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Foundation of a business

Discussion in 'Deer and Gameheads' started by michael p., Feb 8, 2011.

  1. michael p.

    michael p. Getting better with age :)

    I got a question. I know that I have lost and my main competitor/friend has lost business to cheaper priced taxidermists in the area. We were talking about it this morning and we both agreed we were happy to be rid of them. Honestly, you cannot build a business on dumpster divers. We both have a solid clientelle who likes and appreciates our services so the fact that a few leave is never a problem as we generally keep growing a more solid clientelle.

    Now here is the question I pose to those whom defend their $250-$300 mounts......what are you going to do when the foundation starts cracking???

    What I mean by that is you got into this business and got clients by being the cheaper choice and not by trying to be one of the better choices. There is somebody waiting in the wings to "under cut" you the same way you did starting out. You have built your business on cheapness so your clientelle is not looking at quality, they are looking at savings. So lets say you charge $250 for a shoulder mount and another taxidermist opens a shop 5 miles away and runs ad's saying he will do it for $225, 10% cheaper and a bunch of your business moves his way.....what do you do???

    You have already built a reputation and clientelle who cannot and will not absorb a price hike so raising prices is out of the question to compensate for lost income.....so do you lower prices in order to compete and keep clients happy and lose more money???

    Im not being a smart ass in asking this, it is an honest question. Big wayne and myself were pondering it.....seriously, how do you guys do it??? I see guys here at $250 offering a $50 discount on first deer kills and so on.....it just seems there is no end to the undercutting and they are not hurting established businesses, they just seem to keep undercutting the undercutter until they are both in the hole too deep to dig out. What gives and can somebody explain to how this scenario ever helps a business out???

    Seems to me the foundation would crumble due to cheap labor if you will excuse the expression.
  2. DeeCee

    DeeCee New Member

    Mike, I believe if a man could see the logic in what you just wrote, he would have been logical enough to be above that price level anyway. Maybe some will see the light, but I'm not holding my breath.

  3. ANDY

    ANDY Well-Known Member

    Mike the guys around here that undercut are the guys that work another job and do this on the side or are layed off. And most of
    them only do deerheads and nothing else, they just want the easy stuff, no coyotes or turkeys ect. The full time guys may lose a few
    deer but make it up with other animals. I think to the undercutters, they treat it more as a hobby than a business and don't really care.
  4. DeeCee

    DeeCee New Member

    It's not all of the part time guys with other incomes that are undercutting. I have a very full time job. I only take in a few heads. I'm at the middle of the price range here for the ones I know the prices on. I will charge more, once I think the quality of my work improves enough. And yes, I've been to conventions, and attend some one on one instruction and seminars when allowable.
  5. The cheapest guy in my area gets 85% of the work (deer heads) in my area. He gets around 200 a year. He only charges 250. I charge 300 get about 30 a year. My work is better and the reason I know that is some my customers used to use him until they seen my work. Not that mine is all that great but it's improving. But in my area price is the number 1 factor and quality means very little. I will continue to raise my prices I work to hard to try to improve to do this for nothing.
  6. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    I think many have the idea that because they are poor, that everybody is poor, and they are blind to the many hunters that have a fat wallet, a business with employees, and a good eye for quality. Hunters with a little extra in their wallets, do not make price the number one factor, they want a mount that stands out from the snap together guys. There is your money. Everyone has to decide who their customers are, the rich, the average, or the cheap's. Why milk cows that only give a small amount of milk?
  7. DCon

    DCon New Member

    I really doubt that all of the Pro here started out charging what you charge today. I'm sure you do better work now, and should charge more. Seems like most guys starting out don't even do complete taxidermy, often just doing deer or whatever. If you do anything that comes in, then you should be able to make up your difference there.
  8. snagger

    snagger New Member

    Charge what you want but if the going rate is 300 to 350 in ur neck of the woods don't sea how u get much more then that I was at the gas station and herd some one doing it for 75.00 how is this ???????????
  9. Richbo

    Richbo 2nd place is the first loser!

