Archive for the ‘Charging for your services’ Category
What are you charging for your services? This is one of those areas that people find difficult to deal with. Asking people for money is hard at the best of times, and if you do not have a specific way of approaching this subject, you may become too embarrassed to ask for the price you would prefer to receive for the alteration.
My approach has always been the same. I let people know what I charge per hour. Over the years, I have been told that I should not mention what I charge per hour. I disagreed then and I disagree now. We are all different, and we all have our own ways of doing things. From day one in my first shop, I decided to work on an hourly rate. At the time this hourly rate was TOO LOW, and it wasn’t until a few years went by that I realised my mistake. The shop was so busy, and there was so much work coming in that I did not realise the mistake until the end of the second financial year and there was not enough money in the account to pay taxes etc.
This is a mistake that many people make in business. Even if you have regular money coming in, you must also have extra put aside for contingencies and other expenses.
If you are doing this as a business working from home, then your hourly rate would probably be less than someone who has a shop. If I was in a shop I would charge AUD$60 per hour but I work from home so I charge AUD$40.00 per hour. Try to be realistic with your rate. Undercharging will only be doing yourself a disservice. One day you will become resentful of a job that takes you an hour and a half to do, and you charge the customer AUD$20.00. If you are slow, then of course you should not charge the customer for your slowness, but if you work at a reasonable pace, then you should be paid for the time it takes to complete the work.
A casual seamstress working in a dressmaking or clothing alteration shop, in Australia, as an employee is earning AUD$20.00 plus superannuation (2011 rates). This is the standard casual hourly rate. These people go to work every day, they do not have to pay the rent on the shop, pay the taxes, electricity, phone, accountant, haberdashery and so on.
Operating a dressmaking or clothing alteration shop and paying wages in Australia, if the shop owner is charging less than AUD$60.00 per hour he/she will go backwards after all costs are taken into account. This means you can pay casual staff to work for you, pay your rent, phone and give yourself a wage. Anything less than this and you are doing one of two things. You are behind in your bills, or you are working very long hours to cope.
No one can tell you how much to charge, but I can (as above) let you know what I charge so that you can work out what will be best for you.
Judith aka genie
If you are doing clothing alterations for a living, and your business is growing, your next step will be to employ someone. There are a number of ways you can do this, but before I go into that you must find out the rules and regulations for employing people in your country. This is an international newsletter generated from Australia, which means I am only aware of the Australian rules.
The best option is to employ a contractor. This means that the person you employ has to have their own business identity. In Australia we call it an Australian Business Number (ABN). This is registered with the government, and means you are liable for all Goods and Services Tax (GST) on your services. For example – You can work from home, but may pick up work from a clothing alteration and dressmaking shop who charges out at AUD$60 per hour. You take the work home and charge the work out at her rate. That means if you complete a job that takes one hour you put on the docket $60.00 plus GST of 10% = $66.00 to the customer. You should then fill out a Contractor form with the customer’s information, including the invoice number and the amount charged. Once all the work is completed I charge her 50% of all work done. Keep in mind that you should be getting 50% of the AUD$60 per hour not $66.00.
If you decide on the other hand to bring someone into your business whether that is at home or in a shop, you will be liable for all the government regulations and rules for employing someone. In Australia we have an Award Wage Rate for Casual, Part time or Permanent. These rates are based on age and level of skill. On top of that is superannuation, holiday pay if applicable and a workers’ compensation levy. The average cost to employ someone is around $25.00 per hour give or take. Some countries have maternity leave plus other rules.
Personally I find that the contracting option works better for everyone. This is the option I take. I love working from home. It gives me the freedom to work the hours I want, and also to do all the other work I do like writing articles, creating illustrations, developing workshops and other concepts to do with clothing alterations.
This is why I get really emotional about what you should be charging for your time. I don’t mind getting $30 per hour when all I have to do is call in “pick up and deliver”. I don’t have to deal with the customer which takes a fair amount of time. When my customers come to me I charge $40 per hour, because I am doing the fitting.
If you are doing dressmaking, and you are being paid peanuts, you need to educate your customers. Think about it this way – How much work goes into one garment that sits in a fashion store? The designers have to develop the pattern, grade the sizes, cut out the fabrics, have it sewn together, market the garments, pay rent in the shops, and employ people in the shops to sell the garment.
There is a lot of time and money that goes into the develop of one garment. Once the garments are developed, they can be mass produced. Cheaper garments are mass produced in countries like China, India, and Fiji etc. They are cheap to buy and sometimes the alteration of shortening the length is more than it cost to buy the garment in the first place.
So when you have someone come and ask you to make something, explain about what you really have to do. Even if they provide you with a pattern, you still have to cut it out, check the measurements, cut it out, have a fitting, and if it is really expensive fabric, you will probably make a toile (calico sample) first to get your measurements right.
Think about your hourly rate and what you are charging. As your business grows look at how you would employ someone to help.
