The love of woodworking can be infectious and can lead to business upstarts in the field. However, be it a small woodworking shop or an old and established one, there are times of turbulence these shops go through. While some recover and carry on with business, others go out of business. So, why do many woodworking shops go out of business?
Woodworking shops go out of business due to their failure to stick to the initial business plan and committing some common mistakes, which in hindsight, could have been easily avoided if planned for earlier.
As the business landscape evolves with the rise of new technology and ever-increasing new options for customers, it is vital for woodworking shops to embrace the change and adapt themselves to avoid going out of business.
Why are Woodworking Shops going out of Business?
There are many reasons why small and big woodworking shops are shutting down and going out of business. Many of the reasons are a combination of a few small but important things overlooked by the business. These small mistakes are usually common and hence it is easy to learn from them and be sure not to fall for them.
Woodworking shops that were once a hit among customers gradually fade into obscurity due to constantly not learning from their own mistakes and the mistakes of competitors. The market is the place of truth. A business cannot ignore the hard truths and expect a miracle to turn the tables for them. It is through being aware of the things that can be acted upon and acting on them woodworking shops can retain and improve their base of existing and new customers through the years.
List of Mistakes to Avoid as a Woodworking Shop
Some common mistakes account for sinking the entire ship and woodworking shops need to take account of them to either avoid or manage them.
1. Keeping a Hobbyist Mindset
This might be true for both small and big woodworking shops. It all could have started out as a hobby for the founder, or the group of people initially involved in the business. However, carrying a hobbyist mentality in an aggressive market is a recipe for disaster.
While the love of woodworking should always be a driving factor, the business should come first. What we mean by this is, your love to do particular woodwork in favor of something more favorable for business will be detrimental in the long run. Remember, the business comes first.
The woodworks that generate revenue and profits for the business should always come first. Usually, customers look for custom wooden work that is repeatable and hence a process can be set around it to streamline the production of such wooden products. This should always be the priority since a hobbyist mentality would focus on other interesting things that may not necessarily make money for the business.
2. Not Picking a Niche
If your business is not IKEA or a furniture manufacturer from China, you cannot expect to compete in the common wooden products that can be mass produced.
You will need to find a niche. What we mean by a niche is something you’re specialized or comfortable working in and that there is a market with customers ready to buy your products.
You can even start local with your woodworking shop by catering to the needs of the local community. There is a lot of demand locally for wooden works like birdhouses, feeding stations, pet shelters, signage, wind chimes, wooden planter, exquisite frames, wooden chests, wood art, and more. See my article on Where to sell woodworking projects. (Link Here)
A good place to understand the niche suitable for beginning with is to set up booths at local craft fairs. You can get some of your best wooden works from different niches and interact with customers and gain valuable first-hand feedback on your products. You might come to realize that customers love one of your products but would want some little modification to it before they can purchase it. These are highly valuable insights that will give you an understanding of the market and specialize in a niche.
As you start focusing on your niche and start selling more products, customers will relate you to the niche and thus bring more business your way.
3. Failing to Take Branding Seriously
Your business brand matters, a lot. It is the brand you portray that attracts customers with similar tastes. Your logo, wording, packaging, and product design combine to give a vibe that some customers catch hold of and come back to you, over and over again.
It is for this exact reason why you should have an ideal buyer persona so that you can focus your efforts on the persona.
You can be a young hip-hop brand focusing on young customers between the ages of 25 and 35. Or, you can target the value-conscious middle-aged crowd. It totally depends on the brand you’re planning to be and portray to customers.
4. Not engaged in Marketing
An often-overlooked part of the whole process of selling wooden products is marketing. Woodworking shops with an established reputation can become complacent with marketing knowing that they have a steady stream of customers giving them business.
The rise of new technology and ways of being in front of potential buyers through online channels is one of the most important things to constantly try to be better at. That will set your woodworking shop apart from the competition.
The use of online channels like Etsy, Amazon Handmade, and Facebook Marketplace for generating a good portion of revenue is slowly becoming the norm for both new and established woodworking shops. These online platforms have almost become the first stop for customers in their search for wooden products.
Especially Etsy with its focus on handmade and custom products has become a platform to list your wood crafts to get a lot of attention from customers around the world. You cannot imagine getting as much attention as you do online when your focus is only offline. Of course, there are additional things that must be taken care of with an online channel including high-quality photos and impeccable customer support.
You can also bid for the promoted listing on product search pages on Etsy by paying a commission when customers click on your listing. However, you will have to experiment with it to understand if the ROI is good for your woodworking shop.
Another good way to market your shop is to have a custom website and regularly maintain your social media channels. A website with an e-commerce integration is easy to set up these days with tools like Shopify and Woocommerce. Also, the power of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to drive a constantly growing number of sales is underrated. Since your photos speak for your business, you must focus on high-quality photos for your products that attract customers and achieve the goals of inquiries and purchases.
Remember, marketing through paid ads is an option. However, it is not suitable for every business. You might find that your woodworking shop generates a good number of leads and sales through a basic presence on online marketplaces and social media platforms.
You can also consider giving out free products to friends and family with a request to capture a photo of the product to post on social media giving a shout-out to your shop.
As technology penetrates every part of our daily lives, it is very logical for your business to adapt to the changes and focus on capitalizing any new business opportunity that presents. Do not shy away from the changes. Embrace them and see where the new opportunities lead.
5. Incorrect Pricing
There is no doubt that the customer is the king. However, this doesn’t mean that you cut back on profits and bring a high-quality product to the market at a price that doesn’t do justice to your manufacturing cost.
When it comes to pricing your wood crafts, do not sell yourself short at a lower price. If your product is well made and serves a purpose, you are by all means entitled to put a fair price tag on it.
It is a general rule of thumb to have a profit margin of 30-60% when pricing your products. Don’t feel bad about the price margin because you’re running a business and it allows you to bring more amazing wood creations to the market.
There are a lot of things that go into pricing a wooden product. Mainly, you must factor in the cost of materials, labor, and shipping before adding a profit margin to price your products.
Do not undercut yourself while selling your products. There will always be a market of buyers ready for your products if the price is fair as they will appreciate the work put into the products.
We’ve made this list of common mistakes to give you the idea that while many woodworking shops are going out of business, you can learn from the mistakes made in the past to avoid them and do your own due diligence to set yourself up for the long haul.