Business or Hobby, how do you run it?

Qjunkie

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Question for all you cuemakers out there, do you view cue building as a business or hobby?

Example SouthWest, in my opinion the run it like a business. Versus maybe a maker like Runde where he doesnt take orders, builds cues for a hobby then some how his cues hit the secondary market.

But here's the point Im getting to- if you run it like a business, I feel there are certain customer expectations that need to be addressed. timely communication, meeting delivery dates, some kind of customer satisfaction policy, methods for recourse documentation work order/invoice etc.

Now if you run it like a hobby, is the customer at your mercy on any worked promised wether its building a cue, repair work etc? What recourse does your customer have if they send you a deposit for a cue and the cue is never built/delivered? Or a cue sent in for work and the cue never repaired or sent back? What recourse does the customer have and who's burden is it to get things made right when there is very little documentation and all you may have is an email and or maybe a deposit to the cuemaker as proof of a transaction?

Ther have been many posts on good and back customer/cue builder experiences. And I've had my share of them, I just posed this question to see if there is/was any coorelation.
 

macguy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Qjunkie said:
Question for all you cuemakers out there, do you view cue building as a business or hobby?

Example SouthWest, in my opinion the run it like a business. Versus maybe a maker like Runde where he doesnt take orders, builds cues for a hobby then some how his cues hit the secondary market.

But here's the point Im getting to- if you run it like a business, I feel there are certain customer expectations that need to be addressed. timely communication, meeting delivery dates, some kind of customer satisfaction policy, methods for recourse documentation work order/invoice etc.

Now if you run it like a hobby, is the customer at your mercy on any worked promised wether its building a cue, repair work etc? What recourse does your customer have if they send you a deposit for a cue and the cue is never built/delivered? Or a cue sent in for work and the cue never repaired or sent back? What recourse does the customer have and who's burden is it to get things made right when there is very little documentation and all you may have is an email and or maybe a deposit to the cuemaker as proof of a transaction?

Ther have been many posts on good and back customer/cue builder experiences. And I've had my share of them, I just posed this question to see if there is/was any coorelation.

Someone who produces cues of their own designs and then offers them for sale is not necessarily doing it as a hobby. Many cuemakers like to sell through agents and not have to put up with the aggravation of dealing one on one with customers. I know one of the most respected cuemakers who was on the verge of quitting because of the customers and this is one of the most sought after cuemakers. He actually became sick from the stress and constant pestering of the customers. Constantly calling and changing orders 4 or 5 or a dozen times or when is my cue going to be sent, you know the drill. Once he began selling through a dealer it was night and day and he can sell every cue he can produce, cues that represent his designs and vision. That after all, is what art is.
 

Tony Zinzola

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I agree with Macguy. I've been pretty lucky so far and nobody that has a cue on order pesters me to see when it's going to be done. I try to give them a realistic time frame up front. I don't mind the customer checking in from time to time, but I think the worst thing somebody could do is keep asking when it's going to be done.

If I feel like they're rushing me, I think I would just do what it takes to get it out the door so they'd get off my back, which would result in a cue that probably shouldn't be out there. I already have one or two I have killed myself to get finished. One is back here for me to redo a wrap that I know I shouldn't have let out the door in the first place (along with fixing a couple of blemishes in the finish).

My customers usually also know that this is not my main source of income and that I have a one year old, so I do what I can, but sometimes there are more important things for me to take care of.
 

qbilder

slower than snails
Silver Member
Keep things in perspective & you'll be fine. Don't expect a cuemaker to be like burger king with fast service your way. You might get that from time to time with certain builders, but don't expect it from all of us.

