I'm looking for opinions on taxidermy software.
Those of you that have the taxishop software, how do you like it?
Do any of you have the trophy mount system software from Williamette PC services?
Does anyone have an accounting package that they would recommmend?
At this time I do everything by hand.
Thank you for any input you may have.
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I have both of these and do not really like the way either of them work. To price stuff you need to put in every conceivable position and there are a few different deer around now.
they will work but you shpould see it in action so you can make sure it is what you want.
For what it does you can use most any good business program that comes with your computer.
Wish I Had
I started With it when It was in its infancy. And have seen it grow. They have made numerous changes to improve the program. and have asked for suggestions, and implemented them. They offer updates when they make changes. The post about inputting every conceivable position is not quite accurate. You do have a lot of inputting to begin with. But the pricing is under pose. Full body at one price, shoulder mount another, half body, Specialty, etc., what most would consider pose actually goes under Action, IE: semi sneak left turn. But the newest version allows for a model mock up. Which can be used with a variety of Specimens. On specialty Mounts, where the Action may be different for every mount. I simply put SEE NOTES in the pose column. Then I can elaborate on specific. In any event you can get a free trial Version and see if it will suit your needs. As for accounting program. I use Quicken. Works for me.
Appreciate the information.
What do these programs actually do for you? I'm just small-time so I do everything manually. And that's really rather simple for me. But I'm trying to figure out in my noggin WHAT ANY program could do that would help? I guess if you're HUGE and you want to track inventory, but for me I jot things down as I'm running low and then I order them. What do these programs do?
$299 for software? That's pretty pricey if you ask me. Pretty forms are nice I guess, but I can do that with other software already on my machine. And, some I need in duplicate or triplicate which I have to go to a printer anyways.
Previous versions are INCOMPATIBLE with the new versions? So you can either S-can your previous databases or pay $50 for the upgrade to have it imported into the new version. Is that for each year/database? And what's going to happen next "upgrade"?
Imho, if ANY software is not compatible with newer versions of ITSELF, then there is either very LITTLE thought put into it's design. Or, that's done INTENTIONALLY to nail you for additional costs. I could see an upgrade cost - that's legit. But incompatibility, gimme a break!
There's several generic programs that come with most computers nowadays that I suspect will do the same things if input correctly. And, they can be used for other things too. I still don't see what these programs do for me that adds value to my business. Somebody please explain!
I have used Tom McNeils' Taxishop program since 1987. I love it! It is very complete. You can generate a sales tax report, expense report, there is a price list, completion letters, account history of each customer, envelopes -- you name it, the program has it. I was very reluctant to order it at first. I also thought, do I really need it. The answer is emphatically "YES!" It's a great organizational tool and saves me so very much time. Also, the technical support is wonderful. If you have a problem, all you need do is email Tom McNeil, and he responds almost immediately. I highly recommend this program. I don't know about any other taxidermy software out there, but I do know that this one does everything that I need to do.
I could see the purpose if you have a LARGE ENOUGH business to justify the cost and to keep things organized.
I don't know how large your business is Mary. Assuming you're fulltime and you have no employees, I'd be curious to see if you add up all the time you spent on this program, if it would've been quicker to have done it manually in the first place?
The reason I ask is because my wife and I have been creating electronic data for clients in many different arenas (combined experience about 40 years now). From CAD drawings to databases to simple documents that clients wanted electronically.
The main reasons most clients want their stuff in electronic format is:
1. It looks professional
2. They have vast quantities of data that otherwise would not be manageable
3. They expect many revisions and or copy work generated from this data
4. Everybody else is doing it - it's become the industry standard
5. Ease of sharing of data
I would say that in about 90%+ of the instances, considerably more time was spent creating electronic data than would've been spent inputting it manually.
The funny thing about the internet and the electronic age that we're in is that originally there were visions of going to a paperless society. Guess what? Check the paper companies and ask them how much MORE paperwork is generated nowadays than before Al Gore invented the internet!
Mary, MANY of the things you mention are already in paper format. I'd have to ask you to REALLY think about how much time it took you to input all this data, to learn the software, to resolve software issues, time taken to access data, and don't forget the time you had to work to pay for that software and upgrades and the cost to import your old data?
Is it REALLY saving you time and is a necessity? Or is it more of a "nicety"?
I have been using Taxishop for just over a year and think it is great.
You can generate monthly expense reports, tax reports, sales, receivables, etc. Once you enter your customer info, it automatically has your customers info on all the documents such as work orders, account history, completion notices, envelopes, order statements, etc. It does take some time entering all your customers and orders in, but after that it does save a pile of time. It also has a wildlife reference section with some great pictures Tom has entered. You can also enter your own refernce pictures as well. It also has a supplier section that you can do purchase orders from. It has a price list section for you to enter your prices as well. I enter all pricing manually for each order because we do alot of custom work and also have clients in Canada, USA and over seas. So alot of the pricing is different. If you have any trouble or questions Tom McNeal is always happy to help you. I think this is a great program for a full time shop as well as a part time shop.
