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Common Woodworking Business Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Jul 22, 2022 · 5 minutes to read

A woodworker works in a workshop

You’re a master of your craft. You’ve put thousands of hours of practice into perfecting your woodworking and carpentry skills. While you know how to avoid common woodworking mistakes in the workshop, you might not be as skilled at avoiding them in the office.

Carpenter’s mistakes aren’t limited to making the wrong cuts. As a business owner, learning how to avoid mistakes in the day-to-day running of your business is also crucial.

Here are five blunders that woodworking and carpentry business owners often make, as well as ways to help prevent mistakes like these yourself.

1. Skipping the planning phase

Every project is unique, even if it is similar to previous jobs you have worked on. While you may be confident in your abilities to get the work done, that doesn’t mean you should skip the planning phase.

Planning out a project can help you understand its unique details and prevent mistakes. Working closely with the architect or other on-site contractors might prevent costly changes once you’re in the building phase. It can also help you schedule efficiently, especially if you are bringing in contractors to help. Paying someone to stand around while other work is finished is a waste of labor and payroll resources.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Take accurate measurements and double-check them before work begins.
  • Work with the architect to choose suitable materials and get a sign-off from the client.
  • Ask for project updates so you can account for delays that may change which days you are needed on site.

2. Buying unnecessary supplies

Poor inventory systems can also cause expensive problems for woodworking business owners. If you don’t know what materials and tools you have on hand, you run the risk of purchasing unnecessary supplies. This can quickly empty your wallet, especially if you’ve purchased items that cannot be returned or used in the near future.

Purchasing spare materials and supplies is a good way to create a buffer against product damage and shortages. But buying too much extra can be an expensive carpenter’s mistake. Estimating materials is a skill that comes with practice. However, it may be wiser to order more conservatively until you have more experience.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Requiring employees and contractors to sign tools out and in can help prevent loss or theft.
  • Running your own quality checks on materials (if possible) could help reduce over-buying.
  • Properly store extra materials to prevent damage that could leave them unusable.

3. Sticking with the same suppliers

Trustworthy, reliable suppliers can be a blessing for a growing woodworking business. However, regularly checking with their competitors could be a wise move.

Comparison shopping for your regular supplies (everything from lumber and nails to printer paper and ink) might help you find savings in your budget. Suppliers often offer discounts and specials to new customers, so if you’re always going straight to your usual sources, you might be missing out.

Even if you don’t want to change suppliers, they may be willing to offer you discounts or free shipping to keep your business. Some vendors might even price match their competitors.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Negotiating contracts each year could help you lock in favorable prices and avoid price hikes mid-project.
  • Ask about bulk buying discounts and free delivery.
  • It may be cheaper to source some supplies from multiple vendors.

4. Working with the wrong contractors

A good contractor is worth their weight in gold. They’re not only skilled at carpentry and woodworking, but they always act professionally while representing your business. Hiring the wrong contractor is a mistake you don’t want to make.

A thorough interview process can help you prevent mistakes when it comes to hiring contractors. Speaking with their references could help you assess their carpentry and communication skills. Even if a contractor is exceptionally skilled with their hands, their personality might clash with your business needs and expectations.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Interviewing more than one contractor may increase your chances of finding someone who works well with your business. If you’re lucky, you might find a few!
  • The lowest bid may not equal the best quality.
  • Ask for bids in writing, even if the contractor has provided a verbal quote.

5. Forgetting about insurance

Mistakes and accidents happen to business owners every day. Though the steps above and others could help you avoid many, you still might want a backup plan. Fixing an error in your work, compensating a client for property damage, or dealing with a burst pipe in your office can be expensive without carpenters’ insurance.

Insurance for carpenters could help you protect your woodworking business. Depending on the policies you choose, you can help shield your bank accounts against many costly claims and lawsuits. You may even be required to have certain types of coverage to work in your state or with certain clients.

Carpenters’ insurance policies you might consider:

  • General Liability – Coverage against third-party property damage and injury claims.
  • Professional Liability – Coverage against mistakes and errors in your work, as well as other forms of professional wrongdoing.
  • Business Owner’s Policy – A convenient insurance package that can include protection for business interruptions and equipment breakdown.
  • Workers’ Compensation – Coverage for employee injuries, serious illness, and death. Most states require you to have a policy before you hire your first employee.

It’s fast and simple to buy carpenters’ insurance with BizInsure. Compare policies online now and start protecting your woodworking business.

*As with any insurance, coverage will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this web page is general only and should not be relied upon as advice.

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