Starting a furnituremaking business

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Hi,
I've recently had to relocate and need to change my career. I'm contemplating starting a furniture making business.
I'm curious to know what people's experiences have been. How they started up? If people went from being hobbyist to professionals? How people went about building a client base? Etc.
Thanks
Phil
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Thu, Aug 12, 2004, 1:09pm snipped-for-privacy@cogeco.ca (philmfx) wants to know: Hi, I've recently had to relocate and need to change my career. I'm contemplating starting a furniture making business. I'm curious to know what people's experiences have been. How they started up? If people went from being hobbyist to professionals? How people went about building a client base? Etc.
No problem, starting a furniture making business. Or all the rest. The only part you've got to worry about is making enought money off of it to exist.
In other words, don't quit your day job. Sideline it, until you can live off it.
JOAT Jesus was a Ford man, that's why he walked everywhere.
FRAGGLE ROCK THEME http://www.muppetsonline.com/midi/fraggle.mid
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Phil,
I was in your position 23 years ago and I took the opportunity to go for it an I have never regretted it!
Several suggestions:
1. Go for the high end of the market! 2. Do NOT live off of your credit card! 3. Go for the high end of the market! 4. Start off by quoting high for your work and then work down until you get the business load you are happy with. 5. Go for the high end of the market! 6. Read/Watch the following show on PBS: http://smallbusinessschool.com / 7. Go for the high end of the market! 8. Read the "Mark Rasche - Building A Successful Woodworking business" article in the August Issue No. 88 of "Woodwork" Magazine 9. Go for the high end of the market! 10. You need a business card the size of a post card 4X6" with a photo of your work on one side and a web page with a few gallery shots to start. 11. Go for the high end of the market! 12. Buy yourself a good old DeWalt RAS! ;-)
--
Rumpty

Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
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Important stuff above left in place.
The difference between making a mediocre piece of work and a super piece of work is maybe 10% for effort and time. You can often charge from 50% to 100% more for it to people that appreciate the craftsmanship. If a potential client starts to quibble over price, just smile and say no thanks", Ed
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thanks",
Gee Ed I forget the most important suggestion! ;-)
I have been known to suggest to tire kickers they should go to Ikea/Pier 1 if they want a better price.
--
Rumpty

Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
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I've never been in the furniture business, but I've been in others. When you quibble over price, the buyer feels cheated, the seller feels cheated, and you don't have the incentive to do a first class job. If you don't, the seller will bad mouth you for your poor quality. Unless you are on the brink of starvation, don't lower your principles. Even then, better to make a few bucks mowing lawn that to lower your business standards. Ed
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wrote:

I go one further and point out that it's usually not worth their time to have something custom made that can be bought off of the shelf. once they have gone shopping and not found what they are after we can talk. I do not dicker on price, and I have no shortage of work....
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snipped-for-privacy@thanks.com wrote:

I think this is either a cultural or a lifestyle issue--some people just _love_ to haggle and feel like they've been cheated if they haven't had a good one. Others hate to haggle. A perfect judge of character would be able to identify which came in the door and either quote the sell price up front or quote a higher price that he intends to have haggled down to the sell price depending on which type he perceives the customer to be. Unfortunately few of us are sufficiently skilled judges of character to be able to pull off that trick, so we either function in haggle mode or in one-price mode all the time depending on our nature.
--
--John
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snipped-for-privacy@thanks.com wrote in

I've been thinking about this thread today....
Much of my career has been in the 'semi-custom' end of another industry. One lesson I learned, sometimes painfully, is to be very honest with yourself about what you can do, what you can't do, and what would be a stretch for your skills.
Stretching your skills, and learning new ones, are an essential portion of business, and a career. It is, however, not without some cost, and more risk than something you have successfully accomplished before. Accept those assignments with your eyes open, and after careful consideration, and some research on your part.
And know that some of the most satisfying projects are ones you walked away from. Learn to listen to the little voice in your head. He's there for a reason.
Not all scar tissue shows.
Patriarch
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snip

Amen, brother! I walked away from a "little" side job last week. Guy told me he needed a piece of wood replaced on the outside of his house. Went to look at it, and there was a little rot on the return on the rake next to the addition. Pulled off 3' of the rake board and found rotten framing, squirrel nests and all the rest. I told him it was beyond my skill level. I probably could have figured it out, but it would have been an everyday after work and all weekend for about a week project, rather than the hour that he thought in the beginning. I gave him the name of a guy I know (an excellent tradesman, BTW) and haven't looked back.
-Phil Crow
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ask yourself what percentage of jobs that you do you get. if it is high then you are underpricing your product.....mjh
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Are you a furniture maker? Any place your work can be looked at?
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On Sun, 15 Aug 2004 16:14:15 -0500, p snipped-for-privacy@postzzzmark.net (p_j) wrote:

I had a website up, but the last ISP change hosed it. It needed updating anyway, and I haven't gotten around to it.
I mostly make cabinets, but I do get in the occasional furniture piece.
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Sat, Aug 14, 2004, 3:16am (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@snet.net (EdwinPawlowski) says: <snip>If a potential client starts to quibble over price, just smile and say no thanks",
Quibble, haggle, negotiate, all the same.
In some cultures, it's the norm to haggle over prices. When I was in Turkey, I don't know that I found ANY price that was fixed. In Thailand there were a few fixed price stores, but not many. Even taxis in both places, no fixed price. Singapore, Viet Nam, Taiwan, etc., similar. Could even negotiate taxi fare in Germany. That was many, many, moons ago, and probably a lot of changes.
Personally, if it comes down to selling something at my price, or not, I'd probably be open to some negotiation. Especially if there's no other buyer in sight.
However, there's price limits I won't go below - continued urging to do so tends to irk me, so I start raising the price back up - that's usually when they start grabbing for their wallet, if they're really interested in buying. Hehehe
Have gotten so irked a time or two, I've said it's not for sale to them. period. Believe in at least one case, they sent someone else to buy for them - at the original price.
I don't do this for a living, so I've got leeway like that.
JOAT You have to kill pessimists, but optimists do it themselves.
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Believe it or not there are people out there that will pay an arm and a leg to get exactly what they want. Finding then, now thats another matter...mjh
-- http://members.tripod.com/mikehide2
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of
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Rumpty the dewlt saw salesman.....:) mjh
-- http://members.tripod.com/mikehide2

it
get
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Um Mike I don't sell them... ;-)
--
Rumpty

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Hi Phil, One of the easiest ways to determine price is to ask the customer what his/her budget is. From this you can tell them what they can get built for that price. Treat people how you would like to be treated. Word of mouth will make or break your business. Good luck, Jana
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My experience seems different to most on this thread . the first thing you have to do with a new customer is to sell yourself .If you don't do that then there is no basis for trust .
Next never give a price off the top of your head, he will never forget it and you will never hear the last of it . Go home and think it over when all the angles are considered tghen call him back . If he wants a price immediately explain that would not be fair to him or you, if an immediate response is still required ...respectfully pass it up .......
Regardles how affluent your customer price jobs fairly just like any other customer, resist the urge to gouge you will end up with more workin the end....mjh
-- http://members.tripod.com/mikehide2

started
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Mike Hide wrote:

Still, there seem to be "magic prices" for some things. Lawyers and consultants often set their rates based on what gets them the most work, and a number of them that I have talked to say that they charge over $100/hr because they get more work at that rate than they do at 50/hr. Has to do with "perception of value" I suppose.

--
--John
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