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Just Plain Frustrated!!

Discussion in 'Deer and Gameheads' started by RWTAXIDERMY, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. This is my 11th year doing taxidermy and I am just plain frustrated and about to give up!! 7yrs ago i started attending Indiana's Taxidermy Convention looking to improve the quality of my work and it has helped me tremendously, Thanks for all the help!! Last Year i chose to attend Illinois Taxidermy Convention where i also picked up more knowledge to help me out.......Thanks to those fine people also!!

    Where my frustration is has nothing to with either association, it has more to do with the fact that i have been at $400 per deer for 5yrs now for deer mounted that i would compete with. Quality Form, Meder or Eppley Eyes, nictating membranes, plastic liners in ears, hard septum or replacement nose.....competition quality foundation. I have dropped almost %50 on deer intake the past 3 seasons and it is beginning to frustrate the hell out of me!

    I am running out of ideas for bringing in more clients...this 8-9 deer and 2-3 turkey every season just isn't cutting it anymore....Had a display at Gander Mnt and went through almost 600 business cards in a month...got 2 new customers. Put an add in the local yellow pages $850yr..got several calls and 2 new customers. Advertised on several websites local without response.. It just seems like nothing is working and guys around me charging $425 up for commercial work are doing well...??????
    I am bout to give up.....
  2. JerseyJays

    JerseyJays Well-Known Member

    Try raising your price. If all else fails that might be the problem. People don't want to trust their trophy buck with the "cheap guy"

    If guys are getting $425+ for commercial work, and you're giving competition quality mount, you should be charging closer to $600

    Raise your price to $550/$575 and see how next season goes.

  3. R. Follis

    R. Follis New Member

    Is this a hobby? or a living? if it is a living you need to make sure your getting paid for your time, how much do you need/want to make per hour? If hobby, just enjoy it!!! Personally I would not spend that $ on advertising, word of mouth goes a long ways. You also said your advertising on several websites, but do you have your own set up? If other guys are getting more $ then you, make sure you are doing everything in your power to up-sell your service and business. ( how bad do you want it ) good luck.
  4. critterstuffr

    critterstuffr New Member

    Times are tuff, people are price shopping me like crazy, I'm at $425 for a shoulder mount. I will not alter my prices. I had a guy bring in 3 ducks he wanted mounted i charge $200 each he decided he could only afford to mount two of them. We discussed my pricing and he walked out with an understanding of things from my side and no hurt feelings. Great point word of mouth is your best bet. As nice as it is that you put in the extras most customers would never know the difference. Sad but true. Hang in there don't quit change your pricing.
  5. don't give up, keep at it!
  6. My customers know the difference, i make a point to show them the extra work and detail, usually when they hang my deer next to any they have on the wall already i will get a phone call asking if i can make their other deer look as good as mine....i tell them there are many options but to do so would require a total remount.
  7. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    RW, what I'm about to say is likely to piss you off, but read it through before you defend yourself. Something is exceptionally wrong with the picture you're painting.

    I, too, use the very highest of quality materials and the most modern of methods, yet my deer don't look like Rick Carter's or Bill Yox's. My deer certainly do look better than some I see, but as objectively as I can judge, my deer are simply good commercial pieces. So it's NOT the products I use in producing my mounts.

    I am the highest guy within 30 miles I suppose, and though the economy is shot and numbers are down across the board in local taxidermy shops, I got 50 deer while the closest guy in quality to me got 30. He got 8 turkeys and I only got 4 (thank God) and I got a dozen or so fuzzy critters like squirrels, foxes, and coons. I got about 20 ducks and geese and at my age and my giveash it factor, I'd hae prefered to have had numbers like yours.

