Pricing structure for cuckoo repair

POWERSTROKE

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Jan 11, 2011
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Does anyone have a pricing structure for cuckoo repair? I’m starting to get a lot of interest where I am and want to know what is fair without pricing myself out of business.
I also repair many clocks that I pick up and restore them. I have them in an area in my house where I can display and sell them to people or sell them online. What is a fair price to sell rebuilt clocks in good condition. You can pm me if you’d like.
 

POWERSTROKE

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I also want to ask about Insurance and training. I’ve done a bunch of cuckoo clocks at this point and have sold quite a few of them. What do I need to do liability wise as I run my shop in my basement.
I get questions about qualifications and who mentored me, and the answer is I did not train under anyone to myself. How do you handle this?
 

shutterbug

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You need to figure out what your time is worth first. Figure out what a good hourly rate would be, and calculate how long a typical movement would take you to remove from the case, restore, test and put back in the case and adjust. Use that as your base rate. Then add X amount for each bushing you put in and any extra work or parts you may supply. That will get you in the ball park. As for qualifications, whats wrong with just telling them that you took online training courses? That's pretty much what you did as you learned here ;)
I have a base rate for single, double and triple train clocks. I can usually give people a ball park figure of what they will expect for a final bill based on averages, but explain that until I get into the clock I won't know for sure. And if they think the price is high, I remind them that fixing their car would cost more and would not last as long nor bring as much pleasure.
 
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John P

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Power, I dont know if this will help to answer your first question but here is my thinking on cuckoo repair.
If i restore a one day regula, and i mean new movement, chains and bellow tops. Some minor clean up and wax , it cost a customer $275.
If it only needs clean, oil and rebush $150.. It all depends on what has to be done. What i need here is $60.00 per hour shop time. That is fair and if they think not, then so long and thanks for stopping by.

People are not going to pay a lot of money to get an old cuckoo back up and running. However if it was in the family or means something to them they usually give me the ok to repair.

I buy old used worn out cuckoos at auctions and regionals by the box load and in my spare time will rebuild and sell them using the same pricing guide. I make a few bucks and give new life to and old clock. To me ,It aint always about the money. It is my joy to see a kid smile and giggle while watching the bird. I dont do this work to make a living but want to get paid for my time and equipment.

Just do what you feel is right and what you can afford to do. Your work will speak for you and you will sleep better.


my 2 cents
johnp
 

R. Croswell

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I have a base rate to service an American time and strike movement with a pendulum that includes disassembly cleaning polishing pivots (not turning down or replacing pivots) reassembly, oil, adjust, and test run. I tend to work slowly and take frequent brakes so I figure the base rate = (my hourly rate) x (4 hours). Some here have said they can tear down a clock like this and clean it and put it back in four hours but it usually takes me longer. Then I have a flat charge per bushing installation and other common repairs such as replacing a click rivet , or replacing a pivot etc. - again based on typical time x hr. rate. Unusual repairs are added at my hourly rate.

Then I have a table listing each type of clock I service and a percent over (or under) by base rate. For a cuckoo clock with one bird basic service is 35% over the standard base rate. My billing system is setup in Microsoft Excel so for common charges I just check off the type of clock and the common service items. So when I find it necessary to change my rates I just plug in my adjusted hourly rate and all the various charges for the various types of clocks adjust according to the the percent above or below the base rate that I have decided.

Keep in mind that I am mostly retired and don't have to make a living at this and I don't have a lot of overhead. As for insurance, I suggest that one contact the agent that provides your homeowner's or business insurance and discuss the amount of risk you want to take.

RC
 

MuensterMann

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What does one do if after all the work is performed, the clock just won't work properly? Most clocks fix up just fine, but some are just devils. It is hard to give a customer a non-working clock back and charging for it.
 

Thomas Sanguigni

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For years working on many clocks, I can tell you I have only had one that was truly a devil. I gave the customer adequate warning about the billing. I spent a huge amount of time trying to correct a boatload of problems. Never work on a German ISGUS 2x3 movement. It was an engineering failure. A German time bomb, if you will. I will politely refuse any ISGUS clocks in the future.

I like RC's 35% addition to the regular rate for Cuckoo clock repair. Set up is tough and using a good cuckoo stand is a must. I find most of them have been tinkered with. For a novelty movement, I am surprised how long they do last.
 

R. Croswell

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What does one do if after all the work is performed, the clock just won't work properly? Most clocks fix up just fine, but some are just devils. It is hard to give a customer a non-working clock back and charging for it.
When a clock comes in I make a decision whether it is something I will accept for repair or not. My policy is that if I accept a clock for repair when I return it it runs or there is no charge. Once in a while I get burned. I had one a couple years ago that came back twice for an elusive intermittent problem. I found the problem and it required a bit more work to fix but there was no additional charge to the customer. He is happy that the clock is working.

RC
 
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Altashot

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If I can’t fix it, no matter how much I tried, no matter how much time I spent on it, there is no charge.
What have I gained from all of this?
Experience, that’s what I’ve gained, and that’s priceless.

It’s only happened once.
Now, if I see one that is just too damn wrecked, I simply decline the repair, especially if they tell me that they had it at so and so who kept it for a year and still couldn’t fix it. Those are the worst.

As for cuckoos, I always tell the clients that, for the most part, cuckoos are novelty items that have a service life of 25-30 years. Most overhauls will cost far more than they are worth and I don’t offer warranty on music boxes.

I don’t refuse them (although I am getting pretty close to do so) but I try not to take them in. I quote high.

I prefer working on “real” serious clocks, not novelty abominations.

M.

I forgot to mention as the point of the matter here, that I have a base service price for 2 weights and a different higher one for 3 weights, to which I add for repairs that are beyond a simple clean, lube, test.
 
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Willie X

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Lots of very good info in these post. The kind of stuff it takes many years to figure out and some of it you won't really absorb until you have the opportunity, or misfortune, to learn it first hand.

One thing that I never never ever do is to mention any dollar amount over the phone. The only dollar amount I will mention is that the work to give you a good estimate will be 15 bucks.

I'll tell you why. When a customer hears a dollar amount over the phone, they lock in on that amount and that's it. So, you paint yourself into a corner by making that wild guess. If you toss out a high amount (that covers most things) that customer will probably go elsewhere and for all you know the clock may only need the chains put back on, or the hands repaired. You lose! OK, now you want to never lose another customer by doing that again so you give a low ball price. And the customer now thinks you are a cheat, or doing the ole bait and switch thing. Even though your final estimate is fair to both parties, it's more than you mentioned over the phone. You lose again.

So, just avoid all that, take in the clock, pull the movement and make a list of what the clock needs and what money you will need to make your expected profit on that job. Everything is "up front" and that customer has been treated fairly. You will almost surely see that customer again, if they have you the job or not.

Willie X
 

shutterbug

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I also agree with those who said "if you didn't fix it, there's no charge". I've only hit that wall twice in my years repairing clocks.
 
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Willie X

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For me it's 2 or 3 times a year.

Sometimes the clock has never run and on others I'm the last of a long line of repairers. I like to take on a challenge though and it's really good advertising IF you are successful. On the other hand, it's a good way to waste a lot of your precious time! Sort of a toss up between being a hero and wasting time ...

If you smell a big rat though, It's probably best to just politely turn the job down at the start.

I feel no shame,. Willie X
 
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