Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cage Building & Prices

I've had some comments lately about the prices on items being "too high" as someone told me, "I can get an entire 6' board of wood for $7, why is your 24" shelf $8??"  Because that's the price I set.  And because the cost of a shelf includes all the hardware to attach the shelf to the cage, which isn't free.  Not to mention, I have to cut the shelves, sand the shelves, put in the hardware (which all is special ordered, so that it is cheaper for the customer because I'm buying in larger quantities).  Don't like the price?  You're free to make your own shelves.

Anyway, just wanted to do a case in point about yesterday.  One of my current adoptive homes got their chin and original cage from here.  They were here the other day saying maybe they wanted to get a bigger cage.  So I showed them what I had, and they picked out this one roughly FN-sized cage, and I said, ok, I'd build them shelves and it would be roughly $175 for the cage with shelves.  In talking, we got into a discussion about how shelving a cage by myself can take some time, because really, it helps if someone is holding the shelf while someone else is tightening it onto the cage.  So, they offered to come over and help build the cage.

We set that for Monday (yesterday), and the two people were over at 6:15 pm.  Started out with figuring where some shelves would go, then cutting and sanding the shelves, cutting out circular holes in the shelves, and so on and so forth.  At maybe 7:30 the one person had to leave, so we continued after that with just the two of us.  Got all the shelves put in, did two little bridges, and made poo-guards (which I will never have up on the website due to the hassle... but on special request I can make them).  We were done with everything... at 10:30 pm.

The total for the cage and shelves and everything wooden came to $212.50.  I suppose that's not too bad, and some are like "that's not bad for 4 hours of work" -- but here's the thing -- that was with 2-3 people working on it (so if it had just been me, it could have been 6+ hours), that's not factoring in the cost I paid for the cage, what the wood cost, what the bolts cost, and so on and so forth.  Not to mention, again, the time.  This is one order, and it took four+ hours.  This person will be coming back over to load this cage in my suv and we will be taking it over to their place and getting it set up.  So they don't have to take it all apart.

I have no problem doing this stuff for people... but I think people don't realize the time it takes.  It's not 5 minutes to cut shelves and put a cage together.  So when people email and want me to get them a quote for shelving and want me to mock up and design a cage for them... it's not a 10 minute thing.  And it does get aggravating when I get to it, a few days later, and then come to find out, oh, they got shelves elsewhere cause they thought that by 4 days after their email was sent, they would already have the shelves.  Mind you, not that I would have mailed the already, but they would have already had them.  Uh, no.

A change not everyone may know about is that 5 weeks ago, I started a full-time job.  This job is a 42.5 hour/week job, plus most weeks, requires me to go to one or two events after work that last another 2-4 hours.  Because of this, I have even less time to work on orders and on custom stuff.  I still plan to do it, but people need to be a little less uptight (not saying that's anyone here, just saying) about how quickly this stuff gets done.  If all I did was sit home and work on this stuff, by all means, I should be emailing people back with quotes the same day or the next day.  But on days like yesterday, where I start work at 8:30, get home at 5:30, get 45 minute break to eat dinner/respond to emails, have someone come at 6:15, them here til 10:30, watch one hour of tv (we gotta watch Under the Dome, we're hooked), and then go to bed.  No time to deal with any other pending orders.  Today I should have more time, but who knows who may end up calling or emailing in the meantime.

As for people whining about price changes.  The price changes are going to be on the hidey houses.  They are all going up $5.  The smallest one takes an hour to make (the larger ones even longer).  Once the cost of wood, glue, and such is factored in, I'm not even making minimum wage for my time.  Which, to some, probably seems whiny, because I am making something.  But now that I have less hours to do this, I need to be getting more out of each hour.  And since the money isn't going to me (I don't get paid, this is all volunteer based, including me), if I have less time to do it, I need to generate more money for the less hours that I have.  So a $5 increase per hidey house is warranted.  They're still going to be cheaper than the average hidey house you find out there on a chin site, and are still going to be a considerably better value than the pet store ones that are made out of like 3-5mm wood (ours is 1" wood).  I can't say when the price change is going into effect, it will go in when I have time to change all those prices.  Which is going to be soon, so everyone doesn't scramble to buy houses now that I've said this and avoid the $5 increase.

Well, I think that's it for now.  I didn't get a chance to take a pic of the cage yet, but will post it later so you can all see what took so long.

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