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Starting my new business.


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Old 06-17-2014, 12:19 AM   #11
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Everything in writing!
Gun cleaning, part replacement, refinish jobs, everything!

The first time someone says you did more than you were suppose to, you will understand why the customer's signature and yours on a piece of paper is important. (also, give the original copy to the customer.)
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Old 06-17-2014, 12:35 AM   #12
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Specialized equipment can be purchased when needed. Most gunsmith jobs require no real specialized tools. Your business is NOT going to go gang busters overnight. Your business will build slowly. Once I was proficient in my work two large local gun shops aligned themselves with me and I was set from then on. But do not expect that to happen right away. Always conduct your business with honor and soon you will have a growing business.
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Old 06-17-2014, 06:03 AM   #13
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I am not a gunsmith. But I have been in business of some fashion most of my life. I always get enough money up front to pay for materials and labor. People lie, some will try to nit pick until you walk away. Lots of people have a game of some fashion. If your costs are covered in the beginning no matter what happens you won't lose on a job. Get your money even if it is another shop sending you the work. Another shop is the one that will pencil whip you or be slow to pay. I have never given another contractor a sub contractor price. There is a reason they don't want to do that job. You can bet there is more to the job than it seems to be.

I had a guy that wanted me to paint an addition. I take the job. I send my guys over there. They come back in a couple hours saying they are not working on that job. I go over there to see what is going on. The homeowner has a Great Dane with nothing but a child gate between me and the great dane. The dog is foaming at the mouth. The homeowner is still trying to get someone to paint his addition for all I know. Yes, I kept the money.
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Old 06-17-2014, 06:06 AM   #14
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a lot of good information is being given here. most of which i agree with.

first thing i would suggest, keep your day job. if unhappy, find another that you like better. much better to have a regular job that pays the bills and use the proceeds from gunsmithing to further that business with better tools and equipment, the services of a good bookkeeper and accountant and business related expenses.

i will also say, that most of the gunsmiths i know, do gunsmithing on the side as extra income. somei have talked to say there just isn't enough business in their areas to support them doing gunsmithing as the only means of income. a couple have said that more and more gun owners are learning and doing work they were doing years ago. and i agree. i am a hobbiest gunsmith and tinkerer on my own guns and for the most part am self taught. so with the fact that i have the tools and the knowledge to do my own repairs and customizing, why would i pay someone to do what i am capable of? simple answer, i won't. the only jobs gunsmithing i have farmed out in over 20 years, are those i lack the equipment or tools or the ability to do. more and more gun owners are becoming like me, and learning to do their own gunsmithing, which cuts into the work available for a someone in business doing gunsmithing work as an income. look at a Brownell's or Midway catalog or on the internet and the tools are available to do just about anything to a firearm now. look at the YouTube videos at what people are posting showing how to work on just about any gun there is. as people learn more and more about how to work on their own firearms, it puts more of a crimp in the business that will be available to the professional gunsmith looking to make a living doing it.

times have changed and if you want to be successful, you need to adapt to changing times and customer needs. most gunsmiths i have known or met over the years did it because they loved guns and it was a passion and a vocation they took much pride in doing and if they were successful and made a good living, that was just icing on the cake.