We have the Taxishop Program and we think it is great. We have had it for around 5 years now. We did have to buy an upgrade when we bought our new computer a few months ago but the upgrade was worth it too because you send Taxishop a copy of your data you have on the program and Taxishop will copy these records onto your new upgrade so you do not have to re-enter all of your existing customers and receipts. You just install it on your computer and it is ready to go with all of your previous information already on it.
The program speeds up the time involved in many areas. When a client comes in, if it is a previous client, you just type in their last name and his address, previous mounts you have done for him, etc. all come up. If a client calls and wants to know the balance he owes on a mount, you just type in their last name and it will bring up all his invoices and the payments they made and the balance. At the end of the month, at the touch of a couple of buttons, you can have the sales tax report finished. When a new client comes in, you just type in his name, address, phone, and it stores it forever. You can easily change the address if the client moves. When making a invoice for a mount, it will assign a number to that order which we attach that same number to the speciman. It has an area for harvest information where you can fill in there permit number, date speciman was taken, state it was taken in, etc. This keeps everything in order for the regulations required by the Game & Parks commission and the Federal fish and Wildlife. Therefore, if we were ever to be checked, everything is in order. There is even a button you can push that prints up a postcard for a federal tag with clients name, address, etc that is required by federal Fish and wildlife to be kept with all waterfowl.
Once you have entered a customers name and address, all of the above can be done at the touch of a button along with writing these customers letters or giving them an invoice and their name and address comes up at the top of each one. We even have our logo at the top of all of our invoices and letters which taxishop did for us.
All of this gives our studio the professional look we are looking for.
There are a few areas of the taxishop program I don't use like the inventory part. If there are areas you don't want to use, you can just leave them blank.
We highly recommend the Taxishop software. We would be lost without it.
Val & Brian
... if you're solely using the electronic version for your states DNR records. You may wish to double check with them that this is legit.
Most legal documents are still maintained as a paper copy and the e-files are not considered the legal copy. (Although with electronic signatures nowadays, some areas are turning around). What happens if the DNR checks you and your computer won't boot up or some other issue keeps them from accessing your electronic records? I'm pretty sure I know what the Illinois DNR would say! In which case you'd have to constantly print out updated copies of the minimum records your state requires to be all legal (imho).
Just playing the devils advocate here - food for thought. You may wish to check with them...
All of the info that you've given, gives me a better understanding of the software. But, I do not believe as a part-timer the value I'd receive would be worth the buck spent. I'm not even sure as a full-timer it would be worth it.
I don't deal with sales tax - I provide a service, that's not taxable.
I don't need to maintain my previous clients addresses for any duration. Although I have started sending out Christmas cards and I may continue doing that - but I can do that in Excel (free, already on my computer). Or I may just type up the labels in Word. Once there, they're there.
I add up my write up orders for the year before April 15th and that's my gross income for the year. (approx time 1 hour at most).
I tally up my receipts for the year to deduct from my gross (another hour)
If a client calls and wants to know a balance due or when his/her mount will be ready, I open my log book and find the info in seconds. (I could see an advantage if I had a HUGE backlog and hundreds of work-orders to sift thru but I don't)
I manually track my work/customers in a write up log like they have in the Breakthrough books. Forms are created in Microsoft Publisher and look very professional. As do my business cards. Everything is created by me on my computer with existing software. (I was dissatisfied with the quality I got back from the "professional" printer)
WHY do you need to know a previous customer's mounts completed, etc.?
Again, unless you are fairly large, I simply don't see the need. A professional look CAN be achieved using the existing, free tools I've described. The software is pretty much a tool that is transparent to your customers anyways. If it helps you get the professional look and if you think it saves you time, then it's worth it in your situation...
I would like to thank all of you for the information that you have provided for me. It has been a great help to me.
Marty - If you don't think you need taxidermy software then don't get any! But some of us do see that we would benefit from the software. And $299.00 is actually not a bad price for software.
...it takes a little effort and good organizational skills to do things manually that otherwise could easily be done with a program.
My main point(s) were this and that most already have existing software on their boxes that can already do most of this stuff. Maybe it's not as slick and tidy, but it's there.
And secondly, that there's a lot of features that don't get used.
And thirdly, unless you are running a very large operation, I do not think it saves ANY time. In fact, I believe it'll take mnost folks MORE time if you really take an honest look at the time spent generating the electronic info. I was just trying to point out these facts to make people aware of it.
