When you hire card makers, how much should you pay them?
Ideally we all want to pay people a lot and make them happy! But first you need to figure out what you can afford and what your expenses are. Besides materials, you need to assign a per-piece-manufacturing rate for your card. In other words:
How much time does it take to make each card and how much can you pay people to make each card?
TIME MOTION STUDYThe first thing you need to do is a time and motion study. This will help you figure out how much time it really takes to make your cards.
You will time yourself making different parts of the card, and then add up all the time to get a total. Here are tasks you might break up into manufacturing categories, depending on your card line: cutting, pasting, gluing, painting, adding the envelope, and packaging the card in a cellophane bag.
For example, in my article yesterday, I demonstrated how I made my own cards. Here is the way I would divide the tasks: 1)gluing the pieces on the cards and 2) putting them in cello bags with envelopes.
STEP 1: MATERIALS
Get all the materials out for 100 hundred cards and put them on your worktable. (Ideally we would want to make more like 500 cards, but I'll use 100 because it's an easy number.) Make sure they are for only one design style.
STEP 2: QUIET TIME
Make sure no one else is around where you are working, so you won't be interrupted.
STEP 3: LISTS THE TASKS
Divide up your card tasks. My cards have 2 tasks: gluing and bagging.
STEP 4: DO THE FIRST TASK
Get ready to do the first task: Gluing. Write down the time on the clock, and immediately start gluing the cards.
IMPORTANT:During this time, don't watch TV or talk to anyone. Don't answer the phone or the door. This will disrupt your pace. If you stop to answer the door, even if you subtract that time, your pace will be very slow when you return to the task and your numbers will be inaccurate.
STEP 5: WORK FAST
Really concentrate on working as fast as you can in a comfortable way.
STEP 6: WRITE DOWN YOUR TIME FOR TASK #1
When you are finished gluing 100 cards. Stop and write down the number of minutes it took you.
STEP 7: TAKE A BREAK!
Take a break and let your cards dry.
STEP 8: DO THE SECOND TASK
Now do the same thing, except this time, you will be doing the second task: assembling the envelope and cello bag.
STEP 9: WRITE DOWN YOUR TIME FOR TASK #2 Again: Note the time you started and when you are finished.
STEP 10: ADD UP YOUR TIME
You should have two numbers: The minutes it took to glue 100 cards, and the minutes it took to bag 100 cards. Add together your total minutes and get a grand total.
STEP 11: CALCULATE HOW LONG IT TAKES YOU TO MAKE ONE CARD
Let's pretend you total time was 100 minutes. That means you made 100 cards in 100 minutes. That means each card took 1 minute to make. Before you think that it is impossible to make a card in 1 minute, let me tell that by using my manufacturing method, I was able to make one card in 24 seconds without rushing. That is how important it is to set up a "factory" system (versus making one at a time.)
STEP 12: ASSIGN A WAGE
First of all, translate all your numbers into per hour. So if you make 100 cards in 100 minutes, then you can assume you make 60 cards in 60 minutes (more or less). This number is important when you start determining your wage.
Now take the number of cards you can make in an hour (60) and divide it by the wage you expect to pay someone (Let's say $10 an hour) This will give you the piece rate pay of 16 cents per card. So that means you can pay someone 16 cents to make a card. (For more information, see IRS guidelines for contract workers).
I always tried to aim to pay double or triple minimum wage rate, but that's because I wanted good people who would stay with me long term. Don't dismiss the idea of a minimum wage rate at the beginning, especially if your card makers want to work at home. To them, this is a big perk so they don't have to commute to a job everyday.
COSTS TOO MUCH?
If you find that your cards take too long to make and you can't afford to pay someone, see what part of your card making is taking the most time and try to eliminate it.
If part of your time study involves cutting or folding paper, consider having a printer or copy store do this. They can do thousands of cards quickly at pennies per card, whereas paying someone to do this by hand could cost 5-10 times more. Having a printer score cards, especially can save you a lot of time and money.
Once you make and sell over 1,000 cards you need to consider hiring labor. When I first started, I gave my cards to organization that did contract factory jobs. They even did a time study for me for free and offered to pay 12 cents to make each card. I couldn't believe it! It sounded like so little! Eventually, I found it easy to contract my piecework out to artists who also worked for other people. Artists are great people to hire!
Here are some other staff you might want to hire:
Order Entry Clerk
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I make photo greeting cards and to save time and mess (i have never met glue I couldn't get on everything) I use a Scotch ATG gun. It uses double sided rolls of tape and saves me huge amounts of time. When I first started I used glue sticks,big waste of time and money ,as well as they dry up and the photos fall off eventually. I bought the gun through United manufacturers and I get all my card blanks, envelopes and sleeving through Clearbags.com. Hope this is useful to someone, Tina
I second Christina's suggestion - I now own 3 ATG guns (1/2" and 1/4" tape guns) and would be lost without them. It is a very efficient way to adhere paper pieces. Thanks Kate for these posts - it's all very interesting.
Kate, thank you so much for this educational post! This is the best information I have seen for those of us who are designing handmade cards.
Sometimes you really DO have to sit down and do this to see how much time it really takes. Usually, it's always alot longer than you think! Thanks for the informative post. I also like your assistant :)
Thanks for this write up, Kate. It was very informative. I love making cards, my friends don't seem to understand how time consuming it can be. I agree it does get easier when making multiple copies of the same card. Although, the most I have ever made of the same card is 30. Cheers! Lourdes
Kate, this is so informative, thank you! I'm a long-time card marker, but this is the first time I've taken it seriously. I look forward to learning more about how you have actually marketed your designs. That is so exciting! You are quite an inspiration! Thanks again!
Kate, I've been struggling with some of the business steps in my homemade card company for a while now. Your articles are the first I've found that actually address the REAL issues of making money with this wonderful business. Thank you sooooooooo much! Sandi
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