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Hey Fishheads - Interesting calls for information

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

  1. MichaelG

    MichaelG TRAINEE

    Novice here working my butt off fine tuning my skills in order to be a competitive commercial fish taxidermist. I had hoped to open the doors by June but after reading advice on this forum I have decided that I should defer my plans to be a little more prepared. My decision has nothing to do with the quality of my work. It's more on how to effectively run a business.

    I fully respect everyones opinion but I fail to see an argument over what taxidermists are charging in either direction. Every taxidermist has different operating costs. The full blown shop needs to charge more to cover their operating expenses and make a profit and the part-time garage taxidermist can charge less and they should still have roughly the same profit margin per mount. I think the kicker in this business is that taxidermy clients are very loyal, as loyal as NASCAR fans, and they promote their taxidermist no matter what they charge.

    To me the only true argument in this business is the "professional" taxidermists out their who are talking down other taxidermists just to boost their own business. Not a single taxidermist in my area has seen anything I have done but one of them is already saying they have seen my work and it's not very good. I have no desire to confront this person because my success will be in producing top quality work for a fair price to my potential clients. If they aren't interested in me I will gladly refer them to other taxidermist in my area (even if they've talked down my own work).

    Best Wishes to all of you.

  2. M.T.

    M.T. Active Member

    Perca must have ate all of the popcorn!

  3. DanB

    DanB New Member

  4. DanB

    DanB New Member

  5. Perca

    Perca Well-Known Member

  6. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Yep. Buys his own health insurance and everything. Fish only full-time....
  7. DanB, thanks for the support. Your work is incredible. I ran across a couple of people from Fl. recently, one on facebook and a phone call, asking about skin mounts, I gave them your name and website. One guy was amazed to hear me praise your work with enthusiasm. He thought that was odd that one fish taxidermist would be a fan of the work of another fish taxidermist. I said if you like my largemouths, wait until you see his, you will be impressed. I hoped they called because they will be two very happy customers.
  8. J-Jay

    J-Jay New Member

    Thanks Just Fish I had not calculated the fact that replicas would be a mail order business but obviously that makes perfect sense. Also, I would like to thank everyone else for the conversation here on both sides of the idea. As a newer fish taxidermist in my area this has helped a ton. Our studio will certainly be promoting the artistry in the skill and we will make an attempt to "reset the bar" as it were on the price for quality fish.
  9. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    From my perspective, I'm not so sure how much mail order reps are cutting into my business. Obviously, I wouldn't know. But, I honestly don't think it's that significant of a number. Most people want to go some place local and look at one's work and they also don't want to pay excessive shipping and crating charges. Again, most, not all. One thing I've noticed is that even if there's folks around me that do skin mounts, there's a pretty good number that don't touch replicas. The economy has hit the replica side of things hard. I went from doing 30-40 reps a year down to 1, 5 and 4 so far in each of the last three years. Those are some pretty dismal numbers. Skin mounts have been constant or even up for me. I'm sure things vary from taxidermist to taxidermist. But, I know that most of the replica suppliers that I talk to and are honest about their numbers are telling me that their orders are down significantly...
  10. J-Jay

    J-Jay New Member

    Fish Art that's a sad thing to hear. I would say hopefully the economy will bounce back soon, but you and I both know that's not likely. I often wonder how long a recession can be called a recession before it is no longer a recession and just the norm. I am coming to terms with the likelyhood that what we see is what we get.
  11. Replica's only become a mail order business if you have a website and the website works. I get calls and emails from all over the country. Marty your numbers have fallen dramatically where my replicas have increased every year. I'm only talking 19 replicas for last year with 7 of them from out of state. The guy that designed my website did a very good job at having it show up on google, yahoo and bing. My website is also a huge aid in getting local customers. A lot of people do their shopping and research on line.
  12. DanB

    DanB New Member

    Not so sure about that Marty. Most of my clients (90% or better) are out of state. Local work? What is local work...none around here, lol. Most of the clients that pay by check or money orders I never even talk to. Its done all by email. I also tack on a decent shipping rate. I'm not gonna pay for any clients shipping rate through UPS etc.
    As stated replicas become a mail order business if you have a website. A website is a powerful tool if done properly to reach out to potential replica clients.
    Some replica numbers are down for some folks but not all. ;D The key to marketing replicas through a website is to have good clear photos of your work. Without good clear photos showing the work properly they sometimes go elsewhere.
    My website is my showroom. So I need to have a decent looking showroom for potential clients to view my work. So all they do is just place an order without leaving their homes. Nowadays folks are not going to their local Taxi's for fish mounts as much alot of them are doing it online.

