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FAQs about the Business of Livestock Cherry Pickers/Jobbers, Jobbering

Related Articles: Stocking a Business, Open Letter to the Trade re Quarantining Livestock, Growing Reef Corals For Profit, Pond Service Business, Don't Sell Non-Aquatic Plants!, Live Plants & Macro-Algae (IZOO 98 Report), Marine Macro-Algae, Ornamental Marine Algae/How to Raise & Market It, Compatible Marine SpeciesMarine Fishes, Selection, Display in the Industry, Damsels, Clownfishes, Hawkfishes

Related FAQs: Livestock Business 1, Livestock Business 2Livestock Business 3, & FAQs on: Marine Wholesale,  & FAQs on: Wholesalers, Transshippers, Jobbers, & Sources For: FW Fish & Invert. Livestock, FW Plants, Pondfishes/Comets, Marine Algae, SW Invertebrates, SW Fishes, & From/By Source Countries, & Facilities: Collecting Stations, Holding Systems, Breeding/Aquaculture, & Research, Tradeshows, Crooked Dealings, CITES, Tariffs, Permits, Other Confiscatory Conventions, Moving Livestock, Growing Reef Corals, Tridacnid Clam Biz

Some Mentioned Here:  AM4fish.com FishHead: Sales@fishheadsinc.com

Jobber Info...mainly mark ups, charges for services in providing marine livestock selection     6/21/13
Hi Bob,
I have some questions on Jobbing that I hope you can answer as I recently started my own jobbing business.
<Ah, congratulations!>
What is the average going rate for jobbing services currently? I've heard numbers from as low as 10% all the way up to 35%.
<Mmm, well; don't know re current rates, but years back it was more like ten... maybe another five from the wholesalers end... for volume, cash paid up front>
 I would imagine it being somewhere closer to 25-30% which is where I plan on having my business at.
<Wow, fat! Or whatever goes as an exclamation of surprise nowayears>

I think a flat rate would be easiest and just absorb the credit card processing fees (typically around 2.5 to 4%),
<Mmm... do make a deal w/ whomever you intend to deal with... to not pay or charge these fees. Too much money... Instead, there's got to be a level of trust, assurance... After all, I will tell you, unscrupulous people can refuse to pay their credit card bills as well...>
 any taxes, other fees, and expenses.
<These are hopefully ALL going to be pass through costs... your just adding onto invoices. Trust me here; you don't want to become a/the paper worker... slave>

The only additional cost I plan on passing on to my clients (the fish stores) would be shipping costs. So far is my thinking correct?
<Thus far; though would mention that this might/should include local delivery as well, if this is a cost to both of you. And if there's any handling on your end, for re-bagging, oxygenating, changing out water... there should be a box charge or such to cover this>
Also as for taking payment I am assuming I would do payment first, product later.
<Mmm, well; good luck if you can develop and sustain this "A" position as a provider and seller. IT really would be GREAT if this works out for you>

 Like take my payments in the middle of the week like Wednesday, and do my jobbing on that coming Sunday through Tuesday. So far does this sound correct?
<Mmm, well; again, times may have changed, but most businesses did not pay up front for livestock in my day. Lines of credit (through banks), wire transfers that "meet the shipment/s" in the middle, credit card "holds" are about as good as it got in the sixties through early nineties>
Any additional words of wisdom and incite would be greatly appreciated.
<Yeeikes! There's a bunch (days worth) we could go over... w/o knowing what you already know this might be of not much worth to you. Do feel free to write me anytime w/ specific questions, concerns>
Thank you for your time.
<Certainly welcome; and again, congratulations on your new venture. Bob Fenner>
Re: Jobber Info    6/21/13

Hi Bob,
Thank you for the quick response.
That is interesting to hear that the older rates were 10-15%. I am assuming when you say "pass-through costs" you mean my clients would pay, correct?

Because I don't get how someone could make any money having to pay for all the fees, expenses, etc at such a low rate. I guess my thinking was have me pay all the random fees and costs, and just bump up my overall cost to my clients (hence the 25 to 30% rate) and have a flat rate.
<I don't think the market will bear this margin>

 Some people I talked to said that 25-30% is fair and reasonable, while another guy was shocked and said 15% was normal.
<Mmm, well, can, even needs to be figured forward and backward... the net-landed-cost, probable mark ups, market/turn over, and factor for cost of business, incidental mortality... from the collector or breeder on out... Think on this... IF your charge is 30%, likely the organisms will have to sell for fifty percent to a hundred percent more to the end user/consumer>
To me having a flat rate would overall just make everything seem simpler to me.
<One way to price something is indeed "what the market will bear"... I do encourage you to be the previously alluded to "A" player... to sell your services on quality and performance... not simply price. Question: CAN you develop the customer base that will support such a mark up?>

