Pennywise, Pound Foolish: The Hidden Cost of Inaction

Pennywise, Pound Foolish: The Hidden Cost of Inaction

Wednesday 22nd February 2023 at 08:12

By Rob

Penny wise pound foolish

I'd never consider myself a business coach, but having run my own business for almost 20 years I've learned a thing or two. A piece of advice I often find myself giving is...

The cost of doing something can be cheaper than the cost of not doing it

For example, let's say you're hesitant about spending money on advertising your business because the advertising itself will cost £1,000. That's a lot of money you think; is it worth it? But what if that advertising resulted in £20,000 of business? The cost of NOT acting just cost you £19,000.

If I'm completely honest I'm guilty of doing this myself sometimes as I dread seeing money leaving the bank. However, if you put emotion to one side and think like a business person, you can quickly realize that inaction can be more expensive than action.

Tesco shopping trolleys

Value your time!

I often recommend features of our website platform to clients based on ways to solve a particular problem they're having. For example, a website feature that could save them hours of time doing manual labour. After all, computers are here to make our lives easier and save us from manual tasks.

On occasion, a client will decline to take the feature, due to the cost. In one recent example, a client decided to spend 10 hours doing manual work to save £20 on buying a website feature. Yes, £20! Now let's just do the maths on that...

10 hours work
to save £20..?!?

... that makes your hourly rate £2 per hour!

I may not be Bill Gates or Alan Sugar, but I'm pretty sure that does not make business sense. You'd literally be better off getting a minimum-wage job as you'd make more money. The minimum wage in the UK is currently £10.42, so based on this analogy you've just cost yourself £84.20 in lost wages you could have earned doing a minimum wage job rather than wasting your time doing a job that for £20 a computer could have done for you.

This is a great example of the cost of inaction; not investing that £20 actually cost you more money than it saved you.

5 examples for antiques, art & vintage dealers

Good photographyCredit: Chapter Two Antiques

1) Great photography

I regularly preach about the value of good quality photography, and particularily how it can make the difference between selling a piece and not, or how much you sell it for. I'm a firm believer that great lifestyle shots of a piece can help increase how much you can sell an item for.

This is really prevelant in the antiques industry as the value of pieces is subjective. The same piece can end up passing through several antique dealers hands before it ends up in somebody's home. So what is one antiques dealer doing to be able to sell a piece for £2,000 that was bought from another dealer for £1,200?

Outsize Irish Primitive Chair
Credit: Outsize Irish Primitive Chair, Spencer Swaffer Antiques.

Photography is one great example of this. For example, let's say you take a really mediocre photo of an antique table with a camera phone, in poor lighting conditions, which is blurry, and just whack it up for sale. You list the item for £1,200.


You could invest in things like a decent camera, proper lighting, or even go the whole hog and use a professional photographer like our client Chapter II Antiques. The photographs you take are proper "lifestyle" shots; eg they feature the item in a setting it would be used in, and pair it with other items you can "cross sell" such as a chair and a lamp. As you've gone to the extra effort and made the piece look ten times better, you list it for £2,000.

Let's say that you spent £3,000 on a decent camera and professional lighting. Yes, quite a lot of money, but if you spread the cost between say 30 pieces of stock, then that's just £100 per piece.

In this example...

  Acting Not acting
Purchase of piece £700 £700
Restoration £150 £150
Great photography £100 £0
Sale price £2,000 £1,200
Profit £1,050 £350

Yes, it cost you £3,000 to buy that decent camera and professional lighting, but the profit on this item alone is £700 more, and that excludes all the other items you have for sale. It's just simple maths! :)

Antiques Boutique

2) Join a specialist marketplace

There are a wide variety of specialist online marketplaces for the antiques industry (otherwise known as "portals"). As well as providing websites for antiques dealers we also have our own marketplace; Antiques Boutique.

At the time of writing, Antiques Boutique lists items from close to 200 dealers. We make it easy to list items on the platform, by integrating it directly into our own website platform (optional), by providing an API, or linking in with services like Ronati. Like all antiques marketplaces we charge a monthly fee, and dealers hate monthly fees!

Let's look at the numbers though... we charge £79.99 (currently on offer to £69.99) per month for Antiques Boutique marketplace subscription. So that's £839.88 per year. Let's say you have about 50 items of stock, and list them all on the marketplace (we can help you import them all very easily). In the space of a year you sell £14,000 worth of items on the marketplace; either directly or indirectly as is often the case (eg buyers calling you after seeing the item on the markeplace, or clicking through to view the item on your own website and contacting you there). Over the year, that gives you a profit of £13160.12 from having used the marketplace. Whilst that doesn't account for the cost of buying the stock or restoration, it still shows that the cost of acting is cheaper than the cost of not joining a specialist markteplace like Antiques Boutique. Simples!

