Stringing business

jhick

Professional
#1
Hi,

I have a 12 yr old son whose expressed interest in learning how to string racquets. I've had a cheap Klippermate drop weight that has served me well for close to 30 years. These days, I just string my own and my boys racquets, but back in college and post college I used to occasionally string for friends and acquaintances. I'm wondering what it would take to start up a small business, assuming he runs with it and has the interest or maybe he and I could run it together for a while. What is the process of getting certified? Is there an age restriction to certification? Business cards? Business License? Other?

I'd also consider investing in a new machine and would appreciate any suggestions. Would prefer to not spend over $1500, and would probably be looking at a crank or low end electronic machine. It seems like a lot of folks like the Prince NEOS 1000. Thoughts?

Thanks.
 

cluckcluck

Hall of Fame
#2
There's no age limit, that I'm aware of, to get certified through the USRSA. Are you planning on having a storefront? Write-offs? Etc.? If so, you'd probably need a business license from your city. But if you're just doing a few frames a week, you'd likely not need one. Business cards are always a good idea, though I prefer just talking to other players on the courts and letting them know that I'm a stringer helps a lot more.
One thing you'll need to consider. Does your son have the bandwidth (with school work, extra curricular, etc.) to string racquets right now? How much are you willing to invest in this business? Just having a machine won't cut it, unless you only offer stringing service instead of stringing service + strings.
 

jhick

Professional
#3
No storefront...just operating out of our home. Don't have any clientele yet so it would probably start off slowly.
 

jhick

Professional
#4
As far as schoolwork, my son is currently homeschooled which should give him some flexibility, but I would treat it like a job...if he's overloaded I'd probably be able to help him out. Other than tennis, he plays basketball in the winter months.
 

cluckcluck

Hall of Fame
#5
No storefront...just operating out of our home. Don't have any clientele yet so it would probably start off slowly.
As far as schoolwork, my son is currently homeschooled which should give him some flexibility, but I would treat it like a job...if he's overloaded I'd probably be able to help him out. Other than tennis, he plays basketball in the winter months.
Sounds like you've got it worked out pretty well.
Invest in some cheap string, like Pro's Pro poly strings and Gosen OG Sheep Micro for your synthetic. Carrying those options should suffice for clients who don't have string of their own. Definitely upgrade your machine as the Clipper is 30 years old.
 
#6
No need to get certified, get a few business cards, get a new machine, I recommend Gamma Progression II ELS with stand, start with a reel of synth gut (name brand) and a midrange poly (name brand). Customers know name brands. Start reaching out to middle school and high school coaches. If you have any universities in the area get their home schedule. Reach out to visiting teams about 4 days before they play and offer your services and provide contact info. If your want to talk I will share everything I have with you.
 
#7
I agree w/ no need to get certified up front, but I will say that the USRSA study guide does have useful information and best practices, so subscription to their site wouldn't hurt... plus you can call their staff anytime you get stuck on a problem frame or just have general stringing question and want to speak with someone. Do recommend teaching him best practices up front, like cleaning and inspecting frames/grommets before removing string. Demand the best quality on every string job, all the way down to clipping knots off equal length, straightening all strings, and mounting frame with buttcap logo facing up.

Afford equal time to teaching him the business side of the business... tracking inventory, customer specs, sales/expenses. No need hire CPA or buy QuickBooks out the chute... google sheets works just fine. Definitely start with your local middle & high school teams... find out practice times and show up with business cards or flyers along with a sample racquet of his work to show coaches and parents.

Even if he loses interest in stringing, there are lots of solid life lessons he'll learn.
 
#8
If it's for your kid to learn some discipline, organization and make a few bucks sure. If you're an adult making more than min wage, not worth it.
 

MRfStop

Professional
#9
I have a Gamma 5003 that has served me well. I've seen most of them go for less than $1000 used. I string for team mates and word of mouth customers. I have been doing this for going on 5 years. I have just recently started stringing for Mercer University. He could probably start stringing for his friends and team mates once he get comfortable.
 
#10
I have found that getting word out is the toughest thing. When I lived in the Washington DC area, I put an ad up on Craigslist weekly and that was sufficient enough to keep me pretty busy. When I moved down to Central FL that did me no good. I really had to get out to the courts and "press the flesh" to get the word out.

If you are at all interested I have a Gamma 6004 standup crank machine that I am looking to sell. Great/fast machine, it's served me well, and it'll come in well under $1500, depending on where you're located...
 
#16
I wish you luck. I also have a 12 year old, and he had a similar idea. He is pretty good at stringing. I tried to solicit him some work, but the result was zero. These days, there is so much effort to sell something to you through internet or elsewhere, that people prefer to go to a store which they know and go there when they feel like doing it, just to be independent from any sales pressure or any risk, pretty much regardless of how much more it costs. When you say it will be strung by a kid, it becomes a total no-go, so it seems.

If you have room in your home, why not buy a Baiardo? It is a nice toy for a grown-up.
 