That way my clients only see two or three numbers (Livestock cost, My Rate, and possibly shipping/delivery).
The only other thing would maybe be a box charge if I decide to use my own personal boxes, and not the wholesalers which would probably end up being best since I don't think I really know if I want my clients know where I am getting their livestock from as long as its great quality.
<You will become expert at using a razor/box knife, cutting away all such stickers>

As for taking payments. I think that me receiving my lump sum payment from my clients first, then going to the wholesalers and buying the livestock (minus my rate of coarse), then clients receive purchased items.
<... The trade must be very different than my time... I don't know of anyone who will pre-pay for livestock>
To me this doesn't sound any different than how it works when a consumer buys any product online or even in a store. Money first, product later. Is this wrong in my thinking?
<You're not Jeff Bezos/Amazon... what guarantee do people have that you'll  deliver?>
Plus I can't exactly afford to go out on a limb taking lines of credit trusting that my client will pay it. While I trust my clients, sometimes things happen.

Also I would want to be purchasing the stores fish and corals (and possibly even the random little inverts). I don't want to make my wholesale vendors feel as if I am just trying to clear them out of their good coral.
Currently, I feel that Jobbers have a bit of a bad rep in the industry, which is unfortunate.
<Some better, some...>
Granted I am sure some of them earned that reputation, but I would hope to change that outlook.
<There is a saying... you're only as good as your last shipment... >

I feel that I could provide a valuable service to my clients (the fish stores), the wholesalers, myself, and the hobby in general. I want my business to be built on honesty and integrity.
<The only way to go>

Thank you again for your help.
<Thank you for sharing. BobF>

Purchasing from Jobbers? 9/23/11
<Hello Brook>
Thanks in advance for your help.
<You're welcome.>
I recently moved to an area where the local fish stores have a limited selection of corals. I've always been of the of the mindset that LFSs should be supported and I've always gone to them first when I needed something, even if it meant spending a few extra dollars on an item.
<I agree to a point, but I won't spend 30 dollars for a bucket of salt I can get for 18 at an etailer.>
However, their coral selections are somewhat limited. A few people in my area have recently started small businesses selling corals out of their living room display tanks. In the past, where I've had access to multiple LFSs, it's never been a problem finding what I needed. Now, my only options are ordering online or submitting requests to my LFS, which could take weeks.
<And you may or may not get what you want.>
What are your thoughts about purchasing from jobbers (is this the correct term)?
<I call them etailers.>
Do they significantly take away sales from LFSs?
<Oh yes.>
Is it better to support someone local than to order online?
<My feelings stated above. I do buy all my livestock and food from my LFS.>
Do they negatively affect the industry as a whole?
<I would say not, you are keeping some one employed somewhere in the US.
A few LFSs around here have resorted to related ventures to bring more money in.
Namely ponds and tank rental/maintenance contracts.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re: Purchasing from Jobbers?   9/24/11

Thanks for your help.
Sorry, but I just wanted to get my terms straight and reaffirm your responses. Jobbers is the term I used to describe people that purchase and resell coral
<Mmm, no; or at least not just this. Typically in this/our ornamental aquatics trade and livestock supply in general, jobbers are folks twixt wholesalers (who buy from collectors and breeders) and penultimate sellers (retailers, etailers) and consumers... Jobbers almost never have holding facilities, instead pre-selling and often "break-packing" (subdividing orders) to service more than one customer per order. Transhippers are something similar twixt collectors/breeders and wholesalers.>
from their displays at home and sell locally (competing directly with LFS). I thought e-tailers were people that used a web page or eBay to sell their items.
<These are>
I'm trying to decide whether or not to purchase from a jobber. I suppose, though, that the line between online retailers and jobbers is blurring, aside from the larger retailers like LiveAquaria.
<Mmm, this outfit and its parent, Dr.s Foster and Smith, are "smart enough" to avoid buying livestock from other than the best wholesalers (plus a modicum of corals they produce in-house. They DO NOT use jobbers. I strongly encourage you to not do so either. There are scant guarantees in our trade; none that can be enforced against jobbers>
Thanks for the clarification.
<Oh! I see JamesG was chatting this over w/ you. Will send this on to him.
Bob Fenner, currently out w/ Walt Smith helping set up a new collecting station in Fiji>

