The key to success in the contracting industry, as well as other trades, is knowing how to price your services accurately and effectively so your every job is profitable. But pricing is more than just slapping a number to a service – it’s a skill, and like any other skill, it takes time to develop.
There are many factors to consider when setting prices, including material costs, labor costs, equipment maintenance, overhead, etc. Then, there are current market conditions and the rates charged by your competitors to take into account.
To help you price each project effectively, we’ve put together this brief primer on the essentials of pricing for general contractors and other trades. The tips in this guide are simple but practical and should help you build a successful business and remain competitively positioned.
Table of Contents
How to Price Your Services Correctly
To price your services accurately and profitably, you need to consider all the variables related to your job: all your costs, current market state and changes, competition’s rates, and how much profit you need to make to remain afloat.
Importantly, you should also think about the value you bring to the table: how much is your time and expertise really worth it, both to you and your clients?
Here are some of the most important factors and variables to consider when setting prices for your services and projects.
Labor, Material, and Overhead Costs
Before you can set a fair price for your services, you need to be aware of all your costs. This includes both direct costs, like materials and labor, and indirect costs, such as insurance, permits, and equipment maintenance. Overhead costs are another consideration: rent, utilities, and office supplies all add up and can affect the price of your service.
Always keep meticulous records so you can track every expense. This is not only for your own benefit – sometimes, clients may ask to see your expenses as well.
As an example, let’s figure out how to price a drywall job. First, you need to estimate the cost of materials, like drywall sheets, joint compound, and screws. Next, you should consider the labor costs: how long it takes to hang and finish the drywall. Additional expenses like taping, sanding, and painting should also be included in your pricing. Finally, you should factor in any specialty work like ceiling or curved walls.
Market State and Trends
Understanding the general as well as your local market state is essential. What we mean by this is: are the rates for general contractors and other trades going up or down at the moment? How much are your competitors charging for similar services? Are the prices for materials going up, down, or are they stagnant?
To set an accurate and profitable price, take some time to study your target audience, research your competitors, and gauge the demand for your services.
Your prices should not only cover your costs but also leave room for profit. After all, you’re running a business to make money, so determine the profit margin you want to achieve and build it into your pricing structure.
Of course, this margin will vary depending on your business goals and the industry you’re in, so again, do your market research.
Value and Time
It is crucial to consider the time and labor required for the completion of time-sensitive projects. No matter your profession, your time is valuable, and it should always be reflected in your rates.
The value of your expertise should also play a part in the pricing of your services. When presenting your pricing to clients, be sure to communicate the value you bring to the table. Explain how your expertise, quality of work, and attention to detail set you apart from the competition.
It’s important to remember that the construction industry and market trends are continually changing and evolving, so stay updated on new materials, techniques, and regulations in order to remain competitively priced. As a bonus, this knowledge can also help keep you ahead of the curve in your trade.