Start A Welding Business From Scratch!

custom tig welding project

The good news is that there is plenty of opportunity for welders to make money as a professional welder for hire or to make welding art part time or full time. 

The bad news is that most welders lack the required knowledge about setting up their own business and running it properly. 

However, armed with a little knowledge in running a welding business and you can move toward the dream of running your own successful welding and fabrication business (or art if that is your thing).

Often, it has been seen that welders who are looking to start their own business, are also employed at another place. As a matter of fact, those welders lack the information and finances to start their own business or lack the skills required for doing so. 

Besides the physical means, it is quite important for a welder to prepare yourself mentally about dealing with and satisfying clients in every possible way. 

Starting A Welding Business:

Welding art and items that lives do not depend upon is a good business for those that aren't certified or don't have a lot of experience. I know of several artists that make a good living selling sculptures online and at farmers markets and horse shows!

Much like any other business, you should only start a welding business if you have sufficient knowledge about the trade. Many times, people with limited knowledge enter this field without realizing the consequences.

Bear in mind that welding is serious business and requires ample skills and knowledge. This particularly applies to vehicle and motorcycle welding. A single mishap during welding can cause an injury or even prove fatal.

In short, you should only indulge in this business when you are aware of the basics. Apart from the skill and knowledge, there is more to welding that you should know about. 

Although you can start any type of welding business, two of those types are the most popular. These include:

  • Mobile Welding.
  • Welding Shop.

Planning A Mobile Welding Business:

As the name suggests, mobile welding is when you provide your welding services on the go, often in a fully equipped truck or van. On the other hand, welders can also rent a shop and provide services to clients. Both mobile welders as well as those who ply their trade from a shop should be able to provide high quality professional welding services to their clients.

Starting a mobile welding shop requires you to have mobile welding equipment housed on a vehicle, such as a van or a truck. 

Additionally, you need to have proper insurance that will ensure the safety of your equipment. Furthermore, you need to acquire your license from an accredited institution. If you have not done so, it is better you apply for it right away. Some welders prefer to start a welding business without a license, which is illegal and punishable by law.

For licensure sake, you should contact the accredited institution and take a licensure exam. After licensure, you should polish your welding skills and advertise your services by marketing as well as word of mouth. Keep in mind that marketing your services properly is the only way you can make your business lucrative and popular. 

Requirements:

Much like any new business, your welding services may not pay off immediately after you start. In most cases, it takes time, often a few months to a year, for people to start trusting you and availing your services regularly.

For this purpose, you need to market your business with plenty of rigor and effort. This is why you are better off not quitting your current job just yet, unless you have enough money to back yourself up during this growth period.

You will need equipment for your business, such as safety tools, backup welding tools, and supplies for emergency situations. Among the common equipment you must have in your mobile shop are:

  • Helmets and goggles for cutting and welding.
  • Fume extractor for the shop.
  • Plasma cutter and acetylene torch.
  • Blankets for welding.
  • Stick welder.
  • Mig welder.
  • Gas cylinder.
  • Tig welder.
  • Respirator.
  • Protective gear, such as clothing and gloves.
  • Clamps
  • Connectors for welding cable.
  • Power tools
  • Etc.

Apart from these tools for your welding shop, there are other requirements for customer satisfaction, such as a copy of your insurance certificate and license, a fast internet connection, preferably Wi-Fi, which would enable you to easily update your location, an iPad to show clients your work and provide 3d demonstrations or videos (to wow them).

Finding Clients For Your Welding Business!

At first, it may be difficult for you to find customers for your business on your own. Take an alternate route and think outside of the box.

Target specific businesses and introduce yourself. Dress nice but look the part.  Give them your business card and give them a DVD or your work which may include examples of your work, welding procedures you are proficient in etc.

Here's another example, look for some machine shops that require fewer people to operate them.

Now, start promoting your business by dropping business cards along with a sample of your welded material. Remember, your creativity will get you more business so apply your creative side to your samples.

Innovation has boundaries, which is quite true if you are a welder. Your clients will flock to you if you are able to show them how innovative you are. 

If you have questions about this welding marketing strategy let us know by contacting us.

Will Customers Find You?

Even if one shop owner doesn’t respond, look for another and ask for the same but never stop till you find success. Repeat the same practice for marketing your welding services, including your skills and expertise, your certifications and business recognition by a legitimate institution. 

Apart from the usual advertising stuff, you can make it easier for customers, who require welding services, to find you. For this purpose, you can take advantage of any busy shop or market. 

If you have metal shops and construction sites in your area, it would do your business a world of good. For example, if you find any such shops, go and introduce yourself to them, give them your business card, and ask them if they have any work they need done for their clients that they don't have time for, or can't do themselves. 

Leave behind something else of value like water bottles, pens, coffee mugs, or other promotional items they can use around their shop with your name and contact information on, assuming you have the budget for  it.

Advertising Your Welding Business!

Essentially, your marketing technique can be as vast or as confined as the level of your skill and imagination. Both go a long way towards helping you create a huge client base, if applied efficiently. 

Advertising and marketing are vast subjects that requires a lot of time and effort. I have written books on the subject. But the good news is you can focus on several marketing tools to keep your business busy.

