I often see furniture painters become frustrated about having a room full of painted pieces that aren't selling. There are many solid reasons for a down-turn in sales such as seasonal trends, disasters, and even saturation of the market. But, we also need to take a look at our own specific business and figure out what is happening.
Excuses won't pay the bills.
When items aren't selling there can be a variety of business errors that might be taking place. You need to take a hard look at your business and try to pin-point what the problem is and what you need to do to get going in a better direction.
Here are some of the typical areas to focus on:
What are you selling? Maybe the pieces you have painted aren't what the public is looking for and it takes a specific person to buy them. A single nightstand or end table can be a tough sell in any market. Look at your market area by going to Craigslist, Facebook Market Place and other buy, sell and trade sites and see what is selling quickly and then focus on painting those types of items.
What colors are you painting? Not everyone wants an blue buffet... Chose colors and styles that are timeless and you will sell. You might find the neutral colors boring but they fit the decor of the majority of homes. Do an occasional fun color or technique to spice up your portfolio and satisfy your creative juices.
What is the quality of your workmanship? Take a hard look at the quality of the pieces you are producing. This might be a brutal point but sometimes you have to step back and look at what you are doing. I cringe when I think about some of our first pieces. Are your pieces well constructed and then painted with care? Do the drawers slide nicely? Is the inside of cabinets painted or finished? Having a quality product will bring back more business.
What is your price point? Knowing the market pricing in your area is important. If you are offering a beautifully finished product you can set your own price but if you want it to sell you need to be within reason. Being at the high end of your market is a desirable place to be. When you establish your reputation as a local painter, you can start raising your prices. I see many people advise painters to put their items on sale. Lowering your price isn't always the answer. I always wonder when I see a piece priced too low. What's wrong with it that it's priced so low? We personally set our prices where I know they are a good value for the customer and for the quality of the piece they are buying. I very seldom lower our prices.
And lastly, build your marketing abilities!
How is your staging and description when you market your piece? Add a creative description and good pictures and your sales will take off. Create the idea that someone "needs" your piece to complete their home or decor! Suggest other optional uses for your piece. It's not just a dresser, it's a tv console, buffet, entry piece, nursery changing table... Stage your items nicely. You don't need white walls or wood flooring. But, you do need to have some kind of a backdrop and something to cover the painted workshop floor. It's not necessary to spend a lot on decorations but they can help sell the piece by giving the potential customer a vision. Make sure there isn't any clutter around the piece and take good, clear pictures. This is the "storefront window" for your business so make sure it looks nice. Post each item on every free buy, sell, and trade site and group you can find.
A Facebook business page is a must. It's the best way to put a face on your business and it's free. It will become your business website if you build it properly. Link your business page everywhere you can. This will help build a following and return customers. Hand out business cards with your page and other contact information. Link your personal profile to your business page. Use social media to the best of your ability. Learn more about using it! In plain words, tell people about your business! Market yourself!
Learn, improve, and keep going! Don't give up if you love what you are doing.