Your WWM Rocks! Looking for hand-selection service, marine livestock  1/13/06 Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I will be contributing!!!! <Me too... daily> I have been sitting here for the past three hours  since I happened onto it & am Loving every moment! <Wowzah!>     Questions: Several years back I was ran a successful Tank Rental & maintenance Service north of San Francisco. I often drove to the SFO area & hand selected my fish!     Now finally eleven years later as I get back into this business which is really what I have wanted to do for so long as it is  "what I Love" I am a bit lost? I have kept up on most everything as I own several systems myself but all the places I used to buy fish from are long gone and all my research directs me to Los Angeles   ( Sea Dwelling.. Underwater.. & Quality etc.... ) Are you aware of Anyone up here still holding , importing or distributing marine fish? <Yes> #2 If not would you suggest hiring someone to hand select fish for us or just trust the machine & have shipments sent to us blind? <Mmm, there are such selection services still about...> Also any recommendations of specific companies which have ethical practices or are best to deal with! <The three companies you mention I am very familiar with... are excellent> I know this has been answered before but, it has been a couple years & maybe your advice has altered? <No my friend... same folks/friends involved... still honest, competent>> My Sincere Thanks, Jonathan Comras TDP <My similar welcome. Bob Fenner> Mmmm, have you tried Fish Heads? What are you looking for specifically? BobF> Good morning Bob: I am looking for fish exclusively. Thanks, Jonathan <Mmm, I would try Fish Heads... or make a firm deal with someone specifically at WM, SDC, UWW to hand-pick yours... BobF>

 Statute (perhaps height?) limitations, retail ad. campaign idea to share, selection service sought for marines    5/2/06 Hello Mr. Fenner     Crazy to think that someone of you statute will be actually corresponding with me!  :) :) <Heeee!> couple of things... but before background... am a LFS worker/manager in a salt only store. 1)   For the summer time slumps my company does a "frequent fliers club card" every $10 spent on livestock gets customers 1 stamp after 20 stamps $20 off any live stock... keeps profit margins and keeps customers coming back for more ... stamps that is :):) maybe pass it along. <Neat. Will do> 2) My employer is currently seeking a cherry picker as the companies that we have been dealing with for 12+ years is not meeting the standards of our competition ... any personal contact info would be appreciated sincerely Brian Borate     <Mmm... do you know the folks at Fish Heads? Bob Fenner>
Re: Marine livestock selection services    5/2/06
We do business with fish heads and they seem nice and selection is decent but not really as nice as a lot of things we see online and at other stores. If you do know someone if I can be picky Id like someone who deals with MAC certified stock.  Love the boxes from F.H. thanks for the quick response... Brian <Do you buy from Quality Marine? PAF? UWW? Bob Fenner>
Re: Marine livestock selection services  - 5/2/2006
our main wholesalers are Under water world, Exotic reef Imports, Sea Dwelling, Fish heads, ORA. Don't know who PAF or quality marine are Ill look them up but just in case can you send some contact info?   thank you so much Bob and not just a simple thanks a real one!  :) Brian <Mmm, both companies have websites... are located off of 104th near LAX... both good outfits. Bob Fenner>

Good to meet you at MACNA Bob, it was a pleasure to finally speak with you. I hear you are quite the networking type.  <Yes... beats working, as the saying goes> I need to start networking more. We have sold to wholesalers for the past seven years, and this last year we have slowly been switching over to supplying retail stores. <A tough, but necessary step...> Since we haven't done any real marketing, we could use any suggestions you might have.  <Oh boy! Talk about letting the genie out of the bottle!> Article, web site, etc.... We would like to start getting our name out there. <Mmm, let's meet up at your place... and chat re at least me doing a "pro" (as in for the good) piece about you, your biz... have done these for a while for the hobby and trade mag.s here and abroad... You can see a few posted on our root web: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/> We currently get all of our customers through referrals and are looking to expand our client base.  <Referrals are best, period... I feel so strongly re this, that I'd suggest you put your efforts into calling existing customers and ask for more referrals... rather than any other effort...> But not to the extent were we can't process a quality product humanely. We are not trying to be the biggest, but just known for having quality product.  <Good for you, the trade, hobby, planet> We are looking for key stores, which are concerned more with quality rather than price. <There's a bunch> If you have any leads, I would be very appreciative. If there is anything I can ever help or do for you, please don't hesitate to ask. <Maybe a pic or two... like I say, will come by... am due to swing by Rob Miller's new digs (ERI) as they go up... and do make it past Dana about once, twice a month... When's good? Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Mark Lamont (Fish Heads)

