Dry Kiln Business Tips:
Put Up A Sign: Statistics show that when you put up a sign announcing your company name, number, hours and indicate that you have a lumber dry kiln and offer for sale kiln dried lumber, your traffic will increase.
Keep a Clean and Organized Shop and Kiln: Appearance to many will increase your business by showing people that you have a professional operation.
Accept Credit Cards and PayPal: Become a credit card merchant and accept credit cards at your business, or simply use PayPal. Use this for products and services. The money is usually deposited directly into your bank account the same day (or within two days in some cases). Accept Visa.
Get the Word Out: Tell local woodworking shops, cabinet shops, lumber yards, homecenters and restoration businesses that you have quality, kiln-dried lumber for sale. People are willing to pay a premium for high-grade, quality dried lumber (which usually has less defects than larger commercially dried lumber).
Shrink Wrap: Shrink-wrapping smaller expensive grades of Oak, Cherry and Walnut give the product a premium look. This is especially important for moulding and smaller boards. The shrink-wrapping also protects your valuable product and will keep it moisture stable.
Stamp KD on Lumber: Ink stamp Premium Kiln Dried Lumber along with your company name on the lumber. Customers recognize this mark as a premium product. For firewood, get approved and stamp HT or Heat Treated which indicates to customers that your firewood has been heat treated to kill insects.
Offer Smaller Amounts of Kiln Dried Lumber: Instead of just trying to sell thousands of BF of KD lumber at a time, set up a small retail shop and sell individual boards, moulding and blocks. If you don’t have the space, time, or money to set up a retail, work out a deal with a local lumber yard to have space in their establishment. A small section devoted to “Locally Grown, Sawn and Dried Lumber” will attract customers.
Get International Presence: Get a page of information on the internet via the World Wide Web. If possible, scan some color samples of your lumber and offer to the viewers what you have in stock, types of wood, etc. Also get some interest in repeat visitors by having a section on working with wood, tips on selecting quality lumber, building projects, etc. Selling to a previous customer is much easier, and profitable than getting a new one. Develop a mailing list of customers for notices, sales, etc.
Promotions: Each month have some type of promotional offer which keeps customers active in visiting your shop or web site.
Postcards: Keep in touch with your customers with postcards. Announce sales, promotions or just provide a woodworking tip to keep them interested. You may now produce and send postcards from E-Letter via the internet. Upload your comma-separated customer list, along with a .pdf file of your postcard and E-Letter will automatically produce, apply postage and mail your postcards ! Payment is by credit card. You may also wish to utilize Estamp — buy postage online.
Offer Easy Communications Access: Even one-man operations should have at least a phone, fax, email and web site. For those who focus on restoration projects or custom projects, also add a cellular phone to that list. Efax.com offers free fax service. Sign-up and receive a free fax number and the faxes are emailed to you. Efax now allows you to read and forward faxes by your cellular phone. Hotmail offers free email service. OneBox also offers free fax and phone service.
Provide Professional Invoices and Communications– Get a Computer ! : If you don’t already have some type of computer and laser printer, get one. The new iMac from Apple provides easy access to computers right out of the box. A computer generated letter, fax, invoice or quotation is imperative to maintaining a very professional appearance. Probably the best reason to get a computer is to make yourself more efficient– it will save you time. We can assist in getting you set-up and guiding you how to maintain a computer and become more work effective. The iMac is internet ready right out of the box which means you can have internet access within minutes !
Offer Creative Financing Options: We have already mentioned that by using the American Express credit card, you can get paid immediately, and your customer has an instantly “approved” 30-day loan at no cost. In addition, the customer can build frequent-flyer miles or other incentive programs just by using their credit card.
Offer Seasonal and Interesting Products: Instead of just trying to sell thousands of BF of KD lumber, think about acquiring a moulder and planer. If you don’t have the funds for large equipment acquisition, then consider leasing, or finding a local shop which has one and can do work for you. Keep those scraps of wood which were once considered “waste” (cut-ends, etc.) and sell them in the winter to home-owners with wood burning fireplaces and stoves. If your kiln is empty for any reason, put some green firewood in it and kiln dry that !!! Shrink-wrap the firewood and sell in the winter as a value-added product. Also consider accepting waste pallets at your operation. Not only might you have a free fuel source (if you have a wood burning heating system), but you can kiln dry them, and plane them down to sell as a “recycled” wood product. You can earn even more money by cutting them to size and making quality flooring. Even if the pallets are stressed, some people like this look and will pay a premium for it !!
Have a Day Each Month for Tours: Generating interest in your operation includes offering free tours each month. Give notice by postcard, radio, or free press-releases to local newspapers. Letting people know that you are there and showing them what you do is an important part to getting people interested in buying your product. You may even wish to offer a workshop on working with KD wood, selecting wood, or managing wood in construction projects.
Keep a Clean and Organized Shop and Kiln: Appearance to many will increase your business by showing people that you have a professional operation. There are many safety benefits also to keeping your shop clean and organized. Make sure your lumber is off the ground and covered from rain, snow and sun. Keep your operation properly drained. Stains can develop on any lumber which is not kept dry and maintained properly from the elements. If you have a retail operation keep the displayed lumber in a well lighted area, not in some dark corner. If possible display lumber near a completed project, like a Cherry cabinet or table. If you do not have the time to build some projects which use quality hardwoods, then display a local cabinet shops products and offer to sell them at your operation for small markup. This helps you and them sell product.