1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

Not trying to start a fight, but honestly, how do they do it?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by michael p., Apr 26, 2012.

  1. michael p.

    michael p. Getting better with age :)

    I'm not trying to start a price war debate, as a fact I feel this is America and you are free to charge what you want.

    Saying all that though, I just gotta ask...., if you are charging $250-$350 for a deer, how do you do it? I was transferring money into the business account this morning and was looking at my overhead for the last month. Now I am a very small studio and try to manage it in a most efficient way in an effort to turn the most net profit. But over the last few weeks I realized that if I do not go up a minimum 10% across the board that i will have to cut back on my lifestyle which is not very glamorous in the first place.

    I know that I pay the same amount for product as you and in many cases less due to gross ordering. I also have less expenditures in my personal life as I do not have children and choose to drive an older vehicle so I do not have payments.

    We do not live extravegently, do not have a huge house payment, we charge a very fair price IMO for Taxidermy, we have a ton of business (for a small studio) and as I said before, always run our business in order to achieve the most profit, so we 'make it', but knowing what I know, how do those of you with families do this profession by charging $350 or less for deer?

    I'm not knocking you, but I ran the numbers and it's not there, even if you are a cash business reporting no income. What am I missing???
  2. michael p.

    michael p. Getting better with age :)

    By the way, this question is not really for the part timers who have a full time job, we know how you make it. This question is for our fellow Taxidermists doing this gig full time.

  3. fozziebear

    fozziebear Active Member

    Good question Mikey but I bet your gonna hear crickets on this one !!!!! Most will not admit to being that cheap and the ones that are ...well , you just took thier answer away about the 2nd job deal ::) ;D
  4. gab

    gab Active Member

    i will contend that a full timer doing only taxidermy for 350 does not exist.they all have something else going:tannery,game processing,hunting guide,disability check etc.Even at 450 you would have to cut alot of corners pinch pennies and do alot of under the table stuff if it was your ONLY income.
  5. brigham boy

    brigham boy "if it's horny, mount it"

    I wonder the same thing, we are at 575 for deer heads and with all the overhead and rising cost I feel squeezed as it is. Were raising prices this upcoming season.

    As for the guys charging 250.... I think they come and go like flies, they start there prices way low desperate for work, hack out trash work for a year or so and end up failing. Then someone else steps up and repeats. I put away 165.00 on a deer for supplies and I tan my own capes, now some will argue that that's too much especially if I'm tanning in house. NOPE it's not

    There is always unexpected cost and the extra bit is for that reason.

    But let's say 150 for cost


    That's one tank of gas in our mini van and dinner for one night(family of six). Gotta be chitin me.
  6. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    I've been preaching about the $250 deer head guys for years!!! I'm glad you ran some numbers Michael! AND IT'S THESE PEOPLE THAT ARE BRINGING THE INDUSTRY DOWN!!! Several things, they CANNOT be doing quality work. They CANNOT be paying their taxes. They CANNOT be putting any money in their pockets. They are destined to FAIL!!! In addition, they are making the industry as whole look bad!!! Yeah, it's a free country. I get it. BUT you can do what you want UNTIL you affect someone else by your actions. Tanking in deer heads for $250 and using the deposits to live on while doing chitty work and eventually going out of business with other peoples property in limbo makes us all look bad......
  7. duckfeathers

    duckfeathers New Member

    They aren't making any money. In some cases they are paying to do the work. Around here there are plenty of ego trip taxidermists.. They come and go. I've been here for years . I smile and charge 550 to 600. I should be charging 800.. Just paid a tree trimmer to top off a tree. Shelled out $500. They were done in 4 hours... Every tree guy I called gave me the same price.
  8. gab

    gab Active Member

    it is understood by consumers that you get what you pay for and the consumer makes a concious choice when he chooses a service based company,be it a cut rate roofer or a neighbors kid for plumbing.$250 taxidemists don't make a whole industry look bad any more than yugos made the whole car industry look bad.
  9. dougp

    dougp Active Member

    Some of these guys have wives that are "career women" making big bucks. I've known a few over the years. Even though they're doing taxidermy full time it is really treated more as a hobby that makes a few bucks along the way......while the wife pays the freight.
  10. nickstax

