Author Topic: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?  (Read 2031 times)

Offline Akavit

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Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« on: June 05, 2014, 12:49:41 PM »
Morning Americans (those of us not living on the east coast) and Good afternoon to transatlantic dwellers.

I've made no secret about the work I do but until the past couple days I've not really had much to show anyone.  It takes a long time to organize photo collections and upload them to a website! 



This work involves custom woodwork specializing in Catholic church furnishings designed with influence from traditional art and architecture.

All the latest images are now available at my website with most of it being condensed into a pair of blog posts for quick review.  For those interested, you will find more information regarding cabinetry, missal stands and CNC routers plus pews, paintings, altars and organ facades.

As of now, I have a standing offer to work for a guy who builds furniture for the 1% but my choice was to give this market a good, hard shot first.  So far it's worked out far better than I could have guessed with half our work being in the target market.  God willing, it'll stay that way.  Would you rather see this talent used to furnish Mr. Buffet's home or a Catholic church?  Churches would be good, both would be acceptable but I'd rather avoid working solely for the purpose of furnishing wealthy private residences and I suspect others feel the same.

If any social media types reading this wish to support this endeavor, please spread the word.  The website is setup to make it easy to share content via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Pinterest.  Every "like", "plus" and share contributes to our web presence and reputation.  Starting now, I'll be moonlighting on the website adding content to boost traffic and rankings.  The eventual plan is to initiate a proper advertising campaign but we're 5 months late setting that up and probably won't get to that milestone for another 7 months.


Oh yes, just to avoid people wasting their time...  If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it.  There's a reason why custom woodworkers mostly sell to the wealthy, commercial clients or group-funded (fundraiser campaigns common in churches) organizations.  That being said, I'm pretty generous with my acquired knowledge so if anyone is looking for direction or pointers for their own church projects, feel free to contact me.  Advice is free and it'll likely save a lot of time and hassle.

Offline nmoerbeek

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2014, 05:44:17 PM »
Morning Americans (those of us not living on the east coast) and Good afternoon to transatlantic dwellers.

I've made no secret about the work I do but until the past couple days I've not really had much to show anyone.  It takes a long time to organize photo collections and upload them to a website! 



This work involves custom woodwork specializing in Catholic church furnishings designed with influence from traditional art and architecture.

All the latest images are now available at my website with most of it being condensed into a pair of blog posts for quick review.  For those interested, you will find more information regarding cabinetry, missal stands and CNC routers plus pews, paintings, altars and organ facades.

As of now, I have a standing offer to work for a guy who builds furniture for the 1% but my choice was to give this market a good, hard shot first.  So far it's worked out far better than I could have guessed with half our work being in the target market.  God willing, it'll stay that way.  Would you rather see this talent used to furnish Mr. Buffet's home or a Catholic church?  Churches would be good, both would be acceptable but I'd rather avoid working solely for the purpose of furnishing wealthy private residences and I suspect others feel the same.

If any social media types reading this wish to support this endeavor, please spread the word.  The website is setup to make it easy to share content via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Pinterest.  Every "like", "plus" and share contributes to our web presence and reputation.  Starting now, I'll be moonlighting on the website adding content to boost traffic and rankings.  The eventual plan is to initiate a proper advertising campaign but we're 5 months late setting that up and probably won't get to that milestone for another 7 months.


Oh yes, just to avoid people wasting their time...  If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it.  There's a reason why custom woodworkers mostly sell to the wealthy, commercial clients or group-funded (fundraiser campaigns common in churches) organizations.  That being said, I'm pretty generous with my acquired knowledge so if anyone is looking for direction or pointers for their own church projects, feel free to contact me.  Advice is free and it'll likely save a lot of time and hassle.

Very nice work.
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not to think so much of what I have written, as of my good and kind intentions. Please look for the truths of which I speak rather than for beauty of expression. Where I do not come up to your expectations, pardon me, and put my shortcomings down, please, to lack of time and stress of business." St. Bonaventure, From the Preface of Holiness of Life.

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Offline Akavit

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2014, 06:45:50 PM »
Thanks.

After a couple years of smaller projects like that one, we'll hopefully move into a larger space and have better equipment and more labor available.  That will open the doors to the bigger, more ornate projects.

No telling what the future holds though.  It looks like traditional sanctuaries are making a comeback but there's definitely a lot going on in the world that may delay that for a little longer yet.

Offline Kaesekopf

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 08:32:22 AM »
I've been to la salette but before they received your work.  I'll have to visit again.
Wie dein Sonntag, so dein Sterbetag.

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Offline Akavit

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2014, 07:09:36 PM »
Most of the work is in the two oratories so I assume you'll have to find someone to let you in.  Shouldn't be a problem if you already know the people there.

Offline Michael Wilson

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2014, 12:32:27 AM »
Very nice work Akavit.
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Offline Akavit

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2014, 11:16:31 PM »
Thanks.  Just doing ordinary kitchen cabinets at the moment but will soon have a nice pulpit to build.

