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Author Topic: Wish I could sell only wholesale  (Read 1236 times)

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Offline PAmizerman

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Wish I could sell only wholesale
« on: September 08, 2019, 09:51:23 PM »
Sometimes I wish I could sell only wholesale. It seems like the general public just gets harder and harder to deal with. I've been having a lot of trouble with people that just don't show up. They tell me they will take something and schedule a time to pick up then don't show.

They also apparently can't read. I go way overboard on my descriptions on items and I seem to answer the same question ten times a day. They won't read the description of my listings. 

I have a website with prices and pictures and they still want me to give them a quote on a material list. 

Just today I had a guy waste 20 minutes of my time asking questions.He wanted me to rip, plane, sand and cut to exact length for him because  he doesn't own any tools but wants to build a dresser.
That's not the bad part. The real kicker is he wants hemlock because it's the cheapest. I told him I don't do any finish work. But 1x6x8' hemlock are $3 each. 
His response was that is too expensive.
Really? 

Sorry for the rant. It was just a rough week. I had four no shows and lots of tire kickers. 
But surprisingly now I feel a little better :D

I was just wondering if anyone else has these issues and if you have found a creative way to mitigate some of them?

I started listing my items as first come first serve.
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Offline Bandmill Bandit

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2019, 10:01:20 PM »
REQUIRE a deposit BEFORE you cut a single stick!

Pretty much eliminates that problem and the idiots that go with it.

Since I implemented that policy life has been much better. Losses from wasted time to cut hard to sell dimensions has ceased to exist so all my time is profitable now. Any customer that don't like it I would really rather not have as a customer in the first place. I produce a high Quality product that I sell for prices at the high end of the market range and the customers that buy from me buy because they know the quality is in the product and I stand behind it.  

I don't negotiate or argue! You found my driveway! You know your way back to the road. Don't waste my time. 
If you ain't livin on the edge you are takin up way to much room. Of course at my age if I get too close to that edge any more theres a good chance I may fall off.
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Offline Southside

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2019, 10:13:57 PM »
Yup - always require a deposit, it weeds out the problems and I have yet to have someone no show when they have skin in the game.  

You are correct on folks wanting something for nothing.  This evening, maybe 10 minutes after we shut down, my phone rings and it is a guy who wants to sell me pine logs.  We spoke maybe a month ago and at that time I gave him specs and pricing, which on my grade stuff I pay $15 MORE per ton than any other mill around, but it has to meet my grade.  So this guy tries to tell me he wants me to buy 10' logs (grade is 16') and I need to pay his gas money to bring the logs to me, or I can pick them up for what I pay delivered because he has "the best logs ever - 30" diameter and 200+ year old pine".  After about 15 minutes of wasting my time he tells me I am not "being fair" about the whole thing so I actually said to him he was welcomed to buy a mill and all the support equipment, work 7 days a week, pay all the taxes, insurance, etc, fight to find help that will pass a drug test and actually work when they show up, etc.  He backed WAY off after that... the customer is not always right and now and then they need to be reminded of that.   
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Offline PAmizerman

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2019, 10:23:32 PM »
Yes I require half down on custom orders. My large orders seem to go so smooth.
Most of them are contractors ordering or repeat customers. It seems the larger the order the easier the customer is to deal with. 
It's the small orders that seems to waste the most of my time. But it's a necessity for me to get rid of side lumber.

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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2019, 11:55:50 PM »
Yes the questions begin to sound like a broken record.  I've only had one custom order no show so far.  What gets me is the guy is a small business owner doing custom welding AND I did major business with him.  I showed and paid on time multiple times.

The latest was the guy that called and wanted me to mobile saw 20 or so pine logs.  Then TOLD me what he'd pay.  I told him that I couldn't leave the driveway for that.  He proceeded to begin a lecture on the economics of a machine sitting idle versus a machine running.  I interrupted him and suggested he either hire someone else or buy his own mill.  He said he could hire some one for what he would pay.  I simply asked, "Then why are you still talking to me?"  He called a couple weeks later trying to negotiate, my response, "I am booked up for the next 6 weeks."
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2019, 12:29:48 AM »
We attack it a different way.  We carry inventory.  We dont do cut lists. At all.  Everything is first come first served.  We carry enough inventory, based on previous sales, for several weeks of predicted supply.  Everything is standardized into what we have determined as the most desirable or marketable cuts, thicknesses, widths, and lengths.  Even live edge slabs are standardized, as much as possible.

No shows are not a problem, although I'm here full time, I schedule appointments and schedule multiple customers here at at same finite block of time, not one customer per time slot.  So if one doesnt show, oh well, the other 2 or 3 customers did.  

