What's in a name?

Chris Mire

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945
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Southern Louisiana
Ok so many of you know that back around September of last year I decided to close my cabinet business and move back into the world of engineering, well let's just say it's a good thing I took Tod's advice and kept my tools. (well except for the table saw i sold my dad before i quit, I had planned to buy a better one)

Well 3 weeks ago I got the call to the office to say it was time to cut back. I was shocked to say the least, although I knew the company was slow, we were backed by a huge firm and I thought we could ride it out. Well they couldn't. After I calmed my wife down by assuring her I could do many things to make us some money I told a good friend that it seemed I would be building his cabinets after all.

Long story short (there is more to it but that's not the point of this post) I am at a point where I find myself trying to decide whether to open the business fulltime again or not. i already have 4 jobs I could do (whole houses) with a few small jobs here and there. I have been back in the shop for almost 2 weeks working on a job and it seems i remember why i liked doing this.

So, some of you may also remember the problem I had with a shop close by with a very similiar name, mine being "Cutting Edge Woodworks" and his Cutting Edge Cabinets...it never caused problems in the past but for some reason it just bugs the mess outta me that someone else has such a close name. We have talked (the other owner and I) and he is a great guy, told me it didn't bother him and he figured we could work around it. Well it still bothers me, so now I am huntin for a new name. which brings me to the title of the post.

How important is a business name to you? would you even care if I had a name like CM cabinets or Cutting Edge Woodworks??

Most of my clients never even knew my business name until I told them who to write the check to. I don't advertise, never needed to, so I am wondering how important it is to have a snazzy name attached to my business.

although i must admit, deep down i think it's cool to have a snazzy name.

so what say ye? let's hear it

Thanks for the input
Chris
 

Dan Noren

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falcon heights, minnesota
well, if you're going back to something that you like doing, nothing wrong with that. since you have customers lined up, even better, as word of mouth will carry pretty far. as for the name, i'd keep it. if they other owner has no problem with it, why stress about it?
 

Vaughn McMillan

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ABQ NM
I haven't worked in the cabinet business like you, but in other non-woodworking businesses I've been around the branding was considered anywhere from "pretty important" to "vital". You may not need any advertising now, but down the road it might be necessary, and brand name recognition is a good start in that direction. Little things like consistent logos on business cards and printed paperwork also help project an image of stability and longevity that I think would be important in your line of work.

It sounds like people already know of you by name, so I'd think you could capitalize on that, and make it your "brand". Personally, I think something like "Chris Mire Custom Woodworks" sounds pretty snazzy. :)
 

Tony Baideme

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Honolulu, Hawaii
Being from a sign making background, I would agree with Vaughn on the importance of recognizability for a business. Well planned logos and images will be remembered. I like what Vaughn wrote as your new business name. It shows class, and personal responsibility in business. You can be proud of your work and should be proud to use your name in the business name.

"CHRIS MIRE CUSTOM WOODWORKS"
"Fine Quality Woodworking"

Looks and sounds good to me. I wish you the best of luck in your future operations.

Aloha, Tony
 

Art Mulder

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London, Ontario
How important is a business name to you? would you even care if I had a name like CM cabinets or Cutting Edge Woodworks??

Most of my clients never even knew my business name until I told them who to write the check to. I don't advertise, never needed to, so I am wondering how important it is to have a snazzy name attached to my business.

I think that second paragraph tells us everything.

Sure, name recognition is crucial, but it seems like the name everyone is recognizing is your name, rather than your company name.
 

tod evans

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ozarks
far more important to do quality work than to have a snazzy name.
if you intend to advertise (and deal with the associated headaches) then i would suppose a snazzy name would be important.
sorry to hear about your job.
 

Tom Niemi

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Plainwell, Michigan
I think that second paragraph tells us everything.

Sure, name recognition is crucial, but it seems like the name everyone is recognizing is your name, rather than your company name.

Art is right on here Chris. Sure sounds like you are known by your name, not a "company name". "CHRIS MIRE CUSTOM WOODWORKS" is who you are and known by. Good luck with re-entering your woodworking business, your work speaks for itself :thumb::thumb::thumb:
 

larry merlau

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Delton, Michigan
listening is good

well chris sorry to hear of your job loss but the business you had was doing well when yu left and i suspect will again,, and you already told us that yu enjoy it,, so just name it as you see it,,, CHRIS MIRE CUSTOM WOODWORKS it says everything that yur old customers knew and the new ones will understand.
 