Offline Gerard

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2014, 05:55:49 PM »

Oh yes, just to avoid people wasting their time...  If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it.  There's a reason why custom woodworkers mostly sell to the wealthy, commercial clients or group-funded (fundraiser campaigns common in churches) organizations.  That being said, I'm pretty generous with my acquired knowledge so if anyone is looking for direction or pointers for their own church projects, feel free to contact me.  Advice is free and it'll likely save a lot of time and hassle.

I could use a pointer or two in the direction of how to price your work when it's specialized (custom artwork, lessons, music, statuary) or something like that.  I've had a few solo endeavors doing among other things, fine art painting on house walls.  I tried it as side work and I've ended up seriously underbidding myself to the point where the people who hired me were upping my price of their own initiative.  They thought the quality was way higher than what they were buying and I spent a lot more time on a job than I thought it would be.   I'll bet by the time I was done, I was working for about 2$ an hour. 

Any books you can recommend on principles how you calculate what you do and your time and investment vs. the market bearing it, to see if you can make a decent living? 

 

Offline Akavit

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2014, 12:29:35 AM »
I never studied pricing and marketing formally but instead, talked to a lot of people that were in my trade for 20+ years.  Some of it is trade-specific but there are a few things that apply to just about any type of custom work.


My primary mentor in my trade liked to say, "Get good then get fast.  Don't forget the fast".  If people are offering you extra money, you've probably achieved number one and need to figure out number 2.



The hardest part is getting enough skill and reputation to avoid competing with the hobbyists.  Those people will always work for lowball prices because they're only interested in funding their hobby and getting some tool money.  The aspiring professional needs to acquire skills, tools and or infrastructure that makes it possible to excel in the chosen field and still produce work with speed and precision that amateurs cannot match.

The second hurdle is probably where most artists trip up.  That's marketing.  Starving artists are often in that situation because the people with money either don't realize they exist or don't think they have the skills.  It takes a lot of contacts to generate the necessary leads to pull in good paying contracts.  Without enough leads coming in, you'll be tempted to keep underbidding and that leads to overtime, tight cash flow and the inability to invest time or money into improving infrastructure.

The next step is to convince clients that you're offering something that the amateurs can't do.  It's important to act professional and impart confidence into potential clients that they can trust you with their money.  Besides developing good people skills, this is where infrastructure helps.  Having professional cards, brochures and a website along with an established business name and insurance goes a long way to convincing people you're serious about your business endeavor.

As far as pricing, that's actually the easy part.  There are two prices to calculate.  One is the going market rate, the other is the price you need to earn a living.  The first is done by careful study of pricing structures of other people in the same line of work.  The second is determined by adding overhead, materials, self-employment taxes, your paycheck and the profit margin together.  Figuring out the paycheck takes practice because the only way to get accurate time estimates for projects is to get experience doing the work then tracking time.

If the two prices are far apart, then you'll either have to figure out how to cut expenses or hours or somehow raise the value of the product you're making.  The usual approach is to sell at market rates then develop a road map to achieve profitability.  It takes a lot of guts to sell over market rates but some people have done it.



As far as book recommendations go, that's dependent upon your trade.  I've put a few possibilities below.

For developing general people skills suitable for networking in the business world, Scott Adams had a good chapter in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.  I pretty much ignore most of what he had to say in the book but the parts where he discusses how to strike up conversations with strangers are good (don't talk about dreams, puns or health and do get other people to talk about themselves).

If your work involves a shop setting or producing tangible objects, knowing lean manufacturing principles is helpful.  The book I used was The Strategos Guide to Value Stream and Process Mapping.  It's heavy reading and geared towards industry but getting into that mindset helps productivity.  It's all about reducing inventory and setup time and decreasing production lead times.

If your work requires selling to the wealthy elite, I've been told that No BS Marketing To the Affluent is a helpful book.  I've never read it because I market to churches and don't actively pursue rich clients.


Outside of that, start studying what the big players in your industry are doing.  I'm always borrowing techniques from the mass manufacturing world then figuring out how to scale things down for my applications.

 


Offline Elizabeth

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2014, 01:25:34 AM »
 :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer:
 
Very nice!!
 

Offline Akavit

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Re: Who Else Wants Nicer Churches?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2014, 12:23:25 AM »
Thank you.

Here's a picture that might interest you.



It's not a fancy painting but it is tiny at just over an inch tall.  We've made several of this design of missal stand for one customer but they all had a painted crest specific to that client and weren't useful for sale to other customers.  That's why I built an extra missal stand then told my business partner I wanted him to paint me that miniature Agnus Dei.  The plan was to photograph it then setup a webpage to promote it for sale.  Never got around to building the page and it so happened an acquaintance was looking for items for their church's silent auction fundraiser so we gave it to them rather than have it sit around our shop.

Funny thing is, they doubled our suggested starting price for the auction, didn't get any bids then probably kept the missal stand.  Works for us since is is owned by a church that has a weekly Latin Mass so it'll probably see good use someday.