Custom closet designers build closets, drawers, hampers, hutches and tie racks to suit their clients’ needs, using a variety of materials such as wire, veneer, laminate, real wood and melamine. If you’ve got experience in carpentry or you enjoy working with your hands, why not start your own custom closet business? Expect start-up costs to range from $20,000 to $52,000.
Take a job working for a custom closet design company or enroll in a training course. Many custom closet companies offer week-long training courses that will teach you how to install the particular materials that they use. If you intend to work with a variety of materials, look for a training course that covers all. By working for the company, you’ll obtain training and learn the ins and outs of getting clients and running a business. Closet Maid is a nonfranchise closet design business that will train you to become a professional designer and installer. Learn what materials are popular in your area.
Write up a basic business plan. Since you will likely be working for yourself and from your home, you are the only person accountable for your closet installation business. To avoid overlooking expenses or hidden costs, detail everything that may affect your business. Van payment and insurance, gas, maintenance, van lettering, business cards and fliers, general liability insurance, accountant, rent, training fees, tools, warranty service fund, Internet, fax machine, computer design software, uniform, office supplies and equipment, marketing, licenses and signage. You’ll need an emergency fund to use in the event that your van breaks down or you get injured.
Contact your county or city licensing department to obtain a contractor’s license, if required. Get your business license and purchase liability insurance.
Find a wholesale supplier for your materials, finishes and custom accessories such as belt racks, slide-out dividers, valet poles, molding and other ornamental details. Hold off on purchasing a large order of materials until you’ve got a solid customer base and word of mouth has spread. As your business grows, you can count on the cost of materials decreasing. Keep this in mind when working out budgets. Shop around for the best deals on office supplies, screwdrivers, drills, levels, tape measures, power saws, nails, screws and equipment. It may behoove you to open a line of credit with local suppliers if they will give you a better price. Otherwise purchase all supplies on a credit or debit card that offers rewards for each purchase.
Create a custom checklist that you will use to take an inventory of your client’s space, as well as measurements and items that will need to be stored. Detail your designs on a sketch pad that you will present to your client, along with a detailed list of moldings, finishes and accessories that they can choose from.
Set your closet remodeling business apart by offering superior craftsmanship through the materials you use and the installation process. Create clever ways to reorganize your client’s closets based on their needs and provide more space while minimizing cost and installation time.
At tax time, have your accountant guide you through the tax process. If you’re good with numbers, you can save money by doing your own taxes in the future. Reorganize your garage to accommodate your office and provide a filing system for tools, supplies and paperwork. Take quality images of your work and create a portfolio or put them on your website. Additionally, offer space-saving tips for homeowners. Include information about your experience and training and the fact that you are insured. Submit your website to local and online directories. Leave fliers in hardware stores. As your business expands, you will need to find a location to house your inventory.
Don’t severely undercut your competition. If customers are paying $5 per foot, don’t drop your price to $4. For one, that leaves you zero room to lower prices in the event that the market stalls. Secondly, if customers are willing to pay $5 for a competitor, they’ll pay $5 to you. Also, until you know exactly what your expenses will be, stick with charging $5. It’s much easier to drop prices than raise them.
Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.