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Hey Fishheads - Interesting calls for information

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by timwilly, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    Eight dollars an inch is bull ..
    Every factory in the country will start you out at $8 - $10 dollars an hour WITH BENEFITS. They'll hire you, train you in less than 2 weeks, sit you on an assembly line and call it skilled labor. A novice couldn't learn the names of all the fish he'd be mounting in 2 weeks let alone the proper process of a good mount .
    I'm just saying this is exactly why certain customers laugh at price, because of cheap taxidermists allowing bad customers to dictate price. At $8 an inch there is no way you could buy materials, pay utilities, cover other shop expenses ( cleaning chem., toilet paper, trash bags etc. ) , ware & tear on tools, pay taxes, pay yourself a decent wage and of course taxidermists deserve benefits too.
    I say, get education from a good instructor, mount a fish worth more money, ADVERTISE a fish worth more money, and work hard to achieve the price you desire. The only one stopping a person from making more money is themselves !!
    The keys are education, advertisement and drive. Take care of yourself.........be a professional, charge more money, have some self respect and attract better clients.
    Steven Klee
     
  2. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I agree with what you're saying Steven. But, just to be clear, you're quoting hourly vs. per inch rates. I'm guessing M.T. is pretty quick at what he does and is probably making upwards of $20 bucks an hour even after all of his deductions...
     

  3. Perca

    Perca Well-Known Member

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  4. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    Most people do not calculate the time or money going out correctly. I have been in taxidermy professionally for a while now and I am surprised at the things that are overlooked by some other guys as how long it takes or how much it costs. an hour with client bringing in fish and deciding on pose, if you have to towl wrap bag and freeze, paperwork with taggig and log book, time placing the order on materials, time unpacking order, time with client picking up mount, shipping cost drastically going up over the past year, paying your own unemployment benefits, your own health benefits and insurances, taxes, heat in winter, air in summer, Shop payments if you have that, accountant fees and that's assuming everything goes smoothly with no problems. And I could list many other expenses that people overlook .
    So yes, lets be clear, per inch rate directly effects hourly rate. I am by no means slow at what I do and it is hard for me to believe one man is producing enough fish at $8 an inch to clear $20 an hour if he is dotting all his i's and crossing all his t's. That is unless he only does large fish as opposed to smaller ones.
     
  5. M.T.

    M.T. Active Member

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    Steven, I've been mounting fish since you've been two years old! You don't have to tell me to take lessons, I'd probably be teaching the instructor a thing or two. Then, according to you guys, I'd have to charge him! Do you honestly think that I couldn't do a competition style fish if my price was up at say 16 bucks an inch? Hell, I've done that before, could do it every day if I chose to, but I don't! If I want to go out into my shop and turn the light on and fire up the salamander for a couple of hours, thats my overhead. I carve all of my own bodies, use cheap walmart craft paint, and apoxie sculpt. Oh yes, I also use all flex eyes. Now, if I have a total of 6 bucks into a fish, it's because it's a forty inch pike. I'm a one eyed fish guy, unless it's a pedestal mount, then I might charge 10 or 12 bucks an inch. Marty, you're right. At what I do, I'm fast! I can knock out a fish in record time and please the customer. It's no different with a deerhead. I might have 7 hours labor into a deerhead and if I clear two hundred bucks, thats almost 30 bucks an hour. I was charging three hundred bucks and spending shy of a hundred bucks to do it. I don't do deer any more, but turn down a lot of potential customers. I'm just a part time fish guy now!
     
  6. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    When Steven was 2, I'd been doing commercial work for 10 years. Just one difference between you and me, M.T. I worked at getting smarter in the next 44 years. You can't even believe the bullspit you're spreading on these fish treads. Postage stamps were 5 cents and "air mail" was 8 cents. They've gone up 600%. A Coke was 8 to 12 cents when you started. Guess how much they are now? They've gone up 900% since then. Gas was 32 cents a gallon. That's gone up 1010%. But not you. You're proud you'd stuck in the 60's and are just too dumb to see it's guys like you who keep this industry as a "craft" instead of a business. You're actually stealing money from a guy trying to make a living at this. I stopped wearing Weejuns penny loafers and colored Gold Cup socks in the 60's and I don't intend to crow about charging prices they charged back then either.
     
