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#2158192 - 09/26/13 06:36 PM How far will you travel to tune?  
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 970
dynamobt Offline
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dynamobt  Offline
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NH
I'm asking for what you would consider to be the outside edge of your range?

What would infuence you to change your mind and increase the range? Type and size of piano? Willingness of the client to get on a regular twice a year tuning program? No, you have a range and that's it?

Do you generally add a gas and driving charge to your usual rates? At what distance do these fees kick in?


1918 Mason & Hamlin BB
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#2158266 - 09/26/13 08:56 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
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OperaTenor Offline
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OperaTenor  Offline
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Sandy Eggo, California
I add on at greater than 50 miles. My two farthest customers are ~100 miles away. One of them is quite unique:

[Linked Image]



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
#2158274 - 09/26/13 09:14 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 356
Roy Rodgers Offline
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Roy Rodgers  Offline
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Ranger, Texas
I drive 160 miles one way twice a year to a small town to tune 8 pianos in a day. Makes for a long day, but it's not too bad. Have been going to this one town for about 6 years now twice a year. Most of the rest of my work is within a 60 mile range. I do have to figure in the cost for driving up and back, but spread out over 8 customers makes their part of the cost a little less than it would be if I had to go for only one job.

If I have to schedule other work and have to go back for the one that needs extra work then I have to figure in the cost of the drive as well as the work.


Tuning and repairing pianos since 1981 in Ranger, Tx. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Roys-Piano-Service/173273022711505
#2158276 - 09/26/13 09:22 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
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RonTuner Offline
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RonTuner  Offline
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Chicagoland
I usually try to limit the ride to about 30 minutes - distance can vary due to expressways... Following "friends of friends" has extended that up to about 45 mins one way.

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#2158439 - 09/27/13 06:54 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
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Loren D Offline
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Loren D  Offline
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PA
I've traditionally worked around a seventy-five mile radius. I never charged for mileage; rather, I would just get a bunch in whatever area I was going to. Back in the "glory days" I'd schedule 7+!


DiGiorgi Piano Service
http://www.digiorgipiano.com
#2158707 - 09/27/13 05:22 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
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Gerry Johnston Offline
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Gerry Johnston  Offline
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Haverhill, MA
I live in Northeastern MA and the area is fairly densely populated. Most of my work is withing 10-15 miles of home. 20-25 miles is about the furthest I will travel. Since my service area is relatively compact I have not found it necessary to add on a travel charge. Although, I can certainly understand why technicians servicing rural areas would need to do so.


Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
www.gjpianotuner.com
#2158842 - 09/27/13 11:52 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Jun 2001
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Bob Offline
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Bob  Offline
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Posts: 4,584
Florida
I will go wherever, if it pays to do so. Every tuning charge includes a certain amount of travel time or travel miles before I start charging for travel. Travel adds up quickly because it's not only the cost of running my car. There is also a labor cost of sitting behind the wheel when I could be tuning a piano instead.

Based on that, driving 1 1/2 hours each way to tune a piano is at least double the regular rate or more. Most prospective clients won't pay that much, so my service area becomes self limiting.

Tuning multiple pianos in a distant place helps spread the travel charge between clients. I still incur the travel cost, so I still charge for it. This is a business, and I have to cover my costs.

Each business will be different. I would encourage you to determine your costs to drive and tune a piano, then apply that cost to you pricing policies.

#2159021 - 09/28/13 10:57 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014
bkw58  Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
Conway, AR USA
Re: Travel

When just getting started, whatever it took and wherever it took me.

Once established:

Service orders (tuning/warranty) from dealer/manufacturer, distance was unlimited and billed per agreement.

My own business: In addition to the normal tuning/service fee, beyond the county - basically a 20 mile radius - travel time billed the same as service, by the hour (but reckoned in quarter-hour increments). Plus a set per mile rate based upon projected* fuel expense, maintenance, repair allowance, insurance, taxes, and replacement cost.

Hotel, meals, are extra of course.

*Annual pro-rata basis.


Last edited by bkw58; 09/28/13 11:03 AM. Reason: *Addition

Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#2159050 - 09/28/13 12:22 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 163
Dennis Kelvie Offline
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Dennis Kelvie  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 163
Caldwell, Idaho
I travel about 900 miles in a 'loop' to several little towns about 14 times per year. My individual rate goes up $10 per instrument min, and I never go for fewer than 18 pianos. I have been doing this for 34 years now. . .