I'll tell you your cue will be done in a month. I will genuinely beleive that & intend to make it happen. Then before I know it, time has zipped by me & you are now ragging on me & making demands. If I accepted any money up front then I was a dumbass & I better get to working so you don't go blabbering how crappy & dishonest I am all over the internet. If you have not paid a dime as of yet, then shut up & wait or go find another cuemaker. I'm not a business man. If I were then i'd be a millionaire on Wall Street. I'm a craftsman who enjoys building cues not too make money, but because I really enjoy doing it. If I make too much money for the IRS to consider me a hobbyist, then I get a tax rep to do his thing & I pay him a stupid amount of money to keep me safe. That's as close to business as it gets for me. I build cues because I love doing it. No matter how much I make, it'll always be a fun-time hobby for me. Once I depend on it as income then it's no longer fun.

I do my best to please everybody, but know that I can't. So I do what I can & that's that. If somebody doesn't want to wait, then they can move on down the road. I'll give good reccomendations for other builders who might be just right for them. I don't care because I don't need their money. If they want to wait, then I have fun with their cue & get to know them as a person, usually becoming freinds in the process. It's icing on the cake. But don't ask me to keep schedule. I'll give you my best attempt at an stimated date, but don't expect it to be right. I work when it's fun & I have time. I'm not a business. I'm a man in his shed fiddling with wood & tools, making wooden toys for grown ups. That's what it is. I'm guessing several other cuemakers are about the same.

Anyway, that's one builder's perspective. Take it for what it's worth, not much. But it's honest. I don't know what other cuemakers feel. Some I suppose are hard core business oriented men making a life for themselves & family. Some likely are about like me & do it for the enjoyment. Every one of us fall somewhere in the spectrum. I reccomend doing your homework before ordering a cue, get to know who's doing the work & work with the builder who most fits your criteria.
 

brianna187

BRIANNA SINCE 1988
Silver Member
New Business I Saw For Cue Building
"cues In About An Hour"
Or Your Second Shafts Always Free!!!
 

hangemhigh

Known Sinner
Silver Member
qbilder said:
Keep things in perspective & you'll be fine. Don't expect a cuemaker to be like burger king with fast service your way. You might get that from time to time with certain builders, but don't expect it from all of us.

I'll tell you your cue will be done in a month. I will genuinely beleive that & intend to make it happen. Then before I know it, time has zipped by me & you are now ragging on me & making demands. If I accepted any money up front then I was a dumbass & I better get to working so you don't go blabbering how crappy & dishonest I am all over the internet. If you have not paid a dime as of yet, then shut up & wait or go find another cuemaker. I'm not a business man. If I were then i'd be a millionaire on Wall Street. I'm a craftsman who enjoys building cues not too make money, but because I really enjoy doing it. If I make too much money for the IRS to consider me a hobbyist, then I get a tax rep to do his thing & I pay him a stupid amount of money to keep me safe. That's as close to business as it gets for me. I build cues because I love doing it. No matter how much I make, it'll always be a fun-time hobby for me. Once I depend on it as income then it's no longer fun.

I do my best to please everybody, but know that I can't. So I do what I can & that's that. If somebody doesn't want to wait, then they can move on down the road. I'll give good reccomendations for other builders who might be just right for them. I don't care because I don't need their money. If they want to wait, then I have fun with their cue & get to know them as a person, usually becoming freinds in the process. It's icing on the cake. But don't ask me to keep schedule. I'll give you my best attempt at an stimated date, but don't expect it to be right. I work when it's fun & I have time. I'm not a business. I'm a man in his shed fiddling with wood & tools, making wooden toys for grown ups. That's what it is. I'm guessing several other cuemakers are about the same.

Anyway, that's one builder's perspective. Take it for what it's worth, not much. But it's honest. I don't know what other cuemakers feel. Some I suppose are hard core business oriented men making a life for themselves & family. Some likely are about like me & do it for the enjoyment. Every one of us fall somewhere in the spectrum. I reccomend doing your homework before ordering a cue, get to know who's doing the work & work with the builder who most fits your criteria.


