My take on setting taxidermy prices

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As we enter into the hunting seasons, the proverbial topic of setting prices comes up as sure as the leaves fall. I think it is time for some straight talk on the subject.

Before I begin, I need to set the stage for my perspective on the topic. I  co own a national taxidermy business with my brother, Austin that has been in continuous, full time operation for over 40 years. Over that 40 year period our shop has produced 10’s of thousands of mounts for sportsmen, sporting good retailers, restaurant chains, sub contract for other taxidermists etc. We have been  full time taxidermists our entire lives and pay all of our bills with money earned from taxidermy.

The question we always get is how do you do it ? The answer we formulate in our minds tends to be lengthy and complicated, but it is really very simple. We make it happen.
We refuse to let someone else’s actions dictate ours. We are aware of what our competition is doing but never set our prices based on what they are charging. What you do is more important then  your price. Pricing should be the last thing the clients asks about. It is a privileged to have taxidermy work done by you, not a right.

Branding yourself and your business

Before you can even think about setting prices, you need to brand yourself and your business. Branding is much more then just a logo and high quality work. Everything you do has to be the best if you want to get top dollar. Your website has to be fast, modern , and not a cheap do- it- yourself type.A facebook page is great, but it is not a substitute for a web site. Have a professional looking shop and showroom that is always clean.You need to dress the part of a professional. Answer your phone during business hours! Be friendly and always answer with the business name.If you are behind on your work, still answer the phone . Deal with it and get caught up, and avoid falling behind in the first place.Drive a good vehicle . Answer your emails, facebook messages,and texts  in a professional manner every time. Make sure you are putting out quality work. Be consistent ! People like to know what they will be dealing with and not be wondering what to expect next. If you have a weak area get training to clear it up.You will have to spend some money to make all this happen, but it is the only path to major success. If any of these areas are weak, your business will suffer because of it. When your business suffers, your brand is tarnished and becomes worthless over time. When a brand is worthless it is not worth any money, and you will not get what you want for pricing.

Want vs Need

We often focus on what we ” need ” to survive in business. We need to make at least ” this” amount to keep the doors open. We sit down and go through elaborate formulas to try to figure out exactly what we need to charge.The problem with this is it is too limiting. We put ourselves into a box and cap our potential. While it is critically important that you have a handle on your expense to make sure you are making a profit, don’t get so caught up in the numbers that you block out the bigger picture. Taking in work just for the sake of getting it away from your competitors is not good business.Ask yourself what do you want to be making. Wealthy people make tremendous amounts of money relative to the work they perform.. Why you ask ? Because their brand is strong and people think they are worth it. Make your brand strong and put yourself on the path to making the money you want, not just what you need.

See what sticks

Setting your prices in the want zone will not always work. No matter how powerful your brand is, some items just will not go at top end prices. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this…location, demographics,supply & demand etc etc. If you cannot get the price you want on one item, try changing the offering or pushing another item until you find one that sticks. When you get pricing in the want zone, run with it and push it hard…you just hit gold. It is perfectly fine to have some need pricing mixed with want pricing as you transition towards all want zone pricing .This is an ongoing process that continues in different forms throughout the life of your business.

Example :

-Whitetail Shoulder Mount Pricing-

Other taxidermists in your area charge  ~ $ 450

Price you need to stay in business         ~ $ 550

The price you want to get                      ~ $ 695

Strengthen your brand and push for the want price to build wealth

 

Dealing with competition

The best way to deal with lower priced competitors is to let them have the price shopping customers. Nothing will put them out of business faster than being overwhelmed with low end work and problem clients.

If you are doing this as a profession, do you really want customers bringing you the work because your price is low ? You are an artisan and a craftsman . Act like it and get clients who respect your work.

Seek sound advice

If you want to be successful in taxidermy , take advice from successful taxidermists.

 

 

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Aaron Stehling is a second-generation full time taxidermist from Jefferson, WI. He is co-owner, with his brother Austin, of Stehling’s Taxidermy, LLC, a studio that specializes in wholesale/sub contract work that has been in operation for over 40 years. Stehling’s Taxidermy also offers a turkey head freeze dry service. You can learn more about his services at www.stehlingstaxidermy.com or check out their online video training web site, www.taxidermyinsider.com. Aaron is also the administrator on www.taxidermytalk.com forums. He is a regular contributing author for Taxidermy Today Magazine.You can contact him at 920.674.3724 or email a.n.stehling@gmail.com.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I will keep this article in mind if and when I ever decide to do commercial work. It won’t be anytime soon but this advice is timeless to the success of any business.

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