Let’s examine the triangle a little closer. Instead of using better, faster, and cheaper we will use quality, service, and price. The triangle then becomes an easy way to segment your clients and truly understand what they value. We need to separate the price buyers from the value buyers. By knowing what our clients value the most we can be specific with our marketing and attract the clients we want. A successful gambler won’t play every hand dealt to them and we shouldn’t try to win every customer. Our effort and energy will be focused on the one thing that they value the most, allowing us to charge a premium and make a larger profit, all the while meeting their expectations.
Quality and service are the factors that create value for your clients. People will pay more for quality and service if you can show them how you are better than your competitors. This requires a fundamental shift in how you price your work. This is where you set prices based on the perceived value to your clients instead of on cost. Cost-based pricing vs. Value-based pricing. You might even be able to increase your revenue by using a value-based pricing strategy.
Quality can be measured many ways. It can be the quality of your work, the accuracy of your invoicing, or it can be in the guarantees you offer. The most important thing to remember is that quality is measured by your clients. This is a critical concept to understand. Your goal should be to meet your client’s expectations. If they are expecting competition quality mounts then you should price your work accordingly. However, in most cases, the client does not expect, and cannot afford, a perfectly flawless mount. As an artisan you will become your own worst critic. Most clients won’t notice the difference between a good quality mount and one that you spent hours on primping to achieve a ‘perfect’ mount. You need to balance your measure of quality and the additional value it brings to your client.
Service, on the other hand, is all about you and the customer experience you provide. If you sell your mounts and take the money and run you aren’t going to get high marks for service and repeat business. On the other hand, if you take time upfront with your clients to learn what they are looking for and educate them on how you can deliver it, you are well on your way to a long-lasting relationship.
Do you work with the sportsman’s guide or outfitter to offer a seamless experience? Can you work with their preferred, local taxidermist? The hunt is not complete until the sportsman can admire their trophy from the comfort of their own home. How can you add value from harvest to hanger?
What conveniences do you provide to your client? Do you require your clients to bring everything to your studio? Or do you sometimes go to them to collect their trophy? Do you work weekends or evenings? Do you take credit cards? Do you offer alternative payment options that better suit their needs and budget? Do you communicate with them the way they want to be communicated with - email, phone, text message, twitter, etc.? And promptly? Or are they continually calling you to find out when their mount will be done? Are you able to give an accurate promise date and deliver on it? Are your promise dates reasonable, or do they span multiple years? Do you offer shipping or delivery services? These are all areas that can make you stand out in a crowded market.
Moving to a value-based pricing strategy isn't easy. You need to have your finger on the pulse of the industry and your local market. You need to know the answers to the following questions. What is your market size? What segments do you compete in? What are your costs? What are your profits? Who are your competitors? What do your clients value? What is your client's willingness to pay (price elasticity)? And more importantly, where to you rank in all of this? Having a firm grasp of the these answers may keep you from leaving money on the table. Nobody ever said running a taxidermy business was easy.
“Maybe the reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is…
… that you haven’t given them anything else to care about.” – Seth Godin
The baton has been passed from the Yellow Pages to the internet. “Let your fingers do the walking” now involves swiping, tapping, and scrolling. Today’s sportsmen and women are well versed in new technology and media channels. They are more informed than ever and have more power over brands as they search for better, faster, and cheaper. Rightly or wrongly, these are the comparisons being made between you and your competitors.
The conventional wisdom behind the triangle - better, faster, or cheaper is that you can only have two, not all three. Call me unconventional, but I think you can only deliver one when it comes to taxidermy. Better usually doesn’t result in cheaper or faster. Cheaper doesn’t always mean faster or
Your clients put you in one of these three buckets.
better, and faster can result in costly mistakes and sub-par work. If you were to ask your clients to pick the one that best describes your studio what would they say? Type your paragraph here.
Previously, I discussed cost-based pricing and how to accurately price your work to earn a profit. What I didn’t say in that article is that cost-based pricing is also called commodity pricing. Does this mean taxidermy is a commodity, mass produced by a faceless assembly line? Or is it a luxury, hand-crafted by master artisans, one at a time? It’s all in the marketing and how you present your value.
Many new taxidermists, myself included, start their business with slightly lower prices and think everything will turn out great. When you lead with price you are telling your clients you don’t have anything else to offer. Your competitive advantage is reduced to how well you manage your costs and efficiencies. This is a hard way to compete. Walmart can do it, but chances are you can’t. Don’t let it become a race to the bottom. And don’t make sacrifices to earn another client. Anyone who shops by price alone will not show any loyalty. They will leave you too when they find a better price.
JOHN JENNINGS owned Heads or Tales Taxidermy, LLC and now he and his wife run Taxidermy Direct, LLC., a cloud-based business software for the full and part-time taxidermist. Our software is mobile friendly and lets you focus on your passion by helping you to get organized, work smarter, and promote your business. We take a business approach to running a taxidermy studio and strive to help you reach your own financial goals.
To learn more about Taxidermy Direct® or to sign up for a free 30 day trial visit www.taxidermy-direct.com.