Lately we have been running into this situation... A client or designer asks for, say, a dark brown finish on alder. We provide them with our alder samples, and they come back and say, no, no - here, match this sample. And they give us a sample from another cabinet company to match.
Now, we don’t necessarily mind matching to a given sample, but this is starting to become very troublesome and costly. Creating a custom finish for a job takes a bit of work in getting the color right and usually involves a lot of trial and error, not to mention you may need to mix colors and/or toners to get the right color match, which adds time, e.g. cost, to your finish process.
I am interested in knowing how other shops handle these issues. First, do you match to samples given to you by a client, or do you make the client pick one of your standard finishes (more like semi-custom work)? Second, if you do match to a given sample, are you making a dead-on 100% match, or are you making a very close match and telling the client this is our match? We seem to get designers that expect you to provide a 100% match and if it’s not exact, they start asking for more samples. “Can it be a little redder?” “I see a little too much gold in this brown”…
Making a sample may take an hour or two, so are you charging to make samples? If so, how much and how do you tell a client that samples will cost them? Finally, do you charge extra for a project that you have to match to a color provided, as opposed to one of your standard finishes?
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor S:
1) Each project is entitled to one finish board. Additional boards will be created on a time plus material basis with a $100 minimum charge at an hourly rate of $75. A full front sample showing door and drawer front or panel can be provided for a minimum fee of $250.00 each.
2) If customer can not pick a sample from our company's collection and a custom finish needs to be made, a wood sample shall be provided by customer to match as closely as possible. If a wood sample can not be provided, a minimum fee of $350.00 shall be required to create a custom finish.
I had a client ask us to pre-finish one of our staircases. We made a sample. They left it on their dash for days. When we did the stair, it was not even close to the now sun-changed sample. Can we say "heated discussion..."
Customer signs the sample and we keep it. This is figured into basic job cost. I ask this ahead of time in figuring the bid. And again when asked to provide sample, I am able to inform client stain samples will be provided after a deposit is made on the job. So far I have not lost one because of it.
As far as charging, I think you need to establish a clear cut line where you're going to start charging. Sure, you can include a little extra in your pricing to cover a custom match. But if you're making a dozen samples for a designer/client, you have to get paid for that time. I think contributor S's method sounds like a well thought out approach and would work well.
Contributor S, I have a few follow-up questions. When you bid a job, do you figure the price based on one of your standard finishes? If you do a custom finish, does the $350 just cover the time to make the match, or does it cover the match and the finish on the final project? Or do you charge $350 for the match only and then revise the project price based on what is involved in applying the matched finish?
I priced a job for a client once who wanted rosewood wainscoting and shelves in a library. I lost the job to a competitor who told her he could do the job using oak and he could stain it to look like rosewood. I lost my appetite for trying to please customers in regards to stains because it is often a no-win situation. We could all go on for weeks telling stories about stain jobs gone bad. How often does a natural wood job have a sad ending?
We have a lot of customers that use us only for our color matching ability, but they won't use our products, unless the system we develop for them calls for a shade lacquer.
"If you do a custom finish, does the $350 just cover the time to make the match, or does it cover the match and the finish on the final project?"
Just the sample. If there is a custom color match fee by supplier, I pass that along in addition to baseline finish price.
"Or do you charge $350 for the match only and then revise the project price based on what is involved in the applying the matched finish?"
The original post is a copy/paste from the "finish sample" section of our contract. Below is a copy/paste from the "Pricing, payments, changes and extra fees" section, which covers all changes on a project after initial deposit, which includes changes in finish.
7) As long as the original overall concept, size, details and finish of proposal remain unchanged, there will be no extra charges for product. However, any and all changes to original proposal shall be re-priced accordingly. Any changes that reduce the price will be taken off of final payment. Any changes that increase the costs before construction begins will be billed at the same percentage rate as laid out. Any changes made after full deposit is received shall be due in full immediately upon acceptance of changes.
8) As long as our standard operating procedures are followed there will be no extra fees for services provided. However there are many factors that will cause customer/s to incur extra fees. They have been laid out in detail in the following sections. Please read and understand all possible areas of cost increase associated with services that we provide.