    Still, what you say is not matching up with your customer count this year. I don't know what your finished work looks like and can't make that call, but I do know that it sure sounds like there's more here than what we're being told.
  8. Doug Motgomery

    Doug Motgomery Active Member

    Well I got in 9 deer this year, and I consider my work to be above average. And that's what I been getting about the last few years, If I went to $600.00 I would not get any....I know for a fact that several guys that I know went to another taxidermist that was cheaper. And that's OK I don't make my living at this. And I get price checkers calling all the time. If I can get them in my shop they will always pick to have there deer done at a higher quality. I think you have to be a good salesmen to seal the deal.
  9. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    Dougs right, salesmanship goes a long way. Creative advertising works well too. Simply put yourself in their shoes, and offer what theyre wanting. As always, you cant make taxidermy be something it isnt. I always say that.
  10. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118

    I have some very loyal customers. Guys who have been with me for several years. Guys who would not consider going somewhere else. Even with some current health issues, they are willing to wait for me to get well again. Like Doug, I took in 10 deer this year, which really concerned me. So, I started calling some of my regulars to see what was up. Response was.....WHAT DEER?? There ain't any. Common happening this year. Guys reported seeing no deer of quality worth shooting. And, the crazy thing about that is, some areas are reporting fantastic great seasons with record kill numbers, but were they trophy deer? Evidently so, because I've talked to some taxi's as well that had killer years. But my area was hit hard with EHD. I talked to a fellow breeder who lost 70 head out of his pen. He has 24 deer left. The Dr. vet at the Uof I, said there is a new strain that hit. Making those that have survived an earlier bout with EHD susceptible to the new strain. My partner in the deer business bought a brand new breeder buck, brought him home and in 10 days he was dead. Tested positive for EHD.

    So, before you throw the hat in, consider that your area may have been hit hard like mine was. Find out. It may not be all you. 30 miles to the north of me and 30 miles to the south, those taxi's did fine this year. About half of the deer I did take in were new customers based on word of mouth. So if your work is top shelf and you have your competition beat to hell on service and quality, your price doesn't matter, unless you are lowballing. Then it matters. Most people want the best of things in life. Make sure the feeling they get with you is that you are the best. I know my customers feel that way about me. Sometimes it just your own personal attitude that makes people feel you are the one they trust their trophy with. By the way, I'm at 450.00, but I up sell almost every head I do to around 6-700.00 via habitat, custom poses, etc. Be able to give your customers something more than just a deer head on the wall. Your competitors can give them that. Stand out in the crowd. It helps to be unique in this business.
  11. quest

    quest Member

    George... its got to be your personality! Maybe that's why you stay above everyone else in your area :)

  12. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    GEEZ!!!!!!! I've been accused of a lot but never of having a "personality".
  13. quest

    quest Member

    You're the man lol!
  14. verne

    verne Well-Known Member

    IN my area they just passed antler restriction so that should help ; the processor i worked with got more deer than last year , but all small raced bucks this year ; my best was from Kentucky ;D
  15. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118


    Oh, you have a personality mister. :p
  16. bigrubs07

    bigrubs07 October 26,2007 148 gross P/Y points, 230lbs FD

    Being a salesmen has to do alot with your business, I know it is hard to take the time and put each of your costomers on a pedestal, but it helps alot, bear season is tuff on me, usually my costumers bring their bear to me to get skinned, then all the b.s how he shot the bear and how the 120lbs er has a big head and you got a nice little line of people waiting then the next guys does the samething talk talk talk, lots late nit es and no sleep They love that about me I'll b.s with them and they keep coming back and bringing others!! personality and top[ notch work you can't lose.
  17. Trophy Specialist

    Trophy Specialist Well-Known Member

    I'm from Michigan too. Hopefully all of our state will get antler restrictions in the near future. My past experience with those tpye of regulations is that they are great for taxidermists.