  7. M.T.

    M.T. Active Member

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    If I remember right, gas was 27 cents. Now you know my dilems, every thing has gone up so much over the last forty years, but the people around my neck of the woods don't want to pay 10 bucks an inch for a mounted fish. That is why I am now part time, I dont have to rely on taxidermy any longer. It was great for many years, I raised seven children, all of whom are doing quite well. They were taught the need to work hard and make an honest living. I've worked hard all of my life, maybe too hard I guess. Maybe I'll raise my prices, it's probably time.
     
  8. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    M.T., they "don't want to pay that" simply because you allow them to drive the market instead of the other way around. Did Coke or gas, or stamps get cheaper where you live. A McDonalds meal cost $1.25 back then and now you can get the Coke for that. I'll bet they don't tell McDonalds they "don't want to pay that". You should have been listening when you were teaching your kids how to make an honest living. It's a good damned thing you didn't teach them to be taxidermists or they wouldn't be able to eat off what you charge.
     
  9. M.T.

    M.T. Active Member

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    You're right George, it is a damn good thing. They can all do taxidermy, but they've chosen to make more money. I'm proud of every one of them. I've gotta get something done around here so LATER!
     
  10. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    Amen George !!

    First let me say this M.T., I am a grown man at 44 and while I deeply respect my elders, talking to me like a pup ain't gonna cut it. You are worth way more than what you are charging.. I'd much rather do ten fish at $16 as opposed to twenty at $8.

    No man on the face of this earth will depict what I am worth accept me.
    I will defend this profession and its worth till the day I'm gone. I currently have all the fish I need to do at double the $8 per inch. I am $ 100 to $150 more than most around me on deer heads and average 40 to 50 per year. All in a little 3 stop light town. I have worked diligently to build my reputation and pull a few locals but the majority of my clients drive 45 miles or more and some even out of state.

    To all you beginners: Love yourself as well as others, build a business you can be proud of, create a quality product, treat your clients how you'd want to be treated, and never ever assume you are making enough money for what you do.

    Be a professional, sell yourself first and what you sell will soon follow.
     
  11. M.T.

    M.T. Active Member

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    Sorry Steven, I agree with you, I just didn't do it right in the first place.
     
  12. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Obviously, the per inch price affects your hourly rate. I was just pointing that out Steven because you quoted an $8/inch price when comparing an $8 hour salary. Clearly, M.T. is making more than $8 an hour.

    As far as forgetting all the overhead costs/etc. that you've mentioned - I agree here too. A lot of taxidermists don't account for their time and expenses here. Benefits are a big thing too along with overhead if you're renting space. But, a lot of us don't include very much for either or both of these due to working from our homes and getting benefits thru our spouses. So, many can be more competitive if these are not (or only a small amount is) figured into one's hourly rates because they can be significant. Benefits and overhead alone could eat up half of that hourly rate!

    The other things you've mentioned are legitimate expenses. But, you've estimated exceptionally high for most of these things. An hour to drop off a fish and decide on a pose? I don't know about you, but I direct the flow here and my customer's are out of my shop in usually less than 15 minutes. ALL of those items you've mentioned won't take me a half hour to do! And my CPA runs me $160 bucks to do my taxes. Spread out amongst X amount of clients over the course of a year and that's another insignificant number. Not trying to nitpick too much here as I understand your point and agree with it. But, I think you need to realize that everybody's circumstances and costs are different. It is frustrating to others because MT puts out some solid work for what he's charging. But, I also know in some depressed areas in the U.S. they would scoff at what some of us charge. I guess I'm just glad MT isn't around ME - lol!
     