    I don't believe that anyone could charge $75 - that wouldn't even cover the cost of materials. I think you heard wrong.

    I see Mike's point and believe the main reason some do so much undercutting, is that they know they do not provide quality service and feel that a dirt cheap price is the only way to attract customers. If they do a crappy job, I would think that they will not get return business. I have seen some mounts done around my area that are really crappy. Heck some of them were done by guys in the business for 20 years - I actually have a couple hanging on my wall done by these guys before I got into the business. Anyway, I honestly believe that the customers you may have lost will come back when they take that piece of crap, cheap, mount home and hang it next to one you did for them in the past. They may realize that cheap is not always better. I've seen some of your work on here and at the PA Show last year. Your quality work and reputation will bring them back - at least I would hope so! Keep the faith!
  10. Trotax

    Trotax Member

    I dont expect the price issue to end anytime soon. Anyone with a computer and a little sense can learn taxidermy these days. Many of the low ballers now days do pretty decent work. Much of what they know they learned on here. Its much easier to learn taxidermy than it used to be. Therefore more people are getting in to it. The more people competing for the work thats available, the harder it will be to get a good price for what you do.
  11. jtd

    jtd New Member

    great post trotax! very true in my county.
  12. Very true Trotax.

    TROPHY SHACK Phillip cole

    In my area the price of a deer is 300 to 325 these taxies do good work I also do good work i live in north GA we just cant get what some of u other guys can get,its hard to charge 450 when all in the area get 300,but i also plan to go up according to work load i do this part time and do everything but fish.Michale i see what u are saying and admire your work
  14. Uncle Harley

    Uncle Harley New Member

    Mike it's simple in areas that wont support higher prices we can't run a full time shop unless we want to deal with national advertising and bringing work in from all over. But why would some guy send his trophey all across the country to a guy starting out when there guys like * and you that do awsome work.

    I started out at $300 when majority of the locals were $250-275. And let me tell you when you are the new guy charging more than the guy who does good work and has been taking clients for 15 yrs it's tough. I have lost work from good friends, but I can't blame them when they can save $50 and it's going to get tossed in the garage or basement because the wife won't let them put it up in the house.
  15. Matt

    Matt Active Member

    I guess this topic will always be around. I always hear guys stating that "I can't get that kind of money in my area". Guess what, I don't get that kind of money from my area either. Frankly, there are alot of "taxidermists" in my area and they get most of the work around here. I get the clients that want quality work and are willing to pay for it. Most drive atleast an hour when they have a guy just 10 min. down the road. I feel we all have the choice to choose the clients we are after. I prefer the ones that appreciate quality work, and that makes my job that much more enjoyable. You can ask yourself what am I worth? Then you can continue to improve your work and stand out above the rest. There will always be someone cheaper, why not strive to be a better artist? Clients looking for exceptional work will find you, and all of your hard work will pay off, in more ways than one!
  16. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118

