Re: The Perils of Working For Friends

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On Mon, 28 Aug 2006 13:42:55 +0100, woodpassion

Can't tell you how long it takes you to do any given thing- that's up to your own experience. But I charge $12/hr for friends, $15/hr for useful aquaintances, and $25/hr for strangers. The price goes up for strangers that look like they are going to give me headaches- I call that the asshole tax. Family and close friends pay me whatever they pay me, and I don't worry about it- to a point.
All that being said, it's almost a better idea to just to work for nothing or refuse the work entirely if you want to make sure that you remain friends with some folks. It's getting to that point with my parents- I've remodeled half their house this year for a grand total of $80 and a pallet of used brick, and I've got to say, parents or no, I'd be happier getting nothing than $10 for twenty or thirty hours of work. Even though I know that's all they've got to spare, it's still a slap in the face to think that they could hand me a few bucks for a week of work and call it even. Keep that in mind when you set your prices for your friends- it can get grating after a while, especially if they need a lot of help, and begin to assume that you'll drop everything to do it.
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On Mon, 28 Aug 2006 17:38:22 -0700, "Steve B"

Here's a fourth one I learned really early as well-
When you give a friend a discount, make it very clear that your rate is for them only. My standard line is "If I hear that you told anyone what you paid me, any further work will be at three times what I'm charging you now." It might seem like a nasty thing to say to a friend, but if you don't, you WILL discover that they have friends you don't know (and probably don't care for) that will be more than happy to put you to work on the first guy's recommendation, but refuse to pay one penny more than what they were told was the going rate. This sort of thing runs out of control very quickly if you're any good and word-of-mouth gets going. Pretty soon you can't find work that doesn't have a pre-set ceiling on it, and you have to ditch a whole circle of customers.

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On Sat, 23 Sep 2006 03:41:19 -0500, Prometheus wrote:

I make from a catalog and have a firm price list.
I give friends the next-quantity-up discount and let them know that if word gets out they go back to marked retail. I explain to them that this is how I make my living and that I can't afford / am not willing to give this pricing to strangers.
Bill
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Yep. My little brother got that treatment- I wanted to give him a hand repairing some things around his house, some of which were major problems (ie. leaking toilet, no glass in the front door, electrical outlets sparking, etc.) I paid for the materials and came over to do the repairs- and he was at the bar. The second day, I told him he had to be there, my only payment was that he learn something so that if these things happened again, he'd have a chance at fixing them himself. He wasn't there again, so I opened a few holes in the walls where the new outlets were to be, and his girlfriend came home. She said he was at the bar again, and then yelled at me for setting a clean drywall saw on a thrift-store chair that had been mended with duct tape. I called the little punk (my brother) to see why he wasn't there to lend a hand, and he said "Why would I want to learn to do that crap when I can have someone else do it for free?" So, I opened a few more holes, took the front door off the hinges, removed a couple of windows, packed up the materials and my tools, and went home.
I guess he found out why it's handy to be able to take care of your own house after that. They had blankets over the windows and door for a month until they hired someone who completely butchered the job. Needless to say, we're not getting along so well any more, but you know what they say, with friends like that...
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Been there, done that. Every time my brother had a problem, arrested on outstanding warrants for parking tickets needed to be bailed out of jail in the middle of the night, car towed needed money to get it out of the pound, etcetera, he called me. The one time I asked him for help, he was too busy playing hockey. The last we talked was over ten years ago. I feel bad when family matters come up, but feel a whole lot better not worrying anymore about what kind of crap he's into. It's done, finished, I just don't need the aggravation. Family in the right circumstances is great, sometimes it sucks.
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Long philosophy put short:
Your time is worth what your time is worth, no matter who is paying for it. This is especially true if you've a backlog.
jc
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Prometheus wrote:

Been on vacation? That thread's a month old :-).
--
It's turtles, all the way down

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On Sat, 23 Sep 2006 08:38:33 -0700, Larry Blanchard

Or perhaps the opposite- I've been so busy I haven't had time to putz around on the computer much. Of course, since it was just updated last night, this one showed up as "new" in Agent. :)
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Buddy your way too friendly and your so called "friends " are taking advantage of you. Up here in Central Canada there are very few Carpenters around as most are in Alberta making big bucks . The going rate here is 30$ 40$ per hour for Reno's etc. Canada is just screaming for trades people, but of course you can't come here because we have a lot of Terrorists.
Sal
wrote:

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It's not just Canada. The US is that way to. Has a lot to do with the push in recent years for everyone to get into "information technology". No one ever explained how a whole country was supposed to survive pushing electrons for a living.
.> Canada is just screaming for trades people,
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Not everywhere in the US, at least. We've got plenty of carpenters in Wisconsin, but there is a huge shortage of machinists. Some of the local job shops I've seen have even taken to painting "Machinists Wanted" on the side wall of their shops in huge letters. You know there's a problem when they've got to resort to that.
But I certainly agree- it's a rotten scheme that's been pushed on a lot of people. I've heard "Service sector" more than "information technology", but it amounts to the same thing. Never could figure out how anyone could imagine they'd do that well at selling services when nobody is producing tangible assets to export and make the money in the first place.
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Same here with the machinists.

Sounds like our shop. We haven't taken down our sign (about ten by fifteen feet) in over a year. It's gotten so bad that I have been trying to train people. Hard to find a good trainee. Nobody wants to get their hands dirty. The average age of the skilled people is getting up their too. Average in our shop is 51. (Makes me feel go though, I'm a young guy at 46 :)). We're not going to be around forever.