  13. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    No dis respect fish art

    The original post was to make the point Taxidermy should be held above other trades and derive more money for your skill. Since that point was missed and emphasis was put on wage, let me say I agree with you everyone's situation is different.
    I do not agree with the 15 min. scenario. This is a classic case of miss representing your time and everyone here knows it takes longer. I find it hard to believe you can invite your client in, talk about pose, listen to his fish story, measure fish, walk over to your calculator, figure price, collect down payment, write out receipt or contract whichever you use and walk your client out and say goodbye in 15 min.. That process just extended dramatically if you have to thaw out towel from fish to get measurements. You really need to time yourself next time instead of assuming it takes that long.. There were allot of things mentioned in that last post.
    An hour is my average because my clients appreciate me treating them like human beings and I enjoy conversing with them. I hear from so many of them how they didn't realize that certain things in my studio were available in taxidermy. Could be the difference between hundreds of dollars and often is. Time is money is a philosophy that can cost you serious money because you think people are cattle and as you put it flow controlled. Treat people like people and they will open up their wallets.
    You really need to think about the benefits thing being carried by your spouse. Either way the money taken out of your spouse's paycheck is out go and not only needs to be replaced but by more money than what went out.
    I really do understand what you are trying to say, I too work out of my own home and I think your not reading my complete posts. Did you miss were I'm from and where my clients come from. I just think it's sad when people sell themselves short.

    If people keep making excuses why they can't get there, they never will....
     
  14. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Steven, I have timed myself. Sometimes I'll chat longer with some customers simply because things get a little boring working alone and I choose to chat. But, quite honestly all of those things mentioned oftentimes takes LESS than 15 minutes for me. 15 is probably average. The bulk of my fish come frozen and I don't measure until I thaw it to start months later. Looking at a rate sheet is a two second process. Calculator isn't across the room but within an arm's reach if needed. I've also learned thru the years that if I steer my customers into their choices (and offer fewer choices) that everybody's happier. Your customer leaves confident in (their) choices vs. wondering if they should have picked another position. The positioning part takes literally a couple of minutes. And oftentimes I steer them into allowing me to pick the best position. The longest part of each write-up is listening to the stories. I don't normally rush my customers out so I'm sure they don't feel slighted. I'm really not there to be their best friend and I think most customers actually appreciate getting in and out fairly quickly (oftentimes when I walk my customer out there's somebody sitting in their vehicle that I didn't know was waiting!) When in a hurry I'll usually close with something like "Well, I've got everything I need. I don't need to take up any more of YOUR time" (slowly walking towards them and the door). And I'll finish with telling them to feel free to call if they have any questions. My time is valuable. My thoughts here are if I can streamline any process in my shop and save myself (and my customers) time and money, then I will. Pick-up time is about 5 minutes on average. Wife's insurance with spouse added on is very cheap. Last time I looked I think it was another $50 bucks a month with her company picking up the tab for the rest. IF I had to get my own health insurance I'd be belly up...
     
  15. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    Wow, just another 50 bucks a month? For my wife to add me it's another $200. And as far as if you had to buy your own you'd go belly up well, I think you just made my point brother. You're not charging enough.
     
  16. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    You lost me. I'm not sure how I proved your point? I'm suppose to compensate myself for things on the price of what they COULD cost me vs. actual price? I could toss that thinking right back at you if you want to look at things from that perspective. What if your wife didn't have insurance and you had to get insurance on your own? A catostrophic plan would run you alone probably over $600 bucks a month. Probably more. Are you charging enough to cover that Steven?

    The fact of the matter is it's pretty tough to get paid in this business what we'd like to cover all the benefits along with a good wage. And the bulk of those that ARE making a good wage at fish alone aren't the ones charging the big bucks per inch. But, instead it's the ones charging a fair to moderately high price for a good product. The ones that aren't anally retentive about tipping scales 4 thousand times but have figured out ways to produce a product that's above average. I recall one of the masters on here many years ago explaining to me how if I doubled my prices how much more money I could make per hour. That's great. The problem being of course 10 fish a year doesn't pay the bills at whatever hourly rate I made.

    Personally, I don't care all that much what others around me make. Last I looked I was about $2 or $3+ bucks an inch more. And I raised my prices not once, but twice last year. I get paid fairly I believe. And, I'll probably raise my prices again in the near future. I firmly believe that some customers seek out the more or most expensive because they associate that with quality. My numbers actually went UP slightly last time I raised my prices. But, we all know that at some point one's going to be in that 10 fish a year category if they go up too high. We don't have the volume around here to make a good living full time as a fish only guy. For me, I don't need to be working full-time anymore anyway. So, I probably will raise my prices again this year...
     
