January 10, 2022 - New 10% Price Increase
Well, 2020 was NOT the year any of us expected. And 2021 was not a lot better - new Covid variants and idiotic rules and blunders from an incompetent POTUS have resulted in the worst inflation we've seen in 50 years.MARCH 2, 2020
Now we are left with the lingering side-effects of the Covid 19 epidemic on businesses and our national economy. I continued to work thru the entire Covid episode and suffered thru the virus myself in Oct, 2020. Many supplies took longer to get delivered, some things were out of stock, the tannery shut down briefly and then was open only on a limited basis. Many of my suppliers had backlogs, unable to get raw materials or workers to make the products. Lumber costs have gone thru the roof.
Even as we come out of the restrictions, however - businesses are still dealing with many of these shortages, backlogs, increased costs and lack or workers. In addition, new taxes, fuel cost increases, wage increases and upcoming regulations have forced MY suppliers to raise their prices. In normal years, I have absorbed these costs for a time and slowly increased prices to adjust to my increased costs. These are NOT normal times.
My tannery has just informed me a few days ago that they will be increasing prices by about 7% across the board. One of my major suppliers of forms and chemicals informed me yesterday that they were adding a 7% surcharge to ALL orders. I anticipate nearly all of my suppliers will be forced to do the same. Higher gas prices also means FedEx and UPS will be increasing their fuel surcharge, so my shipping costs, tanning costs, forms and supplies will all be increasing AT THE SAME TIME. If you thought only "people making more than $400,000" would be paying higher taxes demanded by the new regime, then you don't have a clue how economics work in the real world. Some one has to pay for all this "free stuff".
In order to operate a successful business, your income must pay for and exceed all of your costs. Period. Those costs include raw materials, labor, shipping, utilities, taxes and the cost of complying with regulation, among other costs( like repairs, bookkeeping, maintenance, etc.) When those costs increase - the business owner MUST increase his/her prices or go out of business. It's that simple - higher cost to produce a product = higher price FOR that product. Or you shut your doors and go flip burgers for $15 an hour.
As a result of these and other price increases & shortages and anticipated higher taxes & regulations to come - I am forced to increase prices by 10% across the board. I don't know if this will be permanent or if it can be ended after 2024. I am hopeful that the rate of inflation will slow down, but I cannot count on that. However for the foreseeable future - higher prices for everything are on the horizon. Call it the Covid Fallout Surcharge Tax or the Biden Tax.
Those customers who have work in-process - will not have this additional surcharge added to your Work Order. I will absorb the increased costs for now, but if prices increase even more - I may have to either add a surcharge or cancel your order and refund your deposit. I am sorry to have to implement this added cost, but this is the world we live in today.
I voted for the other guy.
An Open Letter to My Customers and My Friends.
I have learned a lot in the last few years. I've learned a tremendous amount about a wide variety of medical procedures - open heart surgery, knee replacements, gall bladder removal, assorted scans and tests & hospice care. I've learned about the time it takes to care for parents with Alzheimer's and dementia - a lot. I've learned about the legal & financial issues and paperwork associated with a death. I've learned about what's truly important in our lives and how caring for my loved ones is my top priority. And I've learned that 99.99% of my clients are wonderful, understanding people and many have gone thru some of the same difficulties I faced these past 2 1/2 years. I appreciate your words of condolence and your continued patience more than you can imagine.
I also learned to never say "It can't get any worse". I think God takes that as a challenge and responds with "Oh, yeah?? Let me show you." And so he did.
After my parents passed away in August, my wife's mother passed away in November. Then right after gun season, in mid-December - I got the worst stomach pain I've ever had and it got worse over several days. A short stint in the hospital, I was diagnosed with pancreatitis and a "sludge filled" gall bladder. Two weeks later, while you were probably ringing in the New Year, I was getting my gall bladder removed. The recovery went well & in a week, I was back to work. The perfect way to end a year full of unexpected events, I guess.
All of this has led me to several decisions regarding my life and business. If something were to happen to me, I want to make it as easy as possible for my kids & my wife to shutter the business. It's a complicated thing - contacting clients, refunding money and returning mounts, should the worse happen. I need to lay out a plan for that eventuality.
I also want to be able to spend more time doing some of the other hobbies and activities I enjoy while I still can. I am NOT closing or going out of business, more of a partial, semi-retirement. I still enjoy doing taxidermy and will continue as long as my hands and brains still function. But I need to wind things down to a smaller and more manageable amount of work. I may stop taking in some items, like large full mounts - full body bear, for example. I'm not as young as I used to be and it's getting difficult to maneuver those heavy capes on a form. Sturgeon over 60" are also difficult to handle. I'll decide on a critter-by-critter basis as time goes on. I may also be reducing or changing my OPEN hours to more closely match my wife's days off so we can spend more time together. No final decisions yet - stay tuned for that.
I will continue to work hard and complete the work that has been brought in and that everyone has been patiently waiting for. And, if you have brought work in before - I will continue to accept work from you or your family members as long as I am still able. However, I will not be accepting work from any new clients, at least until I reduce the backlog to a year or less. Many of my clients have been bringing in work for decades and they have been more understanding and patient than I could have hoped. New clients are often impatient and that leaves them ~ and me ~ frustrated and unhappy.