Yes, I hear a lot of that service bit too. I guess we're all supposed to buy cheap Chinese crap and sell it to each other.
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CW wrote:

Before retiring, I did some software for a rolling mill to control and report on some automated roll grinders. I asked if the automated equipment was better than the work the machinists did. The reply was no, the machinists did better, but they were retiring and replacements could not be found.
Seems a shame. It's not a low pay job by any means. I guess the problem is just a perception of machining as a low status blue collar job.
-- It's turtles, all the way down
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CW wrote:

report
is
Seems the majority of the general public don't even know what it is. My own parents had no idea for many years. As machine shops are generally located in some industrial park and they have no contact with the general public, there's no reason anybody would know. People also seem to have little interest in building anything anymore (present company excepted).
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On Sun, 24 Sep 2006 06:07:09 +0000, CW wrote:

You just hit the nail on the head ... shops are reluctant to train. Where do you think machinists come from, anyways? Or carpenters or electricians? Kids coming out of public schools sure aren't (on average) 'much to look at'.
Give 'em some training (sort those screws, take the burr off these parts, measure these pins) and insist that they also attend whatever classes are available locally just to keep their jobs. In their 'free-time' at work, let other employees assign them tasks / teach them how to use tools - select steel - run the saw - weld saw blades - use the hoist - measure accurately - and so on. I learned screw profiles from 'the boss', how to remove burrs and pressurize the Karto sprayer from a 'permanent bench hand', make CNC edits by watching the boss and then sneaking them in when he wasn't around. ;-) (makes you a VERY careful operator!)
Chatting with the DeVlieg 43K72 operator alerted me to spindle drop and rebuilding that stinky-butt machine from a basket of parts woke me up to a WHOLE LOT of alignment issues -- straighness of ways, adjusting gibs and so on and on.
Plan to reimburse them somehow ... either in wages (one raise for an "A", another for a "B" nothing for a "C" and extremely shaky ground for anything less than a "C".[gpa for the semester]) or similar pro-rated tuition / books money if you plan on retaining them after training, though.
Best shop I ever worked at for this paid for the tuition upfront (from a pre-approved list of trade-related classes) ... reimbursed for books on a sliding scale and pegged wages to the final GPA for the school year.
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The reluctance to train is for a reason. It costs well over $100.00 per hour to train somebody. Finding someone that wants to learn is hard. Many that claim they want to learn, after finding out it is real work, lose enthusiasm. Over the past couple of years, I have attempted to train about ten people. All washed out except one. The plan that you suggest assumes someone wants to do the work. Very few do.
.

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Sounds a bit like how I learned it- reading the manuals while longer jobs were running as a lowly operator (load/unload and push the start button only), looking up general speed and feed information on the internet at home, and working up from simple offset changes to full setup and programming over the course of a couple of years. Might have done it quicker with some mentoring, but since that wasn't happening it was a matter of just watching others set up the the machines and (very gingerly) taking that over without permission until I got it down pat and could prove to the boss that I had earned the job title. Place I'm at now is better than the others about that, though- I got hired as a setup guy for the lasers and CNC punches, but since they run so well between setups, I've got the foreman getting me up to speed on everything else in the shop while the parts run, and it's moving things along much more quickly.
I still prefer the work of carpentry and cabinetmaking- but after this rotten year with layoff after layoff, I've gone back to a machine shop, and it's amazing how appreciative they are to have someone who knows what's going on these days. Guess it doesn't matter so much what you prefer once you look at the difference in overall treatment- the couple of machine shops I've been at have given me good raises on a real regular basis and promotions, the construction contractors have expected me to spend more money on tools than I was making and never wanted to pay one cent more than they absolutely had to- and the merest mention of paid vacations or health insurance sent them into apoplectic fits. Seems "benefits" = "free beer (when the boss feels like it)" to the local construction industry, and I'm not into it anymore.
I guess the cabinetmaking will just have to go back to being a weekend avocation- I always made more money at it like that anyway. Makes the home woodworking shop a whole lot more fun again, too.
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Want to move to Seattle? We don't have any lasers or(CNC) punch presses but mills, lathes and waterjet. Experience on these machines not required, ability to learn is. We will train.

fifteen
train
dirty.
electricians?
at'.
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Actually, I really do- the wife and I have been discussing relocating, and Seattle and Portland made the top slots on the list. You like it out there?
Ahh, now you've got that idea rearing it's head again. Tell you what- if you're still looking in about a year and nine months (when the wife finishes her degree,) you might just have yourself a new machinist in the area. Worrying about finding work right away has been the biggest concern we've had over the idea- I'm far past the stage where starving and sleeping in a tent seems like an adventure to me!
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There is no worry of finding work. If you came here right now, you would have a job within 2 hours of beginning your search. Walk in to any of the industrial parks round here and start handing out resumes then pick what you like. In a couple of years, things will likely cool down a bit. It might take as long as 2 days by that time. I have lived in seven different states from my birthplace, Maine, to here in Washington. This is where I am going to stay. Yes, I like it here. It rains a lot but you get used to that. The temperature fluctuations are not extreme from season to season. There is enough terrain variation in this state to accommodate about anything you want to do. Hiking, biking, boating, skiing, hunting, fishing (fresh or saltwater), hot air ballooning, paragliding, hangliding. About anything you could want. I think you'd like it here.
wrote:

but
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