About your articles Dear Bob, <Hello Wendy> My name is Wendy Legeret and I live in Iron Mountain, Michigan.  In June, more likely July of this year, I am will be opening up a tropical fish store to hobbyists and businesses.  If I'm not mistaken, I saw on your website articles pertaining to stocking a business like mine.  However, when I went to click on the article, all that came up was the title.  Is there another way to read your articles or can I find them in a magazine of some sort?   <Mmm, maybe not written (and the "article" page being used as a "place-marker"), but perhaps just not placed yet. Can you give me the exact location (the URL) of what you're looking for?> I am really looking for both marine and fresh fish suppliers.  My competition in the past has told me that no fish supplier, especially marine, will go beyond Green Bay, Wisconsin, which is about two hours south of my location.  I need to have a supplier that will come further than Green Bay, obviously!!! <Mmm, if your business volume warrants it, you are likely looking at ordering from marine livestock wholesalers (or "jobbers"... i.e. intermediates who hand-pick such and forward) who will ship to your nearest airport... and possibly a freight forwarding company in concert. These businesses are centered around major international airports (Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, New York...)> If you can point me in the right direction or if you can help me out in any way, I would be most grateful. <Please see our aquatics business links page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/bizlinkspg.htm there are listed, linked a few of the major suppliers (in the middle row...)> Thank you so much! Wendy Legeret Wendy's Blue Lagoon http://www.wendysbluelagoon.com <Congratulations on your new store and welcome to our trade. Bob Fenner>

Cherry Picker in LA? Hi Bob,    We spoke about two weeks ago at the Desert Marine Society in Phoenix.  You're presentation was excellent, and so was the beer, I think.    You had mentioned the name of a cherry picker in LA that you recommended to some of the other LFS's but I must have missed it.  I'm looking for the best, and willing to pay a premium to get good inverts.    I'd really appreciate it if you could give me a shove in the right direction.   Thank you very much,   Brian Mihlfeith   Ocean Art Aquariums   Phoenix, AZ <Howdy, and sorry re the delay in responding (just back from a trip). Do try: AM4fish.com and chat with Erik, Oh, and the fine fellows at FishHead: Sales@fishheadsinc.com Bob Fenner>

Re: starting up a store <<Cheers, Matthew... Anthony Calfo below you in Pennsylvania following up with Bob's cc here>> >  Also, we are located in Connecticut, and over the years I have become very friendly with some local shops, but still am not totally certain as to what method I want to go about stocking my tanks.  My concern is that I want to stock the tanks by reducing the stress on the fish as much as possible.  By any chance, would you know of any good local fisheries or markets in the Connecticut area that are easily accessible to a starting business? > <Unfortunately no. But will ask Anthony here if he is familiar with any, and will post on WWM in the hope someone will respond> <<several points to make here... briefly regarding your intent to reduce stress of initial stocking of tanks, do be sure to use a generous amount of cured live rock for invertebrate tagged marine systems... and for fish only marine and freshwater filters, perhaps consider "supercharging" them in advance with Ammonium Chloride. Its inexpensive and easy to do... easy to manipulate too - it will let you start a seeded biological filter and race it up to a strong colony just prior to stocking with fishes. I recall seeing Moe describe it in his classic Marine Aquarium References... and am sure recipes exist for it on the Net. It really is as simple as it (might) sound: feeding a bunch of ammonia to a filter prior to putting it online for a fish load. As to the regional suppliers... you have some challenges here. If you don't have direct flights (and I suspect not) to your nearest airport from Los Angeles, then you will be at least slightly compromised as to the quality and availability of livestock you can get. I would strongly suggest you get a jobber (fish picker) here to select your orders on site in LA from the best available stock. The other challenge is that there are no significant distributors of wholesale marines in our region until you get down to New York and New Jersey. And frankly, they are not that good IMO. You would be better served by getting product first hand from the primary port of entry for most US marine tropicals: Los Angeles. With that said, you might also look into a Chicago supplier (there are several... like A-Pet) if you can get better flights to CT than from LA. And has Bob has suggested... please start shopping the trade shows to get your feet wet and to network. We have the HH Backer Shows in Atlantic City and Chicago twice yearly. Also subscribe to a trade magazine like Pet Business or Pet Age to begin or finish your business plan. And last of all... be sure to write that business plan! Your chance at success will be greatly improved. Make your life easy and purchase some software like Business Plan Pro to do this. Some local business schools also often offer free counsel to local small business for start-up (classes and consultations... help writing biz plans, etc). Best of luck, Anthony> <Thank you Antoine. Bob>

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