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GSmith1883 06-16-2014 05:51 AM

Starting my new business.
I just opened my Gunsmith business out of my home. I've got the education (Colorado School of Trades), I've got more than just the basic tools (including a drill press) and some books, and I've got all the licensing. Everything is all set up. So far I don't have a lot of experience, I couldn't afford quitting my day job to take a apprenticeship, so aside from my schooling and doing small jobs on friends and my personal firearms I have little experience. I've invested a lot of time and money into this and I really need it to work out. This is a passion I've had for a long time, and my day job sucks! Does anyone have any advice for starting my business on a successful path and avoiding mistakes due to my lack of experience?Any pitfalls or lessons I can avoid learning the hard way? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

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DrFootball 06-16-2014 06:31 AM

Starting my new business.
Congrats and best of luck. I did the same, and going back to School at 52-53 was not easy, and still is not. I did also get tools, and a drill press, but stopped short at a lathe,...I'm lucky I'm retired( Taught HS and college undergrad for 26 years after active duty Army). I'm short a few hands on Machining classes, and have a 3 semester wait to take them locally, but two friends in the biz already have been very helpful. One lets me watch him work and explains stuff to me, and the other lets me just work on his machines...

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danf_fl 06-16-2014 09:27 AM

There are a lot of people who are too lazy to clean their guns or the family relic.

Offer that, and as you continue, you will get to have "hands-on" with different models.

As you clean, look for parts that need replacement. The internet has loads of information on guns and use it to your advantage.

clr8ter 06-16-2014 10:38 AM

And maybe offer scope mounting & sighting, and some other low-key work. ^^^ Sounds like a good idea. There are soooo many lazy people out there, take advantage of that.

Highpower 06-16-2014 05:10 PM

First of all I'd make sure I have a good product liability insurance policy to protect myself. Trigger jobs are the quickest way to get oneself sued if done incorrectly and someone accidently shoots their favorite dog. :(

What extent of services are you prepaired to offer? Gunsmithing covers a lot of ground in both metal and wood working. Do you plan on doing just certain types of repairs, or are you going to tackle any kind of work that comes through the door?

hiwall 06-16-2014 06:29 PM

Put ads out for general gunsmithing. If someone has a job too big just turn it down. Like said above 95% of the jobs are cleaning and putting in replacement parts. Go to all rifle/pistol ranges and see if you can leave business cards there. If possible join a shooting league so you are mixing with other avid shooters. Put an ad out that you will buy broken or incomplete guns. Fix 'em for the experience and sell them. Try to get your business cards in the hands of every shooter in the area. Get certified to teach firearms safety classes or concealed carry classes.

rn-cindy 06-16-2014 07:26 PM

You could try the gun shows, and do simple upgrades....There is a Glock Armorer that travels around to the Bill Goodies shows...I see him every time i go to one...He sells spare mags / lasers / lights / etc. And does simple upgrades, Night sights / stainless guide rods and springs / Lone wolf barrels / extended slide lock and mag release / etc. This guy always has a line wrapped around his booth...Probably making a killing $$$$$$$$.......

rn-cindy 06-16-2014 07:46 PM

He has a cute girl in hoochie shorts and a tube top selling the accessories, Glock shirts, hats, etc. while he is working on the guns...The Glockies are lined up there...:D

John_Deer 06-16-2014 08:10 PM

You really need more equipment than a drill press and a lathe to be a gunsmith. If I brought in a revolver and a gunsmith went to work on the hammer and sear with a file or whetstone I would get a stick and beat him senseless. There are tools and jigs that will cut each part perfectly square and to the same size every time.

Gunsmiths can make a lot of money. But it is a sizable investment to equip a shop properly and efficiently. One cannot make a decent living filing away at parts like Geppetto. Not to mention the liability that one assumes by doing work without proper tools and equipment. if you do work that is not up to industry standards your liability insurance will not pay a penny. You will lose everything you own just on attorney fees.

I hate to see anyone work at a job they hate. I am not looking to smash dreams. Someone has to be realistic and point out insurmountable problems that exist in ones business model.

If you don't know what this tool is you are not a gunsmith.

hairbear1 06-16-2014 08:44 PM

Good on you for having a crack at going into business but be warned that it's like a lost dog at times as the work/phone calls will follow you home.

You can if you get good at it have people ringing you at all times of the day and night and on weekends and while this sounds good it will be a big pain the in rear end because you also want time away from the game as well. Remember you work to live not live to work.

Make sure you stay on top of your money as in paying bills and collecting money and it probably is a real good idea to not run accounts to start with as you'll be wanting liquid cash so as that you can pay for parts and other things.
Parts suppliers will probably not give you an account to start with because they don't want to be caught short either with an unknown and make sure you charge enough to pay yourself a wage.

Don't get into a price war with anybody as this is also a quick way to a financial/business death. If your work is good enough and you keep getting repeat customers and new ones charging the right money while it may seem dear to some will always get more people because your doing a good job and people will pay for this knowing it's going to do what they want.

Big rule in business is to make sure you pay yourself 1st and then everybody 2nd your not in it for love and NEVER employ friends or family if the pooh hits the fan for whatever reason involving either party's you'll be the 1 on the receiving end of what ever happens afterwards and it can get very nasty.

Try not to do love jobs for people as these will be the one's who'll dump s&*t on you for doing a part job even though you tried to help them out. It's either a proper job or nothing at all. Let some other sucker cop the s^&t and lose their name/reputation.

Get a good bean counter if things start going better than you expect trust me a good bean counter will save you money and grief from the tax man.

With customers always listen to them because they're the reason you've got food on the table even the Mall Ninja 2000yd tactical sniper shooter because even they contribute to your business but don't let them consume your day as they're not paying your bills where as the 5 blokes who want a scope and bedding job do.
Always call a customer back if you promised to do so as this generates more goodwill and if you aren't sure on how to do something let the customer know this and possibly refer them to somebody who does this will pay itself back down the track as they may refer people to you..............a bit of back scratching if you will.
Finally if it's a major build get a deposit on the work before you start probably 20% so that when you get going you know old mate is serious and don't let the job go till paid in full.

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