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A buddy of mine who used to work for Hans Weisshaar told me that the repair portion of a shop does not make much money. He said that shops offer repairs as a service to the customers and so that the shop can be full service. He said that any violin shop is lucky to break even with the repair portion of the shop.

Is this your experience too?

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I suppose it depends on the shop, the type of work etc. In my own experience, in the shop I work for, on paper the repair/restoration side of the shop does appear to only "break even." However repairs to customer or walk in business is only a small portion of what the repair shop does. A large portion of the time is spent in restoration work and set up work on instruments that will be offered for sale by the firm and maintaining a rental fleet. The accountants grafts do not take into consideration the portion of profit made possible possible by the "repair shop."

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Interesting question that applies to other repair businesses as well.

Many years ago I was workshop foreman at a large agricultural/vehicle dealership.

The workshop and field repairs hardly ever broke even, the money was made selling new machines, BUT, the good workshop/repair facility offered would have induced people to buy from that firm knowing that if prompt reliable repairs were ever needed, that firm would provide them.

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the repair, set up, restoration and bow work is my main focus, sales of instruments are extra for me, nice surprises when they happen especially if its a yard sale or auction find that finds a new home after repair. I work out of my home so overhead is low, if I had a shop I suspect that general sales would have to be a much larger part of my income and my mark up on everything would have to be more too.

I make sure that all the little repairs are accounted for in the total but I often do some extras if it make future sales or work more proable - the lost leader idea. Return clients are alway good especially if they are nice people to work with.

I am not getting rich but its ok, I have lots of time during the day for my two girls' school and class schedule.

Reese

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the repair, set up, restoration and bow work is my main focus, sales of instruments are extra for me, nice surprises when they happen especially if its a yard sale or auction find that finds a new home after repair. I work out of my home so overhead is low, if I had a shop I suspect that general sales would have to be a much larger part of my income and my mark up on everything would have to be more too.

I make sure that all the little repairs are accounted for in the total but I often do some extras if it make future sales or work more proable - the lost leader idea. Return clients are alway good especially if they are nice people to work with.

This is also a very good description of my situation. Lately, I've not been as busy working on stuff for other people, so I've been working more on my own stuff, hoping that I'll sell it somewhere down the road.

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A buddy of mine who used to work for Hans Weisshaar told me that the repair portion of a shop does not make much money. He said that shops offer repairs as a service to the customers and so that the shop can be full service. He said that any violin shop is lucky to break even with the repair portion of the shop.

Is this your experience too?

Well... I've been on both sides (large shop/small shop). I think the answer to the question depends on what one means by "profit". If we're talking simple $s from a larger shop's accountant's point of view, my experience is that if the shop can really break even (pay for the space, salaries, benefits, utilities, materials, tool maintenance, misc. overhead, services & taxes), the shop is being run well. Does that mean it's not profitable? No, I don't believe so. A good shop can bring in new clients, helps support loyal clients, supports the sales team, spreads goodwill for the entire firm, etc. Also, remember part of thet "overhead" was salaries & benefits... that means families are being supported... and that includes, at least in part, the owner's family, the manager's family, the accountant's family, as well as the restorers & technician's families.

I think one can make an honorable living from repair & restoration, and/or new making, from a small, low overhead, setting. I now work from a studio attached to my home (as does Oded, David and maybe even Josh?? as well as others on the board that are not coming to mind presently), and, like Reese (welshman), enjoy being here when my girls are around. I also enjoy not managing employees. If ALL I did was repair... I'd still be OK... but since I also do sales, appraisals, and consultation I'm really just fine.

There may be some gifted manager/owners that do see real black ink from repairs alone, however. Jerry P. may be one of those individuals (Jerry, if you remove everything else from the equation... do you see a $ and cents profit?) maybe he'll speak up.

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Weisshaar's repair operation may well have failed to make money directly. That was his position, certainly. However, we never did the "time studies" and detailed analysis that would have been necessary for him to actually know.

One challenge he faced was price competition. In a large market like Los Angeles, there were a number of people cutting $20 bridges, for instance. It was hard to charge $50 when 75% of the customers couldn't readily tell the difference. To them, a bridge was a bridge. Somebody must be trying to screw them! :) Hollywood was so full of hucksterism that I think people were over-sensitized, and assumed the worst.

Later, managing a medium sized repair department, I was able to get it to generate a small profit.

I've never known anyone to get rich strictly from customer repairs though.

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... the answer to the question depends on what one means by "profit". ..... remember part of thet "overhead" was salaries & benefits... that means families are being supported... and that includes, at least in part, the owner's family, the manager's family, the accountant's family, as well as the restorers & technician's families.

Jeffery has made a very good point here. Expenses include supporting the individuals and families involved in the business.