My friend has a simple formula: He builds a cue he likes and if no one wants to own the cue he is comfortable with keeping the cue. He has no waiting list,takes no deposit,and does not advertise his work. They are some of the finest cues available,and you would agree if you have seen or owned one. He grins and says "You can only get one if you know me".
 

manwon

"WARLOCK 1"
Silver Member
Qjunkie said:
Question for all you cuemakers out there, do you view cue building as a business or hobby?

Example SouthWest, in my opinion the run it like a business. Versus maybe a maker like Runde where he doesnt take orders, builds cues for a hobby then some how his cues hit the secondary market.

But here's the point Im getting to- if you run it like a business, I feel there are certain customer expectations that need to be addressed. timely communication, meeting delivery dates, some kind of customer satisfaction policy, methods for recourse documentation work order/invoice etc.

Now if you run it like a hobby, is the customer at your mercy on any worked promised wether its building a cue, repair work etc? What recourse does your customer have if they send you a deposit for a cue and the cue is never built/delivered? Or a cue sent in for work and the cue never repaired or sent back? What recourse does the customer have and who's burden is it to get things made right when there is very little documentation and all you may have is an email and or maybe a deposit to the cuemaker as proof of a transaction?

Ther have been many posts on good and back customer/cue builder experiences. And I've had my share of them, I just posed this question to see if there is/was any coorelation.

I retired from the US. Army in 2003, and opened a Pool Hall, Retail / Pro-shop, along with a complete cue repair / Custom Conversion cue Business from the same location. To stay in business you must have a re-pore with customers. I totally disagree that using individuals outside your business to sell your products is the way to go. While it can be very hard, at times accomplishing work and dealing with customers, in my opinion it is the only way to do business. It may take setting a certain amount of time aside to deal with customers daily either by answering emails or by phones calls, but this is the only way to assure customer satisfaction.

As far as approaching this business as a hobby, I think that it can be accomplished. However, in doing so one can not allow their individual work load to exceed their ability to meet their commitments in a timely manner. While no one is perfect, through communication customer satisfaction can still be maintained even when schedules conflict with a hobby. I suspect that by not allowing your workload to exceed your abilities, and by keep a good line of communication open to your customers, misunderstanding can be kept near zero level.
 

BLACKHEARTCUES

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think that QJUNKIE has an ax to grind with a Qmaker or with a repairman. I think he has not posted his true question. What problem have you had & is there any way, that it should have been handled differently...JER
 

qbilder

slower than snails
Silver Member
hangemhigh said:
My friend has a simple formula: He builds a cue he likes and if no one wants to own the cue he is comfortable with keeping the cue. He has no waiting list,takes no deposit,and does not advertise his work. They are some of the finest cues available,and you would agree if you have seen or owned one. He grins and says "You can only get one if you know me".

Good for him. He figured things out early. I wish I had began doing things that way. Now I have a long list of folks who will be nagging me until I die of old age!!! It's kinda nice, though. As frustrating as it can get, I have met some wonderful people & made a few good freinds. I never let it interfere with my overall life happiness, and approach it light heartedly. It's fun & that's the way I intend to keep it. But I still think i'm gonna pull a 2-Pac & "die", releasing brand new work long after my funeral!!!!!
 

qbilder

slower than snails
Silver Member
BLACKHEARTCUES said:
I think that QJUNKIE has an ax to grind with a Qmaker or with a repairman. I think he has not posted his true question. What problem have you had & is there any way, that it should have been handled differently...JER

I caught the same vibe, but didn't want to ask.
 

KJ Cues

Pro Cue Builder & Repair
Silver Member
Qjunkie said:
Question for all you cuemakers out there, do you view cue building as a business or hobby?

Example SouthWest, in my opinion the run it like a business. Versus maybe a maker like Runde where he doesnt take orders, builds cues for a hobby then some how his cues hit the secondary market.

But here's the point Im getting to- if you run it like a business, I feel there are certain customer expectations that need to be addressed. timely communication, meeting delivery dates, some kind of customer satisfaction policy, methods for recourse documentation work order/invoice etc.