Frank Fusco

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Mountain Home, Arkansas
A business name that sells YOU is essential.
Don't be married to the old name just for sentimental reasons.
Change the name.
And, good luck with the news business. You are fortunate you are talented and skilled enough to have a fall-back in these times.
 

Rob Keeble

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GTA Ontario Canada
Chris to me the name is very important and should not be taken lightly.

In my opinion the problem with small business and then small woodworking businesses is the aspect of marketing. Its all good and well to get business from referrals, friends and people who know you but that sphere of influence can dry up. Then you need to tap into the general market place where no one knows you and each prospect sees you on an even footing to the next guy.

If you were planning on producing products where there might be a variety of model names and the like or product sku numbers the I would recommend you consider a more obscure name.

However in the area that you have indicated you intend to work which appears to be more custom whatever the important thing is reputation and here your name and selling you is the most important thing.

However you need to consider how this plays out in the longer term. This can be limiting if you wish to grow beyond yourself as people now want you to be doing the job after all its you they bought into.

Of course most entrepreneurs get going without giving these aspects too much thought. So take a moment maybe a day off to carefully think through where this is all going to go. I know I know right now you have nothing else on your mind other than the panic that the wife had when you told her of your job loss. And yes the work that you have commitments to needs to get done so you can pay the mortgage.

But stop a moment and reflect on what it was that went wrong last time you were in this business. Ask yourself what it is that you need to do differently this time and how are you going to do it such that you do not fall into the same trap. You now have the benefit of hindsight which is a perfect science they say.

Think of how you will grow your business and what its going to take. Think of how you will market and position the business such that people will understand exactly what it is that you offer them. It could be as simple as quality work with peace of mind.

This battle plan of yours can also evolve but must do so through deliberate actions. So say you start off with your name with the intention of re building awareness as to your prescence and reputation again in the market you serve. Then you have in your plan (which you need to create now) a plan to transistion to something else whereby you do what you do slightly different. Example I can think of is the guys who come up with a new tool for woodworking and evolve into a tool producer but do it of the back of being recognised as skilled in the art that the tool is meant for. Say turning.

The significant thing to consider here is that the big part of making this business a success is having a roadmap. Devote a fair amount of time to this roadmap (business plan) to get a very clear vision of where you are going what turns you will take and how long its going to take you. Then figure out how much gas (financial resource) its going to take to get there.

My suggestion is get some outside help. Go see the small business administration in your town. Pick their brains and ask for their advice.

Its not like you have not been in business for yourself before. But what is going to be different this time.

Get beyond survival with the fact that you have the woodworking skills in your back pocket fill up on the business skills that you felt were missing and made a difference last time round.

If you PM me as to where you stay I can even check for an associate of mine in your area that is a small business advisor. Having an outsider that gives you input on your blind spots is well worth the cost.

Oh and back to the name issue, so you choose your name as the name for the business, make sure from day one that you start to build the story and reputation for your name. Decide what it is that you want your name to mean to people that hear it. Decide how you will convey that what it is to them.

Dont look past a bunch of free advertising. Right and phone your local regional newspapers that get dropped off at our houses with flyers. They are always looking for stories. Give them a birth announcement. Then go on to do press releases for everything you do. Hey some they will never see the light of day, others will get used to fill a gap at times. No matter this is free advertising and remember they need to treat you right since you might become one of their classified ad customers.

Ok enough for now. PM me if you want some more input.

After having been in 11 industries on a global scale and owned several businesses myself I now do small business advsory work in the Toronto region. I am more than willing to help a woodworker succeed.

Best of luck with the new business.:thumb:

Last thought, rather than start up fresh have you stopped to consider whether the other guy in town would take a partner. We all cast off this idea out of hand for various reasons but in times like this there are very solid reasons for doing this. Should someone be interested I will be happy to elaborate and provide examples of where arch enemies have come together for common good but they needed the tough times to wake them up.
 
Messages
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Location
Goodyear AZ
I'm not a marketing expert, but at least from an artist standpoint, your name as your business is the way to go IMO, as in "Chris Mire Cabinets" (like Vaughn said). I don't see the advantage of a catchy or clever name, unless you plan on going nationwide and are looking for future brand recognition. Sounds like you will have a smaller operation, where your reputation for quality work will serve you much better that a nifty business name or logo. By simply using your name, you avoid the trademark/infringement hassles as well. This is why my business card says "Barry Richardson Custom Woodcrafter". Hopefully I wont forget it;)
 

Jim O'Dell

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Between Aledo and Fort Worth, TX
If you are thinking of it from a marketing standpoint, something that would come up at the top of a Google search, or at the top of the phone book for that type of listing would be advantageous. From the phone book standpoint, I believe that's why you see the "AAA" (insert type of business) names, so they would be at the top of the phone book listing. That isn't as critical anymore as a web search listing would be to me, as I think more people use the web instead of the phone book anymore.
Using the name they remember/recognize would help your customers find you easier than some snazzy name you could make up that doesn't point back to the person. Just my thoughts. :rolleyes: Jim.
 
