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Pricing Strategies for Your Alteration Business

Most business owners agree – if you can’t make a profit, you should reevaluate your strategy. If you’re thinking about starting your own tailoring business, where do you begin? For most people, the question is, “What should I charge for my alteration services?” Generally, the fairest price for alterations is time. We will explain best practices for deciding a fair price according to our research and industry knowledge.

Start by looking at what you have regular experience with. Let’s start this example by saying you alter waistbands.

Internal Research:

Alter the waistband of a few items of clothing about 3-5 times. This should include different variations – take in the waistband of trousers, let out the waistband of a skirt, etc. Mark the time it takes you to do each alteration. Now find the average of the times. This will be the base time for your rate.


External Research:

Call around to a few other alteration shops in town. Do they charge for different variations, or type of garment? Don’t call your grandma to see what she charges because chances are, she’s not charging the market rate. It is important to get more than 2 prices for accuracy.


Crunch time:

Say it costs an average is $15, and it takes 30 minutes to take in a waistband. They can do 2 $15 hems in an hour, so they are charging $30 an hour. Divide the hourly rate ($30) by 60 minutes; they are making .50 cents a minute. Now you have a base rate by minutes, and hour for all the sewing that you do!


Pro Tip – keep detailed notes about each alteration you do and how long it took you to complete. As you gain experience and recognition for your work, you may want to charge a higher rate. (Simply multiply the number of minutes you work by the new minute rate charged). This is also useful for infrequent alterations you do.


Giving an Estimate:

When giving an estimate, be sure to note that this is an approximation to account for anything that may come up along the way. Also take into account the time you will need to fit the customer. Those minutes add up fast!


Don’t Underprice Yourself!

But also don’t overprice – you want to be fair to yourself while keeping in mind that you should build your repertoire before increasing your rate too soon.


Should you expect a tip?

Generally, unless you really wowed your customer, you shouldn’t expect a tip if you’re the owner. Feel free to give them a few business cards to hand out to their friends. Or invite them to like your social media page! There are many ways a customer can “tip” you simply by helping to spread the word about your great services.