Now if you run it like a hobby, is the customer at your mercy on any worked promised wether its building a cue, repair work etc? What recourse does your customer have if they send you a deposit for a cue and the cue is never built/delivered? Or a cue sent in for work and the cue never repaired or sent back? What recourse does the customer have and who's burden is it to get things made right when there is very little documentation and all you may have is an email and or maybe a deposit to the cuemaker as proof of a transaction?

Ther have been many posts on good and back customer/cue builder experiences. And I've had my share of them, I just posed this question to see if there is/was any coorelation.


You can 'pigeon-hole' & categorize the individual CM till it suits your fancy but that's not going to guarantee your security with regards to the transaction. A cue maker has a rep. whether he's a Pro or a hobbyist. The same applies to the person selling the cue, private party or dealer.

If you're so inclined, you could draft a consumer's bill-of-rights if it would make you feel more secure but most all of the stipulations and expectations that you've listed are pretty much a given. It's about doing good business. Does everything need to be in writing and witnessed by a notary? I guess in today's world, it does. It's all about what you feel comfortable with. If you don't feel comfortable with the person you're doing business with and feel you need every nuance & detail in writing, maybe you're dealing with the wrong person to begin with. You always have the right to say NO and walk away........as well as does the cue maker.

You might not want to do business with me. I deliberately try to keep it informal and on a personal level. I appreciate the inter-action with the client as it allows me a better sense of who I'm dealing with and what they REALLY want. And I'd like to be able to do this without having the lawyers in the room, (metaphorically speaking). Also, you might want to be mindful of putting too many chains on the artist, (metaphorically speaking).
 

Ridge Runner

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I build cues because I enjoy it. I work on cues when I want to and no other time. I do take an occasional special order, but I am careful to give myself plenty of time up front. I always do my best to do exactly what I tell someone I will do. I won't keep anyone waiting without good reason, but on the other hand, I am picky about what I do and who I do it for. Works for me.
John
 

Qjunkie

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
no axe to grind

I choose not to start thread like- "Varney wont return my deposit" or "Madiosn Bob didnt build me a cue."

So for what its worth I tell you my experiences w/ some cue builders Ive worked with.

My first cue bulider/ relationship Ive ever had was with a very desired builder from the midwest. As a rookie cue buyer I pestered him because he failed to deliver as promised. As cue that was to be delivered in 6-8 mos turned out to be 2 years.

My second experinence was with a predominate cue maker from the east coast. We shared cue designs via fax and 18 months later the designs in the butt were wrong. They were scrimmed intead of inlayed.

I sent a cue to be repaired to another cue builder/ repair and almost 2 years later still havent recieved my cue back with no indication of when the work will be done or my cue returned.

Needless to say I've had my share of poor experiences. But on the other hand I've had great experiences with a cue builders from Las Vegas, Florida, NY, NC, and Chicago.

Again not trying to throw anyone under the bus, just asking a question to you cue makers view and handle your business.
 

Qjunkie

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
good point

macguy said:
Someone who produces cues of their own designs and then offers them for sale is not necessarily doing it as a hobby. Many cuemakers like to sell through agents and not have to put up with the aggravation of dealing one on one with customers. I know one of the most respected cuemakers who was on the verge of quitting because of the customers and this is one of the most sought after cuemakers. He actually became sick from the stress and constant pestering of the customers. Constantly calling and changing orders 4 or 5 or a dozen times or when is my cue going to be sent, you know the drill. Once he began selling through a dealer it was night and day and he can sell every cue he can produce, cues that represent his designs and vision. That after all, is what art is.


Never looked at it from that perspective.
 

Qjunkie

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
qbilder said:
Keep things in perspective & you'll be fine. Don't expect a cuemaker to be like burger king with fast service your way. You might get that from time to time with certain builders, but don't expect it from all of us.

