7 Person custom cabinet shop in dire need of marketing ideas. We’ve been going strong for many years, but for some reason all of a sudden the bottom has dropped out and we have no signed projects coming down the pike. We have been bidding consistently, but have been losing some projects to other shops, some projects just don’t seem to be moving forward, and a couple of our steady contractors have gone out of business. I’m going to have to lay off guys soon.
Shamefully, we have done barely any marketing over our 10+ years. I say shamefully because I truly believe it is important, and always been skeptical of a business that only gets work through word of mouth. (Why not try and get more business?) Of course, most of the time I felt too busy to spend time and energy to be a salesman.
We have a website, not too old, but also not too fresh. Over time, most of our work has been through architects and contractors- we don’t necessarily like to market to the public because they have a high “waste of time” rate.
In my opinion, I don’t really believe that print ads and flyers work well. I prefer to make contact with the architects and contractors via email and phone. The problem is that I dislike calling and visiting as a salesperson, it only feels more and more difficult when business is not doing well.
I wonder if one of my hires shouldn’t have been a salesperson, since this is the aspect of the business I never liked. I love meeting clients, preparing for the work, and running the business. But I’ve always disliked the work of selling “cold”.
Any ideas? What has worked for those of you in similar shops?
We are wholesale only but I do go out and take a bottle of wine or something nice to a new designer or two each quarter and leave them our info or talk to them. I have never sold a toothpick through our websites. Most of our biz is word of mouth and we also have lost designers who retired so needed to fill the void.
I also use email and write to designers who don't use us with a few photos of our work and that has worked for me. 35 years and still kickin'.
Social media/Facebook It's free and you can post ideas and projects as they are built. My 36 year old son starts all his research, for any purchase, on his smart phone. Update that dated web page, add a couple of videos. If everything has dropped off, I'd say you have more problems than marketing. What's your shop like? CNC? Outsource anything? Sounds like you should be looking at procedures and efficiency if you are losing those bids to competitors.
Short term, you need to pound the pavement and burn up the phones.
Website, social media and other things are a long term strategy that constantly changes and require a regular effort. They are vitally important in business today. Anybody who thinks otherwise, run from their advice.
My stategy is a website that is 1 or 2 ranked organically for the products that we sell in the locations that we sell them, closets lincoln ca, for example. This isn't easy but very doable. Second the website has to showcase the work we do and give somebody a reason to buy from is. Good pictures a good story etc. People will make a split second decision to stay on your website and do work with you or keep looking.
We monitor all results and lead source for every job we sell and every estimate we give so we know what works and what doesn't. We have 1 social media campaign that is giving us a 15-20 times return on dollars spent.
Additionally, good solid reviews on places like yelp, houzz and angies list are great as they easily distinguish you from somebody that has zero or bad ones.
Anything print is pretty much worthless, we have 1 magazine that we still do but it is barely worth it giving us about a 4 to1 return, which is our bare minimum to keep doing something.
Websites are the long play. Having a solid website can also work to build the business to business relationships get started but it really takes the interpersonal skills to continue to build those relationships.
As far as the social marketing, you need to be on Facebook for all updates, Instagram and/or Pinterest for your really nice looking projects that you want to share.
FORUM GUIDELINES: Please review the guidelines below before posting at WOODWEB's Interactive Message Boards(return to top)
WOODWEB is a professional industrial woodworking site. Hobbyist and homeowner woodworking questions are inappropriate.
Messages should be kept reasonably short and on topic, relating to the focus of the forum. Responses should relate to the original question.
A valid email return address must be included with each message.
Advertising is inappropriate. The only exceptions are the Classified Ads Exchange, Machinery Exchange, Lumber Exchange, and Job Opportunities and Services Exchange. When posting listings in these areas, review the posting instructions carefully.
Subject lines may be edited for length and clarity.
"Cross posting" is not permitted. Choose the best forum for your question, and post your question at one forum only.
Messages requesting private responses will be removed - Forums are designed to provide information and assistance for all of our visitors. Private response requests are appropriate at WOODWEB's Exchanges and Job Opportunities and Services.