  17. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    Well actually I think I lost you back at the beginning when I was comparing skilled labor at a factory vs Taxidermy art and I still don't think you get it. Had nothing to do with hourly vs per inch had to do with getting paid allot more for your experience in a more skilled trade than sitting on an assembly line all day. I don't think I can make it any clearer than that for you.
    you said it, $ 600 dollars a month is catastrophic and I find it almost unbelievable that one couldn't find it cheaper, and I think I answered your question in previous post but I will again. I am full time and yes I do charge enough to fill the $ 300 a month hole of both me and my wife's insurance. Again, I charge above and well beyond what I need for ALL my expenses.
    to answer your other question, YES you are supposed to compensate for the price of what things could be vs what they are. What if you don't get to a fish for a month and shipping goes up again 20%. What if you ruin something and it has to be replaced. What if God forbid you get hurt and can't produce for a month or longer. There are a million things that could happen in your life that you need extra income stashed away for.
    To make another point I don't recall you and I discussing fish solely for income. We were discussing doing the fish you do for a good wage. Big difference.
    You are my brother in taxidermy and I'm only trying to suggest positives for the beginners reading this and raising the bar for this industry. I simply refuse to settle for less than what my commercial work will pull. Listen to the hundreds of guys on here who raised prices only to find out the more they raised, the more clients they got. I hope I was clear enough this time and didn't lose you again.

    I am done now.
     
  18. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Gotcha. I'm not so sure I agree with this though 100% either - lol! Apples to oranges. Sure, it takes years of practice to master your skills in this field. But, it's an industry saturated with hacks and part-timers clouding the judgement of of our potential customers. More importantly, we produce a luxury item whereas most of those assembly line workers are there to produce must-haves for people. Even more importantly, the time it takes to train someone in any profession doesn't necessarily correlate to what their salary shoud be. $25 bucks for my taxidermy license and I'm a taxidermist. Compare that to a teacher that just spent boo-koo bucks and 4 years of their life getting their BA. Yet both can make about the same amount of money their first year (In fact, the taxidermist probably could make MORE if he/she knew what they were doing and were go-getters).

    What's a "good wage" Steven? I see you're from Indiana which I'm guessing your cost of living is considerably less than mine. Point here is it's all relative. IF MT is happy at $8 bucks an inch, then why do you care so much? Maybe he does a bass in an hour start to finish! Pulling out his supplies and minimal overhead that's over a hundred bucks an hour! I'm just joking of course, but who knows? Maybe MT can whip them out much faster than you and I. I know a taxidermist up in Green Bay that has the most efficient production studio I've ever seen. Probably one of the few fish-only full time guys I know that actually makes it 100% on fish alone and no benefits from his significant other. The guy amazes me. He batches things more efficiently than anybody. Once, he sent me pics of 35 crappie hanging waiting to be painted. Two days start to finish and he was done with all of them (including glossing). That's about 20 minutes a fish on the painting part alone! AND, they looked GREAT! Point being here, is some people are faster and manage their time better than others. For me, I'm already starting out ahead and you're an hour+ in the hole just from receiving the fish! Just messin with you of course - lol! Bottom line is who really cares what others charge? I could care less if MT was charging $3 bucks an inch!
     
  19. Steven, you do more than fish? Correct. It's a whole different world out here when all you do is fish. We have heard this preaching many times from guys that are better than you. It's none of your business what others charge, leave it alone.

    And that's exactly how you are talking to FishArt.
     
  20. Perca

    Perca Well-Known Member

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    Hey Marty,
    Is that high volume guy Mark Charles? I swapped a lot of information with him years back and he sure fits your description....high volume, high quality, and super efficient. I really regret that he decided to leave the forum for the same old reasons, but he's not the first one. Anyway, your description sure sounded like Mark. Remember the piles of fish he posted photos of in his shop...laying all over the floor, on shelves and racks, and hanging from the ceiling? He was exemplary for a one man fish-only operation who made a good living at it.