I'll tell you your cue will be done in a month. I will genuinely beleive that & intend to make it happen. Then before I know it, time has zipped by me & you are now ragging on me & making demands. If I accepted any money up front then I was a dumbass & I better get to working so you don't go blabbering how crappy & dishonest I am all over the internet. If you have not paid a dime as of yet, then shut up & wait or go find another cuemaker. I'm not a business man. If I were then i'd be a millionaire on Wall Street. I'm a craftsman who enjoys building cues not too make money, but because I really enjoy doing it. If I make too much money for the IRS to consider me a hobbyist, then I get a tax rep to do his thing & I pay him a stupid amount of money to keep me safe. That's as close to business as it gets for me. I build cues because I love doing it. No matter how much I make, it'll always be a fun-time hobby for me. Once I depend on it as income then it's no longer fun.

I do my best to please everybody, but know that I can't. So I do what I can & that's that. If somebody doesn't want to wait, then they can move on down the road. I'll give good reccomendations for other builders who might be just right for them. I don't care because I don't need their money. If they want to wait, then I have fun with their cue & get to know them as a person, usually becoming freinds in the process. It's icing on the cake. But don't ask me to keep schedule. I'll give you my best attempt at an stimated date, but don't expect it to be right. I work when it's fun & I have time. I'm not a business. I'm a man in his shed fiddling with wood & tools, making wooden toys for grown ups. That's what it is. I'm guessing several other cuemakers are about the same.

Anyway, that's one builder's perspective. Take it for what it's worth, not much. But it's honest. I don't know what other cuemakers feel. Some I suppose are hard core business oriented men making a life for themselves & family. Some likely are about like me & do it for the enjoyment. Every one of us fall somewhere in the spectrum. I reccomend doing your homework before ordering a cue, get to know who's doing the work & work with the builder who most fits your criteria.


Mr Crisp- I totally agree with this perspective. I can appreciate cue building to be a work of passion and some of the best excuted work is created when the builder has free and unhindered creativity when it comes to design. Sure I wanna have some input but ultimatley I respect the builder and their opinion on design and execution. And if no deposit? Yeah shut up and wait. Hell Im waiting for my SW to be delivered. I ordered in 2001. Am I pestering them? No. Do I have and expectation? Yeah 10 years. Do they run it like a hobby? I dont think so.
Do I do my home work? I've chosen makers on reputation, concrete examples Ive seen of the builders work and subjective opinions of playability. Maybe that's not enough. But its hard to get to build a relationship with a highly desired cue builder. Lets say I get a cue delivered, and I so happy I wanna order another one, and you has a builder had a great experience building a cue for me cause I wasnt a pestering customer? How do you establish that with wait list of 3 or more years? Its gotta be hard.
 

JoeyInCali

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
What recourse does your customer have if they send you a deposit for a cue and the cue is never built/delivered?
100% refund?
 

RocketQ

It's Not Rocket Science
Silver Member
This is a good conversation. In my personal situation. I work 60 -70 hours a week and just bought a house where I can move my shop to. I have a tax id and insurance. I am trying to do things right. Some times wood is ingnorant. You could get right to the end of building and something happens god forbid. You gotta start over. Should I be held responsible? yes and no. Cue builders take steps to preven loss. Aging of wood gradual turning stabilizing epoxy etc. Some times shat happens. Me personally I would love to do this full time but right now it wouldn't pay the bills. Can't build em fast enough. And I would run out of good wood before I ran out of customers.
I agree with most other builders that set a completion date and try to stick to it. But sometimes shat happens.
OK done ranting.
 

Hidy Ho

Missed 4 rail hanger!!!
Silver Member
Qjunkie said:
Never looked at it from that perspective.

Mike, I don't think this is what you asked but on another forum, one of the greatest cue maker made below comment that I thought was interesting ...

I didn't want to quote him word for word but basically what he said was for first 25 or 30 years of his career, his business was order based. No cue would be started without an order.