    nickstax New Member

    i got one of the cheap deer in last night. 375.00 is what this guy paid. no stitches, nailed together not tanned, rolled in sawdust and dp, ear butts and skull plate filled with play dough. the hair was falling off this deer when you grabed it. the smell was tough to say the least. now he has 375 plus my 475 and 100 for new cape in this one mount. so lets here it for all the people who charge 350. fyi this was his sons first deer and wanted to get back quick.
  11. cwt

    cwt Active Member

    I agree I charge 375.00 part timer and there is no way that would work if I was full time. There are few fulltimers around me that I know of that go from 450 to 550 and I hear alot of people saying they just dont want to pay that much. But to do it full time you would have to charge at least that much. But like as Mike stated I have a fulltime job to pay the bills and I do this so I can have fun money. Dont think I could do it fulltime even for the 600 or 700 per deer head. For one I would maybe get 1 or 2 a year and two I would not have the patience. i am good with 30 deerheads and a couple of other things and then be done by june and enjoy my summer
  12. The only full time guys I have seen that charge less than $400 seem to come out of nowhere and start a business. And disappear within a few months to a few years. Then I get leery customers at my shop talking about calling a taxidermist 5 times in 2 years with no answer or response and having no idea if they will ever see their trophy again. Then it takes a couple of mounts to build up their trust, just sad. I think the short answer is they might make it temporarily, off of deposits, then the red flag should be for the customer when they call asking for more money and it isn't done. If it is a business, and they manage money that poorly something is wrong.
    Or like was mentioned earlier,
  13. I cant believe i am going to open myself up to the abuse i am about to receive, but here its goes.
    1st of all the reason there is no one speaking up is they don't wont to receive the abuse that will be delivered.

    Second I am full time - have been since 1986 yes i charge 350.00 for a deer mount. my competition 5 miles away is 350.00 also. Our closet competition to both of us 40 and 80 miles way with several taxidermist in those locations with an average price of 375.00. So that would be my argument for my pricing as is.
    Third 350.00 taxidermist turns out crap bullllllll chitttttttt sure there are some that do but not all. just like all 500 deer don't look the same mounted by different taxidermist. some are better than others. You can draw your own conclusions as to what i send home to my customers. This is my web. > www.buckfevertaxidermy.com ( newellton la.) I do think i should be able to get more $ but i just don't think the area will allow it. And surely not willing to gamble with what i have got. I should add that my competition is no better or worse what ever you want to call it than me.
    To answer your question more directly how do i survive.
    I have no shop rent or note. Its paid for. Power runs about 140.00 month phone 100.00. water 30.00 there is no other over head other than supplies each week. And we're both paying the same thing for that. Shop does an aveage of 5000/6000 k a month sometimes more never less though.
    My home is 4800 sq feet with a mortgage payment, my truck, and wife's car with notes on each. We keep the utilities on That was not meant to be a bragging statement just meant to prove a point that it can be done. My wife works with me in the shop so there is no other income other than what we turn out.
    I wont sit here and tell you that every year things are just Rosy. There has been years we struggled to get by. but get by we did. as some years are better than others.
    I know i will be hit from ever angle here including being called all kind of names . I will not get into an argument or defend any of what i said. it simply is what it is. But i will wait with anticipation to read all of the replies to this reply of mine.

    I think i should add that I've worked hard and long hours and we did without some things long ago, to get to the this point in life. I believe in the american dream, I'm living it!
    The long hours, sweat, and doing with out some times has paid off.
  14. timwilly

    timwilly I lost my agenda !!!

    Part Timer here, about 40 mounts a year, over 400 for my deer heads. Just finished an otter with little habitat (700).

    With that being said, I'd like to address something that Harry Whitehead said. Harry I've seen some pretty crappy work from full time
    taxidermists that charge over 500 for a deer head. I personally don't know anybody in my immediate area that's less than 350, even
    part timers like myself. I suppose a family member might get a deal from someone now and then, but not the norm. Because I have
    seen it personally I am not a firm believer that a higher price means better quality or represents the industry any differently.

    I personally don't think the super lowballers are paying anything in taxes or making any money at those prices.
    It's just not possible. Anybody running a somewhat legitimate business part time or full time knows it.

