As most of you might know I am pretty new to this site and catching up with all of you in the whole blog world might be a little dicey at first. This is actually the very first blog I have ever written. Go figure, everyone I know blogs or multi blogs or blogs while reading blogs…you get the picture.
For starters, I am always shocked when someone commisions work from me and when I tell them I don’t have time they up the anti in the form of “MORE MONEY”! I think to myself, why would you pay 40% more just to have me do it when there are 20 guys who do just what I do and some of them are cheaper? ( I have one couple in Yorba Linda who have been waiting for me to have time in my schedule for 6 months just so I can put an arch over their stair well)
The fact of the matter is, that’s the begining of a loyal customer base who will ultimately continue to buy from you throughout the years. In the world of art it is very difficult to judge what people are going to display in a glass case and what they will want to put tortilla chips in (I’m not gonna let that go Trent).
I read Marc’s blog about getting advice for a business plan and I posted the following knee jerk response. I think valueing our work is one of the most difficult problems we have…that is, once we settle the age old argument of Domino or not to Domino…Saw Stop, no Saw Stop…or maybe Spiral or Strait cutter head…you get the idea. After I posted the reply to his blog I thought “ding” this could be a good first blog for you Mr. Werner! So here it is…uncut and unedited.
I would like to add my two cents worth of advice and a little story if I may. Pricing fine woodworking is a very subjective and difficult thing.
I work as a docent for Sam Maloof. Every third Tuesday night we have a meeting in Sam’s house where we all have dinner together and talk about what’s going on that month. The best thing I like about it is I get to talk to Sam and sit in all of his furniture.
I was sitting talking to another docent and he saw one of the pens I make in my pocket. He said “hey, I make pens too” (this man was about 40 years my senior). He then asked if I give them away and I kind of chuckled and said no. I said I actually have them in a store in Orange and the retail price is $110 to $135. He about fell out of his chair. Apparently he gives his pens away or will sell them for maybe $10 which doesn’t even cover the cost of the kit, wood and electricity to make the thing.
He spent the next 15 minutes practically scolding me for trying to get so much for my pens and he finally stood up and walked away…Stood up out of a $35,000 Zircote rocker that had already been sold. Oh yeah, there is a 4 year waiting list for those rockers and Sam and the boys can build about 60 of them a year along with a lot of other stuff…Do the math!
All out of Sam’s shop, attached to his house (don’t get me wrong, there aren’t too many of us who have 750,000 BF of lumber at our house). But Sam started in a chicken coup where he had to take every tool out at the begining of the day and put it back at the end and he was nearly 40 when he started doing it as a full time income. His house was then and is still today, his showroom.
When I get discouraged about not making enough money or there won’t be a client for my product I tend to visit the following site. It is a woodworking cooperative and there are a lot of artisans there who list their work and how much it cost. Some of it is shocking but most of it is all commisioned work.http://www.nwfinewoodworking.com/index.html
Good luck…stay focused…be encouraged.
-- Steffen - Kirkland, WA