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Job costs in the store


Should you try and track the cost of EACH job in the store?

Over the years myself and others have concocted ways to track costs
to see if we are making money on repairs and custom design. For the
most part it’s a waste of time.

How can rings. Why not repairs and such? The answer is pretty
simple-you have no clue what your labor cost is and neither does the

“Yeah but I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I know how long it

Sorry Charlie, no you don’t. There are three numbers to costing
labor. Lets see if you know what they are:

  • The amount of time you “thought” it took to do that job. It
    typically takes 25 to 50% longer than what you figure.

  • The down time where you didn’t do any work. Talking to the staff,
    answering phones, rolling emery paper, changing light bulbs.

  • Freebies. Whether you size a ring from the case (no charge), had a
    redo come back and just plain old doing nice things for nice

I’ve done time studies on the jewelers and what I found was that we
paid a jeweler for an 8 hour day but they only did 5.5 hours work of
bench work.

That means if your jeweler said it took him/her 1 hour to do the job
it really took 1 and a third hours (1 hour and 20 minutes). So if the
job supposedly took 1 hour and he’s paid $20 an hour you think your
cost is $20.

The $20 should be marked up just like merchandise. If you’d sell a
$20 cost chain for $60 then the jeweler should sell for $60.

(Actually he should sell for $70 because of

Triple key on $20. Pretty good, eh? WRONG!

  1. It didn’t take 1 hour it took 1 hour and 20 minutes.

So your cost has now gone from $20 to $26.

  1. You also forgot about your matching Fica/Medicare; vacation; sick
    pay; unemployment. You need to add 25% more to that $26 number to
    handle those costs.

The $26 cost now costs you $32.50. All from a guy making $20 an hour.

So if you’d triple key $20 to $60 would you also triple key $32.50?
If yes then the jewelers work shouldn’t sell for $60 but $97.50!

That’s means your pricing was 38% off the mark. OMG!

Want a simple way to see how your shop is doing without keeping
track of all of these numbers?

Track everything by totals by month not by job. Then compare total
shop costs to total shop sales. If shop sales are at least double
shop costs (keystone) then you’re doing a good job. Go for more?
Great! but doing this by totals takes into account all of the
freebies and redo’s.

So on your P&L, spreadsheet or legal pad the numbers might look like

Repairs $5600.00
Custom Design $4200.00

Total Shop Sales: $9800.00


Jewelers pay $3200.00
Jewelers taxes $800.00
Findings & Supplies bought $900.00

Total Shop Costs: $4900.00

Gross profit $4900.00 50%

See how much easier it is to see how the shop is doing without
counting pennies? This also means you probably shouldn’t ask a
jeweler how much to charge. Just ask “how long will it take? Say
"thanks” and add 25% to whatever they say and multiply the time by
$100-$125 an hour for your time.

Most findings will be triple key added to the labor.

if you’re not getting at least keystone its time to raise your shop

That’s the only way to fix your problem unless you can lower the
jewelers paycheck. Good luck with that!

Now you’ll be making money and not to worry.

You’ll keep your closing ratio because “Repairs are not price
sensitive, they are trust sensitive.”

David Geller


When I was at my last class, I asked all of the students ‘right to
the point’, one simple question. “How much do you charge per hour for
labour fees?” I had one person say $12.50 and a few at $50.00, only 2
said $75.00 or $100.00.

I told them outright, anyone under the $50.00 bracket, you might
consider in 'Declaring Bankruptcy"! I used David Gellers note on
labour costs (Oct.6th) of $100-$125.00! “Good morning everyone, get
out your Abacus and start restructuring your labour & shop fees!”.

Why should you charge so little these days? It’s a crime when your
tools increase, health costs, & your Internet gadgets, taxes,
telephone fees, office/shop fees are climbing through the roof. To
say that you don’t think you should, maybe you should change careers,
plain & simple.

If a plumber comes to my door & hits me with $150.00 just for
ringing the door. My dentist says "Hi, (here is my bill for saying
Hi) another $195.00! Some of the latest students answers were almost
laughable, truthfully very sad! Lets now discuss setting fees. You are
going to set a Princess stone worth well over $12,000 and you are
thinking of charging only $30.00-40.00? If you have to spend over 30
minutes or even more, charge the customer over the $100.00 bracket,
not a penny less!!! How about “Bright-Cutting”, I’d charge them at
least $10.00 per stone. Do you know the cost of learning this skill?
The Onglette gravers, the skill involved in perfecting a smooth
cutting surface? If you even think of charging less, you are
definately loosing money. These are just a few of my thoughts &
observations while visiting your country.

Gerry Lewy