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Has Anyone Ever Considered Or Put The Kibosh On New Work For A While?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Cecil, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I've been doing this for going on 35 years and the fact that I never ever get caught up as much as I'd like to wears on me. I'm close to retirement age, and just I know I've experienced burnout on more than one occasion, but just keep slogging along.

    I don't advertise, as all of my business is word of mouth and repeat customers. I'm considering just telling callers that I'm taking a break to get caught up, and they will either have to find someone else or get back to me in several months.

    Ill advised? Anyone else do this? I seriously doubt it would hurt me as there just aren't many of us that do just fish as I do. And who knows maybe I'll stop doing it period.

    And no a vacation doesn't make much of a difference. Been there done that.

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  2. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    Raise your prices .... take in less work ... and make more money.


    Glenn M, rigbobby and Lance.G like this.

  3. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Makes no difference Kerby. Not many of us fish guys around here.
  4. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Cecil, I did it once in 60 years. I was getting behind my usual 1 year lead time. But let me warn you about one thing:
    As I began to claw out, I had a loyal client beg me to take his work. He swore he didnt care how long it took. (He lied.) Not only that, word got out to other loyal clients and the played the sympathy card. I contracted a few PITA jobs out and recovered. I jacked my prices up and it worked for a year or two but I started getting more top end clients. Like you said, at the time I was the only fish guy within 75 miles (That's damned near the whole state of Delaware.)
    And that, my friend, is how I decided to walk away cold turkey. I sold EVERYTHING so I didnt hsve a relapse.
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Life Sucks.....Then comes the death roll!!!!

    I now turn away more work than I take in. I dont even care about money any more...I just want time! I no longer see the mounts that come in as money but as another day out of my life! I worked from November to August last year seven days a week without a single day off and I will never do it again! Life is too short to spend it hunched over a fleshing machine!

    I think the thing to do is just take in the things that make you money and you enjoy doing. Everything else is just a dam frustration after a point and simplifying your life can be a beautiful thing! sometimes emotional well being is as important as financial well being! Be aware though.....like George says, those long time clients that you have mounted all their stuff for 30 years, their kids stuff, and their grand kids stuff, will just wear you out!! You'll have to be a hard ass or you will get over run again!

    Oh....and as a side note and warning every time I raise my prices I get more work but....nothing...I mean NOTHING.....will get you more work than saying you are going to quit!! So be careful!
    rogerswildlife, George and Cecil like this.
  6. Codi

    Codi Active Member

    I began regulating intake about five years ago. That was after raising my prices significantly each year didn't slow down the work. I figured out how many mounts I wanted to do each year at what price to make X amount of money, and then I turned away (mostly) everything after that. I decided last year it was time to downsize taxidermy to a side hustle, mainly due to some big changes in family dynamics. This year I have turned away all new projects and am only working on finishing what I already have. I still get texts every day from people wanting to send me stuff. As George said, they say they don't care how long it takes (or how much it costs). At this point, I would turn away $5,000 for a deer head, but I'd still do one for my nephew for free. I think there is a difference between taxidermy burnout and business burnout, and some days you just want to be left alone.
    countryview, George, Cecil and 2 others like this.
  7. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    As George would say "bull-spit" Cecil - lol! There is a point where many customers will stop paying the higher rates once you reach (whatever that price point is in your area). It will at least slow things down and you'll feel better about yourself. For awhile. More money is typically a short term solution to burnout or if you're in a job you hate.

    We're actually in fairly similar situations as far as our "careers" winding down Cecil. With my move 160 miles about 2 years ago, my work has slowed. I still don't advertise in my new area and I'm still pulling in a fair amount of work just from my internet presence. But, I've always worked hard at making that happen so that I could go to strictly replicas someday without counting on "word of mouth". Of course going replica only has naturally slowed my workload. I don't even do restores anymore. All replicas and custom habitats and I enjoy it much more. Just me though. For me the skin mount side has always been more stressful and difficult to schedule. So it was an easy decision for me to go replica only.