And while much of the worst MAY be behind me, I still have to clean out and sell my parents house in Illinois this year. My dad also owned a small airport that will need to be sold as well. Unfortunately, that will require some more time away from the shop this spring and summer. So I want to thank you all for your ongoing and unbelievable patience as I slog my way thru this. I will continue to do my very best on any mounts that you have entrusted me with. Have a good 2020.
Sept 2017 thru Sept 2019 - What the Hell Happened
Sept 21, 2017 - My wife's Rheumatic Heart disease & Surgery
Nov. 2017 - Recovery Begins
Jan. 2018 - Update on Schedule
July 2018 - Aging Parent's, Alzheimer's & Caregiver
August 2019 - Closed for the Month
Jan 1, 2017 - Price Increases
Well, at some point I had to do it and unfortunately the time is here. I have not raised my prices since 2013, and have absorbed the increased cost of paint, forms, eyes, driftwood, foam, shipping and delivery, insurance and all the un-seen costs that go into running a business. Average prices are up about 5 - 6% overall and are effective immediately. There are new price lists available in the studio and on-line prices are also updated. To prevent lazy taxidermists and price shoppers from just copying my on-line prices, the list is a little hard to find, but you can access it here - http://www.simpsontaxidermy.com/prices.htm Prices for gameheads, fish, full mammals, rugs, and misc. items are available there.
The new prices for birds are located here - http://www.simpsontaxidermy.com/BIRDS.htm
Prices for replicas have remained the same (cost + $7.50 per inch for prep & paint) but Sturgeon replicas and composite mount prices have increased slightly. You can see the new prices and info here - http://www.simpsontaxidermy.com/Sturgeon.html
Feb. 5, 2011 - Plan to Reduce Backlog
I hope to be able to maintain these prices for the next few years, but if costs for materials and business operations increase, then so must the prices. I appreciate the support and loyalty of all my clients and look forward to working with you for many more years. Have a great 2017 and have fun afield.
To all my great clients that make it possible for me to make a living doing taxidermy,
I want to thank you for your patience, your appreciation of my efforts and your continued support. Without all you folks, I might have to get a REAL job!
Over the years I have struggled with various ways of trying to reduce the backlog of work, but without sacrificing any of quality you expect and still continuing to treat all my clients fairly. While many of you don't understand why I have such a large backlog or why I cannot seem to shorten it up - the vast majority of you are willing to wait in order to have me mount your trophy anyway. Please keep in mind, I never wanted to have a backlog of more than 24 months of work. And from a business sense and a customer service standpoint - it's definitely not what I want. Ideally, I would like to be able to complete all work within 12 months.
There are really only 2 ways to reduce the backlog - increase output or decrease incoming work. Over the years, I have tried several methods of reducing the volume of work, with little success. Some taxidermists raise their prices until they reach a level where only a few can afford them. While this does reduce the amount of work - I feel it would force many of my loyal clients to go elsewhere and end up with lesser quality work. Some taxidermists specialize and will take only birds or only deer heads. This also reduces the volume, but I enjoy doing a wide variety of work and I'm pretty darn good at it. I also have a difficult time taking the "easy" mounts from a client, then turning him/her away when they want something mounted that is more difficult or less profitable.
Other taxidermists hire unskilled helpers and then train them to work in the shop in order to increase output. This results in a lower quality mount in almost every instance while at the same time increasing costs. There are no corners that can be cut if the goal is the highest quality mount. Some "farm out" or sub-contract certain types of mounts (fish and being birds being most common) in order to increase output - but this results in having very little control over the finished mount - not good for you or me.
I have tried taking work only from previous clients, but this has resulted in confusion among my established customers as well as the new ones. Many "heard from someone" that I was not taking in ANY new work at all and rather than call me and ask - they went elsewhere and were disappointed with the results. This was not what I wanted to achieve.
A combination of bad economy, long backlog and poor deer season resulted in reducing the amount of work in 2009 by a substantial amount. That should help me shorten the completion time once I begin the 2009 work. In order to maintain a shorter completion time, however, I am going to try a new idea that, if it succeeds, will maintain the shorter completion time AND the quality, artistry and professionalism you have come to expect.
I have been going over my records from years past, looking at the number of each different type of mounts I have taken in over the years. In other words, how many gameheads, how many fish, how many birds, etc. have I taken in each year. Based on those numbers, I can determine a "cap" or maximum number of each different category of mounts I can do in a year.
This is my plan - I will accept any work from ALL clients until I have reached 50% of the CAP amount in each category. Once I have reached this goal, I will ask clients if I have done work for them before & accept work only from previous clients & their spouses (or those with a referral from a previous client) in that category. I tried it last year during the deer season. Beginning Sept. 1 - I had a CAP (or maximum goal) of 30 gameheads for 2010 season (deer, antelope, elf, etc.). By the time the archery season ended I had 15 heads checked in, so for the entire gun season, I only took deer in from previous clients. The end result - 31 deer heads by the end of Dec. Any client rejected because of the cap can bring the mount in after the new year. And I will always accept work from previous customers - it does not how much work you had me do or matter how long ago it was done.
My goal with this plan is to deliver the same high quality work with less of a wait time.
Confucius said - a man who loves his work never truly works a day in his life. I take great satisfaction in creating a personal work of wildlife art for my clients and in knowing that, each time they gaze at it, they are transported back into that wonderful outdoor experience. Thank you for making it possible & have a great 2011,