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Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by critterstuffr, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. critterstuffr

    critterstuffr New Member

    I'm not a fish guy but love looking at the work on here. Had a question? Is it hard to sell people on a repo instead of a skin mount? Back when I started taxi work in 78 I worked on a lot of fish all skin mounts hand carved bodies, carded the fins. reinforced the fins then had to hand it to the owner to finish. Never got to paint one myself kinda ruined me on them. After seeing the work you folks put out I'm not sure if I could paint as you do anyway. Back to the question I would think selling people to not get their own fish back would be hard.
  2. I do both skin and Repros and It's not hard to sell them on a reproduction. Most are more worried about how much it will cost so skin mounts are more.

  3. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Interesting. Goes to show that cost factors in quite a bit in some cases. And, I'll bet a LOT depends on how good you are at selling yourself too (on repros or skins or whatever you're selling). Some people are good at sales, others are not. Another factor = location. Here, in the Chicago area Political Correctness and C&R is rampant whereas it's much more PC to keep a fish for a skin mount in other areas (but that's changing!)

    Now, for me the vast majority of potential customers have already made the decision BEFORE they contact me. That being said - only in a few instances (carp, catfish, bullheads, etc) have I even tried to convince customers to go repro instead. I have had a few successes convincing them. But, I would say (again for me) that a good 99% or higher have already made the decision on which route they're going to go when they call me. Since my prices are the same for either, it's a personal choice for them. And an important factor here is I don't try to convince them one way or the other - so I really couldn't say for certain how difficult it would be to move a skin mount customer to a replica. The quality is comparable and the cost is the same so I let them choose. One thing to note is 100% of the skin mount people have already kept their fish. Trying to convince those people to go "off the shelf" replica for something CLOSE I would think would be a very, very tough sell. If price is an issue most of those people will simply shop for somebody cheaper to do their skin mount. Custom mold though? Might not be that hard to convince IF you can keep the price the same (Impossible for most of us though - I charge $7 bucks an inch EXTRA minimum for a custom mold).

    CritterStuffer: Ultimately, the vast majority of one's replica customer's won't need convincing. They've already made that decision by the time they contact you. IF they're contacting you WITHOUT seeing your work (you need a website, marketing, etc) then you will probably have a tough time trying to make the sale. If you do quality skin mounts or replicas you will eventually take in some customers with some marketing. With replicas, you really have nothing to lose or damage. One other thing also needs to be stated when it comes to off the shelf replicas. In 2008 when the economy tanked I went from doing 30+ replicas a year to ONE in 2009!!! Those replica numbers have just now almost fully rebounded. On the otherhand, skin mounts only tanked about 20% that year and have remained fairly stable forever. It's much easier to convince somebody scraping money together to do the fish in their freezer vs. convincing somebody to spend money now when they can do it later (with a replica). I'm sure others have had different experiences because the fish industry is weird - lol! But, I'll bet my findings are pretty similar across the board for most.
  4. Ron Kelly

    Ron Kelly Active Member

    TOTAL BS. Alot of fishermen want Replicas nowadays and it is not a hard sell. I do both and enjoy doing both. I have people wanting Replicas of THE FISH THEY CAUGHT that they bring into my shop, including a 10 and 12 lb Bass this week. I asked them if they wanted their fish mounted and they said no. Would rather have a replica. Ok with me, just gives me a new mold for the future. And before anyone says it's because I am from Texas, I will let you know I do LOTS of fish from up North, including Michigan. I don't know where this came from that "they want the fish THEY caught" cause I haven't experienced that too much. As a matter of fact, just the opposite. I see this on here every time Replicas are brought up. I just keep selling them and laugh all the way to the bank. But, you are right Marty, Salesmanship is important. Do I push skin mounts? You bet. But, I let the customer choose. I charge the same for either and my sales are 75% Replicas, 25& skins and I average 20- 30 Replica sales a month.
  5. NOAH@aarrkk