Thats also why we do the Open Saturday from 9 to 4 thing.  We try to get people to show up then.  If one doesnt show, who cares, the other 100 did.

I tell everybody that they must text me when they are in their way, except for Saturdays.  Otherwise the security gate will be closed when they get here.  So I have a confirmation that they are coming and dont have to interrupt my day until I get a text.

We tell people we are a sawmill, not a cabinet shop.  We will sell them the wood, but they should probably buy their own table saw.  However, I have a list of preferred businessess customers of ours who are cabinet shops, furniture makers, etc.  They buy wood from us and we send customers their way.  They send us a commission based on the sale from the customers we send their way.  Everybody wins.  




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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2019, 04:29:03 AM »
Yah, I ran into that problem years ago. The solution I found: just do wholesale.

The margins can be slim but I'd rather cut wood than deal with customers, and my wholesale customers are pretty much all industry professionals who value their time as highly as I value mine. Half of them I've never even met.,. Order comes by email, invoice goes out by email, on a truck and  gone.



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Online Ianab

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2019, 06:36:36 AM »
Sawing wood and selling wood are really 2 quite different jobs. 

One of my computer clients does it, but they are quite a large operation. So they have staff that run the sawmill, staff on the shop counter, a couple guys doing deliveries, another team assembling trusses and re-fab house parts etc, heck they even have their own log truck that goes out and picks up logs. 

So some random bloke calling in to pick up some fence boards is no distraction to the other staff. 

But for a smaller operation it's often better to concentrate on what you do best, or works best in your area. For some it might be to just to the wholesale / trade amounts. You only deal with brokers or trade clients. 
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Offline Peter Drouin

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2019, 07:22:25 AM »
I do what Yellowhammer does. I have inventory open 6 days a week from 8 to 4 no shows who cares.
Unless I want to go somewhere in the Hot Rod  ;D or have a doc appointment. Then I close the gate.
Most days Im just cutting inventory. Last week was all W Pine this week Hemlock.
Easy for me I cut all the same length logs for a day or two. Like today it will be 12' stuff. I lay out the pallets and let the log tell me what it wants to be in a way. Bigger logs will be 2x 4"-6"-8" and so on when I have a small log it will be a 6x6 or 4x6 or 8x8 box the hart.
Then 10' or 16' logs I look to see what I need.
I did get an order for 3x10x16 guy wants 80 of them. told him I'll try to cut them this week maybe. ;D I don't get $$$ upfront.
I say that and told him I have truckloads of logs comming in and have to scale them this week.

If I could find someone not on meth to help is my problem. ::)


 




There's no $$$ for me in wholesale.
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Online Bruno of NH

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2019, 07:29:23 AM »
That's how my summer has gone until last week.
Folks did show up 7 out of 8 showed up.
I could build folks custom things but they don't want to pay what it worth.
I build what I want and if it won't sell I donated it to a fundraiser auction.
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Offline ButchC

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2019, 07:45:36 AM »

The latest was the guy that called and wanted me to mobile saw 20 or so pine logs.  Then TOLD me what he'd pay.  I told him that I couldn't leave the driveway for that.  He proceeded to begin a lecture on the economics of a machine sitting idle versus a machine running.  I interrupted him and suggested he either hire someone else or buy his own mill.  He said he could hire some one for what he would pay.  I simply asked, "Then why are you still talking to me?"  He called a couple weeks later trying to negotiate, my response, "I am booked up for the next 6 weeks."

Been there, dealt with that too. Not sawmill related but when I had my gunsmith shop a "customer" wanted to use my equipment to drill and tap his rifle for scope mounts "when I wasn't using it" said he would clean everything up when done. I asked what was in it for me? His Answer?  nothing because If I wasn't using the equipment it wasn't making me any money anyway. Uhh OK so I went and got my hand held drill and handed it to him and said there you are, have at it.  He says you can't put a scope mount on straight with that!! I said your right, it takes that $10,000.00 machine to do that and you ain't running it!!  He says he will take his business elsewhere.
Fact is some people cannot stand the thought that you will earn some of their money and the best thing to do is watch them walk away,, as you know.
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2019, 08:03:03 AM »
I wound up in the lumber business because of the lumber I sawed that was never picked up. Then I started taking $, half up front. That was a mistake as they still would not show. So now I will only cut what I know I can sell. This is turning into a take it or leave it situation because it has to be.     Large orders are so much easier.  More than 3 phone calls is a bad sign. The more you do for people the less you will get. If you don't know the customer, treat him like a child, state the rules, and always be too busy for him. Dealing with to public is the fastest way to go broke.

Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2019, 09:45:08 AM »
Yes I require half down on custom orders. My large orders seem to go so smooth.
Most of them are contractors ordering or repeat customers. It seems the larger the order the easier the customer is to deal with.
It's the small orders that seems to waste the most of my time. But it's a necessity for me to get rid of side lumber.
The way around that is to run a couple standard product lines that your side lumber can go into.

The more you cut the more "wrong" size boards you're going to get, thats just how it is. One of the things I've found is that as I've got bigger, the turnover numbers change because this weeks wrong sizes  - say im chasing 6x2 @ 16' and I get some 6 x 2 @ 10 and 12' and some  3/4/5 x 2's in a range of lengths - are next weeks right sizes. So organisation becomes important - I have racking for odd boards but I'll have running packs going in regular kind of sizes that move...
Lifes a whole lot easier when you need 40 of and you've already got 18 of them cut...
And I have regular pack sizes too, in terms of if you buy wholesale you're taking that stuff by the pack of however many pieces because what the customer dont sell this week they'll sell next week. Makes freight easy when stuff is able to be loaded without it looking like a jigsaw puzzle so my packs tend to be a standard width (more or less) and a standard height.

That leaves stuff that doesnt sell much - usually for me it's shorts/lengths under 10'. So I went and found a couple product lines that work for me there, and have running packs of that as well, and just take the hit at the start rather than sitting on miles of different sized stuff in sizes that don't shift. Fence palings, stakes, dunnage... things like that. My core business is framing lumber, so we do a lot of 2". I've got a market for 2 x 1 stakes at 6' long.... it chews up edgings really good. We have 4 standard stake sizes, 6 standard paling sizes (3 set lengths in either 3" or 4" width), 2 standard dunnage sizes: I can mostly get my short side lumber (or pithy heartwood for dunnage) into one of those sizes without too much extra effort.

Individually those products don't bring in much more than cost recovery value. But cumulatively they add up, and they tend to sell in bulk lots which makes it worthwhile: I shift about 20k stakes a year out of edgings and side lumber. Same with the fence palings... you can burn out about a mile of short 3x1 or 4x1 getting a picket fence around the average house lot. A lot of it is just consistency... just hack it, stack it and wait... this end of this state if you want 1" x 1" x 4' stakes for your garden supply business you got half a dozen mills will grumble and moan and tell you next month because it's too much trouble and not worth their time, and you got me who'll tell you 1120 to the pack in bundles of 20, 5 packs in stock, and do you want them pointed or unpointed. Guess who gets that sale?

Any mill that can make cost recovery on "waste" is profitable, and all it takes is organisation.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2019, 10:13:08 AM »
The people who come to buy wood to build a project for which they have neither the tools, skill, or knowledge to build irritate me to no end. 
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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2019, 10:21:52 AM »
Any mill that can make cost recovery on "waste" is profitable, and all it takes is organisation.
   No truer words were ever spoken. That should be the goal for all of us.

   I am different in that my milling more a cost neutral hobby and I like to meet and talk with people so the guy who comes down with his wife or daughter and takes 30-45 minutes to find a $5-$10 piece of wood for her special project does not annoy me that much. If it was my primary or sole source of income my attitude would be different.

    I am always willing to a little friendly negotiation a little on small unique pieces but will not haggle with the ones who want to argue on sawing jobs or big orders or such. 
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2019, 10:32:59 AM »
I cut wholesale for my entire career.  There were advantages and disadvantages.  You have to have production to keep up with the rest of your competition.  Higher production yields a lower mfg cost.  Ours averaged about half what the small bandmills often quote.  In addition, we sold all our waste.  That often made up for quite a bit of our actual saw costs.  Getting them down is what makes things profitable for selling at the lower wholesale cost.

We never cut on speculation.  We would have most everything sold before the logs ever hit the deck.  Sales were generally on a phone call.  Some buyers would accept lumber without a call, depending on market conditions.  Others would stop by the yard to see about buying ties or lumber.  You need several outlets to make it all work.  For retail orders, we would cut most out of the low grade in a log.  If they didn't show up for it, we would remanufacture and sell for pallet stock.  

The real secret is to have a specialty market that you can address.  I had one client that sold locust lumber, and never had a mill.  He was getting $3.50/bf and sold it all over the US.  He had a buyer who bought logs in the eastern US.  It was sent to a mill in PA, sawn, and shipped.  Another started sawing firewood and ended up making custom doors and windows.  Another made specialty flooring.  A few built specialty pallets.  We had a few markets in NYC that were so profitable that we could make deliveries in a pick up truck.  We also found that casket lumber had a profit bonus if handled right.  You have to go out and pound the sidewalk to get in on these markets.  

