only materials are taxed, you likely bought them with a "resale certificate" so the tax is collected by you and paid by the customer.

Custom work, literally only one item produced, likely only materials are taxed, depends upon your state.

Manufacturing, everything is taxed. The final product is sold to anyone and none of your costs of manufacture are deducted. It's the same as if a dealer bought a product and then resold it to his customer. All the materials, labor and manufacture profit are included in the wholesale price and then the dealer buys the product with a resale certificate, but then the sales tax is collected and paid by the customer on the entire sales price.

This is only a guideline, check with a CPA in your municipality as sales taxes are divided by state, county, city. The exemptions and inclusions are maddening.
Larry in OK liked this

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