Re-Opening a Woodworking Business - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 11-03-2019, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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Re-Opening a Woodworking Business

I am the original owner and operator of a woodworking business in Dickinson Tx. - Not too far from Galveston or Houston. I sold a solid business with a great reputation when I retired. The man that purchased the business ran it into the ground and went out of business a year later. That was around 7 years ago or so.
My question is............I am thinking about reopening the business, under the original name. Would this be suicidal? I dont have any of my old contacts because I gave that all away with the business. Or............maybe I should just open under a new name.
I would like replies from only professional marketing people since this is a critical decision for me.
Thanks in advance

Tony B



Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx
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post #2 of 29 Old 11-03-2019, 10:43 PM
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@DesertRatTom - this is right up your alley

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post #3 of 29 Old 11-03-2019, 11:26 PM
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Tony,
There is a saying, "One dissatisfied customer scares 50 new ones away."

In all honesty I don't think that you want all that old baggage and bad will.

In marketing support for about 40 years but not an expert. Just using common sense.
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post #4 of 29 Old 11-03-2019, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, NOTHANKYOU

That's the direction I was leaning toward, but just needed the push. I loved my old name - The Texas WoodWorks, but he did a lot of damage. He took every short cut possible. I could talk for hours about the stupid $hit he did.
Anyway, Thanks again

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post #5 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 12:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
Thanks, NOTHANKYOU

That's the direction I was leaning toward, but just needed the push. I loved my old name - The Texas WoodWorks, but he did a lot of damage. He took every short cut possible. I could talk for hours about the stupid $hit he did.
Anyway, Thanks again
Would the name "The WoodWorks of Texas" be too close to the other name?

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post #6 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 07:23 AM
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It all depends upon how long you owned the business before and just how many loyal customers you had. And, most especially if those customers knew you be name.


I had a similar experience years ago. In 1998 I sold a thriving business and the new owner ran it into the ground in 4 years. To this day I run into old customers who tell me just how badly he operated.



If I was to open that business again I would use the same name and heavily advertise that I was back in charge as owner.



To close a business in just one year takes more than just bad workmanship. It takes running out of money because of poor business practices. The person may not have ruined the business name as much as you think.


George
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post #7 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 07:28 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BigJim View Post
Would the name "The WoodWorks of Texas" be too close to the other name?
that would work, THANKS
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post #8 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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................To close a business in just one year takes more than just bad workmanship. It takes running out of money because of poor business practices. The person may not have ruined the business name as much as you think.
George
In a woodworking business, you dont see the same people everyday and not even every couple of years. My repeat/referral business seems to come quickly, like within a few weeks or months and thats it for many years. It's not a day by day business. One needs to be in relatively populous area with well above average income. It's a small market. Anyway, it seemed like about half my customers had repair/refinish work done in years gone by. As for knowing me by name, no, except for the 2 main interior designers i worked with. They have since moved out of the area. My only advertising was by my website and my box truck was a roving billboard. My shop was in a industrial area and I never even put a sign up.
When on my 2 weeks home from offshore work, I would stop by and offer some free help. At that same time, I was remodeling my newly purchase older boat and did some work on it in the shop, so I was around at times. Whatever I suggested, he did the opposite. One time I came by and he was working on an old upright Coke Ice Box. He was filling in the indentations with Bondo. I asked him how he was going to finish it. He told me that he was being paid to strip and repair only, which is fine. So I repeated my question on what kind of finish they were going to use. His answer was and I quote "It's not my concern". I told him that it sure will be if they intended to stain the box. Stain wont work over Bondo. then another time after that, i came by and him and a helper were using some kind of "Restorer" product on some furniture. It was all wet, oily and shiny. It looked horrible and I'm sure the customer didn't expect that. I had a flow-over system with 2 large 5' X 10' trays - one for stripping and one for rinsing that was part of the business. he didnt want to waste the chemical.
I knew at that time it was all over for him. He worked for me about a year and he knew better than that. He knew I never took short-cuts. Anyway, that was they last time I stopped by. I ran into my favorite Interior Designer about a month later and she told me that she went by to check on the progress of aome furniture she dropped off. She said it was so bad that she hired movers to remove it and ship it to Houston for refinishing, which is an hour away.

