I'm in my early 50's and have been a programmer, designer, and manger
of same for almost 30 years. I feel it's time for a change but still
have to pay a mortgage and 3 kids in college.
I'd love to open a Woodcrat store. Does anyone have any idea how much I
could take home? I know it depends on location, location, location, and
other things like the qulaity of help, etc. But are we talking $40K and
that's a struggle or $400K? What should be my expectations?
I know someone who runs another woodworking store. He's been
established for quite some time. I don't know exactly what he makes,
but it's definitely not 400k.. He says he's "surviving". One
interesting thing he told me was that since most of the big machines
(tablesaws, etc) have gone to China, the margins have evaporated. Every
year, the cost of fuel and steel goes up, and they have less margin.
His store has the 10% of Jet/Delta/etc days once a year. He told me
that many customers are not impressed, making comments like "that
doesn't even cover tax".. but he told me that the only way they are
able to do those sales is by having Delta absorb 5% of the discount..
in other words, they don't even make a 10% margin on the machines.
He said they make a decent margin on accessories.
So basically, you definitely aren't going to get rich off it. If I was
you, I'd look around the other woodworking stores locally and see what
kind of volume they do (look to see how busy they are). Since so many
people buy woodworking stuff online now, I think it would be very
difficult to start a new store. My guess is it would take awhile to
build a customer base to be even just "ok" proftiable.
If any of the information I gave above is false, it's unintentional.
I'm just going by what my friend told me.
On 1 Dec 2006 09:54:42 -0800, Never Enough Money wrote:
I considered that, too. I was serious enough about it that I went to
Parkersburg for a day for the official presentation for prospective
franchisees. Most of what I learned is restricted, so I can't share numbers
and such. But, if you're able to survive lean times while business ramps up,
which could take a few years, and you can come up with the capitol needed to
start up and carry you through that, the potential exists to earn a reasonable
income. You *will* have to work your a** off, I expect.
Your best source of information will be Woodcraft. Call Bill Caroll at
Woodcraft HQ (800-344-3348), and get the skinny from him. He's a really nice
guy, and he won't lead you astray.
It would be a stretch for me to come up with the approx $150K money (I
listened to the video on the Woodcraft website regarding their
franchise - they say average investment is $500K with owner putting in
$150). I have two rental houses I'd have to sell to get that and would
have to pay some hefty tax on my profits. I certainly don't have years
to build a business, I darn well better be making money the very first
Note to self: buy a powerball ticket tonight.
Art Greenberg wrote:
Let us know how that works out for you. ;-)
If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough
This is a long response as I just helped a couple of friends of mine
look at this very subject with the very company in question about 3
years ago. Here are the salient points I remember.
Don't think you will be your own boss if you own a Woodcraft or any
other successful franchise for that matter.
I have known the players here at our local Woodcraft for many years
now, and the amount of $$ is staggering to get in, certainly the
numbers floating around here at 400K level are correct. From what I
understood when the local joint went up for sale, WC has it all mapped
out for you.
This is what I got from some of the folks that looked into purchasing
our local franchise. I wasn't there, but these guys are pretty
Price for the franchise and required store size are based on population
of the area where you want to start the business. Certain stock items
are mandatory and you will carry them at all times, even if they are
slow movers. This keeps a familiar appearance of a WC store, no matter
where it is located. Items that are purchased by the home office that
they feel should be in the store are purchased by them, sent to you,
and billed (they don't ask). Their sale and ad merchandise and timing
will be yours, too. Only a certain amount of "outside merchandise" is
allowed, so you shouldn't think it is your store to stock with the
items you find.
And apparently the folks at WC are upfront about the $$ requirements.
They told the guys that were looking at the franchise that they needed
enough additional income and savings to hold on for about 3 years or so
until it was up and running correctly. 3 years income!! Then they
could pay themselves a nominal salary. It seems the real income starts
when you open your second store (no kiddin').
And me speaking as an employer, if you haven't managed, hired, fired,
paid, scheduled, or trained employees, you are in for a real shock. In
your mind you are thinking you will find a retired craftsman, some old
German guy (OK, that's my dream) that would do the job for the love of
woodworking. Check out the feedback you get when you tell that cranky
old sombitch to do something he doesn't want to do. Or take a look at
the youngsters working in Home Depot... even the good ones are most
green as gourds. These will be your affordable labor to fit your
business model. Solving benefit disputes, working around sick time
off, personal time off, employee infighting, bad/childish behavior from
full grown men, overtime pay, meetings with your state unemployment
commission... if you haven't done these things you should really take a
crack at that first as a manager or asst. manager somewhere to get a
feel for it.
Our local store survives by hiring well meaning retirees that have at
least one income, and sometimes 3. We are in a military town that had
5 bases for 60 years, so we have a lot of retirees looking for
something to do that are more interested in keeping busy than making a
career mark after retirement. Perfect for WC. But I don't know what
the talent pool would be like where you are.
And I agree with Swingman on his keen observation.
