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Gimme Back My Minutes

Gimme Back My Minutes

by Rick Turner

previously published in American Lutherie #26, 1991 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie, Volume Three, 2004

I’d like to share a couple of things with those in the repair business: how I handle the financial end of repair work, and what I’m trying to do to gain back some of the eight to ten hours a week I currently lose talking to customers.

I do repair work for Westwood Music in Los Angeles, working as an independent contractor. I set my own hours, use my own tools, pay for my own worker’s compensation insurance, and establish the prices for the repair work. There is one other part-time repairman, David Neely, and he works the same way I do. Prices for repair work are set for each job either by direct quote from our price list or an estimate of time at $50 per hour. On big jobs or for building custom Strats from generic parts I drop the hourly to $45; I figure there’s less time wasted talking on bigger jobs. Our store sales people sometimes take in the work (the more of that the better), and they might make a ballpark estimate. We in the shop usually call the customer to give a closer price and/or suggest additional needed work.

When the job is complete, I fill out a four-part sequentially-numbered store invoice which includes labor, retail-parts cost (at the net-to-musician price — we figure any applicable discounts), sales tax, and the invoice total. I keep a copy which I use to bill the store, and the second copy goes on a clipboard in sequential order. The instrument, along with the two remaining copies, is put in the front of the store in the “to be picked up” pile. When the customer picks up the instrument, he or she gets a copy, and the remaining copy is filed with the store’s daily receipts.

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