I usually make the trip over three days, and usually make a reasonable profit, according to my bankbook and spreadsheet.



Dennis C. Kelvie
Piano Tuner/Technician since 1976
#2160633 - 10/01/13 10:29 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 375
Gary Fowler Offline
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Gary Fowler  Offline
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Honestly, I'll travel half way across the globe, as long as the customer wants to pay


Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...
#2160701 - 10/02/13 01:44 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Sep 2006
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Supply Offline
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Supply  Offline
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Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Come on Gary, how far have you actually traveled for tuning?

Next week I am traveling to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (Canada) for tuning. That is about 2,500 km.

#2160994 - 10/02/13 10:22 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Apr 2007
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rysowers Offline
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rysowers  Offline
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Olympia, WA
I was talking to a nationally respected technician some time ago who travels around the country working on mostly high-end grand pianos. His rate is basically $1000 per day plus expenses. That sounded pretty reasonable to me.

I don't get why some technicians refuse to travel outside of a particular service area. My philosophy is to just charge enough to make it worth it. So ask yourself, how much would someone have to pay me to travel to location X so that I don't feel resentful?

I used to charge $1 per mile. But then we modified our system and now we have a graduated system where the further a client is the larger the per mile fee is. Now I charge around $100 to travel to Seattle (about 60 miles away). I don't do it a lot, but recently I had a client pay me the $100 plus they wanted me on a weekend so I charged another $100. That made it a $375 appointment. To him it was worth it to have someone he trusted, and the money wasn't the big issue. I love that kind of client!


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
#2160999 - 10/02/13 10:40 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 526
Jbyron Offline
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Jbyron  Offline
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USA
The reason I don't like to do it is because on a first service visit there is almost always a reason to return to the piano to do more work. Cleaning, repairs, parts replacement, regulation. There could be broken strings needing replacement, which can sometimes even require THREE visits to the piano. In such cases the customer would be better served by a technician closer to them, that is if they can find someone who does not just tune and run. Which unfortunately, way too many tuners do IMHO.


Tuner-Technician


#2161023 - 10/03/13 12:16 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: Supply]  
Joined: Jan 2009
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beethoven986 Offline
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beethoven986  Offline
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Originally Posted by Supply

Next week I am traveling to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (Canada) for tuning. That is about 2,500 km.


Don't forget your parka! wink

#2161412 - 10/03/13 08:58 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 375
Gary Fowler Offline
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Gary Fowler  Offline
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Posts: 375
Jbyron, you sorta hit the nail on the head on why it's not smart to make these "exceptions" and travel huge distances just for a tuning. Lets say you just got home from doing one of these 2 hour away spots. You sit down in front of the t.v and crack open a beer. The phone rings, and it's that 2 hour away customer,saying what a terrific job you did on the tuning, HOWEVER middle C has a "slight ring", or that the sustain pedal has a squeak.


Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...
#2161534 - 10/04/13 02:03 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014
bkw58  Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
Conway, AR USA
In long distance call-backs for post-service problems, a valid concern is raised. Making a complimentary 600 mile round trip to repair a pedal that decided to start squeaking would not be much fun. I cannot speak for techs who are continuously on the road. For those of us who operate from a home base - most of our customers being close by - it would constitute a major loss in both time and revenue to do this.

In the context of my own business (and not the dealers), the only very long distance work I agreed to do was annual maintenance on a concert grand(s) at institutions that already used the services of a local tech for regular tunings and service of other pianos - typically a College: practice room pianos etc. That way if subsequent unexpected issues were to arise, such as a squeak, or a wobbly unison, it was understood that the local tech would be asked to handle it. Though to my knowledge this never came up, I assumed that I'd pay for it if the problem surfaced within a week or two. Presumably, such would be a small thing, easily absorbed if the annual job was estimated correctly to begin with. I always requested that the dept chair or artist in residence be on hand to approve my work before returning home.

With these safeguards in place, things went fairly smooth.



Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#2161709 - 10/04/13 11:33 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: Jbyron]  
Joined: Sep 2006
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Supply Offline
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Supply  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,919
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted by Jbyron
.. on a first service visit there is almost always a reason to return to the piano to do more work. Cleaning, repairs, parts replacement, regulation. There could be broken strings needing replacement, which can sometimes even require THREE visits to the piano. ...