I see it more as an organizational tool and to help convey a professional image. Other than that I see no data that anybody has offered that PROVES that it's actually saving them time. Count up the hours spent doing all the above tasks that I mentioned vs. how you were doing things BEFORE this software. You know where my money's at...
A customer walks into your shop. Marty I have a deer I want mounted. As you shuffle through the papers on your desk to find the note book you keep your Customer data in.
you discuss his preferences, Then write down his name, address, phone, Tag Number date of kill, date in, County and state of kill, condition of hide, then take the measurements and write them down. Mind you have to drag the book into the shop to see what if any special requests. you take the book as you look through the catalog for the form. Then write down the form numbers in the book so you will know what form goes with which customer. All that is fine and dandy for a small shop I guess. However with TMS when the customer comes in I stand behind my counter, and type in the customer Info. Then go to projects, on click of the mouse gives me Species. another click, and I can choose pose. The same with action. Then I simply type in date of kill, date in. Tag # state taken, Condition, all right there. I can then go to Notes and make a note of the special requests, "Leave tare in ear" One click and I go to Materials and Measurements. Where I can put in the measurements, and the form, eyes, ears, capsules, and what have you. one click and I can type in the deposit received, and Instantly print out a professional looking receipt.
When I need to order, I simply print out a list, the customer materials is automatically compared to inventory, and lets me know what I need. When I start a project I simply go to the next Project Number. And print out a work sheet. It tells me what form, what eyes, etc., any special notes. that goes on the clipboard above the work station. Now here is the real beauty. Anyone in the shop can go to the computer at any time. and tell, The outstanding Balance, the progress of work. They can print an Invoice or make changes if requested by the customer. They need not bother me. You are in services, and do not charge sales tax. But that is not the way it is in every state. In mine I have to. So the program aids me Immensely in that area.
And No this system did not cost $299.00. I bough the original version for 129.00. When It became outdated by the standards of the fast moving pace of computers. It was not a case of trash the program. they gave me the new 169.00 program, and gave me the full 129.00 I paid for The original version toward the nice more effective upgrade. I have had the program for 6 years. And expect I will have it for at least 4 more. as I can see no need to change. 10 years 169.00 = 16.90 a year. Make do with some program that came with the box. You gotta be kidding.
This is an intersting thread.
TenBears I stand corrected. I assumed most folks have Excel and Access on their computers. But my wife reminded me that is the second level up on the bundled software that comes with a new machine.
And actually, IF I wanted to go electronic. I could indeed custom create spread sheets along with the database to my specific needs with these two pieces of software. I could do ALL of the stuff you mentioned and eliminate the stuff I don't need. I'm sure the first one I created would take a fair amount of effort. But then it would be a copy/edit deal for all the others. (Maybe I've got a market here....HMMMMMM!) I just don't see the value in it for 95% of us.
TenBears, I STILL don't see ANY time savings. What you've described, you're still doing everything I'm doing manually (and then some!). I have everything I need right there on the write-up form. You have to "click" into each environment, in effect taking more time. (Plus, I'll bet you can write faster than you can type?)
If you are a full service shop doing Migratories and such. And you have a LOT of customers with perhaps a LONG turnaround time I could see the organizational value in the program. But how long is your turnaround time? If you're fairly organized, you just simply put the write-up form at the back of the book and it works it's way to the front when the time comes. All your info is there when that job comes up to start. And any supplies can be jotted down on the "to order" list. (Hell, you've got several months minimum before you need them anyways. What's the big deal?)
EVERYTHING you described I can do as quickly or quicker manually. And I'll bet my forms are just as "purty" as yours. You make it sound like my book is some HUGE item I have to "lug around". When in fact, EVERYTHING is in ONE PLACE and is easily accessible. Do you "lug around" your computer - No. No different here.
Customers don't care if you type in or write up their order. They're already in your shop, you've already sold them. Money would be better spent on a professional looking website or more professional business cards.
I'm a firm believer of keeping things simple. This software (imho)is major overkill for most of us. NOBODY has actually compared the times between utilizing the software vs. doing things manually. I think most of you are afraid to! Sounds like what we call in the business world - "Micro-managing".
And again, I challenge the validity of electronic records vs. paper copies (as I explained above). Have any of you checked with your DNR to see if your electronic data is acceptable to them, or do you need to carry a paper copy too? In which case you would have to CONSTANTLY print out the updates - a MAJOR inefficiency and costly...