I sent a buddy of mine opening a small custom shop over to WC to buy
his tools. Pricing wasn't that good, the people weren't that
knowledgeable at WC, they didn't have all the stuff he wanted. So, we
talked about it, and he went to Amazon where I thought he should have
gone in the first place. He bought his Jet cabinet saw, Jet 15" board
planer, Jet 6" jointer, Jet 16" bandsaw, Jet monster dust collector,
and a pile of accessories and he got some free promotional goodies from
them (a Bosch router and a router lift for one!). Shipping was free.
It was shipped to his door. He saved about $2600 at Amazon over WC.
WC was higher on all the tools, and he had to pay taxes on his purchase
locally. On top of that, WC charged for delivery of EACH tool, not
just a large truck and mover rental.
Needless to say he was thrilled things didn't work out for him at WC
since he saved a pile of money. The only reason he went there in the
first place was that he felt like he was supporting our local economy.
(A civic minded chap.)
I don't buy anything at WC anymore. I buy all the disposables and
tools I need on the net. Our local store is hurting for that very same
reason as I am certainly not alone. And it has not gone unnoticed by
me and many of my cohorts (including one that works there) that a lot
of the merchandise in WC is the same as in *gulp* Harbor Freight.
Different packaging, but the same product.
If it were me, I would try something along the lines of developing a
new skill. While you have income, take some furniture making classes
and invest in some top notch tools. If you want to get into
woodworking as a profession, you need to learn how to do a lot of
different tasks very rapidly, and that takes practice. Do that while
you have income and no employees.
Whatever you do, good luck!
> Don't think you will be your own boss if you own a Woodcraft or any
> other successful franchise for that matter.
A fraternity brother and I were having lunch one day, when he announced
he was going to fold up what had been a very successful consulting
engineering business that he started by taking out a $5K loan on his house.
When I asked him "why", he answered, "Because I'm getting tired of
having to hold a guy's swantz every time he has to go to the bathroom."
One of the reasons I run a one man band.
On 2 Dec 2006 01:40:30 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
Something in the same vein that I've seen working well for people is
cornering a niche market- a very clearly defined one. It's amazing
what people will pay to get one process done. A couple of examples-
Two retired guys used to run an outfit called "precision welding" that
did capacitor discharge welding only for the shop I work for. They
charged $2.65 per part to weld on six pieces of hardware. They've
since quit doing that, and now I have to do it- turns out, I can do
about 100 of those parts an hour- and I'm sure not making $265 an hour
to do it! If you're not familiar with what that is, it's sticking a
special screw in a thing that looks like a little pistol, pressing it
to metal, and pushing a button- takes less than a second per piece of
We've also got an outside vendor that makes one part. Just one, on an
old CNC mill. We give him pre-sheared blanks, he mills the outside
edge to shape, drills 20 holes and countersinks them. For that, he
gets better than $20 a part, and doesn't even deburr them. It's a
bargin for my bosses, because they are constantly on order, and the
guys I work with (myself included) hate large production runs.
Farming that stuff out not only keeps production levels in the shop
high, but it also helps to keep the employees from looking for greener
pastures- we're job shop guys, not factory workers.
There are plenty of others. I guess my point is that if you can
handle a little repetition or can lay out an investment for even one
top-notch industrial machine that will run itself, there are a lot of
bread-and-butter jobs that you could make a nice living from at home.
I'd bet that you could buy a nice panel saw, a crapload of MDF, and
cut shelving to standard widths all day long in your garage, and make
a killing at it. Or get a screw-making lathe with a bar feeder, and
let it run while you play around in your shop. Retail won't do that
for you unless you're amazingly gifted at it, and really, genuinely
Or, on a completely different track, I have observed (though never
really understood why this is the case) that a lot of engineers and
programmers take up plumbing when they change careers, and I've yet to
meet one that didn't appear to be estatically happy about the trade.
Myself, I hate plumbing- but there must be something about it that
appeals to technology workers, and it pays pretty good once you get
past the learning/apprenticeship stage.
I'm only down a couple thou ;)
I'm sure it will all turn around in December though.
December 1st: 5 hr power outage
December 2nd: Hmm, what's that dark colored sawdust next to the bench?
Oh, it's wet. Hey, it's over at the other end of the wall too. Hmm,
and all the way down the other wall too...
Or, maybe not.
Wow. No offense, but the mere fact that you asked the question indicates
you have better not do it. It's going to take a substantial cash outlay to
get started and profits won't be realized as quickly as you need them, maybe
never. You can't just put up a sign and start making money - it doesn't
work that way.
Now, if you plan to keep your "day job", then it might be worth trying
out, just to see how it feels and what prospects, advertising, rent,
storage, insurance, fuel, taxes, etc etc etc look like. Believe me, being
your own boss is going to take a LOT more work than putting your
I'd save it for when the kids are thru college at least, and you have at
least three year's salary put away that you won't have to spend on the
business so you can be sure to survive until it'll support you, if it ever
Also don't neglect your age; leaving now might make it hard to go back,
and even if you do, it won't likely be for your current wages since you'll
be starting all over again.