The farther you travel, the more you have to be equipped (with tools, supplies, parts, brains, experience and time) to handle a wide variety of eventualities. And yes, there will always be certain things that are not really feasible. You cannot refurbish an action or replace a set of keytops in a service call. Most intelligent clients will understand.

#2161791 - 10/04/13 04:04 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Apr 2007
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rysowers Offline
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rysowers  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,166
Olympia, WA
The point about call backs is well taken. It is prudent in further away jobs, to be extra diligent in test driving the instrument before leaving, and also to insist that the owner try every note and play the piano for 5-10 minutes. If necessary go out to your car for a few minutes and check messages, (or Pianoworld forums! smile ) check email, or make a call. That way the client can feel comfortable trying the piano before you leave. You don't want to just rush away to the next job in this type of situation.

Communication and having a clear policy is very important. Explain to the client that it is possible for something to go wrong with the piano within a short time after you leave. Just like it is also possible for your water pump on your car to go out right after you had your timing belt changed. That doesn't mean its the mechanic's responsibility.

I tell my clients that every piano is a work in progress and that even $100,000 pianos aren't perfect. That's part of what makes each piano unique and interesting. Not every piano is going to have all issues satisfied at one appointment. By explaining this you help sidetrack unrealistic expectations.

If for some reason things didn't work out well after you left a long-distance appointment, at least your local reputation is not damaged. So there is not as much risk as you might first think.




Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
#2161804 - 10/04/13 04:38 PM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: rysowers]  
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 526
Jbyron Offline
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Jbyron  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 526
USA
Originally Posted by rysowers
The point about call backs is well taken. It is prudent in further away jobs, to be extra diligent in test driving the instrument before leaving, and also to insist that the owner try every note and play the piano for 5-10 minutes. If necessary go out to your car for a few minutes and check messages, (or Pianoworld forums! smile ) check email, or make a call. That way the client can feel comfortable trying the piano before you leave. You don't want to just rush away to the next job in this type of situation.

Communication and having a clear policy is very important. Explain to the client that it is possible for something to go wrong with the piano within a short time after you leave. Just like it is also possible for your water pump on your car to go out right after you had your timing belt changed. That doesn't mean its the
mechanic's responsibility.

I tell my clients that every piano is a work in progress and that even $100,000 pianos aren't perfect. That's part of what makes each piano unique and interesting. Not every piano is going to have all issues satisfied at one appointment. By explaining this you help sidetrack unrealistic expectations.

If for some reason things didn't work out well after you left a long-distance appointment, at least your local reputation is not damaged. So there is not as much risk as you might first think.




thumb As always, very well said. It's no wonder you have a successful business. Communicating clearly and concisely is key.


Tuner-Technician


#2162002 - 10/05/13 05:59 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: Supply]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
Olek Offline
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Olek  Offline
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Posts: 9,230
France
Originally Posted by Supply
Originally Posted by Jbyron
.. on a first service visit there is almost always a reason to return to the piano to do more work. Cleaning, repairs, parts replacement, regulation. There could be broken strings needing replacement, which can sometimes even require THREE visits to the piano. ...

The farther you travel, the more you have to be equipped (with tools, supplies, parts, brains, experience and time) to handle a wide variety of eventualities. And yes, there will always be certain things that are not really feasible. You cannot refurbish an action or replace a set of keytops in a service call. Most intelligent clients will understand.


Jurgen, refurbish is not impossible, depending of what is expected, and where you will sleep at night wink

The best techs here often travel very far just to refine or adjust regulation and voicing, after the local ones did not success. (the opposite may happen as well !!)

For some repairs indeed the workshop tools are necessary.

Grand hammer and shank change can be done without the workshop, but not on any piano.


Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
#2162043 - 10/05/13 08:55 AM Re: How far will you travel to tune? [Re: dynamobt]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014
bkw58  Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
Conway, AR USA

The Expert

On occasion some of us will travel out of state to do the work, not because the local tech is incapable. In all likelihood he or she is well equipped for the task. Probably better than we.

So why are we called from afar?

It's called suit, briefcase, 100 miles away from home.


Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com

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