I do not have experience with the repair business but I have experience consulting on a variety of other small and medium sized operations. I remember one specific instance where a prospective buyer of a small business was about to back off on the purchase since the current business wasn't making much money. After a detailed examination, however, it was apparent that the owner was taking a huge salary and there were a variety of club membership etc etc rolled into the statements that were being reviewed. After taking this all out of the picture, the company was actually doing very well.

My point is simply that the term "making a profit" in itself is a bit ambiguous.

On another note, I also worked from a home office for 6 years as my girls were growing up. Profits cannot always be measured in $.

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A buddy of mine who used to work for Hans Weisshaar told me that the repair portion of a shop does not make much money. He said that shops offer repairs as a service to the customers and so that the shop can be full service. He said that any violin shop is lucky to break even with the repair portion of the shop.

Is this your experience too?

I can imagine that is the case with a larger shop, but then they usually have sales too, and it is hard to sell stuff unless you have a repair shop. :) So where does "the profit" really come from, sales or restoration? A restorer can work on his own, but a shop can't do without the restorer! How would all the million dollar fiddles perform if there were not the restorers?

I think the violin family instruments are almost the only objects on planet earth that are being repaired almost no matter what the damage is... can't and should not be compared to most other repair businesses. I don't expect more than to cover my expenses and a decent salary, if I were to have a profit, I guess I would have to buy, restore and sell fiddles.... much more tricky, I don't know if that is my cup of tea. :)

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Another tidbit:

I heard the late Robert Bein say, more than once, that "a violin shop is just a life support system for an expert" (he was referring to the profitable sales portion of the shop). He was also one of the first contemporary principals of a larger violin firm to "send" the repair shop portion of the business out into the world as an independent entity (and work with restorers on/by contract). I believe that action shows that he didn't see the workshop as a "profit center", but the fact he was willing to pay top dollar for fine restoration under contract seems to indicate that he recognized the "value" of the service.

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He was also one of the first contemporary principals of a larger violin firm to "send" the repair shop portion of the business out into the world as an independent entity (and work with restorers on/by contract). I believe that action shows that he didn't see the workshop as a "profit center", but the fact he was willing to pay top dollar for fine restoration under contract seems to indicate that he recognized the "value" of the service.

Yes, the dealer is an important figure... working in a country where there are no dealers implies certain problems. (Excluding the kitchen-dealers, because they are certainly present). All my work comes directly from musicians, (although most often paid by orchestras and/or insurance companies... ) that works too, but the absence of the dealer really raises lots of problems. Instruments are usually sold on to the next owner, without a "pit stop" nobody's willing to pay for that. (Or realises it is a good idea). People are uncertain about the value of the instruments that aren't worth taking to London for appraisal, and that sort of makes the market unnecessarily "nervous" I think... :)

Hey, does anyone know of an unemployed first class violin expert and dealer? Send him over, please! :)

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Its nice to know there are more like me out there, I value being at home for my girls more than gold, We wouldn't have been able to adopt so easily without a stay at home component - I can't imagine how much day care would be costing as an alternative, I am fortunate to be able to do what I like and am good at and also have a wife with a very dood job with benefits, that simplifies the income /profit demand from my business.

Being in a at home situation also allows a lot of tax deductions for home office, utilities and such. Its a choice of how I want to run my business and life from early on - Before this life I would wake up in the morning, throw up and then go to work in a office/manufacturing setting, It was slowly killing me, I'm lucky to have found what it was I should be doing and find a way to do it (What color is your Parachute was a big help in 1985 when I made the change)

The 30 second commute from the coffee pot is also a real bonus, so is the interruptions to fix a doll or some other toy. My youngest (5) loves to be in the shop - I have an old junk violin for her to work on - washes it and puts clamps all around it, trys to fit the pegs and sands the fingerboard, Both girls love to be in there playing or working, that's my profit.

Reese

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There may be some gifted manager/owners that do see real black ink from repairs alone, however. Jerry P. may be one of those individuals (Jerry, if you remove everything else from the equation... do you see a $ and cents profit?) maybe he'll speak up.

A working violin shop can certainly make money off of repairs. When I managed a large violin shop in Ann Arbor, we had an accounting system that showed the workshop was making money, then the owner changed the accounting to show that we were not. So we worked harder and showed a profit again, then the accounting was changed once more. I believe with good solid techniques, a good work ethic while at the bench (not phoning it in) and hard work a person can not only make a living, but be quite comfortable.

Jerry

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A good thing to remember is that money is nothing more or less than "work, made portable". Hopefully your OWN work...

I build railcars and barges for a living-- it is tough to roll them up and poke 'em in my wallet on fridays, so I am content to have the money that represents the work I did. Same goes for violin repair, etc. It is much easier to get change for a twenty than for a tailpiece. Coins are easier than, say, carrots, or spuds, to insert in parking meters and vending machines. Whatever work you do, producing goods, services, food, etc., it is easier to turn it into the necessities of life, if it is first converted into cash.

