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I have fallen behind in my work schedule and have a couple of big jobs lined up for the fall. Instead of hiring employees I would like to try outsourcing some of my work to quality oriented shops in New England.
Does anyone have experience in outsourcing the making of solid wood furniture in the New England region? The projects include bookcases and other casework. Can anyone refer me to other shops that might be interested? Thanks
There are a lot of pitfalls I can see here.
You have very little control over how another shop gets your work done. If you spend enough time making sure the work gets done to your standards, you would probably be better off spending that time doing it yourself.
If you do end up with a product that meets your standards, will it come out on time? What do you do if the product does not meet the customer's standards? Who fixes it? Will there be any room for markup?
I'm a one-man shop too, and I like it that way. However, when I get overloaded, part of my solution is to bring in temporary help from a staffing agency to sweep the floors, complete simple cut lists, organize parts to make your work more efficient, etc. You could also bring in temporary office help to answer the phone, bookkeeping, etc to allow you more time in the shop.
If you're not already outsourcing drawer boxes and doors, it's time to think about it.
I've done it before and would hesitate to repeat the experience. I hired a chairmaker in Seattle to make 10 of his signature dining chairs for a client that loved the design and when they arrived they were complete crap. I ended up taking them apart and rebuilding them from scratch. He was of no use after he had his money and stated that they were the same quality he sends to all his clients.
I've done the same with local guys that I have worked with in the past and it can be a trying experience if they do not understand what you expect and even if they do understand you'll find yourself repeatedly going over the same information and the same details as they miss things. By the way you'd be better off paying them piece by piece rather than hourly or otherwise, at least that way you might be able to control the cost of each piece.
Better to push out the client schedule and do it yourself if you have a certain quality standard you build to and want to maintain.
Ok, I understand your points. I was hoping that there were a group of shops that could be trusted to do high quality work as subcontractors, as I did for a large door manufacturer, when I was starting out. I guess not. The only other thing to do is just bump the projects back on the schedule and grind through them myself.
One thing you could try is outsourcing parts of projects. Instead of outsourcing the whole project maybe you could outsource something like the shelves? Furniture is very different than casework and any decent shop should be able to outsource casework parts for you. Furniture may be a bit different. I would guess most of the participants on this forum outsource, doors, drawers, etc.. It's more the norm than the exception.
If your still looking for someone drop me a line. I'm still setting up my new shop after a grueling summer move, but may be able to help.