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Thread: Pricing on Awards

  1. #1

    Pricing on Awards

    Hi all. I usually do my work in the scrapbooking world while dabbling in other areas. The one area I do not have enough expertise on is the award area. I have done one or two here or there and usually have a formula I use to price the items. I have been now requested to do 79 plaques for my son's girlfriends mom for an event she has. Her last engraver had many plaques misspelled and she was not happy with them and asked me if I could do something for them. I have never done this big of an order and do not know what is the normal discount to give on this.
    She has a budget of $1500 for 57- 6x8 plaques (she picked out value cherry plaques which are only 1.01 each) and a 5x7 plaque plate but the cheapest plaque plate is $4.45 from JDS. There is also 18- 8x10 picture plaques that I would possibly using the same plaque plate and 4 -9x12 picture plaques and possibly use the same 5x7 plate. The average amount of characters on the plates is 154 characters (they run from 325 to 92 characters 12120 characters total to do all plaques).
    The total amount to purchase these items are $615.80. My question is I am not sure what to actually charge for this. Remember her budget is $1500. What would you actually be charging for these items?
    One other item is she needs 11 6inch 1 column trophies and 1-3 column trophy. These items would be coming out of the $1500 budget as well. (I have never done these and am going to look up what I need for them and how to put them together)
    I do not want to undercharge myself (which I think I may be doing if I agree to the $1500 budget) but I also do not want to set a precedent that I can not get out of if she asks me to do them again next year. But at the same time I do not want to over charge so she thinks I am insane lol
    So please give me all advice about what may be a formula to sell these plaques to her.
    Do you sell the materials at cost and only charge for the engraving? If that is the case what do you charge per letter? Right now I have $0.20 over 100 characters and $0,15 for over 100 characteres (which in this case at $0.15 would cost $1818.00 which is over her budget not including the cost of materials)
    Do you up charge the materials and low ball the cost of engraving?
    Do you sell material at cost and low ball the cost of engraving (dropping down the cost to $0.05 cents a character)?
    Do you add up a small upcharge to the materials and a low ball pricing for engraving? (This will put me over the $1500 budget for sure)
    Again I want to keep up with the industry standards but at the same time not setting a precedent that I can not get out of for the future.
    Thanks bunches
    Debbie Gillett

  2. #2
    What it comes down to is that the project is simply not based around HER budget, more of it cost what it costs to make + labor. If you don't it won't even be worth doing and you could lose money.

    You should have set price for engraving based on time for a Baseline calculation. Never only charge the amount of item+ engraving, upcharge at least 25% of the time. Don't charge by characters, how do you charge for a logo then? Most engraving is $1 per square inch. also factor in post processing and operator time, those are where most people cut themselves short.

    What laser engraver are you using? How long does it take to engrave and can you do multiples at once? Do you know how much time it would actually take to complete a single plaque?
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  3. #3
    Hi Nick,
    Remember I mentioned I only have dabbled in plaques as it is not my main business. I am using a 40 watt ULS 12x24 bed. I can do more than on plate if I make a jig to hold more than one. I did a dry run on what it would take to engrave one plate that had the mean number which was 154 characters and it took 9 minutes so I bumped that to 10 minutes to cover loading and unloading the laser. As for cost per character, a few people in the business told me that was what they used when I first started dabbling. (I am lucky if I do 3 plaques a year). I have not had to do any logos as it has not come up in my tiny plaque history. I will also weight out the time it takes to engrave something and charge by the amount of time it takes to engrave an item. So in my case since I do not do many of these I would ask someone to send my the logo (Most people know me that would ask for something like this done and would send with no issues) to send me their logo and I would do a dry run to come up with a time frame it takes to engrave something like that.
    I am not confused or wishy washy on pricing for onesies or twosies my issue is a large order and what is basically considered the discount for a large order. Or is there room for a discount for large orders.
    Again I want to be fair and charge what the average place would charge for such an order. If I need to be at $1800-$3000 I need to be aware so that I can tell this person that she needs to up her budget. But I do not want her going to someone else if I should be only charging $1500. I think $1500 is too low but again I am not sure what is a fair price for that many plaques with all the information I have provided. As you stated in your first sentence I do not want to do this project and lose money. I also do not want to be greedy. I want to be fair and still make money. I am coming here because I do not know what is FAIR.
    Does this make sense?
    Debbie Gillett

  4. #4
    If I did the math somewhat correctly, you'll spend ~$615 on materials, you mentioned 79, I counted 80, plaques. $1500 budget less $615 materials = $885 for your labor, @ 80- plaques thats $11 per plaque. If you can average finishing a plaque every 11 minutes that's $60 per 'pure' labor hour. More would certainly be better but that's not unacceptable for an $885-profit job, and any time shaved off is gravy. The 11 minutes includes setup and machine time, so to make good you'll need to work on next plaques while the machine is running plaques to optimize your actual time.

    I have jobs I barely make $40 per hour doing, but those jobs are press the start button and come back in an hour or so to reload. Since that leaves me time to run other jobs and I have enough machines to run them, that $40 per machine hour is a cherry on top -- but if I'm waiting on that machine to finish before starting another job, $40 per hour won't cut it...

    It's up to you obviously- but if you're looking for more business and you spell most everything right ( ) - the word of mouth can make up for any 'losses'...

    And BTW, $1500 WOULD BE the discounted price for this job...
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Rock Hill, SC
    What were your power, speed and ID settings for those test pieces? 9 mins seems high.
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  6. #6
    Also (I've done this too) if you're wondering about a price, find a local graphics or trophy shop and ask them how much they charge for your order. It never hurts to know what price average competition is.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    NW Arkansas
    Blog Entries
    Trophies would have to be REAL cheap....... 11*$10 is $110 out of that total, $20 each is $220, so the plaque engraving revenue drops by a lot....
    Why not engrave directly on the plaque and use rub -n-buff to fill? Reduces the cost to the $1 per plaque plus adds some time to your work to clean them. (but it ain't hard)
    If just text, then it's easy.
    I did three 7x9 value cherry plaques last week.
    I usually try and take supplier's cost and x3 if laser time was isn't high.
    But these are so cheap, I couldn't do that. So $15 each was his cost.

    (only 3 not 79 so in your case, I would be fine with $10 each just plaque,
    but I would try and get say $12 if it takes you 8 minutes to engrave.)
    This one took me less than 3 minutes per plaque.
    BTW, you need to add cost of a roll of tape to adhere plate to plaque....20190913_093743.jpg
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  8. #8
    I would not accept the order at that price....

    There is simply not enough margin to pay for your time and the machine time and the inevitable glitches.

    Most of us who are in the plaque business include a plastic bag, felt pads for the back, possibly boxes for the larger plaques. Don't forget you'll need tape to secure the plates to the plaques.

    Do not accept the order unless all copy is provided in a Word or other document that allows you to copy and paste. That takes the spelling onus off of you.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Phoenix AZ
    Not sure if this will help in your situation but it has a good formula for calculating the cost of your time.
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  10. #10
    My guess is that she did not supply the names in an appropriate format. The engraver most likely re-engraved the ones with errors and wanted to be paid.
    When you have to work on a shoe string budget the customer has to be willing to email the text and names and a logo in a usable format.
    Also with this customer I would demand that she checks all the proofs and signs off on them.
    The last engraver does this for a living, he does not want to make mistakes and waste time and materials and also lose a customer.
    I'd think long and hard before I took her order, though it might be a good learning experience to know what to avoid. Whats a couple hundred bucks between friends.
    Equipment: IS400, IS6000, VLS 6.60, LS100, HP4550, Ricoh GX e3300n, Hotronix STX20
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