Social Media: You must have a Facebook fan page that you update regularly. In addition you should be taking advantage of Facebook advertising and using it to target your local area. You can also use Facebook as a tool to market on your competitors fan pages! 

Youtube is also a good social media platform that can be leverage in multiple ways. Get a Youtube account for your business and post videos of your work. Use the same videos to create a DVD that you can share with your potential clients and business partners (the guys who refer business to you).

Website: If you don't have a website you are going to die a slow death in this business. Get a legitimate domain name and have a small easy to navigate site up so that clients can find you online (Google search etc). It absolutely essential that you do this! We can set a site up for you so contact us about low cost solutions - do not use Weebly or Wix or any click and drag online tool! They are terrible in a lot of ways that I can explain to you if you are interested.

Also, having a website will give you a good email address to use for your business. So instead of 99bearsonthewall@aol.com you'll have steve@yourbusinessname.com. It's much more professional than an aol or yahoo email address.

Pay Per Click: Once you have a website up your can start using Google Adwords and Bing Ads to target local traffic on a pay per click to instantly get qualified traffic to your site and local listing on Google! Lots of business do this wrong and this will give you an advantage, a big one! Don't listen to your friends or family about this area because if you do it right it can be a windfall of new business for you.

Direct mail: After you start making money invest some money in a direct mail program that targets the businesses and or the local residential clients in your area. This is another area that can do well for you if you do it right but it takes money and patience. But it can really work well especially in this industry because nobody is doing it right or well, and I mean nobody. I've been involved in direct mail for almost 20 years and it can be very effective.

For more effective marketing techniques for starting and operating your welding business read this.

Tips On Hiring Employees!

Hire slow fire fast. That's what one of my mentors said once. It has helped us in many ways. But in California you have to treat employees with kid gloves; if you fire fast you'll end up dealing with the Labor Board and EED. Trust me I know. So 'Hire Slow and Let People Go On Good Terms' is a better way to look at it if you are in California.

There are a plethora of welding applications available in different industries. Welding is a specific fabrication process that takes into account several factors, such as metal properties, sheet and metal types, among others. 

Being a welder requires you to be vigilant for many things simultaneously. For example, your professional attitude towards your job, being good with your clients and staying in touch, and treating your employees well is as important as your means for starting the welding business. 

Additionally, you should be able to spend ample time finding the right clients for the type of welding you perform and this will take up your time. Keep in mind that there are many forms of welding, since you can be proficient in one type but lack skills in another.

In case you are interested in running a metal fabrication shop or simply a welding shop, your business depends on how many workers you intend to employ. If your shop is a one–person operation, i.e. only you, you don’t require any certification apart from the MIG stick certification. However, if you want to expand your skill portfolio, you can always apply for higher level certificates or hire employees who are certified or proficient in areas that you are not but requests for.

For example if there is a lot of work that requires brazing and you can't do it, maybe you can find someone who is good at brazing and hire them.

What To Charge Your Customers For Welding Work?

If you scour the forums online you'll find that there are a lot of part time welders and hobby welders offering their advice on what to charge clients. Many of them say do it for free for friends and family and I've even read where some say to that if a local shop is charging $60 per hour then you should do it for $20 or $30.

This may be a good rule of thumb if you are not serious about your business or your profession, and you can 'just get by' using this unprofessional attitude.

Here are a few ideas to consider for coming with with a rate scale in your area:

Call or email the welding shops and ask them what they charge. Pretend you are are a potential client. If they are doing the same type of work charge the same rate or just under their rate.

When in doubt about a job consider using this basic rule of thumb formula: $1 for every inch of welding and $1 per tack weld, plus materials.

As you progress through your career you'll experience things that will change your course of action. For example you may find that a job takes a lot of time and materials but is very easy to accomplish. In this case you may want to charge per inch.

If you are doing a job that is challenging but will only take a short while then charge per hour with a minimum rate. What's the minimum rate? Find out what other shops are charge in or near your area.

Don't sell yourself short!

Don't be the super nice guy and charge $20 per hour. If you are good at what you do then charge accordingly.

Final Thoughts On How To Start A Welding Business!

Some welders are skilled in Stick welding, while others only do TIG. And there are many that only MIG or gas weld.

Essentially, depending on your skills and interest, you can choose to start your own business in any of the above mentioned welding fabrication processes. 

However, managing skills and arranging finances is not the only thing you should look for in a welding business. Finding customers and advertising your services is what will eventually bring you business. 

More often than not, customers bring their own designs and just require your services for getting the work done. If such an opportunity comes to you, look no further and take the project on. As a proficient welder, you should be looking for such open-ended projects as these serve you in two ways:

  • They are an excellent marketing opportunity for your services.
  • They cement your reputation as a versatile welder.

However, not all is sunshine when these opportunities come your way as there is the possibility lingering that you may not be able to satisfy the client. In that case, your welding business may get a bad reputation, something that you would want to avoid. To avoid any mishaps, you, as a proficient welder, should be able to handle things. 

Starting a welding business is by no means easy. It takes a lot of skill and patience to establish your business in a crowded market. It also requires you to be proficient with sufficient certification and skills to back your credentials. As a matter of fact, welding is one profession where you can never excel without having proper certification from an accredited institute. If you have the required credentials, contacts and skills, you have everything that can help you become a proficient and thriving professional welding entrepreneur.