    Marty, are you trying to market your replicas on your website as much as skin mounts?
  13. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    There's so many variables that could impact both your local business and mail order numbers. And another thing I've learned thru the years is that there's also so many variables that impact one's workload from year to year that it's almost impossible to draw any conclusions from the peaks and valleys of one's overall numbers. Once you're established, those peaks and valleys are more of a given on the fish side of things and any significant dips or gains I chalk up to an anomoly. A more comprehensive conclusion can be drawn from several years of data, not one. In which case I know everybody around here numbers-wise for fish replicas are down significantly.

    I do have a website and I also get mail order stuff. But, there's not much of a difference in mail order replicas or mail order skin mounts for me. Usually those numbers are about the same. In fact, with the downturn of replica volume I now take in more cross-country skins than I do reps.

    I still say the bulk of potential customers want to do something local. IF You even have the customer base in your area AND they have a choice AND that choice includes quality work. For me, I have 11 million plus potential customers within an hour of me. So, it stands to reason I'll get more local stuff. Dan, I don't know how many replicas/mail order replicas you're doing each year, but for "Just Fish" 19/7 are pretty low numbers that certainly conclusions cannot be drawn from with such little data (see paragraph one). And, I'm sure the bigger operations like Dondi and such that DO a lot of out of area work do more E-marketing than just having a website...

    What was the topic again??? LOL!
  14. This was always a hobby up until 2008 when I lost my day job, 20-30 fish a year because that is all I wanted. I turned a lot of people way from 2001 -2007. I had only done one replica before 2008. So the increase over the last four years isn't great but it is still an increase. My increase in total mounts since 2008 has been very good. 2008 was the first year I advertised and had a website. 2008- 56 fish, 2009 71 fish, 2010 83 fish, and 2011 88 fish. I think in the short amount of time I have been trying to do this full time that is great progress. I shot myself in the foot for 7 years by turning local people away. That is a mistake that I am slowly recovering from.
  15. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Those are pretty solid numbers J.F. My guess is you'll be seeing more and more local work on your reps especially once the word gets out to everybody around you that you do them. Do you really think turning away work in the past hurt your future workload? I would think doing something like that might actually create more work if you wanted it. IF you're turning away work you must be doing something right, eh? The persepective with potential customers might be IF he's turning down work that means he's the guy to go to as everybody wants him to do their fish. I'm sure there's no way to tell, but I would bet it didn't hurt your business one bit...
  16. Charge what you are worth. If you don't even attempt to do that then its your problem. Most my customers are not rich or poor. But when they decide to have me do something price (within reason) is seldom the reason. If I can't get enough business in and it is because I am charging what I am worth, then I would think the best option would be to raise the price a little more and get another job until you have enough (Established) customers that will pay you what you are worth. Otherwise I can't see the motivation in doing this for a living. If you are worth $8 and you charge $8 fine with me. As long as your not bad mouthing the $9,10 or 20 guy as a rip off then its all fair. If you want to work for that, or your that fast or your quality is worth $8 an inch go for it! It is hard for me but I avoid badmouthing the other guy when a customer tells me how much cheaper they are, I just politely try to lure them in to see my work. After they see it (and I'm not the best by any measure) they realize that a few $ an inch equals what? $10,20 maybe 50 and if that is the difference between your wife making you hang it in the shed or proudly in the family room then it is more than worth it. It is a trophy of a lifetime and a piece of art!

    Also if a customer is that adamant that $12.50 an inch is high for a coldwater fish then they are not a customer or even probably a person fair enough to even want to associate with. Really? If they have a job I bet they get paid for it. There are unique challenges and typically increased costs associated with coldwater fish and if they can't understand that then fine. I would be polite and explain what I offer, after that no sweat off my back.
    Like the say
  17. Perca

    Perca Well-Known Member

    I wish you hadn't said that. I peddle my fish on ebay.
  18. Oops! Put my own foot in my mouth. I sell some freeze dried panfish on there as well, LOL!
    But the positive is, they are not in your shop associating with you. So you don't have to keep the company.