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View Full Version : Bulk Tumbler Engraving Pricing



Tony South
02-19-2019, 4:38 PM
Hello everybody. First off I have a 50 watt fiber laser with a rotary. I got my machine about 2 months ago and have been doing just fine doing stainless and painted tumblers in low quantity. I can do a painted tumbler in about 3-5 minutes depending on size of logo. stainless annealing takes a bit longer. I usually charge $15-$20 dollars do to tumblers. Today I got an order for 300 tumblers to be engraved with a company logo and an American flag on the other side. they want me to buy the tumblers and do the engraving. I don't really know how to price the engraving and need some input from you guys. also where to fine r-tic or Ozark tumblers at a cheaper price when buying in bulk. I will try calling a few places but Walmart seems to be the cheapest so far. they need to be green painted tumblers because that is the fastest and easiest to do also the color they want. another thing is I know a lot of you say to use a co2 laser, but I don't have one haha. I also do laser welding. so I can make money while the cups are being engraved so I want to make as much money off of them as I can but I don't NEED to make a bunch of money off the tumblers if that makes sense.

Gary Hair
02-19-2019, 8:36 PM
Do you know the company that ordered them? It sounds suspiciously like the "Happy Birthday" plaque scam, especially given the quantity. Even if it were a family member I would get a deposit equal to the cost of the tumblers plus about 10% - whatever you do don't accept any less of a deposit than you need to break even on the cost of the tumblers.

For pricing - since you do them one at a time it doesn't matter if you do 1 or 100, 1,000, 10,000, etc., it takes the same amount of time per piece to mark them. Granted, it's the same thing over and over, but it's still the same lasering time. Calculate the time to *completely* process the tumbler - find them, purchase them, unpack them, laser them, clean them, repackage, etc. - that's the true time to charge for not just what the timer shows on the laser. Calculate your desired hourly rate - mine started at $120/hour and was usually 2-3 times that, and then divide that by the number of tumblers you can do an hour. Add in a "perceived value" and you have your price. *perceived value is when an item that cost you $2.00, took 1 minuted to laser, but the customer should pay $20.00 because that's what it looks like it should cost.

Tony South
02-19-2019, 11:02 PM
Do you know the company that ordered them? It sounds suspiciously like the "Happy Birthday" plaque scam, especially given the quantity. Even if it were a family member I would get a deposit equal to the cost of the tumblers plus about 10% - whatever you do don't accept any less of a deposit than you need to break even on the cost of the tumblers.

For pricing - since you do them one at a time it doesn't matter if you do 1 or 100, 1,000, 10,000, etc., it takes the same amount of time per piece to mark them. Granted, it's the same thing over and over, but it's still the same lasering time. Calculate the time to *completely* process the tumbler - find them, purchase them, unpack them, laser them, clean them, repackage, etc. - that's the true time to charge for not just what the timer shows on the laser. Calculate your desired hourly rate - mine started at $120/hour and was usually 2-3 times that, and then divide that by the number of tumblers you can do an hour. Add in a "perceived value" and you have your price. *perceived value is when an item that cost you $2.00, took 1 minuted to laser, but the customer should pay $20.00 because that's what it looks like it should cost.


Okay thanks! It is a local company and I talked with the president of the company and everything is legit. Thanks for the reply. I will give that thought.

Mike Null
02-20-2019, 10:36 AM
My approach is a bit different as these cups are a bit of a "commodity". There is a market value. In my case I price on the basis of a 2.5" square image. My prices are quoted by quantity. Generally, my high price is $12 for engraving only on one side. My best customer gets $6.00 for cermarked cups. His volume is over 1,000 per year. I do not sell cups as I don't want any inventory.

If you plan on doing a lot of these I'd suggest a CO2 laser. My times are 90 seconds up to 3 minutes.

WalMart cups often have nasty labels. I charge $0.50 extra to do WalMart cups for that reason.

Ross Moshinsky
02-20-2019, 11:02 AM
I think the first thing you have to figure out (like Mike said) is whether or not you have to be globally competitive or just fair. Globally competitive would mean you would have to try to offer internet pricing. Being fair is basically a situation of the person wanting to work with you and they aren't shopping around BUT you still can't just rip them off. The price can be pretty dramatically different based on each situation.

As for getting the mugs, look into opening an account with JDS. Their per piece price should be lower than what you're paying from Walmart.

For pricing, it's the hardest thing about being in business. You could handle it a bunch of ways. You could have the customer pay for the merchandise and you just charge for the engraving. In this situation, I would require a certain amount extra purchased. 5% is a pretty reasonable figure. Then you'd just have to worry about engraving costs. The other option is to buy both. That means buying 5% extra yourself AND doing a markup on the items + engraving fees. Third option is to outsource the whole job. You'd be surprised how decent the margins can be doing things this way.

Mike Thornbury
02-20-2019, 1:25 PM
Price it the same as you would a one-off, then give them a discount for bulk.

i would price the tumbler at retail less 30%, the etching at retail less 50% - and thatís how the invoice would look - give retail pricing, then show the discount.