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glenn bradley

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SoCal
The name is not that important. A name that is distinctly yours is. Don't get so hung up on it but do change the name. People looking for you may accidentally find him. JMHO but I feel pretty strongly that a flashy name is not as important as one that is specific to you. I would have changed it as soon as I found out about the other guy (if he came first). My .02
 

Jeff Horton

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The Heart of Dixie
Being from a sign making background, I would agree with Vaughn on the importance of recognizability for a business.....

"CHRIS MIRE CUSTOM WOODWORKS"

I think that second paragraph tells us everything.

Sure, name recognition is crucial, but it seems like the name everyone is recognizing is your name, rather than your company name.

far more important to do quality work than to have a snazzy name.

These guys said what I was thinking. I am big believer in good catchy names. They make it easy to remember a company. There is a web site I use from time to time. "Big Nose Bird" catchy and easy to remember.

I tend to stay away from using my name in a business. BUT in your business people know you, you are the company and if I were in your shoes I would capitalize on that. Sure it's not creative and catchy but YOU are the company. Your the person people deal with, your the name people will recommend. So make it easy to find you. Just use your name, it is an asset.

And if you bought a yellow page ad or website, sure would be easy to know what business in the list was you.
 

Darren Wright

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Kansas City, Missouri
Chris, I believe that the name should refect your pride and quality, nothing better to do that than have your name on it.

"Chris Mire Custom Woodworks"

Just so I'm clear...I wouldn't recommend using a website like mine ("Momma's Happy"), people get the wrong idea. :dunno:
 

Jim DeLaney

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Austintown, Ohio
Once you settle on a name, you should register it with your County Recorder.

When I had my business in California, it cost me only $12.00 to register it, plus the cost of running a public notice in the local newspaper for three consecutive weeks. (about $20.00)

Once registered, it's yours for sure, and if needed you can take legal action against interlopers. Also, if anyone else tries to register your business name, the Recorder's office will automatically tell them the name is already taken.

Cheap and easy - at least it was in Orange County, CA - and it provides you some naming security.

Sorry to hear of your lay-off, but try to think of it as one of life's opportunities to diversify. Good Luck!

(BTDT, BTW)
 

Darren Wright

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Kansas City, Missouri
Once you settle on a name, you should register it with your County Recorder.

When I had my business in California, it cost me only $12.00 to register it, plus the cost of running a public notice in the local newspaper for three consecutive weeks. (about $20.00)

Once registered, it's yours for sure, and if needed you can take legal action against interlopers. Also, if anyone else tries to register your business name, the Recorder's office will automatically tell them the name is already taken.

Cheap and easy - at least it was in Orange County, CA - and it provides you some naming security.

Sorry to hear of your lay-off, but try to think of it as one of life's opportunities to diversify. Good Luck!

(BTDT, BTW)

In Missouri we register with the Secretary of State for fictitious names. Would this be different than registering with the county? Would it be like setting a trademark?
 

Jim DeLaney

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In Missouri we register with the Secretary of State for fictitious names. Would this be different than registering with the county? Would it be like setting a trademark?

Yeah, it's pretty much the same. California just did it by County.

Fictitious names in CA were called "DBA's" fo 'doing business as.' The same registration process applied.

I guess it was similar to a trademark, but TM's are federally registered, aren't they?
 

Ned Bulken

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Lakeport NY and/or the nearest hotel
Chris,
sorry to hear that the engineering job went south, hopefully things will pick up if that's what you want to do in the long run.

Congrats on having jobs lined up, I'll go along with the others who said 'Chris Mire Custom Woodworks' is a snazzy name. I agree with Jeff, that normally I'd be hesitant to put your name on a business for liability purposes, but in this case the Marketing may offset that.

I'm relatively secure in my current job, but one never knows. I've been keeping my photo studio name in the back of my head awhile for the day when I want to hang a shingle out. At the moment I'm leaning toward a Masonic theme, but for now it'll stay in the back of my head until I need it.
 
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