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Learning curve...

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  • Learning curve...

    Was just thinking about this, maybe it has been covered before...

    When you are working on a restoration for a PAYING customer and you are LEARNING a new technique/software, do you charge for your own learning time while doing the restoration?

    I do not, if I am trying something new on a restoration, it is in my time, if it works, then I charge for the time, if it doesn't, then I count it as time spent learning a new technique and do not charge the customer.

    If a restoration that should have taken you an hour takes you two because you tried something new, do you charge for one hour or two?

    Personally, I don't think it is fair to charge a customer for me trying something new if it doesn't work.

    How do you keep track of your time spent on a restoration?? I base mine on start and stop times.

    I look at some of the first restorations I did years ago that took me several hours to complete, today I could get them done in a quarter of the time. I know more now than I did then... But, I am ALWAYS learning...

    I guess my point is do we charge the customer for our own learning curve???


  • #2
    I always charge by the amount of damage.
    Something to consider.....
    Charging by the hour is unfair to the customer, and yourself. When you're first starting out, it will take longer, and you may waste a lot of time trying different techniques, and of course that is not fair to the customer - who has a right to assume you already know how to do this. Down the road, after you've become good as this, and your turn around time is fast, is your work worth less?


    • #3
      Good question. I agree with Vikki's assessment. If you think you have to charge by the hour, expected pay should be based on your experience. But if the customer knows you're charging $15.00 per hour, and you do a job for them, when next year rolls around, and your rates have gone up to $45.00 per hour, that's hard to justify. The customer won't know how long it took to do the first one. They're only thinking of $45.00 per hour.Just my two pennies.



      • #4
        Actually, I have upped my rates over the years to reflect my experience level.

        We all have to learn sometime.

        Vikki, I see your point in the charging by the hour, my point exactly. Don't charge for your own learning. I am asking this because I have delt with people that have gotten quotes for several hours work on a photo that I could complete in an hour and do a much better job (mostly because of there lack of experience). Customers ask me how one person quotes, say 3 hours, and another quotes an hour. I tell them it has more to do with your experience levels when quoting and doing the work.

        I am in the process of redesigning my website and have decided to raise my rates once again.

        I beleave that a customer can relate better to an hourly rate than rates based on damage. One sites "major" damage is another sites "moderate" I have seen several that show a photo with what they call "major" damage that I would put in the light catagory. I guess it is all subjective.

        Thanks for your input.



        • #5
          Price by the Job

          I am currently working (ready to print...yay!) on three restorations for someone. When she brought them by I quoted her different prices for each, and she didn't understand why. She thought the easiest one would be hardest because it had marks on it, and thought the hard one (sun faded spot in center) would be just a matter of "making it darker." So I explained that some would "take longer" than others, and told her why, noting some of the steps I'd have to go through. I never told her HOW long it would take, and she seemed to be satisfied with the different prices for them, since they averaged out in the total.

          I never would charge by the hour. If something would take me TOO long, I'd just not take that job. My maximum charge for any restoration is listed as $150, though I've never yet charged anyone more than $100, and usually more like $70. But that maximum price lets folks know that it could always be worse. How much do I make an hour on the average job? Probably about $25 - $30, which is enough for working out of the house in my case. But that's an average...some take longer, some not so long. It's how much tedium that's in those hours that I'm really charging for, and I think you know what I mean. Some jobs are more fun than others. No one likes to spend an hour cloning specks, for example.

          Last edited by Guest; 12-12-2002, 12:50 PM.


          • #6
            I charge by the hour and give an estimate of the cost with each picture. I take into account my great abilities with some techniques and poor abilities with others but I do not charge the client for my learning. I charge as if Im an expert at everything.

            For example. If past experience tells me that a job takes about two hours and none of that is wasted because I know how to do what is needed I quote two hours and charge them that even if it ends up taking me four hours. Even though it took more time the experience goes into my data banks and I add that experience to my next estimate. Maybe it should have really taken about 2.5 but the extra 1.5 was due to my screwing around. Next time maybe Ill quote 2.5 hours. I think an hourly charge is good for some things and not for others. Clients do like to know up front what the cost will be so an estimate is essential in my opinion. If some projects need to be open ended then be crystal clear about that up front so no one is surprised.

            On the other hand, from a marketing point of view (this is my past area of expertise, advertising) you will not get the opportunity to give an estimate to the vast numbers of people who contemplate your services. For example, those who run across your web site or advertising by accident or our of curriosity. If they see a fixed price for some task they are more likely to make an immediate decision then as to whether they can afford it if the cost is clearly stated. If they know there needs to be an estimate they may shy away. Especially if there is someone else competing with you.

            So I charge by the hour for damage restorations and some other things and have a fixed cost for other items like color correcting, croping, etc.



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