Anyway, That is why, I'm now sure that I wont ever use that name again. Thanks for reminding me.

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post #9 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 08:07 AM Thread Starter
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I just really miss my woodworking. I also thought about running it as a school and take in commercial jobs. It's still in the thinking stage. I'm 73 and in excellent health but that could change at a moments notice. I'm retired and dont want to make a full time job of it and travel about 4 months a year. That's a big task to take on where the average shop space will cost about $1000/month or more. Then also, I dont own any tools anymore. Even if bought on craigslist, I'm still looking at mant thousands of dollars.
Anyway, maybe I'll make my dream plans on a separate thread.

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post #10 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 12:54 PM
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Just thinin' .....

A business needs:
A clientel base
A work space
Tools and machines
Supplier contacts.
Financing, unless self financed.


I would start with this list and see what you come up with. Pros and cons, pluses and minuses.


There are other ways to get back into woodworking where there is zero cost. Offer to instruct at any senior center, college classes or woodworking sales store. I think high schools require a teaching ceretificate? There may be a income opportunity in there as well. You may have flexible hours... or not? You won't have to purchase any tools either.


A hobby/business is what a lot of folks do, just some extra money here and there rather than a full fledged business. Income tax rules may prove complicated when mixed with Social Security payments.
After so much income, you only get to keep about 1/2 of what you make....?


Just some food for thought.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #11 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 01:32 PM
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much like you a owned/operated a contracting business, which became successful over time, because it takes time to build the good reputation. i had about 20-25 good customers and that was all i needed. they kept calling me back for more and more work. i did residential/commercial remodeling - everything but roofing.

i wouldn't think of trying under a name someone else owned. especially if they were bad. i can hear the first phone call now - "can you come "fix" something the last owner didn't do right?"

And, BEST OF LUCK ON YOUR NEW VENTURE!!! i suspect you will be as successful as last time, especially once people hear you are back in biznus!

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post #12 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 02:49 PM
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I have a couple years on you, and can see where you are coming from, I have always believed one is much healthier when they are busy and their life has a purpose. My personal concern is that if I invest retirement savings and lose it I will likely not have enough time to ever recover it, so for me at this stage in the game it is better to be safe than sorry.

I probably can't tell you anything you don't already know, so will just wish you all the best if you do take the plunge.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #13 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 02:58 PM
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Tony, from what you are writing it seems that the type of business that you had is not really dependent upon the business name or the name of the owner/worker. A business where people are one time contact is mostly just dependent upon advertising to get customers.


You state you are 73. I am 10 years older and have some experience with what our bodies are doing in this time frame. It is not something that is going encourage beginning a long term endeavor. If you want to set up a part time business that would probably be good. The name would not be significant. You would have time to let your body rest as it likes to at that age. Hopefully you do not have arthritis problems as I do. That would really limit what you do.


My table saw was used yesterday for the first time in 2 or 3 years when my neighbor needed to rip some fence boards.


I am very familiar with the area where you live. I lived in Clear Lake City from 1968 to 1977. It was a great area. Think it is getting a little too crowded now.


George
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post #14 of 29 Old 11-04-2019, 04:04 PM
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Getting here a little late, help with new startups in a professional specialty for decades.


7 years is a long time dead, the corpse is thoroughly dried up, customers all gone, no reputation left to salvage at this point.


I'd start anew, with a new name. You should also learn more about marketing via social media and email marketing. Don't know what products you're making, which would be a factor. Our services start at about $5K and run up to more than $30K. Almost all our business comes in from having built an email list by giving information away on social media and gradually building up an email list.


The facebook posts produce the leads and adds constantly to our email subscriber list.
We post articles on how to market professional services and invite people to sign up for the newsletter. On the newsletter we provide articles on all kinds of things, ideas, pracices and the occasional goodie.


