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We are small cabinet shop (4) guys 6000 sq. ft. outsourcing our finish. Product comes out great but, I'm felling like we are paying too much, roughly 25% of our total price goes to the finisher, (remember, we do all the finish sanding and prep for him, my cabinets comes out of the shop 100% ready for finish) plus every time we need onsite touch up or need to finish some extra parts, the finisher complains, he doesn't want to leave his shop, this is getting very stressful for me, the fact that i don't have control of the finish department, for example, We have a good number of loyal customers (builders) that we build a good relationship, and they ask to do a last minute small project, i want to take care of them, but when i present to the finisher, OMG, he gets upset. He goes, "They need a better plan on their schedule, this is BS, i can't stop what i'm doing to take care of them" and bla bla bla. I totally understand that, but like i said, they are very good customers for both of us. I can go for days here but, here is the question for the shops that outsource: How do you guys deal with your finisher? Am i doing something wrong here? our distributor told me once: "You don't what to deal with finish, too much headaches, you better outsource". BTW, 70% of our finish is paint (CV) and 30% Stain. Thanks for any help guys
I use to outsource the finish work to a painter but scheduling and all the handling was hurting my business. I moved the finish in house which has worked out well. Having control of the schedule is great but the trade off is floor space and equipment cost. I am currently looking into the idea of outsourcing my doors and drawers fronts prefinished (Conestoga) which would leave me boxes only. It comes down to help availability and all the different colors the market is demanding now.
Best of luck.
I also figure about 25% for finishing which seems high but is such an important part of the job. I do have some quality and scheduling issues but since I cannot finish well myself I just grin and bear it. At times I am very frustrated since at that point its nearing the delivery day. If I build a bigger shop I probably will do more finishing but my finisher does excellent matching which I am not gifted at or really like to do.
Have you thought about looking into finding a different finisher? Sounds as this guy knows that you don't have anyone else so he can control you.
I can't stand people that only complain. I would look for another person to do your finishing. Just like wood suppliers, I like to have at least 2 different sources to pick from. If one is busy, use the other. Once the first guy realizes he is not getting all of your work, he might be more grateful for the work.
I assign 25-30% for the finishing cost and do it myself.
A good quality finish job is a lot of work. The spraying is easy, all the sanding and masking is what takes the most labor. And finish material prices just keep going up.
Paying for the finisher should be in your bid, it should be a non issue. What would it cost you in man power, installing a paint booth, fire rated storage cabinet, make up air unit, spraying equipment, possible sprinkler system require in the booth, and then higher insurance rates for doing it in house? Some folks are just grouchy. If he's been doing it for a long time, likely a bit of side effect from chemical exposure. Something for your customers, it's my favorite saying that I never have the courage to say, "Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part." Seriously, just juggle the finisher and the customer if the finisher is good. Just a tougher cost of business ownership.
a booth and all the equipment & insurance & space to go with it are spendy. and with just the 4 woodworkers for your finisher to keep up with, your booth would be idle much of the time...plus good finishers are not cheap and not so good finishers can be very costly! All that said a good way to get control over your finishing, find and keep a good finisher, keep the booth humming and even make some $ would be to fill the idle booth time with other woodworkers items in need of finishing...just a thought.
Thanks for the help guys, I really appreciate the input. We are in process of buying our own building and we may end up having our own finish room and hire a finisher. We've been very busy for the last couple years, and we are booked for the next 5 months, so keep our own finisher busy it won't be a problem, and yes I'm aware of the equipment cost. thanks again guys.
Product comes out great.
The alternative is one problem you cannot live with so I would be very careful about taking a different course.
It sounds like the problem you have boils down to communication and mutual respect. I would try a sit down with the finisher. Get out of the shop- take him to lunch. Lets openly discuss what isn't working and what can be done about it. Bickering about this and that needs to stop. If there isn't a basis of mutual respect its hard to keep focus on the business.
If there are problems you talk them through. There are always multiple options when you have a spirit of cooperation.
For example you need someone occasionally take care of some onsite touchup and your man in the booth doesn't want to do it- but maybe he would help train one of your installers to take care of small stuff- Or just look around your area for a touchup specialist. There are guys who do nothing but onsite work and might jump at the opportunity.