I can raise my own food, and firewood, probably even make all my own clothing if need be, but my well is 700 feet deep, and, believe it or not, the power company wants...you guessed it...money. So, like it or not, it is part of life.

Money may prove to be "the root of all sorts of evil" in many of our lives, but the intent of money remains quite practical. How you handle it shows all about YOU, not the money. Throwing it off the back of the train sounds fun, but I'd bet, ah, money that you had to pay money to get on the train in the first place....

:-) Ain't life grand?

On the other hand, knowing the difference between value and price is crucial. The little ones are of inestimable value--priceless. Some things that we pay a high price for turn out to be, in the final analysis, valueless. Some of us learn that the hard way. I certainly miss my little ones. They are all grown, now.

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A good thing to remember is that money is nothing more or less than "work, made portable". Hopefully your OWN work...

I build railcars and barges for a living-- it is tough to roll them up and poke 'em in my wallet on fridays, so I am content to have the money that represents the work I did. Same goes for violin repair, etc. It is much easier to get change for a twenty than for a tailpiece. Coins are easier than, say, carrots, or spuds, to insert in parking meters and vending machines. Whatever work you do, producing goods, services, food, etc., it is easier to turn it into the necessities of life, if it is first converted into cash.

I can raise my own food, and firewood, probably even make all my own clothing if need be, but my well is 700 feet deep, and, believe it or not, the power company wants...you guessed it...money. So, like it or not, it is part of life.

Money may prove to be "the root of all sorts of evil" in many of our lives, but the intent of money remains quite practical. How you handle it shows all about YOU, not the money. Throwing it off the back of the train sounds fun, but I'd bet, ah, money that you had to pay money to get on the train in the first place....

:-) Ain't life grand?

On the other hand, knowing the difference between value and price is crucial. The little ones are of inestimable value--priceless. Some things that we pay a high price for turn out to be, in the final analysis, valueless. Some of us learn that the hard way. I certainly miss my little ones. They are all grown, now.

i suppose it makes more sence within its context

Well I stumbled in the darkness

I'm lost and alone

Though I said I'd go before us

And show the way back home

IS there a light up ahead

I can't hold onto very long

Forgive me pretty baby but I always take the long way home

Money's just something you throw

Off the back of a train

Got a handful of lightening

A hat full of rain

And I know that I said

I'd never do it again

And I love you pretty baby but I always take the long way home

I put food on the table

And roof overhead

But I'd trade it all tomorrow

For The highway instead

Watch your back if I should tell you

Loves the only thing I've ever known

One thing for sure pretty baby I always take the long way home

You know I love you baby

More than the whole wide world

I'm your woman

You know you are my pearl

Let's go out past the party lights

We can finally be alone

Come with me and we can take the long way home

Come with me, together we can take the long way home

Come with me, together we can take the long way home

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i suppose it makes more sence within its context

Well I stumbled in the darkness

I'm lost and alone

Though I said I'd go before us

And show the way back home

IS there a light up ahead

I can't hold onto very long

Forgive me pretty baby but I always take the long way home

Money's just something you throw

Off the back of a train

Got a handful of lightening

A hat full of rain

And I know that I said

I'd never do it again

And I love you pretty baby but I always take the long way home

I put food on the table

And roof overhead

But I'd trade it all tomorrow

For The highway instead

Watch your back if I should tell you

Loves the only thing I've ever known

One thing for sure pretty baby I always take the long way home

You know I love you baby

More than the whole wide world

I'm your woman

You know you are my pearl

Let's go out past the party lights

We can finally be alone

Come with me and we can take the long way home

Come with me, together we can take the long way home

Come with me, together we can take the long way home

Love that song Jazzupe! There really is a funny juxtaposition between a good folk song and the day-to-day grind.

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I'm another one who decided to start working at home largely because of the kids. When they got to be teenagers, they hated always having a parent at home. :)

The kids are grown now, but it's still a huge advantage if one has any interest in being "green". No energy is used to commute, and no additional resources are needed to heat, cool, or construct a separate building.

Despite having a couple of hot rods, my total energy and environmental footprint is extremely low.

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Despite having a couple of hot rods, my total energy and environmental footprint is extremely low.

You mean those skid marks in the driveway were from your bicycle??

We also work from home, nearly 30 years now. You can certainly be comfortable from the income from repairs, though I suspect very few make enough to feel empathy for those who are told they have to get by on $500 K a year .

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Well I envy all you people who can work at home with your daughters around and all that :) We live in a flat, cant work there. So I rent a workshop, and of course I have to pay the kindergarden. But the upside of this is that I can't be lazy. I have to work a lot to keep things going, and that might not be a bad thing? At least for know I rather like it like this.

Also, if I were to work at home I suspect I would be too easily distracted. I would probably be hanging around in the kitchen with a cup and posting endless posts on maestronet. And no daughters here, only very noisy boys, hopeless to work anywhere near them! :)

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