    Here is the problem as I see it, NOW. I just got to spend 10 days in your shop Michael. That is longer than I have ever spent in another persons shop.......ever. I'm an observer. I learned allot while at your shop. Not about taxidermy, but about running a taxidermy business. You in turn learned from your father. Dan THE GREAT. You have had that advantage working for you all along, and is in part what has given you good business sense. Together, you and Kyle carry a mighty one, two punch. Most of us have not had the exposure to such GREAT business skills as you and your shop possess. I walked away from your shop with a different focus and agenda. I will humbly say; many of us need to spent a week just watching you conduct business. I told you once while I was there that I was jealous of you for one reason. That reason being your camaraderie with your clients. Why IS your camaraderie so great? insert quote; "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". You show how much you care by working your a$$ off and getting the finished product back in your clients hands. That was an eye opener for me. Around here, the standard answer is 1 year. I saw a deer come in on Tuesday at your shop, and by Saturday it was mounted. That my friend is priceless. I'm not saying the 250.00 guy couldn't do the same, but you do it on a regular basis and is worth that much alone just in speedy return. You turn things so fast, the client hasn't had time to forget what it looked like. Instead, he is shocked by the return time and gives you a tip and bonus. That's working the business to your advantage. So, to answer your question from my perspective, that guy doing the 250.00 dollar heads will burn out and fade away just like they have been doing since taxidermy began. The reason why is because he doesn't know how to run a business where longevity is the key focus. He's only there for a little while to put a few extra dollars in his pocket for Christmas or new toys. He has his followers who aren't too concerned about his future survival. Just the head that is currently in his possession. He'll worry about next year or the year after when the time comes that he needs a head mounted again. On the other hand, you have loyal customers who have grown to appreciate what you do for THEM on a year to year basis and before you, they became confident in your father to take care of them. On your sign it says: established in 1974. Michael, that's 37 years of solid business practices. You were less than 5 years old. Until you and others like you start teaching business practices, those 250.00 guys can not and will not endure. They will crumble due to a lack in building a solid foundation, and guys like you will be there to catch the followers as they once again seek yet a new taxidermist to fullfill their needs, and once you show them how much you care, they will come back to see how much you know. Once they know how much you know, they won't ever leave again because they now realize how much you care about your business.

    Time for me to reconstruct how I do business. Thanks Michael.

    TROPHY SHACK Phillip cole

    theirs been taxies doing busnises for 25yrs and they get 300 a head i wish we could get 550 move to my area and charge that and you will probley get no work these taxies have not give up or even thaught about fading,to be honest we may all just be scared to go up.
  18. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    Every taxidermist in your area set their prices according to FEAR. They fear customers will not pay $400 or more. who sets the prices? The taxidermist, or the hunters? They will pay $400+ if you tell them that it cost $400+. Sell your self, and they will come.

    TROPHY SHACK Phillip cole

    i agree with you, just dont want to go to 400 and get no work but if work load is their i plan to go to 350
  20. Jake of cousins outdoors

    Jake of cousins outdoors Shoot like you're hungry!

    It is just like anything else it depends on your area and local economy what you can charge, I am at 350 for a shoulder mount, They are another Two taxi in my county one is at 150 and the other is at 225. I have been doing comercial work for 3 years they have been doing it for over 20 years.I know I loose some mounts to these guys every year but I know I gain more than they take cause I have gotten several from them. I am not going to talk down about any of there work but I will say mine is better and I am not as good as prolly half the guys and gals on here. I also know that my two closest competitors other than them are Brian Holmes and Bob Stout, both are great guys and both do great work, they both charge more than I do. I didnt base my price to steal work from them at all nor do I want to do so, Matter of fact I have tried to and have sent work there way and recomended them and spoken highly of there work to customers in my shop. Bobs work speaks for itself he does an outstanding job and deserves to be at the top of the money chart. With that being said the county I live in poputation is 1500, There is one factory that employes maybe 50 workers and start pay is 7.25 couty job and city job start pay is 8.00. A couple fast food joints and a couple gas stations. So there is not a lot of extra money floating around here, but I also take 50 % of my deer form customers that dont live around here or travel all over and hunt. But in a season like this year where my numbers were down over 50%, I was glad that I was not to high cause I may have lost that local 50% of buisiness, because they do not have the money to spend. I do have around 20 to 40 customers that return every year with work for me, and eventually as I get more of these loyal customers and I dont feel the need to take as much as I can in. I will riase my price considerably and do work just for theses customers as I know that the price doesnt matter to them, but my clientell just isnt big enough with these customers yet. I f it was big enough I asure you I would take in less and make more. My goal is to put out a top notch mount no matter what I am charging, I am not at the level I would like to be at but I am improving and learning more and more everyday. So I have pleaded my case of what I based my price at, Am I guilty or not guilty Michael P. But I do understand what you are saying.