  Acting Not acting
Marketplace subscription (yearly) £839.88 £0
Sales of items (yearly) £14,000 £0
Profit £13,160.12 £0

Email marketing

3) Email marketing

Our websites integrate with a range of email marketing providers including CakeMail, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and iContact. MailChimp used to offer a free account with up to 2,000 contacts, but they've recently limited this to just 500 contacts.

We are big fans of email marketing for antiques, art and vintage dealers, especially if you use it to send out regular "latest items" mailshots with your latest stock. The antiques, art and vintage industry is fairly unique in the respect that the stock is always changing so sending out an email mailshot with your latest stock to people who've bought from you before or are on your mailing list is a great tool to get people buying.

So let's say you have around 1,500 contacts. MailChimp no longer provide that size of account for free so you'd be looking at paying £22.36 per month (at the time of writing) for an account. So that's just £268.32 per year.

Let's say you send out a latest items mailshot once a month, with 15 items in each mailshot. Off the back of this, you sell 3 items within a few days. Now I know all dealers items vary in price considerably as some dealers sell larger high value items, and some dealers sell lower value items. But for arguments sake lets say the items you sold as a result of the mailshot had a value of £2,000 total. Even if we exclude items that may sell after a few days as a result, that's still a £1977.64 profit on your £22.36 investment.

  Acting Not acting
MailChimp subscription £22.36 £0
Selling items after sending mailshot £2,000 £0
Profit £1,977.64 £0


4) Online advertising (Google / Instagram / Facebook)

Most of our clients rely on using Google, Instagram and Facebook for free; eg not spending money on advertising such as "pay per click" ads. Generally these kinds of ads scare and perplex a lot of our clients.

If you have a really well oiled Instagram account then there is often no need to pay for boosting your ads, although even in this case it can still be really beneficial to gain extra followers together with likes, and shares on your posts.

Google is also very, very, very competitive especially for generalised terms so Google Ads can work really well for some clients, particularly if you have a niche.

We manage Google Ads for some clients. Our biggest Adwords client spent a whopping £15k on Google Ads in January 2023 alone, but off the back of that they did £120k of sales. So in this case, the cost of NOT acting would have been £105k!

I'm definitely not suggesting you spend those kinds of numbers on Adwords but this is a good example that you get out what you put in!

5) A website that delivers results

Do you...

a) Have no website?

b) Have a website that you can't update easily?

c) Have a website with no stock on it?

d) Have a website which isn't mobile friendly?

e) Have a website where the pictures aren't able to be viewed large and in detail?

Let's say you take one of our websites. We charge just £399+VAT (currently on offer at £199+VAT). It is critical that your website is a positive representation of your business, and that you have ALL your stock on it, and that the photographs of your stock are easily to view and displayed in a high resolution. Moreover, and still somewhat overlooked, it's really important that it loads quickly and is mobile friendly otherwise you'll lose visitors and really p*ss off Google.

If a new website costs you £199, but over the space of a year results in an extra £10,000 of sales, then the cost of not acting would be £9,801. Simples!

  Acting Not acting
Website setup fee £199 £0
Selling more items with new website £10,000 £0
Profit £9,801 £0


Conclusion: don't look at the cost, look at the results

In today's digital age, the cost of inaction can be just as high as the cost of taking action. As we've discussed in this article, without a website, advertising and marketing your business is missing out on a huge potential customer base. But not only that, by not joining specialist online marketplaces such as Antiques Boutique you're also missing out on valuable opportunities to grow your business.

The longer you wait to invest in these crucial digital marketing tools, the more potential business you're losing out on. The cost of inaction can be steep, and in today's competitive market, it's no longer an option. Don't let your business fall behind - invest in a website, join online antiques marketplaces, and allocate budget towards online advertising.

At Antiques Web Design by ph9, we're here to help you get started. We specialize in creating websites that are tailored to your business needs. We can also guide you through the process of joining antiques marketplaces and help you set up and manage online advertising campaigns. Contact us today to learn more and start taking action towards growing your business.

Success is only fingertips away...

We can help you sell online easily too!

We have been helping antiques, vintage and art dealers sell online easily since 2004, and we can help you too.

If you need a new website for your business, contact us on...

Click here to contact us by email

or call us on

+44 (0)1332 896 731

As well as a hand held service, all our customers receive a copy of our marketing tips book which gives you lots of tips and advice on this on how to succeed online.

Antiques Web Design

By Rob
Wednesday 22nd February 2023 at 08:12

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