Carpentry is about constructing, installing and repairing structures made from wood and other materials. While it is not the most glamourous industry it is something that can be learnt and can produce a stable income and grow into a sustainable long term business.
To start this business you need carpentry and woodworking skills or need to hire someone with carpentry skills and the various tools needed to complete the job. You also need to be familiar with the different types of wood and know what type of material is best for the project.
This business uses various woodworking tools: clamps, chisels, drills, jigsaws, planer machines, dovetail joiners, lathe and auxiliary equipment: work bench, dust collectors. As well as safety equipment such as gloves and dust masks. You don’t have to buy brand new, you can look on places like Gumtree for secondhand equipment.
In SA the majority of work in this industry is in private homes, which means either working on new homes or renovating existing homes. There is also a large business market as well, what is known as shopfitting – fitting out retail and service shops and stores with equipment, fixtures and fittings. While not all shopfitting work will involve carpentry it is part of the equation.
Products & Services
Before you start you need to decide on what services you are going to offer, are you going to do general carpentry or are you going to specialise in a certain niche – cabinet making for example. Then you can even branch out and do products to resell when the custom business is slow.
This business starts with things like installing of doors, putting in countertops, all the way to building custom units, built in cupboards, bookshelves and wardrobes.
This is a manufacturing business model, where you have to factor in the material and labour cost (time). Even if you making a cupboard to resell and not doing a custom job you still have to factor this in and then add your profit markup.
It’s important to remember that homeowners don’t think they need carpentry. They think they need some specific like installation of interior doors, construction of a staircase, etc. So always target your marketing message along those lines especially if you have a website or is advertising on the internet, people would search for the specific job (built in cupboards) and not the trade (carpentry service).
This is often a local business: carpenters often work close to them or people often hire carpenters close to them as there is lot of purchasing and transporting of goods. That being said, this business is far more successful in middle class and upper class areas so you need to advertise in those areas as well. Poor people often just buy a complete product “off the shelf”.
Other than that the usual marketing ideas: local classifieds, website or social media like Facebook where you can post images of your past projects and get work that way.