Where at in the army was you? Me & the wife was just talking about how this time last year I was at Ft. Benning, GA getting smoked all day & night. I hated it there but loved it so much.
Advice: Do a quality job. Even when you realize you fudged up that bid & just want to get the heck out of there so you don't rob yourself, do a good job as your name is on it. Suck it up & take advantage of the word of mouth you'll get.
Suggestions: Start out with a bang. Get into some good advertising, have a decent professional looking work vehicle, and stand firm on what you're out to do for the price you charge.
Ideas: Advertise towards those who can afford your prices & quality. Get in with one, please them, then use them to sell their neighbors.
Lessons Learned: Attorneys can be a pian. Some are great customers, others can and will make your life pure hell.
As for what to charge... What's your overhead? Figure in everything you need to run your buisiness. You have company vehicle, vehicle insurance, shop/storage rent, phone bill, yearly advertising costs, liability insurance, your average spending on tools, gas, etc... Now take that & divide it by your working days per year. So if you have $7,200 a year in bills, and say you're working 230 days per year, divide 7200 by 230 & you'll come up with $32 per working day in overhead. Say you want to make $40 an hour so your daily wage is $320. You want your company to make maybe 10% profit? Ok now all together you hourly rate is $49. A job that's going to take you 4 days will come out to $1568 + materials.
Also get a good deal on product. When you figure in material to a job, charge the home owner the retail price, what they'd pay if they went into the paint store & paid themselves. So if a gallon of paint retails for $30, and you get it for $18 under a contractor account, you make $12 per gallon profit. So on a house where you're using 20 gallons of paint, that's $240 you're making off of selling the paint you're using. That is also what you can use against a customer who is trying to talk you down in price. You now know you can go $240 lower without cutting into your profits or wage, and sometimes that $240 will get you the job being they "talked you down" & got their way wheeling & dealing.
That's how I work it, but I'm sure many here have other methods & might even disagree with mine. You just have to find what works for you. :thumbup: