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The Business Of Upholstery => The Business Of Upholstery => Topic started by: baileyuph on July 27, 2013, 08:00:12 AM

Title: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on July 27, 2013, 08:00:12 AM





Todays quesion:  If you had significant money to invest in your business what would be your strategy?  Significant money .........meaning over $25,000.

What changes would you make, like engaging in a new product or service or the way you are now generating products?

Times change and our business is no exception, we could be smarter business people if we could make the right changes over time.  For example, just read a biography of one upholster's exerience.  That business was started and ran much as we read here and then a couple ideas surfaced that caused the small business to change and go in the same direction (upholstery) but in the manufacturing category.  But, that wasn't the ending there, the operator saw several pheripheral opportunities/services even associated with manufacturing that were exploited and now the business is on the exchange.  This isn't a fairy tale, it actually happened, I am with holding to protect the privacy of the company.

So, in a word, greater success happened by having a vision, great overview of the industry and making changes to achieve greater efficiency.

Significant money and a vision, willingness to go for it.  Actually, significant money is all relative, but whatever amount could be a "movement" toward an overall dream.

This question can be kept simple, instead it could be what is your business diection?  We are all business people, for the most part I assume.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: byhammerandhand on July 27, 2013, 05:17:20 PM
I'd not call that significant.    That might buy you a delivery van.  It's not going to go far to get a bigger building, new machinery, raw materials inventory, promotion and advertising, sales, or hire help.



Todays quesion:  If you had significant money to invest in your business what would be your strategy?  Significant money .........meaning over $25,000.


Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on July 28, 2013, 08:19:43 AM
I would probably carve the money up. Some would go into real estate ( buying or expanding  building ) which would give me an appreciable asset and future return on investment. Some would go towards marketing and advertising to expand and bring more business in the door and some would be invested, even if it was a low yield investment vehicle.

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: jojo on July 28, 2013, 11:24:27 AM
Unlike byhammerandhand, I would call $25,000 significant. For me personally, I would invest in going mobile, as this would just be so much more convenient for both me and my customers. I'm situated about 30 minutes or more from most of the lakes around here.  It would also mean more business.
Right now, I have my little sole proprietorship, which I'm happy with. I don't pay for advertising, just a craigslist ad, a website, and word of mouth. I also don't keep an inventory of fabric. I order per job. And will never hire anybody. There's something to be said for keeping it simple.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on July 28, 2013, 12:34:45 PM
In the grand scheme of things, 25K probably isn't a significant amount. BUT.....for a one-man upholstery shop, it CAN represent a significant investment.

And I can't think of any better way to get the most "bang for your buck", than the idea Jojo has.

25 grand should be enough to acquire a late-model work vehicle, and have enough left over to equip it to suit your needs.

In recent years, I've shied away from doing service calls as much as possible. But if I were looking to ramp things up, that would certainly be a viable option.

But of course, it's only a good idea if "going mobile" is the direction you want to go in.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: MinUph on July 28, 2013, 07:22:18 PM
For someone doing canvas work like jojo mobile has to be the way to go. A nicely fitted box truck that could be worked from is great. As for me... With 25k I think I would take a vacation and let the business take care of itself. Can't build a new shop, expand much. Tools and equipment are in place. Advertizing maybe some. Stock na. It can sit to long.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: byhammerandhand on July 30, 2013, 01:52:06 PM
Chris (Mojo) seems to be the guy with business consulting background so I'll defer to him.

But unless this is a shoestring operation, I still stand by $25K is peanuts to start a new manufacturing branch.

I learned long ago there are three critical success factors to any business:
- A product or service that people will want at a price that's profitable to produce/provide
- Good management -- keeping an eye on the books, knowing when and where to commit resources, organizing and leading
- Capital - having funds to keep an ongoing operation

The most common source of business failure is the failure in the third factor (cash).


Ever watch the Shark Tank?   Some are hopelessly drifting (management) or don't have a viable product, but most need cash to get lift off.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on July 30, 2013, 05:01:26 PM
When you're thinking of SOMEONE ELSE investing 25K, it doesn't sound like a significant amount.

BUT!!! If someone asks YOU to invest that much, it suddenly causes the needle on the "significantometer" to swing way over into the red zone. ;)

Would anyone here be willing to put 25 grand into a venture that may not produce a return?

For a small upholstery shop, $2000 for a new sewing machine can represent a significant, life-altering investment.

It all depends on what we're talking about. For a manufacturing branch, 25K will probably barely be enough to acquire permits, and bring everything up to code. But for most of us, that much money CAN be enough to take things "to the next level". 
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on July 30, 2013, 07:56:51 PM
Yes, as all of you saying, it does take money to make moves in business and the amount that is significant will vary depending on where most are in their career.  Starting out anything can be significant and otherwise, well we all know after a business grows and gets on its feet, disposable money can and does grow.

But, what the drift of the thread is; times change so does our business and the encouragement is to keep on improving and take advantage of change when it applies.  It sounds like most of us are working to learn more, get more efficient, and when it is practical we will invest what we can in our business.  

One thing I am doing is investing in my retirement account.  I set a goal, at this point it is 80 % accomplsihed, the goal provides for retirement, living assistance, and nursing, should it occur.  Couple more years and the goal will be achieved.

That doesn't mean retirement is over the horizon.  Heck, I love to work, learn, and make money.  The money is a way of keeping score and also allows me to invest in whatever to enhance the business.  If I operated and still did what I did when all this started, I do not think it would have been the best thing for me and the business.  One of the biggest changes I have done, is be more sensitive what I do with my time and how much time it takes to do work.  Over the years, there is real meaning to "time is money".

I better put the brakes on, I also love to talk business.  Talk the changes in the work, and how to manage the business, just like all you other business people.  That is what this site provides, good place to learn, exchange, and how to chase those visions.   Thanks to all the participants.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on July 30, 2013, 08:02:59 PM


But unless this is a shoestring operation, I still stand by $25K is peanuts to start a new manufacturing branch.


arnt most of us small business 1 2 maybe 3 people starting a new branch sound like  more space and more workers to me

 I suppose ive been a shoestring forever ive never put that much into the business other then moving and buying a home in florida so I could work year round so maybe I have??
but I thought of that as investing in me I am the business

but at this point I would need that much id like to have more to spend asap getting my shop AC but where only talking a couple k tops.  I like pauls idea it take a vacation I havnt had one sence 2004
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on July 30, 2013, 08:17:59 PM
Mike, what would be a vacation that would make you happy? 

You like to boat ride and fish, I am led to believe.

Take a long week end when you can, as a starter.  You have worked very hard and deserve it.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on July 30, 2013, 08:27:11 PM
I used to ride and would have liked to ride down the keys id like a road trip to the middles hkeys a rent a nice cottage and hire a fishing  guide and enjoy some local food
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: byhammerandhand on July 31, 2013, 05:45:46 PM
I guess we need to know some specifics on what type of "manufacturing" operation is being envisioned.   Even if you're a one-person shop, assuming you'll go into this full bore and re-focus your energy into start-up, you'll need some resources (personal or otherwise) to pay your living expenses for about 6-12 months until your new enterprise starts generating revenue for you to live off.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on July 31, 2013, 06:18:17 PM
25K?  prolly a professional photographer and website development. 

I have great equipment and plenty of skill.  I'm pleasantly conversant, well read and literate. 

I need a better internet presence because the people I need to reach are internet savvy and "cull the herd" of likelies by using  the internet!
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on August 01, 2013, 07:18:42 AM
The net isn't necessary for me, get all I can do.  A lot of people do shop that way, I understand they are looking for price as much as anything else.  Most of what I do, if not all cannot be shipped or they won't ship it if they are out of town. 

But, the net could help for a relatively new or very unique business service.  It would be interesting to hear from a custom upholstery type company that is being served well by having a net.  What I mean is getting a lot of work from a distance due to their net.

It isn't a lack of computer savy talking here, I have plenty of computer science training and work experience in computer work even programming.  Why mess with it when I could be putting out work and getting paid on work dropped off from local customers?

Some find me anyway from their computer, they search and get my phone and location from yellow pages.

It would be different if I specialized in something somewhat more unique, I realize that and would probably do things differently.

If entertains a site on the web, the more effecive sites appear to be the most informative sites.

Doyle



 
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on August 01, 2013, 02:37:28 PM
I am finding my diverse skill set difficult to market.  Perhaps I'm impatient with "word of mouth"? dunno. 

I am trained in tailoring/alterations/clothing.  Also awnings/marine canvas.  Drapery work, slipcovers, and cushions.  Many years of experience makes me an excellent/creative repair seamstress. I am a juried member of the League of NH craftsmen in hand painted floor cloths and possess a good deal of decorative painting acumen.  Skills aren't lacking, marketing those skills IS.   

I have cranked out some really nice jobs in all of those aspects of our trade.  But I really struggle with how to winnow it down to a snazzy, "least common denominator" website.  I certainly don't pass up more mundane work, but I need a web presence that will click with the interior designers and clientele who will be more interested in the "finer" array of skills I've accumulated over the years.  I'm not terribly interested in patching awnings and boat canvas coated with bird crap, thanks.  ;)
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on August 01, 2013, 03:52:46 PM
I find nobdy here uses the phone book anymore and my shop is not visable in an industrial park  or it was at my home shop. people are new to the area here retiring all the time they come some go and more come . and all  the newbys usualy tell me they found me on the net even big jobs an hour away I get  one or 2 a year. I used to be the newby now most I see moved here a year or so
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on August 01, 2013, 08:29:02 PM
mike,
Curios,  are you listed in the phone book?
I get a lot of work by being listed in the yellow pages, I understand they search for upholstery shop close by.  There are the repeats, the referrals and those new calling every week.  Then, there are those who see the business, it is probably less than 2 or 3 hundred feet from a major interstate.  They drive in almost daily and remind me "you worked for me before". 

Then, work comes from other people in the business who refer their customers who want a service they don not render.  I calls every week, so and so said he doesn't do this and you came highly recommended.

I had one customer who needed a rug bound, just this week, someone said, you know I would call so and so, he does a lot of all types.  I answered the phone, said yep, bring it over if you want it by end of the day.  They did, those are good cash jobs. 

People moving in and out of an area, surely would search the computer for local business and that would be searching on the net or yellow pages or?.  If you aren't in yellow pages, well...............?  New to a neighbor hood would be good prospects.

I have never had someone to ask if I had a web site, except someone looking to sell me one.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on August 01, 2013, 09:10:25 PM
My family business has had an ad in the local YP's since 1960........until last year. The idiots at YP simply left my ad out due to an oversight.

Knowing that a large percentage of upholstery customers are in the over 50 demo, I was nervous about going an entire year with no presence in the local YP's. I was afraid that the older crowd still relies on the old fashioned way of locating a business.

The phone book came out last September. So far, I haven't noticed even a tiny drop-off.  In fact, I'm having one of my best years of the last 10. Even the "senior set" is finding me without the use of a hard copy phone book.

I'm not sure if I'm even going to bother to get my ad reinstated.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on August 02, 2013, 06:37:59 AM
Ad?  I have never had an ad, just listed by category and am not concerned about going out of business if the YP died.  It is just another facilitator for customers to gain information.

If I continued a business that had been there a long time in a smaller town, YP is not essential but it could be additive.

A start up business will benefit more from additional exposure.

A YP listing now could be more beneficial since the number of shops are less and will continue that way.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on August 02, 2013, 08:12:05 AM
Ad?  I have never had an ad, just listed by category
The geniuses at YP not only left out my ad last year, they didn't even include the listing.

When I called to complain, they kept referring to the listing as a "free courtesy listing".........obviously implying that they had no obligation to include it in the first place.

I told them that it was MY understanding that when you pay for a commercial rate landline, the "courtesy listing" in the local YP's is part of the package. They didn't argue that point. So YES....they DO have an obligation!

As recently as 3 years ago, it probably would've been devastating to not be in the local phone book. Now.....I'm not sure if I even give a rat's behind.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on August 03, 2013, 11:44:22 AM
I regard a website as a way to showcase the sorts of work I'm capable of delivering.  On a recent field trip to a show house I picked up business cards of designers whose work I liked.  Every single one of them had a neat, concise website with some handsome work beautifully photographed. 

I don't think a website is the perfect way to advertise by a longshot, but I do think it's a great way for potential customers to look at your work and learn about you and your philosophy with respect to the services you offer.  And I have enough "whipper snapper" friends who are hip and have money to spend on the sort of quality work I do.  I need my workroom to be "a click away" and appealing so they'll call or e-mail me with questions!



Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on August 03, 2013, 01:19:32 PM
mike,
Curios,  are you listed in the phone book?
I get a lot of work by being listed in the yellow pages,

I have never had someone to ask if I had a web site, except someone looking to sell me one.

Doyle

doyle I never paid those ridicules fee for we yellow page add I took the free listing and I have always been mixed up not under boat canvas and top usually under canvas good  like I sold canvas .

my shop in NH for years was very visible rite down on the bay next to my bait shop so boated coming in for bait or the adjacent launch knew I was there everybody did. 

I got a website back thewn but didn't need ut ive never had anyone ask me if I had a website either, allot find me because of it some are out of state like a guy in texas last year who kept his boat at his FILs who called me most Google  in the area

Boat Canvas (https://www.google.com/#sclient=psy-ab&q=boat+canvas+charlotte+county&oq=boat+canvas+charlotte+county&gs_l=hp.3...32167.37679.1.38152.16.16.0.0.0.2.324.2580.0j13j2j1.16.0.cpsugrpqhmsignedin%2Chmss2%3Dfalse...0...1.1.23.psy-ab..14.34.5911.2wkhCjgNSxQ&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.50165853,d.dmg&fp=601ee5fde90826cd&biw=1012&bih=444)

or 

Boat upholstery (https://www.google.com/#sclient=psy-ab&q=boat+upholstery++charlotte+county&oq=boat+upholstery++charlotte+county&gs_l=serp.3..35i39.13685.21277.1.22418.31.22.0.0.0.4.421.3593.0j18j3j0j1.22.0.cpsugrpqhmsignedin%2Chmss2%3Dfalse...0...1.1.23.psy-ab..49.8.1185.XLZSWhyD5j0&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=601ee5fde90826cd&biw=1012&bih=444)
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on August 04, 2013, 07:40:38 AM
I am finding my diverse skill set difficult to market.  Perhaps I'm impatient with "word of mouth"? dunno. 

Skills aren't lacking, marketing those skills IS.   


Bobbin:

Do not feel bad or beat yourself up. Alot of my consulting work was with tradespeople who were masters at their craft but lacked marketing skills and had a difficult time making a go of their business. My own brother is an amazing auto mechanic and I helped set up a marketing program for him. I watched his business fail twice because he never listened to me or put my marketing plans into place.

I have the complete opposite problem. I have little experience in upholstery outside what I am doing but have over 30 years of marketing, PR and business experience. I consulted to mom and Pop stores and also fortune 500 companies. But for me to do an enclosure on a boat.......no way. I do not have the skills and I readily admit it.

Like others on here that I have quietly and confidentially helped, I am always available for you to bounce ideas off of and / or look over websites or marketing/pr materials. Send me a PM if you need any assistance.

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on August 04, 2013, 07:53:22 AM
Outside of the rallys and seminars I conduct, my entire business is all Internet bound. If I had no internet presence I would have had to close my doors a long time ago. If I am not getting business from internet forums then I am getting it from my website. Almost all of the contact, billing, conversations, etc. all take place via e-mail. Many customers I never even talk to on the phone.

My website  www.stonevos.com appears to have too much info on it but one has to remember my customers are HUGE information hounds. Also, many of my web site pages helps eliminate alot of the time I would otherwise spend answering questions through e-mails. I designed it this way because I am a 1 person shop and do not have the time to sit on a phone or typing e-mails to answer the same questions over and over again. My production time is extremely important and during busy seasons I cannot spare any lost time away from the machine.

I really am extremely happy with the way I set this business up. I rarely have to deal with customers directly and because almost everything is internet based my wife can step in and handle some of the billing and inquiries. Being a people person I enjoy meeting and greeting people from time to time and my presence at rallys and my seminars provide me with this opportunity. But the nice part is after I am " peopled out " I can head back home and hide out in my shop and do nothing but sew. :)

I cannot speak for everyone here but for me a major internet presence is a make or break thing for me. Without it I would go broke and have no business.

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on August 11, 2013, 09:30:25 PM
Mojo,

After reading about your brother's automotive garage experience,

Question:  In a case such as his, what was his primary reason for failing?

I ask for a few reasons, his business is much like an upholsters who, for example, does furniture upholstery in a one man fashion.

Both, an automotive mechanical repair shop and an furniture upholstery shop will largely depend on local clients for their business.  If, in either case, a garage or an upholstery shop, what is the primary essential ingredient for success that was lacking that contributed to the failure of your brother?  Did he put out good work(I would think he did), spend most of his time productively?  Was there a personality issue or poor time management, or ?

I have been in business for many years, never had a problem of getting work, stated to make it easy for you to understand why I am asking such questions

Just searching for common denominators that likely exist for upholsters.  

Respect your input,

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on August 12, 2013, 07:44:03 AM
Doyle:

Go get some coffee. This is going to be a long post............LOL..:)

I also believe the upholstery business is a close match to an automotive repair facility in that both require an investment in tools and knowledge, both have the same types of overhead ( shops, utilities, etc. ). The difference between the two though is competition. There are 50 repair facilities for every one upholstery shop. Maybe more.

In the case of my brother, he failed twice simply because he was one of the very best mechanics I have known, honest and a perfectionist. In nutshell he was one of the very best at his trade. Unfortunately he sucked as a business man. His expertise was under the hood of a car, not in the office creating ad copy or marketing programs. He was also damn bull headed and refused to listen. Even to me.

He committed the same fatal mistake I have seen a hundred times before. He sat on his proverbial butt and waited for the business to come to him. During my consulting years it was routine to talk with a new business owner who claimed " I have the best service and best product going but cannot get any customers through the door ". After discussing this with them and going over their business plan I soon learned they did no advertising, had no marketing program and was essentially hid away from the public. The only customers they had were the ones who accidently found them. This was the case of my brother. Sure he had referrals, but he had few customers to begin with which meant few referrals.

I tried to get him to adopt a marketing plan I laid down for him and he agreed to but in the end never did. So he went broke, closed down shop, stored his equipment and 3 years later opened up in another town. Guess what happened ? Yup. He went broke again. And like the first time he never advertised or had any type of marketing or business plan. He sat in his shop day in and day out waiting for business. I had a golden opportunity for him that would have brought in customers by the dozens. I asked him to contact an old friend of mine who owned the largest towing company in the city. He never called him.

Rarely do you find a trades person who is excellent at his trade and also a great business person. Look at me for example. I consulted to Fortune 500 companies as well as Mom and Pop businesses yet I do not consider myself a very good trades person. This is why I selected an easier form of upholstery - flat canvas work. I would struggle big time if I did furniture, autos or marine work. :)

The thing that happened with my brother happens a 100 times a day throughout America. Someone with a great deal of skill ( Baker, Chef, mechanic, HVAC tech, etc....etc..) opens a business and because of the lack of a solid business plan and poor business skills fails within a year or two.

Part 1...........lol....
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on August 12, 2013, 02:09:59 PM
You know that old saying " Build it and they will come "  ? Bulls***. No they wont. You have to build it, market it, advertise it, develop it, position it in the market place, brand it, promote it and push it and then they may come. I have been frustrated with clients in the past. Some I wanted to literally smack to wake them up. But it was real hard to watch your brother fail when you know you could have made his business a very busy shop. I probably should have smacked him. :)

One of my biggest success stories came from a manufacturer in Europe. I spent weeks touring their customers facilities as well as days inside their factory, watching, talking to employees, etc. I knew in my heart they had the best product line going but they lacked promotion and marketing. I designed a complete program for them and they followed it right down to the last item. Bingo, they captured 80 % of their market. But let me be clear, it wasn't because I was a magician it was because I got them to believe in what they produced and got them to tell the world about it. I injected a sense of energy into a burnt out owner and staff. I gave them a few tools to use and showed them how to market their product line. No biggie. They did the work themselves, I simply showed them how.

Over the years I have ran across some great businesses and some bad ones. I have seen some genius marketing plans and some very bad ones. But even the good ones failed because the owners were either too lazy or too bull headed and wouldn't adopt and put their plans into action. I used to conduct customer focus groups which were always interesting. This is where they are called into group sessions and a moderator asks them pre-designed questions. In the meantime you and your client sit behind a one way glass and listen and watch and take notes. It is an eye opening experience, especially for the business owner. You learn real quick where the business is dropping the ball.

In the end, you can be the best trades person in the country but if you do not promote your business
your going to have a rough time surviving. I myself do not advertise, instead I promote by putting myself right in the middle of my market - RV Rally's and events. That gains me enough business to survive. But the kicker is I go above and beyond on my products and customer service and that gains me one helluva lot of referrals which is my bread and butter. it took a few years to get name recognition but now in the big bus world my name is mentioned along with the big companies. That is something I can be proud of.

To be honest, I like what I do but I really miss being a business consultant. I loved that job. I cannot explain it but every client I signed up back then supercharged me. I lived and breathed marketing and business back then. Still love it today and miss the hell out of it. :)

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: ragtacker on August 12, 2013, 04:36:35 PM
Doyle, and Chris - there is one major difference between auto mechanics and upholsterers:  most -people need their cars, and are required to have them inspected.  People don't "need" their furniture, or even their marine work.  So, many consider us a luxury, especially in this economy.  (And the younger crowd would just as soon toss and buy new cheap crap!) 

That said, how would you go about marketing a valuable, but not necessary business?

Jan
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on August 12, 2013, 08:31:27 PM
For Chris,

Very interesting expose' Chris, injoyed it and found it very meaningful and quite energizing, to say the least.  Inspiring is another way to put it.  I like your themes, first believe in it yourself, never take defeat as an outcome, and keep on telling the world about yourself.  Sure makes a lot of sense to me buddy!!!  As you have also read, Jan has a very interesting question, I will spread a few experiences but yours will be the real answer. 
................................................................
Now to Jan:

Jan, you put it in perspective girl.

Well, I am going to defer the best answer to Chris.

But, will insert a point.  My business does not buck the trend of things, I am having some of the best years in business.  How does or did it happen, well I take no credit for the idea(s) but lets just say I did not swim upstream, instead, I have decided to flow with where the money goes.
  
I decided to learn the new technologies of how the new stuff is built and it prepared me for the technical requirement of working on the junk.  New stuff breaks often and even though it is cheap, the young people or low information consumers of all ages (price driven folks maybe) still want it fixed while it in style and near new.  They will spend for repairs while it is their pride and joy, in other words.

Believe it or not I have learned a bunch from sticking my toe in the water.  Like I say, it is made from some of the newest technologies available which by the way are very efficient as well as proficient.

Too add, new furniture actually looks good to the consumers who buy it.  They see traditional stuff as old fashion and on and on.  Their money let them spend as they wish, huh?  They see themselves as "in style".

I could have said it all by saying:  "If you can't beat them join them".  Honestly, I am enjoying learning about it all.  Built with low quality does not over shadow the sophisticated technology, the latter is what really consumes me.

Now we can wait for the best response from Chris.  I gurantee you his presentation will be awesome!  Plugging the pot in now.  Wink.

Nice to hear from you Jan,

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on August 12, 2013, 09:51:51 PM
Jan:

Could you explain in a little more detail " valuable " so I make sure I understand you correctly ?

Thanks,

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on August 13, 2013, 09:31:37 PM
chris ive always had the work come in  when needed,and havnt ran an advertisement for 4 years now or ATTENDED shows for that time but you made me think I need to keep my name out there   thanks
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on August 16, 2013, 07:41:25 PM
Mike:

If you need any help let me know. I would be willing to come down and work your booth with you as long as it doesn't conflict with my events.

I just purchased a nice Vendor back drop 8 x 10 with lights etc. We could get a few of your pictures of the work you have done and get them blown up into posters and hang them on that along with your banner.

I am always willing to help. Just say the word.

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on August 25, 2013, 08:02:42 AM
Hey Mojo,

Jan asked a question that might have got caught up in the dust.  LOL

She was asking a "how to" marketing question.  That is how does a business person market a service and a product in this "economy".  She was pointing to a service/product that is not one of the essentials of living, namely high quality upholstery work.  She points out that not everyone can afford such work and since it isn't essential in life, it is hard to sell quality furniture repairs/reupholstery.

She contrast this situation with auto service and repairs, where an auto is required to get to work or merely more essential to maintaining life. 

She has a practical question in the sense that there is a lot reality to it. 

So, as a marketing consultant, how does a small upholstery shop doing things to "old school values" promote their service.  Understand this is a small business done in a small community.

That as background, it is an interesting question;  where does one start, there aren't many, if any product conventions and so forth?

Jan also pointed out that the market has changed amount younger buyers because they don't put the same value on older quality furniture, instead probably drawn to the market for the newer cheaper built stuff by lower price.  There is a lot of truth to these observations.

Ok, hopefully the stage is set for Chris, affectionately know by many as MOJO!

Get your tickets folks, seating is limited and the show will start as soon as Mojo/Chris pulls the curtain.  Remember that without a doubt there are a lot of one man shows doing quality furniture work with the same concerns.

How is that Chris, did I market your presentation or literally screw it up!!!
LOL,

Doyle   
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: gene on August 25, 2013, 09:59:48 AM
Quote
That said, how would you go about marketing a valuable, but not necessary business?

Jan


Marketing: telling people what product/service you have.

Sales: getting people to buy your product/service.

Two basic ways to market: shotgun and single shot.
Shotgun is where you tell as many people as possible and you hope a few of those folks are interested in what you have to offer.
Single shot is where you determine exactly who would be interested in your product/service, and you tell only those people.

I did the single shot approach when I got started. I got the names and mailing addresses of the people who I thought would be interested in my product/service, and I mailed postcards. This was my first marketing effort. It was very successful.

A successful single shot marketing program takes a lot of work, which is why it tends to be more successful, especially for small businesses. It's a lot easier to do the shotgun approach and then sit back on your butt and hope the phone rings, which is what most small businesses do.

Another problem with the single shot marketing approach is that you may find out that there just aren't enough potential customers in your area to allow you to be successful in your business. Most new small business owners DO NOT want to know this, even if it is true!

gene
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on August 26, 2013, 08:04:19 AM
Gene: I define marketing as making people realize they need your product......:)

We all need to remember that marketing, for the most part is a psychological game. It is all about getting inside the consumers mind and pushing buttons or triggers. On a large scale as practiced by the Fortune 500 it is done through packaging, catch phrases, music, product highlights, product differences, etc. while at the same time positioning the product or service in a particular market segment based on product demographics.

Marketing is a practice that reaches inside the consumers mind and puts pressure on the " trigger " that will create that impulse to BUY. To be honest, true marketing is a very complex undertaking which is why large corporations spend millions on studies, designs, etc. long before the product reaches the market. Once the product is ready to be rolled out and their market is defined, branding campaigns, positioning and advertising takes place to penetrate these markets.

All of these concepts are used by the billion dollar corporations but the same principals apply to small businesses. They are just done on a smaller scale, with fewer dollars and obviously with limited staff.

There is little difference between promoting a service or a particular product. It is all psychological and is a matter of getting inside the consumers mind and convincing them that what you have is something they need and should buy.

I will use one of my own products as an example. I compete against some very large companies and numerous smaller ones. How I approached my strategy was to first look at what they were selling and how it was made. Secondly I talked to customers to see what they wanted, where their problems were and what motivated them. Thirdly I designed my own product based on consumer input. And the last stage was presenting the product to the market in a way that I could tap into their minds. I also separated myself from the competition and made my product stand out ahead of the rest.

I could have easily said " High Quality Toppers for sale ". But in most market segments you need to go further and educate the consumer. Remember "Your the expert ", not them. I outlined the differences between my product and all the others. 1.) I am the only company with a 3 year warranty. 2.) I am the only company making toppers with double stitch perimeters 3.) I am the only company using Solarfix thread and Sattler fabric. I then pounded these differences home and thankfully, through careful wording, pictures and other marketing materials I placed my product into an upper scale market. The marketing program I designed worked, thank God. It has hit many consumers " triggers " and right in the middle of the market I was after. I nailed it perfectly.

Am I some marketing guru ? Hell no. But the one thing I have always had the knack for is removing myself completely from my business and stand inside my customers shoes. This means getting inside their minds and taking on their way of thinking. This is what separates good marketing and bad marketing attempts. I have seen it all to often where business owners " think " they know what a consumer wants but in the end they don't. I simply take on the persona of the consumer and then work from there.

Whether marketing services or marketing products...........The game remains the same. It is a matter of getting inside the consumers head and pushing buttons to trigger a sale. You define your product or service, define your market and then define your marketing and advertising to capitalize on all of this to produce sales.

I can remember meeting with a client. They were having a helluva time penetrating their market with their particular product. I reviewed their product, advertising and marketing materials and then sat down with them for a meeting. I asked them one simple question " Why should a consumer buy your product ? ". They immediately got defensive and rattled off 5 solid and valid reasons why. I smiled and said " there ya go ". Your problem is you have never conveyed this to your market. I gave them a new marketing program, a hefty bill and they became successful and all was good.
Sometimes the answers are right in front of our faces. It just takes someone to kick you to get you to look in another direction to see what is obvious and standing behind you.

Just wondering have any of you ever climbed inside the consumers train of thought and looked at why they should buy your product or service ? Ever thought like a customer ?

Remove yourself completely from your job and then put on the shoes of your customer. Walk in your place of business and then approach the sales experience from THEIR standpoint. Think like the consumer, argue like the consumer and ask questions like a consumer. You may find some hidden gems in this exercise that you can use to promote your product or service.

Did any of this help at all ? 

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on August 28, 2013, 04:35:06 PM
Gene, you said something that really clicked with me!  I have skills that can be useful to a lot of people (shotgun) and I enjoy the many facets of my skill set (clothing, interior work, marine/awning, repair).  I've never wanted to be a "one trick pony".  But that's the rut I've fallen into. 

But I have to market myself more effectively, no doubt about that.  My goal is to even out the work lulls so it's not a "feast or famine" thing; too stressful!  With that in mind I've undertaken a guerilla approach to marketing.  I've begun putting my cards on bulletin boards in places that attract the sort of clientele whose business I hope to curry.  I have 3 business cards, each keyed to a specific segment of my skill set, and I put up the card that I think will garner the most attention for a specific bulletin board.  I have to cast the net farther!

My next move is to really get out and do more face to face marketing and networking.  I enjoy people and am gregarious.   I was at a wedding a couple of weeks ago and everyone was interested in my work.  I didn't think it appropriate to hand out business cards in that venue, but I did jot down names and have patiently contacted those who were interested.  Gene's comment about "single shot" really underscored that.

Note to self:  sharpen up the website so people can visit and look at the quality of the work in a neat, concise format!
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on August 28, 2013, 06:36:10 PM
Note to self:  sharpen up the website so people can visit and look at the quality of the work in a neat, concise format!
Your website looks pretty good to me. Especially compared to the hodgepodge mess I'm throwin' out on mine.
But since I've always had more work than I can possibly do, I don't put much emphasis on my website. Even in it's crude form, it brings in more business than I need.

Are you getting e-mails from people who have viewed your website?
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on August 28, 2013, 08:51:35 PM
Yes, I appreciate Gene's business sense too.  I would add also that I apply his strategy and tailor (no pun) it to the work that pays!

Some of our work is just more profitable than other work.  The consumer will only pay us a good price is they can't Walmart their purchase (look for discounters or cheap labor is my point).  There is work in any sector of our work that is more and other work that is less profitable.  Can't blame he consumer for looking for a cheap price nor the shop owner trying to make a living. 

Over time, an established shop and reputation will establish some loyalty, those customers are rewarded at my business.  All eyes are dotted and Tees are crossed. Would you call that single shooting?  Smile

Doyle

Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on August 29, 2013, 08:36:29 AM
Something that I've noticed about "getting the word out"...............at least as far as it applies to furniture re-upholstery:

If you want the WIFE to hear about it........you'd better tell the wife.

If you want the HUSBAND to hear about it (so he can tell the wife)........you'd STILL better tell the wife.

Men don't give a rat's rosy red rectum about the household furniture. As long as the couch keeps them from hitting the floor, they see no reason to replace it. You could tie a man up, and force him at gunpoint to watch a 3 hour infomercial for furniture upholstery. As soon as he's freed from bondage, the infomercial is immediately purged from his memory banks.

"Shotgun".......or "Single-shot"?  For me, it would definitely be single-shot (aimed at women).
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on August 29, 2013, 11:20:51 AM
No, Sofa., I'm not getting e-mails from site views.  Most of what I'm doing now is word of mouth, which is good, but I need more of it.  The guerilla marketing is a first step in that direction. 

I plan to send out postcards/notes to interior designers whose work I have admired.  There are several quite local to my shop.  I would like to have them visit my shop, too.  And I'm going to put more effort into "in person" networking, as well.  There is a morning networking get together every week in a neighboring town.  A designer has suggested I drop in a few times.  I have also been encouraged to try out the directory on Houzz; but have hesitated because I am not thrilled with my website just yet. 

So, website "tailoring" is in order. 
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Joys Shop on August 29, 2013, 04:41:23 PM
Bobbin

What's your website? 

I'd like to see it

Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on August 29, 2013, 04:48:24 PM
Bobbin:

I built my business by networking with end users. I conducted seminars at rallys, had vendor booths at shows, visited forums and answered questions and the business grew from there. It took about a year and half to two years till things really took off. Now I am carefully controlling my growth and participation with owner associations as I am about tapped out on production. The only way I could service more associations is if I build the new shop and bring on a part time stitcher. Something I will probably do in the end. or I could do what some of my competitors do which is contract the sewing out. With my OCD that will never happen. :)

My suggestion is to go out into the world and go after the business by showing your glowing, smiling face at events, get together's and such. Stuff business cards into peoples hands, hand out brochures, lend advice and basically network. Visit some of the forums of your end users and make yourself known. I also suggest that if there are any trade shows near you that you hit them. Consider having a booth where you can greet numerous potential customers. It is a great way to build name recognition.

In today's business world the ones who grow and survive are the ones who aggressively market themselves. The days of build it and they will come are long gone. You can build it but it will probably be lonely as you sit by yourself wondering where everyone is at. :)

As resources I suggest you check into using Vista Print for printed marketing materials. I get my business cards, rack cards, brochures and warranty cards through them. I like their service because I can go online, design what I want, hit the order button and the materials arrive at my door a week or two later. They do a professional job and are cheap. I would use local services but they are two to three times the cost and I go through alot of materials doing shows and events.

In regards to your website I would be more then happy to review it for you and make suggestions.
I am always willing to confidentially review any of your marketing materials ( off the forum ) and lend advice and make suggestions. Simply drop me an e-mail. I have helped several forum members here in the past and enjoy doing so. In case your wondering I never charge anyone. None of us on this site have any money anyways. :)

Feel free to PM me if you have questions or need me to look something over. Marketing to most people is frustrating and I understand this. I find sewing frustrating..:)

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on August 31, 2013, 08:07:31 AM
Just a comment, web sites can work for you, but they are not needed always, particularly when the busienss is established, reputable, and has plenty of customers locally.  If the market is beyond local, my judgement says they can be an asset and essential.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on August 31, 2013, 08:54:25 AM
Just a comment, web sites can work for you, but they are not needed always, particularly when the busienss is established, reputable, and has plenty of customers locally.  If the market is beyond local, my judgement says they can be an asset and essential.
I tend to agree. Unless you have a product that can be shipped out, a website should be targeted locally. My website could be a lot more professionally designed than it is. But that would involve a much greater $$$ investment. And I just don't think that I would see a return on that investment.

For local businesses, a website can take the place of a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages at a fraction of the cost. For small shops that only cater to local customers, I think a website is nice to have. I just wouldn't go overboard with one. Just show your product and services, along with whatever basic info you want the customer to see.

But like Doyle says, if you already have a well-established business with a high-visibility location, and you aren't looking to expand regionally, I'm don't think that a website will make a significant difference in your life.

But as in Bobbin's case, trying to get the word out to her surrounding region. And possibly offering products that could be shipped to all parts. And she has a few "niche" products and services. I think the website is the way to go.

When I first started mine, I did nothing to inform the public that it even existed. I was really surprised to see how many people found it on their own. 
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on August 31, 2013, 09:33:59 PM
Just a comment, web sites can work for you, but they are not needed always, particularly when the busienss is established, reputable, and has plenty of customers locally.  If the market is beyond local, my judgement says they can be an asset and essential.
I tend to agree. Unless you have a product that can be shipped out, a website should be targeted locally. My website could be a lot more professionally designed than it is. But that would involve a much greater $$$ investment. And I just don't think that I would see a return on that investment.

For local businesses, a website can take the place of a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages at a fraction of the cost. For small shops that only cater to local customers, I think a website is nice to have. I just wouldn't go overboard with one. Just show your product and services, along with whatever basic info you want the customer to see.

But like Doyle says, if you already have a well-established business with a high-visibility location, and you aren't looking to expand regionally, I'm don't think that a website will make a significant difference in your life.

 
bobbin ,
sofa what are your address I don't see them in your profiles.  I used ti think the same way why a world wide web for only local, then I moved here and I do have repeat customers not like I did in NH.
a lot of people here are new to the area and find my website looking for work. a lot of newbys here now I feel like a old local . but it does expand my market. last winter I did a 6k enclosure on abpat an hour away in ft myers beach. in the past ive been to treasure island near tampa 11/2 hours away for 7k Gulfport 6k a few years ago and got a neighbors boat at the marina for the same  so for a 100 buck about a year a website is way better then a yellow page add for me and you can display your work.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: MinUph on August 31, 2013, 09:41:26 PM
Ditto on what Mike said.
  We have a site that brings work in. The boss has been in business for over 25 yrs. and the site brings in new people. In large metropolis areas it is hard to find business's. Seems foolish but its true. I've always been in favor of a presents. For the money its is foolish not to.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on August 31, 2013, 09:52:03 PM
Quote from: Mojo link=topic=12543.msg101694#msg101694
In regards to your website I would be more then happy to review it for you and make suggestions.
I am always willing to confidentially review any of your marketing materials ( off the forum ) and lend advice and make suggestions. Simply drop me an e-mail. I have helped several forum members here in the past and enjoy doing so. In case your wondering I never charge anyone. None of us on this site have any money anyways. :)

Feel free to PM me if you have questions or need me to look something over. Marketing to most people is frustrating and I understand this. I find sewing frustrating..:)

Chris
Chris was very helpful and gave me some great pointed I used on my website

Paul looks like the boss has 6 locations? wow
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on August 31, 2013, 10:28:44 PM
For the money its is foolish not to.
I totally agree. The website is a much better value for the money than most any other form of advertising. Especially the Yellow pages.

I may have done a poor job expressing my thoughts regarding websites in my previous post. But I still that contend that a website may not make a significant difference given certain circumstances.

For me, it has not only brought a lot of e-mail inquiries, but generated a ton of cushion replacement and recliner repair jobs.
These are 2 services that I consider "fast money".

But even if a website only generated 1 job a year, you still recoup your investment. And for you guys that live in a highly competitive area, you can't afford not to have one.

But I know some local small business owners that have spent thousands of $$$ on their website. Not necessarily smart if you ask me.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on September 01, 2013, 03:25:24 PM
Yellow page listings are free here.  If you want an ad, they are at a cost.

Most people in this area go to a listing get the phone number and address.  They call to verify they can get it done and when.  A good shop location brings business to the door.

Doyle 

Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on September 01, 2013, 05:23:52 PM
I have not linked my website to this site.  I am not ready to do that because I'm not yet pleased enough with it. 

I have lots of experience (30+ yrs.) but those years were spent "workin' for the man" and I've been really lax about photographing work I've done privately.  What pictures I have are really pretty crummy.  I'm not all that interested in taking a photography class right now.  I think hiring a pro. and having the things I'd  like shot would be more productive. 

I agree that a website for an busy, ESTABLISHED business wouldn't be that important.  However, I'm neither of those things!  And my "target market" is young, monied, professionals.  And they use the internet!!!  They don't have land lines, they don't use the Yellow Pages! they use the internet, and they want to see pictures of work.  End of story. 

I need  my website to be an "on demand portfolio".  There are some useful Adult Ed. classes on internet marketing, and website "development" in my community.  I'll take them and see what happens.

Mojo, thank you so much for your very generous offer.  I may well take you up on it.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on September 01, 2013, 08:55:16 PM
bobbin I found taking pictures take a lot , digital was neat when I got it no wasted film and my iphone I always have on my and get some good shots , I take a lot amd find a few good ones, like last week I took about 8 and got this one cool shot at sunset on the harbor  I do the same with my work I take al different angles and pick the best

(http://s5.postimg.org/ar00b372b/photo_3.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/ar00b372b/)
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on September 02, 2013, 06:43:39 AM
Mike, I really struggle with lighting.  Much of my work is interior and I find it terribly difficult to get the lighting right.  I don't understand enough about the basic concept and I struggle with the many menus on my (pretty cheap) Canon.  But I keep pluggin' along.  :)
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on September 02, 2013, 07:41:37 AM
Consumers for the most part all ask "how much" meaning they are shopping and looking for price.  The internet has expanded their search for products that can be bought for less.  Young and old, rich and poor, they all do it.

But, the true analysis of how effective selling with a site on the web is, given that business is picked up with a site and it is.  Searches on the inernet not only find web sites, they find listings in the yellow pages.  So, if I was getting jobs from the web, it does not preclude getting the same work from a yellow page listing.

We frequently get business from young and old who have googled to find us and google will look at yellow page listings, specifically within a specified zip code.  So any work being picked up by a site is also in the same market for a simple yellow page listing.

Customers drive up, say I have heard of you, know someone who used you and recommended I call you.  Then, it is often learned that they googled Yellow pages for the number and the address which they entered into their GPS system that allowed them to drive up to the door.  This is very expedient for consumers whose time is important because they can drop off and pick up on the way home after work.

Business analysis requires a perspective from all angles meaning that work comes from any one of them, not only one of them.  Computer savy people will get your listing and/or web.  Therefore, keep in mind you might have gotten the job with either facility or some other way, a brick and mortar, referral, or?

Marketing is important, definitely depends on what you market and where you market.

My style of work, my gosh, it would be inefficient to entertain a market far away that I am not going to get.  Much smarter to take care of the local market and figure out ways to get the work done better and more efficient.  Time is money, need to spend the time on producing something that will pay.

Business is not all about craftsmanship, there are so many dimensions to it, all important.  Mojo said his brother or whatever was a great mechanic but failed twice (or more?).  Why the failure, well Mojo told it was something in a different vernacular like he wouldn't listen and didn't have the act together.  You know, common sense sometimes is what it takes. 

Don't take this as an argument, just a perspective of experience.

Doyle 


   
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on September 02, 2013, 09:19:04 AM
I don't take your perspective as an "argument".  I know it's your perspective based on your own experience in business.  My experience, based on my own professional contacts and the input from my younger (monied) clientele tells a different story, that's all. 

I have found the computer one of the tougher things to "master".  Frequently it's been a exercise in frustration and a stern reminder that ability in one's trade is not the only thing necessary for success in other areas!  (you "got that right"!).  But using a computer for bookkeeping and billing? the only way to fly! (in spite of the steep learning curve). 

I think, however, you have missed the salient reason for the necessity of a website for my business, DB.  I have no desire to attempt to "sell" to a distant market, at all.  I am a custom shop and I desire to sell only within a reasonable and limited local market.  I do custom work and I sell quality and convenience (pin fit in a client's home or pattern on a client's yacht).  I don't care a fig about trying to satisfy someone a thousand miles away, not my game.  I need a "portfolio" of my work (in all its facets) that is readily available to my customer base whenever and wherever they may be.  It's a convenience for them and allows them to decide whether or not they are interested enough to call me. 
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on September 02, 2013, 10:59:01 AM
I have not linked my website to this site.  I am not ready to do that because I'm not yet pleased enough with it.
I think that we are all our own worst critics. While I think that my website needs a lot of work, customers tell me several times a week how much they like it. That leads me to the conclusion that the average customer wouldn't know a bad website even if it bit 'em in the ass.  ;)

I'm convinced that a bad website is better than no website at all. Even a poorly designed website will bring in a few extra customers that you wouldn't have got otherwise. And for a small one-man shop, sometimes a few extra customers is all you need.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on September 02, 2013, 11:20:33 AM
I think Sofa., you're pretty much right about that.  But I am fussier than most and until I'm better able to organize and cull some photos and add more photos to the leaner parts of my website I'm not willing to link to it.  Call me "camera shy", but I'm not ready to unveil it just yet. 
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on September 02, 2013, 07:54:29 PM
In my case, I have approximately 40 semester hours of computer science at the grad school level.  My undergraduate degree is solid technical.  Computers I have programmed, learned couple different languages.

In addition, don't get the idea I don't execute on computers, all my invoicing and associated data basing I developed myself.  If I needed a web site, I would get a primer and develop one myself. 

Sofa, you say if a web site brought in a minimum more, it would be justified.  I can bring in a ton of more work by taking care of my large clients, I have several corporate customers whose accounts are growing because I am taking care of them. 

So, your perspectives are Great!! Great for the way you apparently manage your business.  But, you heard it here, not mine.   People who develop web sites have looked at my situation and agree, a web site isn't needed.  It would only be something else to take valuable time from you.  Some see the picture, they admit your skills, experience, and knowledge and management experience, they add -- is not reproduceable.  I envy you, they say if I knew what you do, I wouldn't be selling web sites.  LOL.  I also have a sense of humor.

It can be left there, not being critcal of how you do things, that sounds foolish.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on September 03, 2013, 08:08:17 PM
Bobbin:

Whether your business is National based like me or local it doesn't matter. A website is a must now days. What research has proven and all the studies I have reviewed have shown that customers now days like to research the business they patronize BEFORE they buy or place orders.

Like it or not the consumer world is now driven by computers and more importantly the internet. I am always amazed when I get an order via e-mail and then bill the customer through paypal. Later the customer comes up and shakes my hand and introduces himself and there stands a 75 year old senior citizen. So even the seniors are getting tech savy.

I would probably have to close my doors if I removed my website. So many orders come to me after they have reviewed my website. I also use my website as an information warehouse so I can point customers to it and save me the time in answering questions.

I am in the process of hiring a guy to revamp my website. I do not like it and never have. It is time for a professional to go in and write the code. I found a guy who does freelance work and is an expert at it but it is a little dicey as he is a tech for the company my son owns. I am not sure I want to hire one of his employees even though my son gave his blessing and pointed me to him. I just feel it isn't right and it would put alot of stress on the poor guy working for the Dad of his CEO. :)

This guy by the way is using a new web building program that makes it very easy for dummies ,like me to update. You just click, type, remove or move around pictures right online. I think this program is called Concrete.

As I have said before, I will be more then happy to run through what you have and make suggestions all confidentially of course. But either way you really need a website, even if your going to stay local and I am sure you know this which is why your working so hard on it.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on September 07, 2013, 01:06:17 PM
I used to date a very bright, very funny guy who was "all about" computers.  I recall asking him if it would be a wise idea to take a computer programming class (c. 1980).  He laughed and said, no because it would be a waste of time and money.  I've never forgotten that.  He went on to work for a small company called, Apple (and is still there!).  I have LOTS of techie friends.