i wish you much luck. above all, do the best job that you possibly can, know your limitations and abilities, but always look to expand or increase your knowledge and abilities, and always do a good job, refuse to do crappy work for any price and gain a reputaion of doing a good job at a fair price, honestly and you will be successful.
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Old 06-17-2014, 06:11 AM   #15
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Thank you everybody for the input. In response to some of the questions and comments I will try to move down the line.
I work during the day with a lot of hunters who in turn know a lot more hunters, so I've been doing quite a few cleanings and safety/function checks. Usually bolt action rifles, or shotguns. I did three pillar bedding jobs, two wood stock refinishes, repaired a sticky safety in a Winchester model 70, fitted a new extractor in a Springfield EMP, installed a trigger kit in my Springfield XD and in a buddy's S&W M&P, and replaced the sights on both those pistols as well. I might be missing a few but that's the majority of what I've done out side of school.
As for jobs I'm taking on now, I'm kinda taking anything I have the confidence and tooling to handle. So far the only jobs I've had to turn down were a couple metal finishing jobs, I learned the hard way it takes way to long to strip a metal finish with sandpaper, scotch brite and a polishing wheel, just to turn it over to someone else to blue or parkerize it.
As for tools, I am a strong believer in the right tool for the job. Aside from the $8,000 in tools I got from school, I have easily spent another $2,000 over the past 4 years (that's aside from the drill press). And if I didn't need the tool at the time, it was a tool I could foresee using often in the future.
And as for this photoAttachment 145346
I believe that is a sear jig. Haven't used one, but our instructor in triggers class demonstrated and explained it to us. It's for adjusting the sear/trigger engagement. And that tool along with a sight mounting jig for drilling and tapping scope mounts is high on the list.
On the business aspect, my step daughters father is a Tax Accountant, and he has already been a big help, and I'm sure even more so the more I get into my endeavor. Plus I am currently talking to a friend to set up liability insurance.
I really didn't mean to make this reply so long. Just trying to give you guys a feel for where I'm at. Again I really appreciate the advice, it has given me a better idea of what to focus on and how to cover my ass.


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Old 06-17-2014, 06:22 AM   #16
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And just to clarify my day job sucks but I am good at it and it is very stable. It has fed my family for a long time now. So if I need to do this business part time the rest of my life I can handle that.
So far I haven't been working on firearms long enough to really find a niche, at this point weather it's a DCOA, or a pillar job with a stock refinish, I really enjoy doing the work, it has definitely become a passion. Thank you guys again for the advice and wishing me luck, I really appreciate it.


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Old 06-17-2014, 06:35 AM   #17
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GSmith, sounds like you have somewhat of a direction to head in and are looking at the big picture.

might i suggest looking at getting the equipment to blue and do other types of finishes. many times in the past, this was one of those jobs i did farm out simply because it too cost prohibative for DIYer to spend the money for doing just few guns occasionally. might be something other gunsmiths or gun shops would farm out to someone with the equipment to do such jobs along with the DIYer's in your area.
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Old 06-22-2014, 10:47 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSmith1883 View Post
I work during the day with a lot of hunters who in turn know a lot more hunters, so I've been doing quite a few cleanings and safety/function checks. Usually bolt action rifles, or shotguns.
That's half the business. Add in mounting and zeroing scopes and you have most of what gunsmiths really do.

A lot of work is merely parts replacement. Changing sights, swapping trigger assemblies, building a 10/22 or AR, that sort of thing. A lot can be made with refinishing, Cerakote, hydro dipping and so on. Until you get to custom work, rebarreling and restoration, there are really not a lot of tools needed, and none of them even need to be power.

That said, I think what you're looking as is a good technical education with a lack of any business training. One simple thing you should do is put together a business plan. The process of doing it will force you to think through and research how you can, and want to, grow your business.

You might also look up your local SCORE resource. These guys don't know gunsmithing, but they know business. They can help with the basics you didn't get in school (face it, you got a gunsmithing degree, not a MBA...).

Good luck and keep us posted.

Jeff
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Old 06-24-2014, 05:52 AM   #19
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I am looking into a cerakote kit , now if I can talk my wife into letting me put a firearm coated with chemicals in our oven (correction, her oven) is another story! I'd really like to get a bluing set up, but aside from it costing a couple thousand for a basic set up, I'm really limited in space, so it will have to wait. A friend offered for me to set up a hydra dip tank in his garage as long as he can dip a few of his guns, so that might be a option. I did order a Lyman Power Professional Turbo Sonic Cleaner though. With all the cleanings I have been doing, and hopefully a lot more to come, it seemed like a worth while investment. Should be here in a few days.
And I looked into the Score resource and printed out a 33 page article on how to create a complete business plan. That should be very helpful.
I can't thank you guys enough for the advice and support.


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Old 06-25-2014, 12:36 AM   #20
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Why not get a free or nearly free oven on Craigslist and set it up in the garage or basement? Running a 240V line isn't really a big deal...
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