Are stringing fees too cheap?

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by dak95_00, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    They had a junior regional here in town this weekend. A good friend of mine who owns a very large pro shop asked if I'd help him keep up with stringing. So, I took my Wise and packed my tools and went down to his facility. He pays $5/frame :).

    I strung like 15 racquets Saturday in the 6 hours I was there and 10 on Sunday. The youngsters are really eating through poly. There is also a trend, they are hybriding polys -- I suspect mostly for colors they like. They also string their frames way too tight with poly...oh to have a young arm. :)

    Based on what I saw stringing this weekend, synthetics and natural gut will be non-existent in 20 years.
     
  2. goober

    goober Legend

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    nah in 20 years all those juniors will be looking for ways to play with their destroyed elbows and arms and they will "discover" syn gut and natural gut. :)
     
  3. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    You are a wise and forward thinking man. :)
     
  4. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    I don't think the average player at my club views stringing fees as inexpensive. The two MRTs/club pros who string at our club charge $18 labor plus the cost of the string which I think they markup a bit so a lot of players are paying close to $30 for a string job. When you consider that a lot of people play with racquets bought for less than $100, $30 seems relatively high in comparison.

    However, most of the 3.0 though 4.0 guys I know who don't string for themselves only use our MRT to replace broken strings and it may be months between string breaks. There just aren't many consistent string breakers at those levels that I know even among the harder hitting men and almost none of the ladies.
     
  5. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    $30 is expensive????

    where do you guys live?

    at the facility i string at, the cost is WAY too cheap. we have virtually no mark up on string, just labor cost.
     
  6. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    It's an age-old question...What to pay the stringer-person who works for the shop? What to charge for stringing over and above the actual cost of string plus labor? What's a fair price for a non-rent-paying stringer to charge for 'personal' service?

    If a store can collect $12 labor for each of two string jobs that take the hourly employee one hour total, that's $24 revenue minus the $10-12 paid out for the hour of labor(just as an example). Not the worst return on labor, but nothing that will keep the store open. Contrast that with the same scenario in a pro shop where the pro has the stringing contract and the 'labor' is also running the shop. NOW, things get complicated. Heck, it could take more than 30 minutes to close a sale on a T-shirt or cheap pair of shoes...do you factor in the 'labor' when calculating the 'mark-up' of those items?

    The 'how much do I 'mark up' string?' question gets way out of whack if the string inventory is now made up of super-poly that costs $15-20 per set vs a four-dollar set of synthetic. NOW, the shop has hundreds of dollars tied up in string inventory(much the same as shop carrying lots of nat gut a couple of decades ago). Should the shop not make a margin on that sale the same way they mark up socks, t-shirts, visors? Good luck with making a retail margin on a set of Lux and THEN adding an appropriate labor charge that ALSO returns some profit to the shop(not simply paying the stringer).

    Is the stringer paid by the hour? What's the incentive to string at a high volume? Is the stringer paid by the job? How to keep quality up when the incentive is to string faster and faster?

    It's hard to reconcile the 'worth' of a quality stringer(person) with the amount that can be charged by the shop. Much the same as a bicycle mechanic, it's darned tough to 'demand' or 'command' high prices when performing relatively mundane tasks like changing tires(although those tires might cost $60-80 each) or stringing basic poly or syn in Junior's Big Box Radical from 5 years ago. ;)

    Anybody in the snow ski/board business out there? I'm guessing the tune-up for ski equipment is similar to racket stringing(although perhaps fewer 'home tuners' in the ski business, I reckon). I can't imagine the labor on a ski tune has kept up with inflation. How about gripping golf clubs? I've seen serious 'pro' shops give deals that amount to a dollar a stick labor plus the cost of the grips.

    That brings up another question: Does your shop charge to install grips? Most shops I know charge regular retail for the grips and install at no additional charge. What about the guy who re-grips his own? Does he get a discount since he's not using the 'labor' of the shop personnel to install his grips? And how do you pay the employee who walks in on 10 rackets that need re-gripping NOW? Good chance that employee is also the stringer. A dollar a grip? Two bucks? Now that starts to eat into your retail margin for the grip itself.

    Dang!!! Life is complicated :)
     
  7. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    very very good post above!
     
  8. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    Brings up the other questions about costs. How do you pay for a $4000 machine when there is virtually no mark-up on string and you only charge for labor? Let's say the labor charge is $20 and the pro pays the stringer half of that. That's a LOT of string jobs to cover just the cost of the machine, never mind the occasional free re-string or discounts. Again, the cost of the materials is a big factor(unless you have some magical 'just in time' inventory program). You could very easily double the wholesale cost of a set of synthetic and add a decent labor charge and not run off your clients. Contrast that with trying to keep hundreds of dollars(even thousands) of super-poly or nat gut in stock and hoping to make a margin on that. Good luck trying to mark up the most expensive Lux or TF or nat gut and THEN add an appropriate labor/profit amount. Sounds like a $50-60 poly/synthetic string job and more like $80-100 for VS !!!

    I don't know anyone with the magic formula(other than "Bring me your string and I'll charge X to install it"). Gets more complicated when it goes from Stage I to Stage 2 and 'all' that labor that used to go to the single proprietor NOW has to be divided into labor cost(paid to others) and profit margin. Heck! NOW we have to buy another machine!!! Good golly!!!
     
  9. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    yea where i am at part time, the pro shop is a huge loss in my view. we charge only $15 for labor, and babolat syn gut is like $3.50, so after tax your stringjob is only like $20.80. insane. same with RPM, luxilon, PHT, etc etc. not to mention my pay and the star 5 I am using.
     