    [email protected] Active Member

    In my case, there are certain fish I WILL do as skin mounts (bass primarily) and other fish I will ONLY do as replicas----custom molding/casting if they have the fish--trout, striped bass, catfish, carp, etc. So for those who want THEIR fish on the wall, it's a cast of THEIR fish and for the most part I think that policy worked well. And of course there are some people who are CR. So in MY case there is very little SELLING................I make the choice.............customer accepts or rejects. A big factor here of course is that I'm not depending on taxidermy to keep my family going financially.
  6. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Ron, that has a lot to do with your location, geographically speaking. In my area most seem to prefer skin, over replica. I myself don't try to push either one over the other but, then I haven't jumped into the custom cast arena as of yet. I have not cast a complete fish to date, only heads and fins but isn't casting a fish more work than skin mounting it?
  7. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I think we're mostly saying the same things Ron, but just to clarify - I'm stating that "the replica sell" is not that hard either as proof by the numbers/percentages of overall work. But, what I'm also stating and clarifying is that - that "sale" in nearly all cases is already made long before most customers call us. This of course is done through the C&R media and good personal marketing and a good website. But, convincing a potential customer to go OFF THE SHELF replica AFTER they kept their fish? Good luck with that! Ron, apples to oranges here as you are giving them a CUSTOM MOLD in return! That is a HUGE difference!!! All things being equal trying to convince a caller to go off the shelf replica AFTER THEY HAVE KEPT THEIR FISH (which is nearly 100% of my skin mount calls btw. I get one or two "hoping to catch a fish" calls every other year or so. Never hear back from them - lol!) I would think would be very, very difficult. Custom mold - different story. I personally think it's much easier to convince a skin mount potential customer to do a custom mold (vs off the shelf) - even at double or triple the rate! Been there, done that! P.S. I must also state that I have only had one or two customer's skins that were not mountable in 20 years. So, damage for me is never an issue either for offering a replica instead...
  8. Ron Kelly

    Ron Kelly Active Member

    Yes, I have custom molds and others molded before the same size on hand. I do order others as I need them just like everyone else. I do find it VERY odd that my customers ask for a Replica while standing there with a 3 lb Crappie in their hands that could easily be mounted. I was just pointing out that there are alot of opportunities out there for sales that some folks don't seem to want to pursue and that is fine. Back in my hayday, when my shop was SKIN mounting 1000 fish a year or more, a very talented fish taxidermist buddy of mine was also doing 3-400 per year. I saw my skin orders declining and replicas increasing because of the catch and release PC. I decided to learn molding and stayed with the numbers for years. My buddy (well known Fishhead) decided he would NOT pursue replicas come hail or high water. He was doing 30 fish a year within 4 years and basically out of business. Times have changed and NOBODY likes it, including me. I just went back to my old Marine Corps saying that you "adapt and overcome". That's what I did and it works for me. I don't try to convince anyone to go off the shelf . I just give them an option, that's all.
  9. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    What does everyone want to call them repo's? They are not repossessed cars!
  10. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    That you have Ron - kudos to you!
  11. critterstuffr

    critterstuffr New Member

    Great answers thanks everyone. For me I'll stick with fur and feathers. I will still be on the sideline saying "dang how in the world did they do that"?
  12. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    You need to have confidence in yourself and get your feet wet. None of the people you admire painted fish like that instantly. It takes time and you have to pay your dues. If it makes you feel more comfortable just paint your own fish for a while. The tools and reference are out there.
  13. So many say that it's about the region where you are located. They say, "You can get more then I can because of your location" Or it's a skin mount and CR issue. For the most part I think it's BS and to some degree it is true but that is not the real problem.

    Some taxidermist are just that, taxidermist. You have to be so much more and being a salesman is a huge part.

    Why do so many fish taxidermist have a flat rate based on skin or reproductions? They are cheating themselves.

    I have a base rate of $500 on Repros and $600 for skin mounts with Repro heads.
    I have stock molds and I custom mold for up charge.
    When the per inch kicks in I have a range of $18 to $25 (our average fish is 40")
    Extra for two sided because wall mounts are one sided mounts painted 360 but detailed on show side.
    Driftwood $10 to $600 plus
    Basic bases start at $80 and sky's the limit for custom.
    Rush fees start at $100 to get it back in in six months on up to 100% extra for 30 days

    Plus bait fish,crabs, crawfish, shellfish extra plants & so much more to up sell.

    I have customers ship fish or place orders from all over the states. I know there are plenty of better and faster fish guys than me out there but for some reason I get picked a lot. My back log is up to 14 months and the customer pays based on how fast he wants it back.