I would not advertise much unless you can find publications or other media that are read by your probable customers. I would find some young un who knows how to shoot and edit video (even some high school kids learn to do that, and I'd post videos on social media, youtube and in groups that cater to your potential customers. The house beautiful crowd might be one audience, but if you're really skilled, you might wind up with groups about antique and classic houses. High end builders, etc. I don't know your potential customer base, which is a necessity. That would likely be tied to the kinds of craftsman work you do, especially what you like to do.


My videos would be of me making something spectacular, collectable, first rate, classic, and showing some of the techniques the viewer should examine before buying something like that. This will give you samples to photograph and put on social media posts. You might be using a lot of power tools, but the background for the videos and pictures should show mostly hand tools, the mark of a craftsman.



I most certainly would charge absolute premium prices, "you get what you pay for," applies. In a sense, you're coming out of retirement from building top of the line goods, but you don't have to tell your story UNLESS you want to give people a heads up about what they get from cut rate outfits...but make that a very gentle message and don't put down any company. Just make sure the message gets across about what constitutes premium goods.


Many companies buy scholck furniture for the worker bees, but hire designers to build custom offices for top executives. Those premium designers are primary targets for you to identify and reach. There are publications and groups and websites just for that class of designer. It may take some time to ferret those out, but worth the effort. Do picture stories on the difference between premium and just OK work on the kinds of things the publications and groups focus on. eg: why a hand planed and scraper finished top surface is always nicer looking than a sanded one. Show a sanding machine surface compared to a planed surface. Why is it more glossy and baby butt smooth? This places you as THE guy they want to work with if they have a premium patron to satisfy. Give them the words and understanding required to sell their customer on your premium work.


There is a great little book that's for book authors, but applies to everyone in business, called "Your First 1000 Copies," about $10 on Amazon. Get it and study it. Then do what it says about using email. I use Constant Contact for my email list, because it has a good reputation for filtering out spam. About 700 have signed up for it and we are in the top 10 percent of open rates because we use what I suggested above.
You could use a similar name, but modify it a little: The Great Texas Woodworks, for example. But nanmes are not nearly as important as personal contact.



I would definitely explore the world of top notch designers, decorators and premium restoration and top of the line, custom home builders and architects in your region, then state. You will need some photographs of your very best custom work to show off, and you can tell them you're coming out of retirement because there are just not that many people with the deep skills thier designs and projects require.


Prices: I would rather be on the top end of the rate. No discounts without multiple units sold, then not very much.


Consider getting tied in with the best CNC person you can find within driving range.


I've attached a pdf of an article on making money with a CNC, although if focuses on CNC, many of the marketing and management ideas and principles will apply to your business.


BTW, I've spent 38 years teaching practical marketing for professional offices, and the methods described are not much different no matter what kind of business you're building. Best of luck to you, I haven't had a boss (other than the Mrs.) for almost 40 years. Working for yourself is the best.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf __CNC marketing advice.pdf (25.6 KB, 12 views)
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post #15 of 29 Old 11-05-2019, 07:53 AM
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Here is my take on this- I've been in an upper management situation and owned my own business. Not throwing cold water on your idea but is it worth the hassle? Dealing with people, taxes, safety standards from the state and federal governments, etc. take an inordinate time. I looked into incorporating but my CPA/attorney advised against it- pay corporate taxes PLUS personal income tax! JMHO.
If you go ahead with the business under a new name, good luck.

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post #16 of 29 Old 11-05-2019, 12:43 PM
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Pineknot_86 has some mighty good points. I've been self employed for near 40 years and wasn't in a business where incorporation was not necessarily an advantage. Once you hire an employee, life changes, but you still have to issue 1099s if you pay out money to anyone else. Retirement is mighty nice. That notion of build it and they will come is not necessarily so.
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post #17 of 29 Old 11-05-2019, 02:44 PM
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This seems to go against the grain on this topic... From my involvement in several acquisitions of smaller medical equipment companies I can assure name recognition has its advantages. For that reason we test marketed using our corporate identity or a combo name using both. I can also tell you over a several year period the "old" name can disappear but a recognized name overtakes competitive lesser knowns.