    I'm always an advocate for being honest with ones customers. However, in your situation I might tell a little white lie and just tell them you're not accepting any more work until further notice due to your backlog and you want to get caught up. Which is somewhat true if I'm not mistaken? "Taking a break" might be interpreted as a red flag to a new customer that they might never see their mount again. OR, it could make them want you MORE (raise your prices - lol) Either way you have total control on whether you accept more work or not and this way seems cleaner to me. JMO...
    George and Cecil like this.
  8. Fallenscale

    Fallenscale Active Member

    To bad you couldn't find a young person wanting to be a taxidermist. Take the work load off and give you a purpose teaching and helping a follow lover of fish. Won't the be easy maybe to find the person I feel if you did you'd find that kick come back on your step. May even have to start a new business as a partner ship on a % wise with it to be review in X number of years
  9. rigbobby

    rigbobby Active Member

    Raising your prices a lot may help! A modest price increase, or taking competitive prices into consideration will not have any effect. Last year I raised my prices only 20% and ended up with a 40% increase in volume. Now, I'm going up again, not waiting until next season. Nothing will destroy a taxidermy business faster than taking in too much work at the wrong price. If you get more work than you can handle the price may be wrong.
    (Overhead + labor charge X hours) plus supplies & services plus PROFIT = price.
    Richard C and Cecil like this.
  10. Skywalker

    Skywalker Well-Known Member

    Doing it now!
    Cecil and FishArt like this.
  11. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Good for you SW - me too! I finished up everything before Christmas this year and I have one walleye replica to get out the door by the end of March. And I bought it "ready to paint" too - lol! I got my turnaround time down to 90 days on most replicas and was able to increase my prices again this year. Cecil you can always just bump your turnaround time out a ways and achieve the same results. Take off a month or three if you want w/o having to say anything to your customers.

    P.S. AND increase your prices - lol!
    rigbobby and Cecil like this.
  12. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    For me, saying "taking in no more work" was really difficult as was said, a lot of my customers have been with me since the beginning and some I did antler mounts and stuff for them before I started the business as they were friends and friends of friends that I did stuff for since the early 90's. I had to retire due to health issues, but, I was also burned out, so, they understood for the most part, but some were really persistent and tenacious. It was hard to say no. I only do antler mounts for three past customers and that's it. I do miss it, but, love the extra time I have. I'm not a no man.
    Cecil likes this.
  13. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Cecil likes this.
  14. NMJagdHunter

    NMJagdHunter Ted Wenner

    I was bit by a rattlesnake last summer. It put me behind where I would like to be this year. I have gone to only taking work from existing customers and existing outfitters that bring me their clients stuff. (Still accepting new clients if they are safaris or large lifesizes) For the time being anyways. I see it as a better option than letting my turn around creep out too far, and I dont think it will hurt in the long run. I also believe it will keep existing customers happier seeing that you arent letting that turn around slip indefinitely.
    Cecil likes this.
  15. Ron B

    Ron B Life Sucks.....Then comes the death roll!!!!

    Its funny how your seasons of life change. I remember in the early years not even knowing if I could make a living at taxidermy. Sorta seemed like a fantasy job! I felt I had to have my name in every paper and a mount in every business, and I even advertised on the radio but word of mouth accounted for 99.9 % of all my business when all was said and done. I also remember being so hurt and panicky if I found out a regular customer took something some where else because it was cheaper! Took it kinda personal.......now....I am relieved!!:)
  16. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Wow thank you al for all the sincere heartfelt responses. I thought I'd get at least one troll but I did not! (Well it's still early LOL)

    And thank you for the phone call Richard Christoforo! You da man!
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
  17. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    I'm not far behind you in getting way more than i need. If my son wasn't my business partner, I'd quit tomorrow. At 63, I only want more free time, not money!
  18. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I think it takes discipline to say "no". I've turned down many jobs through the years. I think you owe it to yourself and your customers to be able say "no" once in awhile...
  19. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I feel like a tremendous weight had been taken off my shoulders. I have turned down two fish mounts in two days! Now I know I can whittle them down!
    NMJagdHunter and FishArt like this.
  20. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Now I've turned down three fish in three days. Gentlemen increasing my prices would not alleviate the stress of all the work I still need to get done and as more comes in... well you know the rest. That said once I get on top of things prices will go up -- a lot.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
    rigbobby likes this.