A good specialty market or a good niche like figured wood, drying, trimming, slabs, etc, will have you rely less on the retail market.  A logger pointed out to me that they sell manure in bags down at the hardware store.  Its all in the marketing.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline Resonator

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2019, 11:27:08 AM »
Amen to time wasters! I state SERIOUS BUYERS ONLY in my ads, I'd like to think this cuts down on the time wasters. If everyone who SAID they had logs to saw or would buy lumber from me, I would be very busy! As it is maybe 1 in 10 becomes actual paying business. 
Recent general public I've dealt with:
"I know nothing about building construction, or the size of the shed I'm putting up, or have any kind of cut list, but I'm going to tell you to cut a whole bunch of lumber to build it." (Summary of what they said.)
"Can you re-saw your 1" board into two 1/2" thick boards?"
"I want to panel the interior walls of my house with GREEN 1/2" thick, wide boards."
" I want some custom beams sawn 2x12x18', and they have to be CLEAR Red Oak."
"I want to buy 1300 bd ft of lumber sight unseen, and you need to deliver it to another state. Oh...you mean I have to PAY your mileage ALSO to ship it?"
"No, I don't need stickers, when I get the GREEN lumber home I'll stack it and cover it with a tarp."
"I'm not going to buy anything, but I want you to un-stack and re-stack ALL of your heavy natural edge slabs so I can look at both sides." (Summary of what they did.)
"I'm not going to buy anything, but I want to know your prices on everything." (Summary what happens many times.)
Even with all the frustration, I have a had a few good paying customers (some even tip). Repeat customers are good too, as they learn how I do things and what I charge. Having some happy customers who appreciate the work I do make it worth it. 
Under bark there's boards and beams, somewhere in between.
Cuttin' while its green, through a steady sawdust stream.
I'm chasing the sawdust dream.

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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2019, 11:39:57 AM »
ButchC I laughed out loud at your story. Some people's kids!!! I worked for many years in the small engine industry, the number of people that expected something for nothing was nothing short of amazing. They would bring in worn out equipment and expect to pay minimum shop charge 'to get it running'. I remember one that kept sneaking up behind me after being asked then told to wait in the showroom, he said he wanted to see what I did so he could do it himself. I told him I wasn't being paid to teach him my job and the clock was running on his nickel. He was sure mad when dirty oil got spilled on his suit. ;D
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Offline mredden

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2019, 12:01:23 PM »
ButchC I laughed out loud at your story. Some people's kids!!! I worked for many years in the small engine industry, the number of people that expected something for nothing was nothing short of amazing. They would bring in worn out equipment and expect to pay minimum shop charge 'to get it running'. I remember one that kept sneaking up behind me after being asked then told to wait in the showroom, he said he wanted to see what I did so he could do it himself. I told him I wasn't being paid to teach him my job and the clock was running on his nickel. He was sure mad when dirty oil got spilled on his suit. ;D


I'm kinda' that guy. I wanted to watch my dealer break and make a chain for me, they let me watch.

Wanted to watch them fine tune my carb to my 40:1 mix after breakin. They let me watch AND listen close up. Even let me turn the screwdriver to get the feel of a slightly rich setting on the high.

I'm pretty loyal because they indulge my curiosity. Having bought a 372xp  and 390xp from them I don't think I've asked too much. Maybe I'm wrong.

Some customers want to learn.

Offline alanh

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Re: Wish I could sell only wholesale
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2019, 12:37:42 PM »
ButchC I laughed out loud at your story. Some people's kids!!! I worked for many years in the small engine industry, the number of people that expected something for nothing was nothing short of amazing. They would bring in worn out equipment and expect to pay minimum shop charge 'to get it running'. I remember one that kept sneaking up behind me after being asked then told to wait in the showroom, he said he wanted to see what I did so he could do it himself. I told him I wasn't being paid to teach him my job and the clock was running on his nickel. He was sure mad when dirty oil got spilled on his suit. ;D
Thats funny, reminds me when I  had a guy looking to buy a used atv from me, he was wearing a full length leather coat like you see in the old westerns. The machine was sitting there idling and he asked me where you check the oil. I said right there, he reached down and pulled the cap/dipstick.....oil spray all over the front of him! He was screaming about his $600. coat being ruined...needless to say he didnt buy the $400. quad.


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by FeltzE
xx
Selling wholesale to woodworking stores?

Started by schwanee on Sawmills and Milling

20 Replies
1949 Views
Last post September 04, 2017, 08:08:06 PM
by ozarkgem
 


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