20 something years ago my father built a custom wood working shop from the ground up.
From observing him growing up I learned quite a bit.
Starting out was a real struggle until things took off then his business became what I consider very successful.
Some things I noticed are:
Most people dont want to spend the money for quality custom wood furniture with the exception of people that can afford nice things such as.
Wealthy people, attorneys, doctors, etc.....
Generally speaking most consumers are more concerned with price then they are with quality.
I witnessed many people contact him wanting top quality furniture then would bark at his prices and would want high custom furniture with prices comparable to places like "Rooms to Go" that sell what I call pre manufactured garbage quality furniture.
Another thing that worked very well was my dad never used particle board or MDF board for anything.
He always used at the minimum birch plywood, even if it was going to be laminated.
His attitude was he will not compromise quality to save a few bucks.
He was the only woodworker I ever knew that would not use particle board.
All of his competitors did use particle board and cheap materials.
People that pay top dollar generally appreciate the fact you do not compromise on quality by cutting corners and using cheap materials to save yourself a few bucks.
Don't waste your time trying to market yourself to "everyday ordinary people" because they generally can not afford high end custom furniture, will try to nickel and dime you to within an inch of your life and are just not good for the health of your business. Instead I sugest focusing on marketing yourself to those that can afford high quality furniture, will appreciate the value and quality that you bring to the table.
He would take photographs of before and after installing custom wall units and other things and would photograph the progress of any given project to show his customers how much attention to detail goes into building something for them. His customers loved looking at his photographs.
Aside from that.
Always strive to exceed the expectations of your customers and they will likely return when they want something else built and they will refer their friends and family members to you as well.
Welcome Paul and GREAT answer Chris.
The best advice I can offer to you, Paul is to develop a Business Plan.
The Bus Plan is YOUR road map to success.
Good luck. LUCKIEST
Another Thing Paul.
I remember my dad became good friends with an interior designer and that is how he got almost all of his work.
He did not spend any money marketing his business.
The designer had relationships with many high profile custom home builders and a lot of wealthy people.
And please keep update us on how everything is going.
I want to hear that your goals come true...:)
Thanks for your interest Chris. The way you watched your father shows interest and respect for him. You have also caused me to weigh some things, that I appreciate.
Luckiest, we may be getting closer to that business plan. I do believe we will do some more market research before taking any plunge. A good man raised me up in marketing and we use to use a term called "stacking the deck in your favor." We laid much of the marketing ground work first then did extensive field testing before ever committing.
Thank you very much guys. This is the first time I have joined in any kind of forum.
I love the smell of sawdust...lol
I cant help but respect a real wood worker.
Ohh where are you located anyways?
Just call me sir Draceus for now. A few years ago, being a professional carpenter myself, I did something that had not been done to the magnitude that I did, it worked great, fast money but in my case, I was disabled over night with post Polio syndrome.
Anyway, here's what I did, and if you love woodworking like you say you do, you'll enjoy the rewards of this possibilty for yourself.
I went to a horse race track, gathered two 45 gallon drums of used horse shoes, took them home, bent them in half, made wood planks, colored the horse shoes and made home coat and hat hangers, from two, four and six on different sets. They sold like hot cakes.....hope this helps.
Thanks fir the sales idea. We do have a race track not far from us. As we continue to evaluate the possibilities on our market that is one that would work well. What was your pricing like then?
I have been a insurance marketing exe (17 yrs). Prior to that in my teens I worked for a real carpenter (not the specialist only today.) Since 2000 I have been a residential remodeler running my own company. At 56 I am looking at woodworking and a shop type environment coupled with sales to provide for my house and as a business that is not as demanding or as labor intensive. I am tooled up, know how to use tools, know how to read prints, design a bit and will be getting a small shop (20 x 30) the first of April. I have been researching online topics such as: woodworking businesses and wood outdoor furniture and the best selling woodworking products.
Given those details I am open to hear from those who have experience in starting up a successful woodworking business and getting it into production. I am not in love with any particular wood project but look at it as a business. The projects I love usually wind up belonging to me.
Thanks in advance for any advice for helping us to begin to crawl, then walk and eventually run.