I was not saying That a tablet is that big of a thing that you need a dolly to haul it. But The point is when One of the other guys needs to check specific on a job. they go get the ledger. take it to their bench, and review it. sometimes they lay it in hide paste, paint, grease, or blood. then when someone else needs to refer to it, it is where the hell is the darn book. usually after they have already wasted 10 minutes looking for it. And hope the stain is not on some important information. Yes, I preach. Go to the book look for the info, then return to work. But there is always some excuse. and Unfortunately people do get side tracked. Now lets also consider. I currently have 174 outstanding projects. According to my program That I just checked. I just placed an order. that order consisted of 163 sperate items. I place large orders to take advantage of volume discounts. Imagine if I had to go page by page to get the materials needed. if I went through the book before hand, and placed them on a sheet to facilitate ordering. That would take considerable time. and I may have multiple items that are not together, I may not catch that. So I may give the same part number several times. The operator ALWAYS says, " You have that ordered already, Do you need two? " and of course you feel stupid saying Yes, I am not very organized. But double, and triple checking takes time. It really is nice to just look in the catalog with the customer there, and input the part numbers into the material field. And let the program accumulate them. I used the hand written method effetely for many years. But I honestly feel today's programs save me a great deal of time, and money. I don't have to worry where the book is. I simply print out a work order and clip it to the clip board above a work station, when David, Michael, Tina, or Brian begin work. all they need do is look at their clip board. And know exactly what needs to be done. When the work Is completed. One click of the mouse prints out a customer invoice that shows all the information, Including balance due. The invoice goes in the completed bin, and when the customer comes in. anyone can simply pick up the invoice. and know what to collect. Everything we need is at the click of a mouse. In less than 5 seconds from Now, I could tell you the gross outstanding balance of my customer accounts. The same amount of time would give me sales tax collected for the last quarter. I can tell you how many of each form are in the warehouse at any time. I am sure anyone could if they have 20 or maybe 30 forms. But We currently have in excess of 200. I can also look over the past and predict which forms, in which sizes are most used. This gives me the ability to purchase popular forms, that I know will not sit in inventory for long periods. At a time when they are on special, of promotional pricing. If I can save 15% on forms I know I will use in the next 12 months, It is a considerable savings for us.
With our work load. There is another disadvantage to using the hand written method. A customer calls to change the pose on his mount, Can you imagine looking through 170+ pages to find his information. time is money, and even 3 minutes at a time adds up over a year.
Now. The most important thing, No one's dog has ever chewed up my PC because someone picked it up with blood on their hand.
As for the DNR. My particular State requires a specific form to be recorded with specific information, I have to do this by hand. But no matter what method I used. I would still have to fill the report out separately.
Maybe for some the hand written method would be just as effective, Maybe more, But to plan on being small time is underselling yourself. Shoot for the stars, You may reach the moon.
Sounds like you've got a pretty large operation. You've got employees and 163 on-going projects! That is clearly a necessity in your situation.
I have no desire whatsoever to expand beyond fish or get as large as your operation in all honesty. I might do saltwater replicas someday, but that's about it. Outside of that, perhaps teaching taxidermy. I really enjoy teaching and that's where my background is. So maybe there's some room for expansion there.
I just want to be clear that I'm all for useful technology and a professional appearance. You know I'm a bit of a computer geek. If this software helps people get organized and they feel they're getting value from it, then by all means buy it.
My stance on the matter is mainly geared towards the single person operation and the part-timers. But even some of them may get value from this software. I think a lot depends on each individual's situation. I just wanted to make those folks aware that in some cases, if you're a smaller operation that a tool like this probably costs more time than it is saving. You CLEARLY are NOT a small time operation...
I well understood your point. And was not refuting it. I enjoyed this thread. It is rare that I can discuss a topic with someone, And not have someone com in a d get nasty. You have made valid points. And your arguments were well founded.
Honest open exchanges of opinions, and Information, Are always a good and Interesting thing. And I enjoyed this one. Hope we can indulge in others in the future.
I'm currently developing a web-based taxidermy software package. I wrote it for a friend who is a taxidermist, but I plan to offer it to the public when I feel like it is complete. I emailed one person on this thread with an offer to try out, but i never heard back.
I would like input from other people. I would like to setup a couple free accounts for people to test out the site. If you are interested, I would like you to try out the site and make some suggestions to me. You would be welcome to just play around with bogus data or you can actually use real data. It's all password protected, so only you would be able to see the internals of the site.
Here is a brief overview of what is offered:
Customer tracking (name, phone, address, etc)
Order tracking (species, pose, turn, dates, prices, and lots more)
Measurements of each order (eye-nose, neck, eyes, color and more)
Account Info (your name, email, title, address, tax rate, etc)
Track Material Purchases (what you bought, where, how much $, etc)
Reports (track gross income, taxes, purchases, etc)
As i said, this site is still under development, but the features above are fully functional now. I am adding more and more as I get recommendations. My future plan is to sell accounts for a small fee, but I am not really close to that goal yet. Please let me know if you would be interested.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org