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How Do You Explain Your Prices?comments (16) October 18th, 2010 in blogs
To the uninitiated, a custom piece of furniture can seem ridiculously expensive—especially when compared to “fine furniture” retail counterparts like Ethan Allen or Bassett Furniture.
I’m sure that you folks out there have run into sticker shock when talking to clients about pricing. How do you educate your clients to explain why your work can cost so more but is also worth more?
This exact question came up at a dinner party this weekend. Some friends were looking at some custom work but were skeptical at the cost of a dining set and worried they were getting fleeced. I’m not a pro and I’m just a beginning woodworker, but below are some ways I tried to explain the price differential. Was I on target? What other points do you raise when talking to clients?
-Solid-wood lumber is really expensive... the materials alone for a project cost a lot. Many large furniture companies cut orders using MDF, plywood, and inexpensive hardwoods.
-You’re getting one of a kind custom work. A one-man-shop can’t find the same economies of scale that a retailer can by mass producing work on assembly lines.
-It’s an heirloom. You’re buying hand-crafted work that you can pass down through generations.
-It’s art. When you buy custom work, it’s more akin to buying a piece of art than something just to sit on. When you buy a person’s work you’re buying into their name and prestige too. That’s why seasoned woodworkers can often charge more than someone just starting out.
-Many undervalue their work. I don’t know much about this, but I’ve heard that new woodworkers often sell their work for less just to get started. For a new buyer, they may not be able to tell the difference between a seasoned and a newbie furniture maker making the seasoned furniture maker's work seem overpriced.
-The definition of fine furniture. With manufactured furniture all around us, most buyer’s definition of “fine” is probably very different than the visitors to this site where we judge craftspeople by their taste, skill, and use of traditional joinery techniques.
How do you folks explain this to your clients since I’m sure you’ve had this conversation over and over again.
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