Messages that accuse businesses or individuals of alleged negative actions or behavior are inappropriate since WOODWEB is unable to verify or substantiate the claims.
Posts with the intent of soliciting answers to surveys are not appropriate. Contact WOODWEB for more information on initiating a survey.
Excessive forum participation by an individual upsets the balance of a healthy forum atmosphere. Individuals who excessively post responses containing marginal content will be considered repeat forum abusers.
Responses that initiate or support inappropriate and off-topic discussion of general politics detract from the professional woodworking focus of WOODWEB, and will be removed.
Participants are encouraged to use their real name when posting. Intentionally using another persons name is prohibited, and posts of this nature will be removed at WOODWEB's discretion.
Carefully review your message before clicking on the "Send Message" button - you will not be able to revise the message once it has been sent.
You will be notified of responses to the message(s) you posted via email. Be sure to enter your email address correctly.
WOODWEB's forums are a highly regarded resource for professional woodworkers. Messages and responses that are crafted in a professional and civil manner strengthen this resource. Messages that do not reflect a professional tone reduce the value of our forums.
Messages are inappropriate when their content: is deemed libelous in nature or is based on rumor, fails to meet basic standards of decorum, contains blatant advertising or inappropriate emphasis on self promotion (return to top).
Libel: Posts which defame an individual or organization, or employ a tone which can be viewed as malicious in nature. Words, pictures, or cartoons which expose a person or organization to public hatred, shame, disgrace, or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person or organization, are libelous.
Improper Decorum: Posts which are profane, inciting, disrespectful or uncivil in tone, or maliciously worded. This also includes the venting of unsubstantiated opinions. Such messages do little to illuminate a given topic, and often have the opposite effect. Constructive criticism is acceptable (return to top).
Advertising: The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not an advertising venue. Companies participating in a Forum discussion should provide specific answers to posted questions. WOODWEB suggests that businesses include an appropriately crafted signature in order to identify their company. A well meaning post that seems to be on-topic but contains a product reference may do your business more harm than good in the Forum environment. Forum users may perceive your references to specific products as unsolicited advertising (spam) and consciously avoid your web site or services. A well-crafted signature is an appropriate way to advertise your services that will not offend potential customers. Signatures should be limited to 4-6 lines, and may contain information that identifies the type of business you're in, your URL and email address (return to top).
Repeated Forum Abuse:
Forum participants who repeatedly fail to follow WOODWEB's Forum Guidelines may encounter difficulty when attempting to post messages.
There are often situations when the original message asks for opinions: "What is the best widget for my type of shop?". To a certain extent, the person posting the message is responsible for including specific questions within the message. An open ended question (like the one above) invites responses that may read as sales pitches. WOODWEB suggests that companies responding to such a question provide detailed and substantive replies rather than responses that read as a one-sided product promotion. It has been WOODWEB's experience that substantive responses are held in higher regard by our readers (return to top).
The staff of WOODWEB assume no responsibility for the accuracy, content, or outcome of any posting transmitted at WOODWEB's Message Boards. Participants should undertake the use of machinery, materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB's Message Boards after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages it deems inappropriate. (return to top)
Forum Posting Form Guidelines
The name you enter in this field will be the name that appears with your post or response (return to form).
Personal or business website links must point to the author's website. Inappropriate links will be removed without notice, and at WOODWEB's sole discretion. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
Your e-mail address will not be publicly viewable. Forum participants will be able to contact you using a contact link (included with your post) that is substituted for your actual address. You must include a valid email address in this field. (return to form)
Subject may be edited for length and clarity. Subject lines should provide an indication of the content of your post. (return to form)
Thread Related Link and Image Guidelines
Thread Related Links posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should point to locations that provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related Link that directs visitors to an area with inappropriate content will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
Thread Related File Uploads
Thread Related Files posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. Video Files: acceptable video formats are: .MOV .AVI .WMV .MPEG .MPG .FLV .MP4 (Image Upload Tips) If you encounter any difficulty when uploading video files, E-mail WOODWEB for assistance. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related File that contains inappropriate content will be removed, and uploaded files that are not directly related to the message thread will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links, files, or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices.
What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe
for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use
of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation,
and at their own risk.