I think the hardest thing I have had to learn is to ignore the competition or other custom builders doing similar work. There are many great people out there building cool models and sometimes nicer than my own. I’ve noticed custom builders can be threatened when someone new comes on the scene or there is very awesome work offered at a lower price than our own. That was a concern of mine in the beginning but no longer.
When competitors enter our market the temptation can be to quickly lower prices and have a sale to keep our customers and gin up interest from new customers. That is a mistake for this reason, once we begin basing work on price and chasing competitors around, eventually we become machines churning out work nonstop. It is not a bad thing necessarily but when I did exactly that, (selling a ton of models) I quickly became burnt out and ultimately the work suffered and some half rate stuff went out. Not good for the customer or me. When I stepped back and gained the confidence to ask for prices I felt good about, modeling became fun again. No longer was I working hours upon hours resenting I said “yes” again. Now I take the projects I really want to do and work with customers to make specialty items. The quality improves and I work to put my best foot forward.
Another Jedi mind trick I use is to tell myself that even though other guys do pretty much the same thing I am doing, they really are not. My customers come to me for a reason and it has less to do with price and more to do with our relationship. I do little things my competitors do not do such as, post progress pics of the pieces. One thing I love to do if it works out is to hand deliver pieces and make videos of my customers experience…..tell my customer’s story. Not every builder will do or even want to do that. Another reason people could be coming to me.
Because I am super niche, I can claim expertise in my field. If a customer comes asking for a custom field cultivator, pickup or a sprayer, I am not your guy. I love ya, but I claim no expertise or interest in any of the above and am glad to hand that project off to an expert. On the other hand, if someone wants to know how to put a grain box on a DCP truck or how to make something out of brass…she came to the right place. What is so nice about being specialized is all pressure is off to do work I don’t care about. This is a huge win for both my customers and I.
Learn to let go. There are customers that just don’t choose me and you know, that is OK. Easier to write than hear but the statement is true. Whether it is price, quality or whatever factor comes up it is OK if people do not choose me. Staying true to what I absolutely love doing is the best thing. And let’s face it, if a custom builder is online the “field” is huge! We don’t have to get every customer, just the right ones for our niche. All we (I) need to do is connect with a few and serve them well. The rest will take care of itself.
Comments are welcome, leave them in the comment box. Thanks so much, Eric