    MP...to answer your original question: They don't do it, I think you would have a hard time finding anyone who truely charges 250
    a deer head staying in business for very long at all or doing more than 5 heads a year. I'd bet we would be shocked to learn just how many on
    this very forum have charged less than 300 for a deerhead, if they would be honest. I did it for my brother in law once.........once. (12 years ago.)
  15. I've got several of the scumbags in my area that are under $350 , bragging about how many heads they took in, go ahead and bust your ass for min wage, i know im not at $600 and going up 10% again.
  16. socalmountainman

    socalmountainman Northwestern School of Taxidermy - Class of '73

    ...and taxes, insurance, business license, USFW permit, accountant. Part-timer here, can't quit my State job as I retire in 4 years but I'll be darned if I pay for my shop stuff from MY paycheck. My customers pay for all that and even turn a profit in the end. My accountant charges me $625 an that's one whole deer head for me. Joe

  17. accountant that's funny , my wife is the accountant, payroll mgr, office manger, tax clerk, accounts receivable & payable, and duck and small game lady. And sure if she read this would let me know quick what i forgot. lol
  18. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    Do the math, haven't you ever thought of how much extra you would make if you raised your price even by $30 to $380? You do not raise your price because of fear, you have a false sense that you know what is in your customers wallet before they walk in the door. How do you do it? A crystall ball? You just know that your customer only has $350 in his wallet? If you pre judge your "area" and customers wallets, you will always be making payments on both cars and a mortgage. Why not have everything paid for by your customers? I bet that your customers wallets are deeper than you think.
  19. X2. I had that problem for a while. Then talking to a few friends in the industry and people on here I decided to start raising my price. My only FEAR was raising too much in one year because of loyal every year repeat customers. I didn't want to do too much at once so I decided to do it slowly a little ($20-40 a year) and not stop until I see a decrease in business. Especially if my work continues to improve and my expenses keep going up (a certainty). I was at $350 3 or so years ago. At $455 now. Hard to charge much more (at least on mammals) than a guy 10 miles away with 3x the experience and arguably better mammal taxidermy and credentials to back it up. I am already $20 more than him on my deer heads, though I have a better turnaround, and my main source of business is my fish and freeze drying. So far, so good though. And for the record there is a shop 10 miles the other direction charging $375 and one only 5 miles away charging $400. Seems to me a big part of it is how you conduct yourself, confidence, and keeping your word (turnaround time ext...). Those little price increases do help a lot, and you will only know if you try. I know guys who for whatever reason increased every time they raised their prices, maybe the customer assumed more $ meant better work?
  20. timwilly

    timwilly I lost my agenda !!!

    Glenn.... with very little competition around you a small increase in price (like Mr. T said) would have little effect on your constumers.

    I am in no way telling anybody how to run a business, but when I finally figured out that someone is going to get it mounted or
    they"re not going to get it mounted and cost had little to do with it, I was allot better off. I'd much rather mount 30 deer heads for 425 each
    than 36 at 350.00. Now times that times the amount of work you take in and you can see my point.

    I have a very super rinky dink operation out of a two and half car garage with an add on for storage behind my house.
    My business model allows me to pay myself $25.00 an hour and end up with a 3% profit after that.

    Not upset in any way like you thought people would react, I just have to ask what you were charging 5 years ago?
    What makes you think that you loyal customers who like your work would pay just a little bit more?
    Everything has went up in price and shipping alone is a bitch. I don't have to live your life or pay your bills, but I don't
    think your clients would blink an eye over an increase of 30-50 dollars.

    I know in our supposedly strapped economy we think the market won't bare it. Have you been to a casino lately?
    Maybe even to disney world or any other theme park...everytime I go its always packed with people spending money on what they like.

    I wish you well and I got to feel for you for the hours your putting in to get by at times. But more for less is well
    within your grasp. I now there's got to be some guys out there reading this and smacking there foreheads saying:
    My god those are 1980"s prices !!!

    There's some damn good taxidermists in my area and the competition is there. I'm going up to 450 for deer this fall and
    I know going in that I'll probably be turning away business because I'll get more work than I care to do.

    Run a test, raise your price $25.00 and if anything falls off drop it back down, you've lost nothing.
    Your regulars fully understand prices go up and if they're satisfied with your work they won't mind paying for Quality.
    Don't think for a second they're going to take it down the road because he's 25 dollars cheaper.