#17
I got into stringing right after I started coaching high school teams. It was obviously a luxury for the kids to not have to worry about getting their racquets back in action when I could generally restring them overnight. The combo of that group along with restringing for friends in my tennis circle got enough word of mouth out there that a lot of locals rely on me now. I'm busier from the spring til the early fall, but lots of folks get their stringing done at their club, through the coach they work with, etc. I don't have business cards and I don't have a USRSA certification.

I started out with a table-top drop weight machine that used floating clamps. This rig got the job done and it was also very easy to break it down and store in the closet when I didn't need it. As I got busier though, I didn't appreciate how much more tedious it was to string with this machine compared with an electric machine until a part on my machine broke. I used the premium electric Gamma machine at the club where I work in the summers and that was a bit of a revelation for me.

I didn't want to restring more than maybe three racquets a day with my older drop weight machine. But once I started using an electric rig, I quickly realized that it wasn't a big deal if I needed to knock out perhaps five or six racquets overnight. This volume doesn't happen for me too often, but it's definitely easier for me to handle it with my electric machine. I should also note that I've never used a crank/lockout machine in my stringing "career", at least so far.

I also got a Gamma Progression II ELS - one of our pals recommended this machine above - and I've been using it for over six years with zero issues. Not even a hiccup. Gamma's customer service has a stellar reputation, but I've honestly never needed to call them. The electric tensioner is terrific, but a couple other features I value include six-point mounting over two-point mounting as well as fixed clamps. Floating clamps seem to allow too much drawback (slack), so they can be a bit inconsistent. I also see a six-point mounting table as doing a much better job of supporting the frame during stringing, which is already rather stressful for any racquet.
 
#18
I have help started over 10 successful indy stringers and connected them with new or used tournament grade machines & whatever strings they needed last year. Some were freshly new with no machines, so that was easy for them to move into the ideal BUSINESS machine. HOWEVER, MOST PROBABLY DIDN'T WANT TO ADMIT IT wasted both Time and Money going for "2nd or 3rd" choice initially on their business. They spent 1k-3k for a machine that they will outgrow within a year and end up reselling it for less. Now add the time wasted waiting for the old machine to sell and buying the one they are suppose to buy in the first place. However, if this is a hobby then anything would do according to budget. There is no need for the best machine as you're doing very low volume for your leisure.

Many go the Wise Route and maybe it works for a while but I can tell you perception is everything. Imagine/brand identity are everything and I know MANY WOULD DISAGREE. However, the fact that many brands are getting away from changing colors and charging extra for "limited" colorway means that the buyers dont care what they are using as long as it looks great. Most doing the buying are the Jrs to Mid 20s as their funds are sourced from their parents and if I had the money to source my daughter a pony I would. Many can afford it and companies knows that.

Let's bring this back to the machine... It is probably the biggest asset a stringer can have. You don't need a million dollar store front. Having a cert or not no one cares. There are no license police or someone will check you on on your qualifications, it's just not that type of deal in my experience.
You know what they can judge you on is your machine and imagine. You talk $1 you make 1$ you talk $1xxxxxxx you'll make that. NOW IVE SEEN YONEX PT8, RACKET MACHINE AND BAIARDO BEING USED IMPROPERLY AND MANY STANDARD THING MISSED AS THE STRINGER IS NOT TRAINED WELL.
However, they tend to have the most clientele, they have the best looking shop, they have the best selection, etc... No one wants to take their money to a iffy looking place or machine PERIOD. What happens when you do an event and you bring out that gamma crank that you so happen to upgrade a wise on... man that looks well...
Your competitors brings out the big guns... I swear their going to go to the Baiardo Space Station, they're re going to the Yonex PT8 while it is calibrating for 10 mins with the tension head going up and down the tracks, they are going to go to the Racket Station with the 360 rails and jet looking machine, etc...
I'm really sorry to say this day in and day out. I know this will hurt many people's feeling, but it is the truth. You dont go half in on a business because the sharks out there will eat you alive. If anything starting off you should have the best option because you can work your skills up there and help the learning curve.
If you buy a 1000-2000$ machine and you end up doing great, you are going to have to upgrade eventually because those sub tournament grade machine isn't really for major bulk and you'll end up losing time/time. So why not invest in your BUSINESS UP FRONT?
The real question maybe is
"Do you believe in your business?"
If you have a dream or passion are you not willing to go at it 110%?

Many probably dont agree on my take on this, but I can say all stringers in my network are taken care of with strings and supplies and most already paid off their machine within a year. 100% will say that their machine purchase was the right move.
 
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#20
@Smittithekitty, you have to keep things in perspective though. He's talking about a small business for his 12 year old son.
Totally understand,
As you can see my passion, but I think it is a great model IF and ONLY IF they can support it. I mean if you need rent or food money by all means the machine is the last thing you'll need. Even at 12, I have 2 clients that's I am so happy for that his father bought a used Star 5 for him and now he is 18-19 in college with a Baiardo and has his own thing going on... he still use his Star 5... great stuff last I'm just saying investing in something that will bring you max profit is the way to go
 
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