Ozark Trail is a Wal-Mart brand. I would go to my local store and ask what discount they would give for 300 units.

The best I saw was $6.74 online for 100.

Doug Fisher
02-20-2019, 2:27 PM
>>As for getting the mugs, look into opening an account with JDS. Their per piece price should be lower than what you're paying from Walmart.<<

Plus, as Mike said, they don't have the nasty label. Additionally, they come in individual boxes that protect them from scuffing/denting after engraving.

Tim Bateson
02-21-2019, 8:13 AM
I HATE the glue on Ozark Trail mugs!!!! Seriously, do they think these labels need to be permanently attached? I charge $1/ea extra for these. Once for a large order I even discounted by a couple bucks if the customer removed the labels before bringing them to me. Like Mike, I do not provide inventory - I'm a Service business not a retailer. However like mentioned, take a look at the JDS Camels - you won't have the label issue... but unboxing & reboxing does take time.

Bill George
02-21-2019, 9:12 AM
His customer might be just doing some What if shopping. Just wants a price and may or may not be a buyer.

Tony South
03-07-2019, 1:10 PM
well i figured id tell yall what i did. i got the job. using walmart cups. labels come right off, maybe they changed them? currently running 4 minutes total to engrave both sides(logo and american flag) Just burning off the powdercoat. i get about 11 done an hour i am making about $70 an hour. 300 cups. also once i get started i am just doing all prep work(packaging, taking off labels, wiping down to clean up) while the cups are engraving. doing this using a fiber in 4 minutes is great i think. everyone told me id need a fiber to get times like this. annealing would be another story tho. its very slow.

Mike Null
03-07-2019, 3:56 PM
Tony

One of my marks for pricing is, "am I happy with it, would I do it again?" If you're happy with the job then go to it.
Thanks for the follow-up.

Amy Heise
03-12-2019, 10:35 AM
So what did you get the cups for at Walmart? If the lowest (mentioned) above was $6.74 x 300 = $2022 cost and you have 28 hours of run time (rounded up) at $70 an hour (11 cups) that's $1960. Are you taking that big of a loss? Or am I not adding something up correctly?

Amy

John Lifer
03-12-2019, 10:53 AM
No, I think $70/11 or $6.36 per cup is his gross revenue not including his cup price. (at least that's what I'd assume from his initial post) Which isn't bad for 300 cup order.

Amy Heise
03-12-2019, 11:24 AM
That's what I was wondering. After I posted I realized the $70 an hour was probably his profit.

Mike Null
03-12-2019, 11:34 AM
As I read it, he got $70 per hour for engraving. He didn't mention the price of the cups.

Tony South
03-12-2019, 3:43 PM
yeah sorry, it is $70 an hour for profit. not includingn the price of cups.i called walmart and they would not give a discount :( but thats okay. i still made $70 an hour just for the engraving. i will soon be opening an account with jds to get better prices.ill post some pics of a cup also.405482

Amy Heise
03-18-2019, 9:56 AM
Awesome! They look great!

Tony South
03-19-2019, 9:21 AM
Thank you!

Mike Null
03-19-2019, 11:24 AM
Tony
FYI--When I did my first order of walmart cups I ordered them online for pickup at the local store. I was lucky--the clerk suggested we open the carton to check the shipment. The cups were thrown loosely into the carton with no protective packing. Two of the 8 were dented.

I try my best to avoid anything Walmart.

Chris DeGerolamo
03-19-2019, 8:35 PM
i will soon be opening an account with jds to get better prices.ill post some pics of a cup also.

JDS cups are nice because other than the lid, they are unbranded and therefore have no front/back...just throw them in the laser and go. Try to buy in cases, and take advantage of the free freight at $500 if you can. Mixing and matching colors did not provide a case discount last (only) time I tried. Good luck and post your pictures.

Nick Andraka
03-20-2019, 6:55 AM
Not trying to be nosy, but if you are charging $70/hr of actual time operating the laser (after cost of the cups), your "take home" is somewhere in the mid 20's?
Is that all the market will pay?

Tim Bateson
03-20-2019, 9:27 AM
Not trying to be nosy, but if you are charging $70/hr of actual time operating the laser (after cost of the cups), your "take home" is somewhere in the mid 20's?
Is that all the market will pay?

I think he stated that the $70/hr was after all expenses. Personally I think that's still way too low. I aim for $100/hr or above & "if" (it's rare) I sell merchandise as well as my service, that number has got to be much higher.

Nick Andraka
03-20-2019, 9:31 AM
Tim,
By the time you figure in the real costs:
So the $70/hour is the gross intake minus the cost of the actual cup?
Then subtract machine purchase/maintenance, utilities, shop space, Insurance say that adds $8, so you are at $62.00
the $70 was calculated for just time actually etching, how much time was spent talking with the client, looking at/for cups, purchasing cups, packaging, invoicing, processing payment, etc?
Lets say that was only 6 hours or $120 of your time, round that off to $4 against each "engraving hour" so we are down to about $58 per engraving hour.

