Is your woodwork business booming? Consider this…

 The custom woodwork business is booming according to the Cabinet Makers Association.

The custom woodworking business is booming according to the Cabinet Makers Association. Well between all the home improvement ideas, the need for home office space, and (unfortunately) storm damage repair I guess that’s understandable. What’s a woodworker to do with such “busyness”?

If you are a cabinet maker – what do you think you should do?

  • Enjoy it while it lasts – the cycle always turns.
  • Hire more good workers – good luck with that one.
  • Expand your shop – remember they are called fixed costs for a reason.
  • Raise your prices – the effect of supply and demand is a real thing.

Even if you hire more people and expand your shop, ultimately time is your limiting constraint. There are only so many hours in a day – 24. How can you make the best use of them?

One woodwork business story about time constraints

An owner of a two-person shop in the mid-west specializes in fireplace mantels and fire case bookcase surrounds. She told me even two years ago her business was booming but word of mouth provided more opportunities than they could handle.

The limiting factor was not in the shop. They were very careful and efficient in production practices. The time sink for this business was creating and presenting proposals.  Using pencil and paper, along with a spreadsheet, they could generate one complete proposal every evening. They set aside additional time to modify designs with client suggestions and modifications.

When they started using SketchList 3D they were able to produce a complete design – soup to nuts – in less than an hour. No typo there – an hour.

Some of that was due to the ease and speed of use of the software. A lot of it was their ability to create a collection of design objects to re-use in new jobs. It is so easy to do, making changes and all that they told us, “We can literally prepare a design inside of 30 minutes.”

You can use the reports and drawings to save time in the shop.

  • SketchList 3D turns your computer into a virtual woodshop. You ‘build’ your projects in 3D in real-time on your computer screen. If there are mistakes you will see them there – before you buy, transport, layout, and cut your materials. A big-time saver this is.
  • SketchList 3D has all the reports you need in the shop integrated into the design process. Cut list, shop drawing, purchase list, and sheet good layouts are instant and automatic. No time is required. No mistakes are allowed. Good communications and plans make for a better shop experience.

More time savings needed? Take a look at the CMA website. They’re all about helping cabinet makers improve. Or hire a process consultant. One good one is Ralph Bagnall at

Don’t just raise the prices of your woodwork business because you can.

Well OK – do it.  But take steps to provide more value and prepare to become a formidable competitor now and forever. The consulting term for this is differentiation. Be different and better than those cabinet makers you compete with. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Don’t compete on price alone.
  2. Always show high-quality, tailored design images with your proposal.
  3. Provide a better buying experience for your potential clients.
  4. Submit a clear and complete proposal and do it quickly.

If you succeed at these things, you will convert more proposals.  Remember a proposal lost is a great waste of time.

And remember, as your conversion rates increase you can take on bigger and better jobs and, yes, charge more.

Years ago a woodworking magazine doing a review of woodworking software wrote “We are at the point where prospects demand 3D images before they buy. You can’t succeed in the long term without that ability.”

Stop hand drawing or using CAD software for your designs and proposals.


image of wall unit

Imagine showing the above drawing to a prospect and asking for a few thousand dollars.  Then check out the eventual modified rendering.  And guess what?  There wasn’t that much of a time difference in doing either one.

image fireplace unit

Cabinet makers consider this as well.

  • Cost of the software.  SketchList 3D Pro is the low-cost software option.  And it’s a one-time investment. Or if you prefer you can get it on a monthly or yearly basis to help reduce the cash outlay.
  • Ability to learn to use it. Well, it is easy to learn and you can always sign up for the free online training meeting at SketchList. It’s held as an online meeting each week.  And in those meetings we design something, review users’ designs, discuss various ‘how tos’, and do a lot of questions and answers. One user said it’s the best training he’s ever gotten from any software product.

If your woodwork business is too busy being successful right now to try something new, I understand.

But eventually, you will find the time.   Remember the downturn cycle will come back.  Then you’ll realize woodworking marketing is something you should do for the continued success of your woodwork business. We will be here when that happens.

For another look at SketchList 3D in the woodwork business see this article.




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