About three years ago I decided to reboot my racket stringing service and to try to develop into a professional racket stringing service. Now when I started stringing rackets here in Holland, back in 2010, there was already some competition but there were less options. In the last years competition definitely increased so I knew it was going to be a tough challenge, especially because some really big retailers had hit the market. Luckily, I had one thing going for me: I really didn’t have any other option than to start stringing rackets as much as I could. In this article I’ll try to explain you how my journey looked like and how you can actually make money stringing rackets.
In short: yes, you can make money stringing rackets. I have done it myself in the last three years. It requires some dedication and focus, but it does not require you to invest a lot of money upfront, but just some common sense. I have found that if you build up your small business, purely based upon reliable customer service such as fast delivery time and good communication, you can earn about 2000-3000 euro per month within three years. It doesn’t require any marketing costs and nothing more than your own stringing machine, time and effort.
Now of course, the short answer above requires some context. You don’t get that pay check overnight. And I would definitely not advise you to leave your job immediately to start stringing. If you rely on worth of mouth for your marketing efforts, like I have done because I didn’t have the budget (yet) to invest in marketing, than you just simply have to accept the fact that this will be a slow proces. But this can be actually in good thing. The art and craft of stringing is something that has to be perfected by putting in the hours. You’ll get better, faster and get to know more brands and models.
So the first thing you have to decide for yourself, is how your (future) business is going to be structured. Is it something you will start on the side, while working on your day job too, or can it be your full time challenge? These are two very important distinctions because it will require a completely different approach to making money as a racket stringer.
As for the most of us, you’ll probably start by stringing some rackets for yourself and while doing this, you might start with a couple of rackets for friends and family maybe. This is how you get in the game. But I also know some colleagues who started full time, more or less, because they we’re already a tennis coach or trainer and stringing rackets full time, by starting a business made a lot of sense. Let me give you a short example. A friend and colleague of mine, who was a trainer and knew how to string rackets for herself and students, decided to start a small retail business and go all-in so to say on racket stringing. She created a cool shop, bought a lot of inventory upfront and had some other start up cost involved with starting a brick-and-mortar business and of course then could convert former students and friends into paying clients in her shop. This is a solid approach, but I would not recommend this for racket sports enthusiasts starting out. You’ll take on a huge commitment for quite some years and it requires a lot of dedication.
There is actually another reason why I don’t recommend this option, but it’s more of a strategic reason than any other, which I personally believe in but does not necessarily has to be something you agree on. When I did my research before starting on this venture and also after talking to a lot of retailers in racket sports, I noticed that all of the shops and small business owners put a lot of time and effort in honing their stringing skills. Stringing also cost them the biggest part of their work day. So I asked them how the revenue of stringing in their shops related to the revenue of selling products and other services. To my surprise almost every single one agreed upon the fact that stringing rackets brought in 60 to 90(!) percent of their total business revenue. Now, as a entrepreneur you have to calculate in risks associated with your business, but that’s just an tricky outcome to bet on. Instead, and with these numbers in mind, I decided to focus on that 60 to 90 percent and leave the traditional, inventory based web shop model to others.
Next, because I already owned a small, electric stringing machine, I decided to look for a backup stringing machine of the same make and model, so that if I had an incoming order and, somehow, my machine would brake down, I could always serve the customer and have the racket back in time. I really made sure I had my proces in place of not having to say “no” to the customer because my gear was not well prepared. I actually did experience some occasions where my machine broke down and I felt assured that I had my backup machine in place. Now, this does not have to be an expensive endeavour. When I started, I was stringing on a Pro’s Pro TX-600 for around 500 euro and then bought a second hand model of Ebay for around 250 euro. This was a perfectly fine setup for years of stringing if you know how to service these models (which I’ll write about in another blogpost).
So I had my gear in place, which I just put in a corner of my office back then but you could just as easily put in the corner of your study room or spare room. I had bought some necessary tools from Pro’s Pro too (which I’ll write about in another blogpost too), which of course are not the best quality out there, but depending on how much rackets you want the string, will serve the most stringers starting up their service. I also bought a few basic sets of strings (which you can find in the ‘Recommended gear & tools section’) and that was it.
Basically, I was ready to go and start stringing. Now I still had a small group of friends and acquaintances who I could inform that I was stringing rackets again, which I did of course. This helped me put the first word out and start the first mouth-to-mouth marketing efforts.