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Struggling To Get Off The Ground

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by theguyyouknowtaxidermy, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. theguyyouknowtaxidermy

    theguyyouknowtaxidermy The Guy You Know Taxidermy<Daniel Elkins>

    I am sure that most of you don't want to hear my belly aching but I am feeling a little discouraged. This current hunting season is my fourth season, and I have not received one call for work.

    I feel like my work is as good or better then everybody else in my area, however I still have room to improve. Our deer season started October 1st for archery and a special youth season starts today and as mentioned I haven't received a call yet. I don't want to start another pricing thread but I am the most expensive in my area now.

    In the previous years I didn't receive work till rifle season (mid November). But i has hoping to bring in work earlier like out of state game or early archery whitetail. It is like my "business" hasn't got off the ground yet.

    Any who, I just wanted to share. I hope get some work soon.
  2. James Parrish

    James Parrish Tundra Swan...Its What's For Dinner!

    Waiting on the customers to come to you rarely works for ANY fledgling business. Word-of-mouth is a great way to get business, but you need a fairly healthy customer base for it to work. Just like any other business, you need to advertise to your target audience. I would try to get business cards and fliers (at a bare minimum) into any place your potential customers are likely to go. In other words, any place that sells hunting licenses, game check stations, gas stations, sporting goods stores, bait and tackle stores, etc. That will only go so far. Nowadays, a lot of your potential customers will simply google "Your Town Taxidermy". You need to make sure you have a decent website and that you have it optimized for search engines. Glen Conley helped me optimize my website years ago and I have consistently stayed near the top of the google rankings for key terms. Those are two of the best ways to get your name out there

  3. tazzymoto

    tazzymoto Well-Known Member

    Starting out you will have to do a lot of advertising to get work. Once you become established word of mouth will get you the majority of business
  4. davehyer

    davehyer Active Member

    If you have any decent taxidermist in your area that are established, and you are trying to start out, I'm not sure pricing your work above everyone else is a good plan.
    people usually need a reason to change from one guy to another. If your work isn't better, and your price is higher, why would they change?
  5. Daniel, My business is not too far from your area. You are competing with many well established taxidermist for a relatively small pool of work.
    For most it takes a long time to get to be known and trusted in this business. Advertising is good to at least let people know you exist but I never found any amount or kind of advertising that brought new customers in very fast. I have been full time now for 11 years and this time of year is always slow for getting in work. It is much better for me now than it was 10 years ago but I still don't get much in until the rut gets closer.
    I wish I had some words of encouragement for you but this is just a real tough bus. to get established in. Hang in there though and be persistent and patient and when word of your good quality and trustworthiness gets around you will get busy.
  6. BrookeSFD16

    BrookeSFD16 Well-Known Member

    Don't forget that many (not all) people shoot average deer during archery season. If you are a 2 buck location, some guys will hold out for the big buck during rifle. It'll come. In a month you'll be so busy you'll laugh at this thread.
  7. wings II

    wings II New Member

    Daniel - all the above is very good advice but you still need to have a positive cash flow and many times this means it's time to diversify your business.

    While you're waiting for your retail business to get a foothold I would recommend seeking out WHOLESALE opportunities from other taxidermists both in and out of your geographic area. Decide what you can produce quickly and efficiently (while maintaining a good commercial standard ) in a taxidermy environment and take examples of that work to interested taxidermists. Good luck.
  8. theguyyouknowtaxidermy

    theguyyouknowtaxidermy The Guy You Know Taxidermy<Daniel Elkins>

    Thanks everbody.

    I have done all the following and I still continue to place business cards and signs out. I did the ducks unlimited banquet as well as other local events. I just need to be more patient I guess.

    Dave thanks for the advice but I cant mount deer any cheaper and make money at it. I would much rather do less work then take more in at a cheaper rate.
  9. James Marsico

    James Marsico Well-Known Member

    Call all the local town clubs like the chamber and vfw and kiwanas and ask them if you can be a lunchean speaker. Believe me they will jump at it. Take a mount or two early for a small display and introduce yourself and business and give a little talk on how to cape, etc pass out cards. You will make good contacts and get new business with this tactic from folks who can afford it.
  10. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I put an ad in the in the outdoors section of the local paper and picked up many new customers the first month. After a year, 60% of my business was from that ad. 30% repeat customers and 10% was word of mouth from repeat customers and the guys from the local sporting goods store. When I decided to down size because of mine and my wife's health, I got calls from people who had either seen the ad or had kept it for future use.
  11. x2 i was thinking the same thing.
  12. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    It's a combination of all of the above, plus time that helps develop a taxidermy business. Personal contact and recommendations from customers are your best ads. I have a website that appears at or near the top when someone types my state name in full or abbreviated and the words taxidermy or taxidermist. That helps also.
  13. We have a web site called gumtree, everyone buys and sells anything for free.some businesses do advertise on them,do you guys have the same thing in the USA maybe look at that if you do
  14. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