Good advice. However, I expect a McDonald's to have enough income the
forst month to pay expenses. Otherwise why even do a franchise?
My brother is in the convenience store business and he makes money day
1 -- by that I mean, the income pays the rent, stock, loan payment, and
labor. There's a little left for him.
Likely you'd be better of with a McDonalds. Fast food is ingrained in
American life. Business is there no matter the economy and everyone eats. A
woodworking store, on the other hand, is a niche market that can take a
severe hit during an economic downturn.
Last I looked (which was a loooong time ago) minimum net worth
required for McDonalds to even consider a franchisee was $2.5 million.
I seriously doubt that any McDonalds has ever made money from day one
since it takes a few weeks of having employees in training programs
before you open and you better expect to grossly over staff for a
several more weeks while that green staff learns the ropes even a
little bit (not to mention the 50% turnover you will likely face from
a completely green minimum wage staff and all of the free food you
will be giving away to try to molify pissed off customers whose orders
were screwed up by that green staff). This all assumnes that you have
worked in and managed a McDonalds for several years because I
guarantee you that you don't just walk in and start running a complex
business like a McDonalds (or any other food service place shy of
"Mom's diner"). I expect that the time from quiting your current job,
though training, building a premanufactured store, equiping it,
staffing it and just getting it open is at least 6 months - with no
income and lotsa outgo. Major time is spent before that getting the
franchise, finding and buying (or leasing) real estate in a viable
market, etc. A short cut might be to purchase an operating store from
McDonalds or an existing franchisee (with McDonald's permission of
course) but they don't give away successful stores and who the hell
wants to start out in a store that failed for someone else. Franchises
are business opportunities designed to reduce the very high
probability of bankruptcy that any new business faces - they are not
viable get rich quick schemes.
Never Enough Money (in
| I'm in my early 50's and have been a programmer, designer, and
| manger of same for almost 30 years. I feel it's time for a change
| but still have to pay a mortgage and 3 kids in college.
| I'd love to open a Woodcrat store. Does anyone have any idea how
| much I could take home? I know it depends on location, location,
| location, and other things like the qulaity of help, etc. But are
| we talking $40K and that's a struggle or $400K? What should be my
There used to be a Woodcraft store down a block and across the street.
I gather that the entry fee is much closer to the $400K number than
$40K - and that the franchisee has very little control over what or
how much is stocked. It sounded to me as if deep pockets were a
Even so, about a year ago the store was closed because the owner's
pockets weren't deep enough. I've missed it - the prices weren't
fantastic; but the store was convenient and the staff was savvy and
always helpful. Enough so that I've made an effort to keep in touch
with them since.
On the other hand, if you use the time while the kids are in school to
plan the next phase of your life, then (graduation) might be a good
time to make a well-planned change and open your own woodcraft (lower
case intentional) store - but I wouldn't expect the entry fee to be
small nor the net ROI to be very high.
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Save your money. Retail is a hard, hard way to make money. If you are
just looking for a change in what you do, try fine carpentry. Your
overhead is low, your rates are good, and your risk is substantially
less. If you have decent people skills, know who can afford your
rates, and know how to sell 'trust' then you will do ok.
After you have gained some experience, and possibly some associates,
take that down payment you were going to blow on a franchise, put it
down on an old house in a good area then flip it for profit. You won't
make a ton of money, but it's steady work, and you are in control.
My 2 pennies
In my area its about 40 miles to a specialist store like woodcraft.
To get to it I pass close to a menards, Fleet Farm , Home Depot and a
Harbor Freight place.
That usually means its got to something really special for me to stop ,
and I shop online now for the best prices.
If your kids were out of college and you had a small pension fund and
your house was paid for , I would say go for a retail store , it could
take you to retirement .
I echo the other sentiments here. If you really want to do this, you
have a good plan. Speak with a financial advisor and look at what it
would take to get things rolling.
I had the opportunity to buy a local furniture store. Guy has had the
for close to 35 years and wanted to retire. His take home was under
$50k a year.
And that's working 5 days 10 hrs a week. I had to think about all sorts
bills - inventory, fixing the building up, etc. I ran the numbers and
figured I couldn't make it
work. Be 2 or 3 years before I saw anything coming back.
This is really got to burn a hole in your soul to get involved with a
going to be money going out the door and long days/nights before you
It's attractive to think to be own your own (I've got the same
background you do).
Perhaps you should think of contracting work in the high tech area?
Still a lot out there.
On 1 Dec 2006 11:23:54 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Yeah, I too agree with the others - it would be tough!
But MJ has a point. Today I heard a piece on NPR where some IT
*expert* was talking about the huge money that will be involved in
data recovery, emails, etc.
It sounds like your jobs got you down so maybe a change -within your
area of expertise- would be more practical and have more potential.
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