Judith aka genie
Zips are one of the most time consuming alterations, and therefore can be an expensive exercise for a person who has broken their zipper. Let me explain about what I charge to replace a zip and why. Keeping in mind that what I charge is not necessarily what you will charge, because I can not legally tell anyone what to charge. However if I let you know what I do it may help you make a decision.
To replace a jean zip or trouser zip, I charge AUD$25.00. Most clothing alteration shops in my area charge AUD$35.00 to replace a jean zip. If the jeans are a designer brand like Versace then a person is not going to complain about the price I charge. Even if they cost around $60+ it would be worth replacing, because replacing the zip is cheaper than buying a new pair of jeans or trousers, particularly if the jeans are worth $150.00. But here is the kicker!! What if the jeans cost $20.00 to buy? Then to pay $25.00 to replace a zip is going to seem extreme. It’s all relative!!!!
So this is where you need to do some talking to the person you are doing the zip for. Most people have a little understanding of time and how long it takes to do things. I explain that I have to unpick the zip which takes me around 10 – 15 minutes. Then I have to put the new one in. That takes me around 10 – 15 minutes – give or take a minute or two. I work on AUD$44.00 per hour. That means I have to unpick and replace the zip in around 30 minutes – give or take a minute or two.
Once you explain this to the person, they have a better understanding of how you work. A seamstress should be earning around the same rate as your local plumber, carpenter or lawn mower man, because they run their own business and they usually work from home. A seamstress is not someone who should be undercharged because people perceive them as doing a job that has not talent. We are in the services industry, and that means we need to let the world know that we have a value just like the local plumber, carpenter or lawn mower man.
A zip that is broken in a lined jacket is going to take me around 1 hour or so to unpick and replace. I charge from $55.00 to replace a zip in a lined jacket.
The Clothing Alteration Home Business Package is a business package that covers everything from What you need, How much to charge, Marketing, Promotion and more. My passion is to have seamstresses around the world charging a reasonable amount to perform professional clothing alterations. A lot of people are not charging enough and this leads them to be depressed and despondent with their own sewing skills.
We can unit if we first begin to believe in ourselves and to know that what we do has a value which means that the work we do has a value.
You can work for less if you want, but you will become resentful in the end.
That is why I have started up the “Genies work magic on clothes” slogan. It unites us as a group.
Judith aka genie
Clothing Alterations has become big business around the world. Everyone has a need for these services, and it is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do. (Well I think so anyway) So if you are doing clothing alterations as a full time business, part time and/or working from home to earn some extra money, you need to charge accordingly.
When you are doing something for friends or family you don’t mind doing this work for free, but as a paying business it is important that you earn an income based upon the time you spend doing the alterations.
Over the years I have worked out what the average time is for the most common clothing alterations. I have put together a Clothing Alteration Business Home Package which includes my comprehensive price guide which covers Trousers, Dresses, Gowns, Leather, Skirts, Shirts, Tops and more.
When I had my shops, I had the team time themselves over a period of months. We then worked out the average time it took to do the tasks. For example to replace a zipper in a pair of jeans takes around 25 minutes, so we charged $28.00 which also included the zip.
Work out what hourly rate you want to earn, then time yourself on all of the most common alterations. A hem on jeans should take around 15 – 20 minutes. Replacing a zip around 35 minutes, and so on. Work out the time it takes on average and begin developing a Price Guide that works for you. I do have one that is 13 pages based on AUD$40 per hour.
Judith aka genie
Clothing alterations is one of the most honest forms of sewing and earning a living. For one thing you are helping someone with their problem of clothes being too long or too big and second you are being paid for your skills. Sewing is yet another form of creativity, but do make sure you get paid enough for your time. I hear people all the time saying they were asked to shorten a pair of pants and they did it for $5.00. If you are happy to earn $5.00 for all that time then so be it, but I do not believe it is right for a person who lives in the western world to earn such a pittance for such a valuable skill.
Always take into account the costs you have such as rent or mortgage and other costs such as electricity and other hidden charges that people to not take into account. The absolute minimum should be $10 to shorten a hem but in all honesty you should be charging $12 to $15. The fact that they bought the pants for $15 is besides the point. People are earning fifty cents US$.50 PER DAY in some countries to make these pants. You did not live in a country like that. What does your plumber or electrician charge? Your skills are as good as any other skilled service person.
Judith aka genie
I have some wonderful friends who are in this industry, and they (like me) get a lot of satisfaction from doing clothing alterations. I know some people say they would rather make something from scratch rather than alter, but truly once you master the art of alterations, you can really do anything. And you can make a very nice income from clothing alterations. If you think you would like to work in this area, have some basic sewing skills, then have a look at my book on my Home page. Honestly the amount of people who have started businesses with confidence because they had my book is fantastic. Take a look. I do guarantee my book, so you have nothing to loose.
Judith aka genie