My advise, use your original name if you prefer it and especially if it is still well recognized.
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post #18 of 29 Old 11-05-2019, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Whew! That' a heck of a lot of great responses. I sure appreciate the effort you are putting into them.

I decided that after the new owner took over the business and trashed it completely, it is best to avoid that name like the plague. Just start with a brand new business name. People that never heard my name before would not be influenced either way. People that had work done by me before will recognize Tony B. I have that influence on people. LOL

Another thing I learned in Mississippi and Texas is that if your business in out in the county, you can get away with a lot more than if in city limits. Not a whole lot of watch dog agencies or zoning.

My last business was the first time I did not spend a dime on advertising other than the cost of website building software and a host. In the 5 years or so I had that business, I never even hung a sign up. Not on the marquee nor on my door. If someone wanted to come by i gave them directions.

Also thought about what woodnthings said about teaching classes. If I move back to Biloxi, Ms there is a large air base and I had given wood turning seminars and demos many moons ago.

One of the main things i learned from my first business in Arkansas is to have ZERO Employees. I do best with unskilled labor through employment agencies. My last business in Texas, I did hire a few employees and quickly realized, I need to go back to doing it alone again.

I use day laborers when I need to, which is quite often and it works out quite well.

I think what the most likely outcome will be the way I have done it the last two times. Rent a 10' or 12' X 30' foot self storage unit, buy a table saw and a lathe and just play. Run a website for the heck of it and see what develops. The last 2 times I did that, I was out of the self storage and into commercial/ industrial buildings with a big box truck and all in 6 months or less. All at the same time I was working offshore on the oil rigs. That is a very common practice out there. The younger guys, the smarter ones, buy property out in the boonies at really cheap prices, rent machinery while off there 2 weeks a month, they build some really nice homes for themselves. By the time they retire, the towns would be expanding and heading their way

Anyway, still not sure exactly what I will be doing, but I assure you that whatever it is, it will be fun. And all this time, I will never forget that I am retired.

Tony B



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post #19 of 29 Old 11-06-2019, 09:26 PM
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Tony B

Im one of te guy syou didnt want to hear from.:>D. Ive been woodworking for about 25 years , Im 66 years old and retired from my full time job 2 years ago. I do very PT work wood work for people now. I dont advertise its manily word of mouth. I do it to keep busy and bc I love working with wood. Since I don want to go full time which can be a PITA as I dont want to get tied down and I want to go fishing or get away when I want. I just get out and talk to people do sall jobs for friends. I recently went to friends house who lives qite a ways awy from me. He wanted a small built in bar so I made it on site, next thing I know I got people wanting work done. I actually turned work down, one person is waiting for me to come back and visit him again to build her a bookcae to hide her gun cabinet and 2 others want some wood work done on their boats.

What Im saying just get started get going ad people will come to you. Your is a great position as your already retired and can pick and choose the work. Oh I for got to mention I work out of my shop but my tools are mobile and I can load them in my truck and set them up anywhere. Oh I built some stuff for my BIL and got some work outta that to. Now I got 4 closet organizers to build and so it goes. Mainly just keeping busy, having fun and no pressure of owning a by golly real FT business
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post #20 of 29 Old 11-06-2019, 09:45 PM
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get yourself a trailer

Make a mobile shop inside a large trailer. No zoning regs and all you need is a hook up OR a generator. Weather should be OK to work outside, if not have a roof mounted AC. Location of the trailer during working hours may prove a challenge, but a friendly business may find you a good partner?



You can leave the trailer parked to run errands or service customers.

Have a very large dog inside to deter theives or use the new Ring system, it works great and will call your phone even when the wind blows a plastic bag in front of your camera.....



This beats a permanent shop especially when there is an evacuation order.




OR use a box van:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 11-06-2019 at 09:57 PM.
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