Then about 15 years ago, new cue makers started a new trend/business model - speculative cues. They basically built the cues they wanted to build and then found customers to buy them. These cues tended to be more fancy/"art" cues. He didn't think this business model would work but apparently it did.

He said he is in line with speculative cue business modeling now as it "free" him as an artist to build what he wants. But, interestingly enough, he thought this is where the market is .. that is, more people want to buy a finished product rather than order one.

Of course, speculative cue business modeling depends somewhat on each cue maker's financial situation and risk management.
 
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qbilder

slower than snails
Silver Member
Qjunkie said:
Mr Crisp- I totally agree with this perspective. I can appreciate cue building to be a work of passion and some of the best excuted work is created when the builder has free and unhindered creativity when it comes to design. Sure I wanna have some input but ultimatley I respect the builder and their opinion on design and execution. And if no deposit? Yeah shut up and wait. Hell Im waiting for my SW to be delivered. I ordered in 2001. Am I pestering them? No. Do I have and expectation? Yeah 10 years. Do they run it like a hobby? I dont think so.
Do I do my home work? I've chosen makers on reputation, concrete examples Ive seen of the builders work and subjective opinions of playability. Maybe that's not enough. But its hard to get to build a relationship with a highly desired cue builder. Lets say I get a cue delivered, and I so happy I wanna order another one, and you has a builder had a great experience building a cue for me cause I wasnt a pestering customer? How do you establish that with wait list of 3 or more years? Its gotta be hard.

Yes, it is hard to build relationships with builders. I think it's harder building relationships with women, though :)

Seriously, once a customer has had a great experience with the builder & the builder had a great experience as well, then it's usually pretty easy for the customer to squeeze into cues that he wouldn't normally get. From my point of view, I make room for exceptional people that I really like & enjoy working with. My list is my list & is dictated by me, not my buyers. I build what I want to build & for whom I want to build. I do indeed have a list. It's a stack of clip boards packed with individual sheets of orders & specs, roughly 50-100 orders in each clip board. I have them organized by dates I received the order. I follow along that stack, building the oldest orders first. I also skim through the list to find orders that are easy to build & quick out the door, "cleaning" if you will. Some orders are fancy cues or cues with woods that take several years to cure, and while awaiting for those woods to be ready i'll push on to the next, and so on. Before long I am working on cues from several different eras & several different buyers. However, I also have my buyers whom I have become freinds with & I do work for them in spare time & weekends. They may get several cues from me while one guy who ordered a cue 4 years ago still has not gotten one. The reason is because the guy is awaiting a cue built with woods that require years to become a cue. The guy getting several cues calls me & asks what woods do I have ready for assembly that are unspoken for, and could he pick a combo.

There's a complex dynamic to it that people don't realize. It's not the builder being dishonest or favoring one customer over the other. The customers rarely know the complexity of the materials & designs they ask for, and though they agree to indefinite dates, they don't realize it'll be years. Some customers know that they have greater chances of getting cues fast if they are not so specific, and they accept the materials the builder has ready to use at the moment. It's complex to explain but simple to see if you can put into a perspective of looking through a window or watching a movie. The builder will most generally be as honest & fair as he possibly can, doing everything in his power to please you. But he has numerous things going on as well as the cues he wants to build for his own pleasure. The situation can seem hectic & make it appear that the builder is dishonest or only honoring the "good ole' boy club" when in reality some buyers know how to buy cues & some do not. Some people buy cues from me with specific specs, and they are willing to wait & understand it. Some want specific specs but don't understand why they have to wait & they see others getting cues before they do. It can easily look bad on the builder. But it's not often what it appears to be.
 

Hidy Ho

Missed 4 rail hanger!!!
Silver Member
qbilder said:
Yes, it is hard to build relationships with builders. I think it's harder building relationships with women, though :)

Although I remain a lifetime bachelor .... I'm still choosing No to this question :D
 
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