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#3156865 09/16/21 06:51 AM
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I live in an area where there is a definite piano tuner deficit. Most have either passed away or are retired. I've recently moves about an hour or so away to a larger city to be closer to my daughters' family, but I still get lots of calls from my former clients. I can usually get two or three in a given area but not always. I have been charging 10 cents a mile beyond 20 miles. I'm curious about what some of you charge. Thanks. Steven. (Tuning since 1985)


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This has nothing to do with piano tuning, but our farm vet charges for a visit based on location, not mileage. So a call to town A is $50 and a call to town B is $60. They don't publish the rates, they tell you on the phone what the call will be. As a customer I think I prefer that to a mileage charge, I guess because there's nothing to figure out, just seems easier. We're on the outskirts of a metro area, his rates go up after about a 30 minute radius away from his office. Distance is less important than time around here because a freight train or a traffic jam can triple your travel time. If you're in the country time is probably constant.


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I think that is a good idea. Area (A) Fee...area (B) fee...area (C) fee...etc all predetermined baseline fees.

Or simply raise your entire fee schedule to a point where everybody helps support the need for travel. I have long ago learned that if you do good work and are a likeable person, the clients will pay ANYTHING you ask. Ask around to what plumbers and electricians charge for their services. Hourly rates should be based on a 1st hour minimum which includes an hour PLUS service charge, then hourly rate for subsequent time.

Remember that you must earn $150,000.00 to actually "take home" $75,000.00. Large businesses understand this and much more that little people like us don't get taught, or simply ignore.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Originally Posted by P W Grey
I have long ago learned that if you do good work and are a likeable person, the clients will pay ANYTHING you ask.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

This is true to the extent that you are good enough that enough (well to do) clients want you to work on their piano but also your competition around you?

FWIW, the technician that worked on my piano recently and who travelled to mine included 30 miles travel (round trip from his base) into anything he quoted for. After that he added on 45p a mile to cover travel which I was more than happy to cover bearing in mind it was approx 100 miles and an hour an half travel each way. Another well known technician that I was considering and spoke to quoted me a similar cost for the work at my place but his travel fees included return train tickets to me, cab fare from station to mine as well as 3 hours travelling time billed at his hourly rate. That worked out to be significantly (4x) more for travel than who did the work for me. Both were top technicians known to work on Steinways and Yamahas prepped for concerts in the UK and Europe so at the end of the day, travel cost was the determining factor. It might be worth getting some friends to call up your competitors and asking them what they charge for travel wink.

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David Boyce has numerous times pointed out some of these problems in that part of the planet. Unfortunately it is one of those "unsolvable" problems since overall demand in remote areas is not enough to support a typical tuner/tech to live nearby, and therefore convincing an established and qualified tech to travel 2-4 or more hours is (for obvious reasons) often prohibitively expensive.

This is a good argument for EXTREME environmental humidity control. If one can keep the room in which the piano resides at an ambient RH of 45% +- no less than 3%, the piano will hold its tuning for a VERY LONG time.

I have read (I forget now where) that years ago in some places (due to this problem) piano owners would get together and schedule 1-5 days work for a tech. They would feed him, house him, and otherwise take care of his needs (and of course pay him for all the work) as an incentive to get him to travel to their area. Otherwise one or two alone could not justify the trip and it would not happen. Doubtful if that level of community cooperation exists anywhere anymore.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Thing is Peter (not to derail the thread) where I am is a suburb of Birmingham with a population of 1 million. Actually there are plenty of tuner/techs but like you have pointed out excellent tuner/techs are probably in short supply everywhere. Like you have said, reputation matters and at the end of the day, what you can charge is an intersection between what you think you are worth versus what the market will pay but like everything in life, quality matters and costs and those who are successful know that as they are charging huge amounts themselves!

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I charge by location, and it's clearly posted on my website. The farthest locations I'd service are 100 miles away, and in cities, and are priced accordingly. 95% of my clients are less than an hour's drive from my home, and probably 2/3rds are less than 30 minutes away.

I also live in a fairly rural area, but we probably have 3-4 techs who do work around here intermittently, and one who's here weekly because he works at my school.


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Originally Posted by P W Grey
This is a good argument for EXTREME environmental humidity control. If one can keep the room in which the piano resides at an ambient RH of 45% +- no less than 3%, the piano will hold its tuning for a VERY LONG time.
This is really true. I have my piano in a closed office with a programmable controller running the humidifier and dehumidifier, so RH never varies more than a few percent. Tuner keeps telling me to wait longer because it never needs tuning, last time I went 18 months between tunings. I'll try 2 years this time.


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Originally Posted by MarkL
Originally Posted by P W Grey
This is a good argument for EXTREME environmental humidity control. If one can keep the room in which the piano resides at an ambient RH of 45% +- no less than 3%, the piano will hold its tuning for a VERY LONG time.
This is really true. I have my piano in a closed office with a programmable controller running the humidifier and dehumidifier, so RH never varies more than a few percent. Tuner keeps telling me to wait longer because it never needs tuning, last time I went 18 months between tunings. I'll try 2 years this time.

I can vouch for this too. +/-3% is a total range of 6%; I manage to keep the humidity in my piano room within such a range. After 2 years the Bluthner only needs slight adjustment to the tuning, and even the wooden-framed Broadwood stays in reasonable tune for months on end.

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I state on my website that I charge a dollar for every mile over the first 40 (round trip) miles. I don't have a great reason for that figure, other than it's easy to calculate and the IRS estimates that it costs me 56 cents for every mile I drive. In reality I don't charge this very often, because when people who live more than a half-hour drive away contact me, I try to refer them to someone else in their area. (I'm near a large metropolitan area with a healthy population of RPTs, so it doesn't make sense for me to be driving all over the place.) I also waive the fee and give an extra discount when people in the same neighborhood set up tunings together.


Anthony Willey, RPT
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