Then after the profit of $58, Federal, state/local income taxes, 15% self employment taxes, business property tax, accounting all eats up OVER 50% of the profit, so your take home is less than $29.00

As a business owner I'm not getting out of bed for that :)

Nick


I think he stated that the $70/hr was after all expenses. Personally I think that's still way too low. I aim for $100/hr or above & "if" (it's rare) I sell merchandise as well as my service, that number has got to be much higher.

Ross Moshinsky
03-20-2019, 10:22 AM
Tim,
By the time you figure in the real costs:
So the $70/hour is the gross intake minus the cost of the actual cup?
Then subtract machine purchase/maintenance, utilities, shop space, Insurance say that adds $8, so you are at $62.00
the $70 was calculated for just time actually etching, how much time was spent talking with the client, looking at/for cups, purchasing cups, packaging, invoicing, processing payment, etc?
Lets say that was only 6 hours or $120 of your time, round that off to $4 against each "engraving hour" so we are down to about $58 per engraving hour.

Then after the profit of $58, Federal, state/local income taxes, 15% self employment taxes, business property tax, accounting all eats up OVER 50% of the profit, so your take home is less than $29.00

As a business owner I'm not getting out of bed for that :)

Nick

Run from this industry then.

John Lifer
03-20-2019, 4:19 PM
yeah sorry, it is $70 an hour for profit. not includingn the price of cups.i called walmart and they would not give a discount :( but thats okay. i still made $70 an hour just for the engraving. i will soon be opening an account with jds to get better prices.ill post some pics of a cup also.405482

You Guys just can't read.... :D Price of cup isn't included in his $70 per hour.

I get that it's low, I can't get much over $120 per hour MAX for the time on cups. And I've had several relatively small orders (less than 100) walk at that. And wanted both sides engrave, personalizing with Name on one side.... Which would have been $96 an hour..... Cups are tough around here..... And I don't have that much laser competition. And Yes, if you are sourcing the cups, you'd better be adding in several dollars for that above your cost.

Tony South
03-22-2019, 1:40 PM
Just to let you all know. First of all I am new to the laser engraving industry and I only have a fiber laser engraver. (50w) I might not be charging as much as you do. And that is because this is not my main income. We are a laser welding shop and the welding generates most of the income right now. I get a lot more a hour doing laser welding than for doing these cups. I do not have to pay rent or taxes on the building because my father owns the building and rents half the building out and that pays for the bills. When I get more we’ll known for laser engraving I will begin to charg a little bit more. Ether way I am making $70 an hour. I admit I did not include the time with customer and finding cups. All I can say is I’m making good money in my head to just sit here and engrave cups. Not much skill into the work other than knowing the laser and how it works and getting settings right. I also took into account interruptions and such witch the 10 cups an hour. If I do them nonstop for a hour I get 13 done but that’s if I don’t get interrupted. So far I have been able to get 10 or more done in an hour. Thank you all for your input I just figured I’d let you know why I don’t charge $120 a hour yet. Packaging is done while cups are engraving, invoice takes 5 min and there is only one. payment process is as long as it takes him to write a check.(I already discussed this with him) And again $70 a hour is what I am taking in. I bought the cups but the customer is paying for the cups and then I make $70. Again thank you all on this forum. You guys help a lot with the engraving side of the business!!!!!! From now on ill try and charge more(:

Glen Monaghan
03-22-2019, 5:27 PM
When I get more weíll known for laser engraving I will begin to charg a little bit more. [...] I just figured Iíd let you know why I donít charge $120 a hour yet.

Everyone has to figure out what their time is worth, and it is very common for someone new to a field to undervalue themselves due to their inexperience, quite understandable. However, be aware that charging $70/hr now will condition your customers to expect that in the future and result in a lot of pushback if/when you want to ratchet up to something like $120/hr. It can also contribute to a downward spiral when someone else comes along with a laser and says, "well, he's charging 70 and I'm new, so maybe I'll charge 50 to start..." Then you have to explain to a customer why your [old or new] price is 90 or 100 while this other guy is only 50... You'll need to be pretty convincing that your quality, timeliness, and service justify charging twice as much as the next guy.

Kev Williams
03-23-2019, 12:34 PM
it's also not uncommon for someone OLD to a field to undervalue themselves... ahem ;) I do it all the time. I'd say 8 of 10 one-off customers end up paying me more than I quoted. But I prefer that scenario over one like I got last week, some rep for a business calls and wants 50 knives engraved, in 2 different places, then emails me an RFQ. My price was probably lower than anyone of you would charge for engraving a knife ONCE let alone twice. The reply I got back was 'well, we were expecting closer to $1 each'... no kidding. I can understand where Cub Scout Den Mothers could use a price break when spending out of pocket for gifts & such, but when another business who's IN business to make money doesn't feel MY business needs to make any...I don't get it...

chad shoemaker
03-23-2019, 12:59 PM
I have a 30w fiber laser with rotary... I am having problems with the Tumblers moving with engraving!! Does anyone know what settings in rotary mark that will help me out?
Thanks in advance