    We do retail and wholesale and the numbers split down the middle with skin vs Repros.

    It's about being a salesman and reputation.

    If you don't offer it/sell it , they don't know you will do it.
  14. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Wasn't meant to be a chest pounding conversation because when it comes to sales, I could sell YOU one of my finished replicas - lol! J/K of course.

    Location can ABSOLUTELY be a factor when it comes to doing just fish. You are in Texas! Dude, you're in a whole 'nother world down there! Texas has been relatively unaffected by the market crash of '08 with all the oil (and money, and fishing) down there. Texas's economy has been one of the tops in the nation before and after the crash. I live in a state of political correctness and Illinois is actually the worst state in the nation when it comes to it's financial healthiness. If it were just me I'd say you're right. But, you're not. It's EVERY taxidermist around here when it comes to fish. Now, five hours north of me in the Green Bay area I know a guy that stops taking in work (mostly skin mounts) around this time every year because he has SO much. Whereas everybody around here (with 10 million plus people in my area!) is struggling to take in 60 jobs (reps and skins) a year! 4 hours southeast of me - Cecil is doing well with numbers this year I hear. Location can be a very big factor. You can only convince so many out-of-state people to take the hit on shipping charges...
  15. FishArt , I looked at your site and I'm not sure who you are out of the three guys listed. ??

    As far as y'alls work it's very nice! If you were the salesman you COULD sell me some mounts I don't really do freshwater.

    Its not meant to be chest pounding just putting out the facts/info. Most shops are isolated in a way and they don't know what's going on outside their area. If others are kicking ass within hours of you then you have potential customers in those areas. If you are so slow why are you not selling yourself? Wholesale?

    You say only so many will ship from other states? Sure I took in 100+ from out of state. Almost 60 of them from Florida to North Carolina. The others La., Miss. & across the Midwest.
  16. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I'm the good looking bald, fat guy - lol!

    100+ from out of state - that is awesome! Let me ask you this. How many of those 100 out-of-staters are people on vacation in Texas near your area that catch a trophy? And how many are doing saltwater replicas? (The reason I ask the latter question is for some reason we've had trouble hitting the saltwater market here in the mid-west with the numbers I THINK are out there.)

    To answer your questions JP, luckily both myself and DougP are on the tail ends of our careers because we don't need to take in any more than 50-60 fish a year. Neither of us advertise anymore because the website and repeats/word of mouth pretty much brings in everything. The days of triple digit fish are long gone around here for us though. I'm sure part of the numbers problem has been our prices going up through the years as well. Niche market when you're tayloring to the higher end crowd and there's not a lot of money being spent on fish work around here in the first place. I know my friend in GB is $3 bucks and inch and $4 bucks an inch LESS (respectively) than either of us here. Add in a buck or two for shipping costs and there's no way we could compete. Teaching has been a nice break and a supplement to the fish income. Seems there's more interested in learning fish taxidermy around here vs. wanting a fish mounted - lol! FYI, I also supplement my numbers a bit by offering free pick up and drop off to Iowa City and NW Illinois. Out of state numbers (mostly reps) fluctuate quite a bit. Did 20-25 out of state jobs last year. Only maybe 8-10 so far this year.

    Didn't mean anything by chest pounding comment btw, toungue-in-cheek. You know how some threads/people can get around here with their egos! And thank you for the compliments on our work. Post or PM me a link to your site so I can check out your stuff!
  17. My fish totals are 90% saltwater fishmounts almost split evenly between skin & Repro.

    Of the 100+ out of state fish Less then 10 are skin mounts and for people fishing my area. The rest are all replicas from photos sent to me.

    I have a web name but I don't have a site up at this time, I have Facebook and Instagram. With 3400+ Facebook followers it has been huge for me. I always ask new customers how they found me and most say Facebook or referrals from guides, previous customers & other Taxidermist.
  18. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

  19. Bryan Russell

    Bryan Russell Active Member

    WOW! this is entertaining! I might have to come on here more to read this stuff! :eek:
  20. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Oh hell for entertainment Current Events can't be beat. I was just told I should leave the site as I was ruffling too many feathers. LOL