A Short Story About Costs

For all tradesmen:

A customer asked me how much it costs to make a table…. I answered him: £1500

He said: That’s expensive for this small job?

I asked: How much do you think it should cost you?

He answers me: £800 maximum… it’s a pretty simple job right? !”

– For £800 I invite you to do it yourself.

– But…. I don’t know how to.

– For £800 I’ll teach you how to. So besides saving you £700, you’ll get the knowledge for the next time you want to make something

– It seemed right to him and he agreed.

– But to get started: you need tools: A table saw, a planer, a top, dormants, etc…

– But I don’t have all this equipment and I can’t buy all of these for one job.

– Well then for another £250 more I’ll rent my stuff to you so you can do it.

– Okay, he says.

– Okay! Tuesday I’m waiting for you to start doing this work

– But I can’t on Tuesday I only have time today.

– I’m sorry, but I’m only available Tuesday to teach you and lend you my stuff. Other days are busy with other customers.

– Okay! That means I’m going to have to sacrifice my Tuesday, give up a day at work.

– I forgot. To do your job yourself, you also have to pay for the nonproductive factors.

– That is? What is this?”

– Bureaucratic, tax, vat, security, insurance, fuel etc.

– Oh no!… But to accomplish these tasks, I’m going to spend more money and waste a lot of time!

– Do you have them? Could you get it to me before?”

– Okay!

– I’ll get you all the material you need. Truck loading is done Monday evening or Tuesday morning you’ll have to come by 6 to load the truck. Don’t forget to avoid traffic jams and be on time

– At 6??? Nope! Too early for me! I’m used to getting up later. … You know, I’ve been thinking. You’d better just get the job done. I’d rather pay you the £1500. If I had to do it, it wouldn’t be perfect and it would cost me a lot more.

When you pay for a job, especially handcrafted, you pay not only for the material used, but also: – Knowledge – Experience – Study – Tools – Services – Time to go – punctuality – Accountability – Professionalism – Accuracy – Guaranteed – Patents – Sacrifices – Safety and security – Payment of tax obligations.  No one can denigrate other people’s work by judging prices. Only by knowing all the elements necessary for the production of a certain work can you estimate the actual cost.

I did not write this dialogue, but am sharing it to support craftsmen, trades and entrepreneurs everywhere.

author avatar
Steve Atkinson
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