    Here's my take on the deer season in Southern MI, where EHD was a big factor and where I run my business. My early youth and bow season take was very good, about the same as last fall. My firearm deer season calls though were way down. I did take in the max that I can handle this year, but just barely. Last year I probably turned away three times the number of customers I was able to service, because I reached my quota so early. I'm charging $460 for a shoulder mount (going up this year), which is slightly above average for my area. I do have a couple taxidermists in my area that are way below my price though. There are ways to beat the cheaply priced competition. Also, I only took in two deer from out-of-state this year. I got no deer from Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Iowa, or Illinois, which typically makes up a good portion of my business. I would guess that those states got hit hard by EHD.
  18. adamstaxidermy

    adamstaxidermy New Member

    Rick....I too have seen a huge decrease in the numbers coming in....There are several things that are hurting us in Indiana right now. EHD has had a huge impact on our herd over the last few years. I have two that were found dead just prior to archery season that I scored last night. One was and 18 pnt that had 212 2/8" of antler, the other was a 19 pointer that was 186" of antler. These were found 150 yards apart, laying in or next to the river bank. Although I have no expertise on EHD, I have been told that it is not any more friendly to a large mature buck than it is to spotted fawn. In fact, it may well hit the larger deer harder. I have been doing business at the same location for 13 years and have continued to have my numbers increase some almost every year.....until two years ago....I took in 68 deer in the 2010 season, 49 in the 2011 season, and 40 in the 2012 season. I have talked to many hunters who have simply not seen deer worth shooting the last year or two. With the Impact of EHD, and the increase in number of antlerless deer being harvested, the population IS down considerably. I have been well established in my area for some time, and enjoy a lot of repeat business, but this year, they just haven't been killed around my area. The second problem that we are having is with an increase in the amount out of state hunters leasing land to hunt. When they lease land to hunt here, Local residents are left to find areas to hunt that are not as good as what is being leased. "Our Customers" are not hunting the best land, and the hunters that are hunting the best land are taking those deer back to their own state for taxidermy. And, of course, there are issues with the economy. I watched in agony as a 170" rack was cut from a deer, as the hunter simply had more important things to spend his limited budget on. He would not have spent $200 to have the buck mounted, let alone pay me $450 to mount it. I had very few price checkers this year, as well. Of course, I did have some that went to the cheap guy a county over, and you will always have that.
    If you want to get your share in spite of everything that is working against you, you may look at a high quality website that is search engine friendly....Google "Indiana Taxidermist"....who comes up on the front page of google? If your name doesn't, you are only being seen by those who already know you exist, and how to find your website. Next is "Image"...Do you present yourself professionally? Does your shop look organized and smell clean? Do you spend conversations talking bad about the competition, or do you spend it showing your potential customers what sets you apart from someone else? Do you make sure you are available to take in a customers trophy when it is convenient for them, or do they have to wait for you to contact them back at your convenience? There are times I'm in the woods hunting and get a call, I answer the phone and tell them if need be, I will return to the shop immediately, especially if the deer needs caped and the weather is warm. Yes, I work a little harder than maybe someone else has to, to make sure I get my share, but that is how I have grown and kept the business that I do have. I hope I have given you some helpful ideas that will help you get more of the deer that are being killed, but like I said, THE NUMBERS ARE DOWN.
  19. After reading all the replys and several PMs and emails i have received in response to this post, i realize that i am not the only one who is in this boat. After 11yrs i would have thought things would be alot different for me when it come to the amount of work i would be doing, but it also sounds like others are having the same problem that i am currently having....lack of work!!

    I think as my full time job continues to downsize, cut positions, cut hours and wages, the more i push my business to take in more work...I know its only a matter of time and i will be out of a job and i was hoping to have a back log large enough to make up for what i am loosing in manufacturing....I am not giving up yet, i have many irons in the fire right now that might be just what i need to increase my work load....
  20. jorgy

    jorgy Member

    EHD clobbered out herd in Iowa. It could be part of your issue. I think I did 27 last year and have around 15 this year. I am one of the higher ones in the area for price, but I dont think anyone has asked how much it was before they came to drop it off. The ones that asked were planning of leaving them. They just wanted to know how much it would be when done. I just tell the others how much they are when I write them up.

    I have found that fast turnaround will almost get you farther than quality, but I will not sacrifice quality. Like George, I think I do an above average mount. But I wont be competing in the Masters division at the World Show anytime soon.