    Read the book " gorilla marketing" lots of good info for kick starting a fledgling business.
  15. theguyyouknowtaxidermy

    theguyyouknowtaxidermy The Guy You Know Taxidermy<Daniel Elkins>

    James I will honestly look into that. I can't believe that I hadn't already thought of that.

    Thanks Jerry. I will also find that book and give it a good read.
  16. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    Call your local newspaper to come out and do a story on you. Everyone will know who you are after that. And do it just before hunting season or, ,,, like NOW!
  17. buckman170

    buckman170 Member

    Don't forget Facebook, it has unlimited advertising potential. Post pictures of your work regularly and sell your yourself to your potential customers. Good luck!
  18. twinrivers

    twinrivers Active Member

    Great advice, and I felt your pain and still do at times. My goal was quick turnaround times and producing the best I could qualitywise? D you do all forms of taxidermy? Fish, birds, shoulders, and lifesize? For me I had a friend that was an avid hunter and worked in the small community that I had just moved to. I didn't know anyone there, but then I had his work buddies stopping by with him after work to drink a few beers and BS, and I got a slowly growing business from it. First thing I did was develop a website. It doesn't have to be anything special, just get your story out, some prices, and a few pics. Then get about 1000 business cards made up and put them everywhere. Make flyers and hang them everywhere. Since deer in Iowa are the big thing I did do a big buck contest my second year. Never again, too many headaches. Do coupons in a newspaper or something; $50 off first mount, offer discounts for referrals, military discounts, etc. You have to know your market and capitalize on it. Support your highschool archery team or trap shooting team, sponsor a little league baseball or softball team, DU banquets, WTF banquets, PF banquets, WU banquets, state deer classic, outdoor shows, flea markets, donate mounts to raffle and bring their organization some money and it will slowly happen to you. I even raffle off coupons for the after prom events at the highschool. Remember they will be your future customers. I wrote field care articles for the Iowa Outdoorsman a few years ago in return for free advertising for a few editions. Put on a caping seminar and hand out field care flyers, koozies, and tee shirts. You would be suprised what giving someone a tee shirt will do for your business. If you hand out $300 worth of tee shirts and gain a few deer mounts you will have earned that back in no time. Be patient, there is something you have been doing wrong or neglecting if you haven't had a customer in four years. If it is not quality then it is pricing and advertising. I have had my shop in this location for 6 years with a big wooden sign right next to the road and every once in a while I will still have someone come in saying they didn't know our shop was there, which to me means I have been neglecting advertising. If they don't see your ad but see someone elses then you may be out of luck. It should be an ongoing part of your business. After you take these initial steps and get a few happy customers then you will get busier by word of mouth which is by far better than most methods of advertising. Wish you the best.
  19. EA

    EA Well-Known Member

    I'm part of a start up about 3 yrs old now and on solid ground. Sure wasn't easy, but Thanks to God we are doing well. Recently we decide to spend our advertising on an audience who typically have money - Golfer's. They also typically have a large number of the people in the field we are trying to reach - Healthcare & Doctor's.

    For $750 bucks I was able to sponsor a hole on 3 golf coarse's in our region. Their programs are handed out to every golfer and have 2 pages (right and left sides) dedicated to each hole. There is a description/yardage of the hole on one page, some tips and then our ad on the other. I chose the toughest hole of the front 9 on each coarse, thereby hoping they actually look at the pointer's and descriptions in the program and see our ad. Also reaching all the golfer's rather than only those who decide to play all 18 holes.

    I also got a call the other day and they said they were putting our ad on the scorecard page of 1 coarse. That means 2 ads at one coarse. An ad they are going to look at 9 times minimum. That same $750 also got us a free year at 1 coarse, so basically 4 coarse's for $750.
    It's getting confusing, but bottom line is, it's a lot of exposure in front of a target with money for relatively little expense.

    Lots of golfer's hunt. Grab a coarse guide and contact whoever is putting it together.
  20. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I did this the same month I put my ad in the local paper and that article got me a lot of attention.