  10. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    Our motto is, we lose money on every string job we do but we make up for it with volume!
     
  11. dak95_00

    dak95_00 Professional

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    I used to grip golf clubs. The mark up was almost always in the grip prices instead of labor. That goes for the $1/club price too. You'd still pay $5/club for the grips which could be purchased for $1/each. BTW, gripping golf clubs doesn't take anything but a simple vise, some sort of mineral spirits (paint thinner), a knife to remove old grip, and two sided tape.

    I'd like to know the purpose for tennis shops (or individuals) to buy these expensive machines and how they break even. I understand volume, speed, ease of use, etc. but after a certain price point, I can completely understand why so many use the NEOS 1000 as it isn't ridiculously expensive and has few parts to break down over time.
     
  12. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    no doubt the neos is one of teh best you can buy. if i wasnt spoiled early on this would be my choice
     
  13. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    Hummm? Let's say you have an employee in a big box store that strings rackets in his spare time and wheels treadmills out the door the rest of the time. Let's say 50% of his time is stringing rackets.

    4 (hours a day) times 7 (days a week) 12 (dollars an hour) will pay for a $4,000 machine in less than 3 months.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  14. jgrushing

    jgrushing Rookie

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    Maybe I'm missing something Irvin. Most of that $12/hour is paying the person, not paying for the stringing machine. Beyond that, I don't see the big box stores keep the machine busy 4 hours a day, 7 days a week. At the Dick's store near me, the stringer is almost always idle.
     
  15. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, last weekend, I was talking to a buddy of mine I help with stringing. He owns a large facility and has 3 Neos. He said he cannot justify spending $4K on a machine from a business standpoint and they string 15K racquets a year. His justification was that they could string adequately fast enough on a Prince Neos which he can get at either a free or severely discounted price to begin with. He went on to say that as far as quality, 99.999999% of the general tennis playing population can't tell the difference between a racquet strung on a $1,000 machine and a $4,000 machine.

    What did interest him was how fast I turned my racquets around using the Wise. And how easy it was to operate. Given the $550 price, he did seem interested.
     
  16. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    The Dick's in my area does not offer stringing but they still sell strings, at 2-3 times the average price. I think in thier system stringing is included in the price, but since they don't offer stringing, the price remains the same.

    A new client came to me asking, "how much for Prince Lightning XX?" Since I don't normally stock it I would have to order it from TW at $6.50 plus tax and shipping ($5). Plus my labor. $22~ total. He was surprised, because it was $25 at Dick's. I told him he was better off buying the string from TW and anything else he needed to try to save on shipping.
     
  17. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    At the Dick's near me you never see the stringer you drop off the racket and pick it up a few days later. At other stores they have two or more Star 5s and they are always busy. Per 'coachrick' post they charge $12 / racket (which is standard around here) string two rackets per hour and pay the stringer half that so the store makes $12 / hour not $12 / racket.
     
  18. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    Absolutely...if the customer wants a string you don't stock or don't stock enough of to get a quantity discount, insist they buy the string and bring it to you. If it IS a string you carry in great quantity, you likely can offer a competitive price when all your margin is your labor and a small markup.

    Having the customer supply the string is the ultimate 'just in time' inventory(until you get a bad set or otherwise damage the string). Sure beats paying in advance for multiple sets of $15 super poly in a dozen or more models and multiple colors. All it takes is two sets of 'unobtanium' poly sitting on the shelf to eat up the labor margin on two string jobs.
     
  19. uk_skippy

    uk_skippy Hall of Fame

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    I strung a Futures last week where the winner was a 16 yo using VS Gut mains & Yonex Poly Spin crosses.
     
  20. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    I understand you were likely 'helping out'; but do you know what he was charging the players?

    When folks would ask me the lowest cost I would charge to string with their string, my answer was 'zero'. If someone needs a string job and I can do it, it really doesn't matter if they pay $20 labor or zero. On the other hand, I wouldn't personally dedicate too many days of $5 per stringing just to line the pockets of the pro ;) . There's being charitable...and there's being taken advantage of. Schlepping your own machine and setting up for five bucks a stick...ah, to be young and energetic again! :) Hope he at least bought you a nice lunch!
     
  21. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    He & I go back 25 years. And no lunch. Beers. :)
     
  22. jgrushing

    jgrushing Rookie

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    Just must be different around here. Even at PGA Superstore, which has a large tennis section and two Star 5s, the machines are seldom being used when I'm there. I occasionally see one in use but have never seen both.
     
  23. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    wow thats a shame
     
  24. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    lots of good posts here. some good content finally!
     
  25. jgrushing

    jgrushing Rookie

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    And it's not as if tennis isn't popular here in Atlanta. ALTA, USTA, T2 and others are very active.
     
  26. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    When I left Atlanta in '08, two of the original shops(under the same ownership as the racket dept @ PGA SS) could keep two machines busy pretty much all day. The 'super' stores sold a ton of stuff but I never noticed them extremely busy with stringing on a regular basis. On the other hand, an older shop where I worked many years ago kept three machines busy throughout the day/week. Just depends on the location and reputation. Oddly, some customers are 'put off' by the size of PGA and would rather deal with a smaller shop. Different strokes...

    On a side note, Go lf Sm ith, formerly headquartered here in Austin, has dropped tennis, including stringing(unless something changed this spring). It may bode well for the independents and small shop stringers out there.
     
  27. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    Hard Core tennis in Atlanta, by chance?
     
  28. fortun8son

    fortun8son Hall of Fame

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    Last edited: May 2, 2013

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