I have no doubt, DB, that you use computers easily.  Hammer., too.  It's harder for me, but I know I have to do it and I toil ever on.  But the point I feel you've missed entirely is the necessity for a portfolio of my work to be available 24/7.  Your business is established and you don't have the need to build a relationship with higher end interior designers.  I do.  I need to link my work to the young, hip, talented designers, and their monied clientele.  And those people use the internet and cruise websites.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on September 07, 2013, 08:21:28 PM
Bobbin, to your surprise, I read you perfectly and respect your rational to achieve your objectives.  

There is always more than one way to perform an upholstery task, same as more than one way to manage a business activity.  

This underlying subject of marketing with or without certain methods of attracting  business is as variable as it gets.  Muuuuch deeeper than it has been presented here.

In professional environments, much is said about conducting meetings as brain storming where everyone's input is accepted as good input, then one can filter and think how it all applies to their situation, values, and understanding or to the issue at hand in the corporate world.  In essence there is no bad input.  Then, go from there.

Like said, issue is much deeper.  just about as variable as there are types of business.

Carry on, we need more good ideas for our business.

Possibly this helps.

Doyle

Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on September 09, 2013, 11:27:24 AM
My son got interested in computers at the age of 10. At the age of 14 I started a little computer company for him. I wanted him to get some business experience and make a little spending cash on the side. He built systems and repaired them and also installed networks using Novell. At the age of 15 he installed a remote weather station for the Fed's. From there it was a roller coaster ride for him.

At the age of 18 he enrolled in College which lasted two days. he seen what was being taught and laughed and walked out the door. None of it pertained to the real world and they were a year or two behind the latest software and technology. Him and a friend started screwing around designing some software ( hat I know nothing about ) but it powers sites like this one. He made no money and spent 12 to 16 hours a day working on this software. I was getting frustrated and at my wits end and told him to get a job in computers working for someone else. It was the biggest mistake I made in my business consulting career as I never seen the potential of what he was working on. I also hated computers which gave me even more reason to persuade him to move in another direction. Thank God he never listened.

Him and his partner hit it big. By the time they were 25 they were both millionaires. Today their company is one of the largest in the sector and they are worldwide. Their clients list covers some heavy hitters from NASA to the NFL to celebrities to Fortune 500 companies.

What a mistake I made by not realizing the power of computers and software. Thankfully my son still pays his Daddy tax once a year and I am grateful he stuck with what he believes in and didn't listen to his Old man.

Things have not changed much. I still hate computers and detest learning new programs. But I remain a VERY proud Dad. :)

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on September 09, 2013, 07:42:59 PM
Some general questions:

1.  Do much COM work?
2.  Where do most obtain their materials?
3.  As a business owner, do you think consumers are smart to provide COM?

These questions are asked from business experience ranging back to when there was no COM (if you can imagine) to considerable amount of COM.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on September 09, 2013, 09:41:50 PM
1.  Do much COM work?
I've been hovering right around 50/50 (COM vrs. in-store fabric sales) for over 10 years.

Last year was a 10 year low for ISFS. This year is on pace to be a 10 year high. I think one of the main reasons is that discount fabric stores aren't as ridiculously cheap as they used to be. Most of the COM jobs that I get in now come from online stores.

As a business owner, do you think consumers are smart to provide COM?
Savvy maybe, but not necessarily smart. It's up to us shop owners to take away their incentive to look for cheap COM.

Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on September 09, 2013, 10:42:51 PM
That is impressive chris! how old is your son now?
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on September 10, 2013, 07:34:11 AM
He is 35. I believe he is working for 5 more years and then retiring. He is burnt out and wants to start doing something else. He is considering commercial real estate development or some other business he has a passion for.

To be honest, I wouldn't want his job. I worry about him and his health because he works 7 days a week and sometimes 16 hour days. As the CEO he is constantly on the phone taking USA calls and overseas calls troubleshooting issues and both have different time zones. When you have major clients like NASA, Warner Brothers, Yahoo, etc. they tend to think they own you when they sign contracts with them. They have alot of celebrities as clients and whenever one of them makes an announcement they are non stop busy for 24 hours. An announcement by Madonna had him and his technicians running for 48 hours to keep her data and site up and running.

He needs to slow down but then I set a pretty bad example of that.

Chris

Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on September 10, 2013, 10:57:08 AM
Interesting correlation between you and your son, Chris.

Both successful in the corporate world. Your son is approaching burnout at 35. You had to bail for health reasons.

I get the impression from reading your posts, that if health had never became an issue, you would still be going 'balls to the wall' in the rat race. I suspect that if your son DOES  go into early retirement, he'll go crazy and be right back in within a year. Either that, or he'll go global in the commercial real estate biz.

If you guys need some sloth lessons, come on down and I'll teach you the 'Devil's workshop' ;)
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: bobbin on September 10, 2013, 05:21:59 PM
Most of my work is COM.  I'm fine with it.  I make it very clear that if there are flaws in the goods or the yardage is insufficient it's not MY problem.  Naturally, I like to sell fabric but the practical reality is that I can't compete with on-line stores, so why fight reality?

Many of my customers buy from cut-rate, discount shops/"rooms".  I sometimes regret the crummy goods but if they're happy with them, who am I to look at their choices disparagingly? you know?  I charge appropriately for my skill and if they're willing to pay top dollar for my skill and have me work on the proverbial "sow's ear", I'm not going to complain too much. 
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mojo on September 11, 2013, 07:10:35 AM
The whole family seems to be hardcore workers. My daughter is the same way and now works for herself as a hair stylist. 6 Days a week / 12 hours a day. She is 31 and can handle it I guess. My son wants to switch careers and start some other kind of business. What I don't know but if they sell their company he will never have to work again because they have a debt free company. I do not ever see him NOT working though.

I look back to my father, uncles and grandfather and they all were workaholics. Must be something in the genes. :) If I closed up shop tomorrow I would be right back doing something else. I love to work but am limited these days.

Chris
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on September 11, 2013, 07:31:04 AM
Quote
It's up to us shop owners to take away their incentive to look for cheap COM.



Interesting statement Dennis, what would a strategy look like to take convince consumers to go for quality?  Price has been their interest.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: sofadoc on September 11, 2013, 08:37:02 AM
.........what would a strategy look like to take convince consumers to go for quality?  Price has been their interest.
The pendulum has already swung too far toward COM. It'll never swing back to in-store sales. Many small shops work from a garage or adjacent-to-residence. So without a commercial location, they really don't even want to display fabrics for the customers. They'd rather the customer furnish their own. For them, it makes sense.
They don't have to cover the added expense of a commercial building. So they can just work for labor.

I want to sell fabrics. So I will continue to try to grab as big a slice of the pie as I can.

My methods (to take away their incentive to furnish their own material) aren't anything revolutionary.
1) Charge more labor for COM
2) Offer no warranty on COM jobs
3) Remind the customer that discount fabric stores/online stores also offer no warranty
4) Show them examples of COM fabric that didn't last very long
5) Explain to them that many COM fabrics didn't receive the full "finish" treatment when manufactured. They are seconds that were literally "sold out the back door"

I really don't mind when customers furnish quality COM. But it fries me when they bring in some cheap crap all wadded up in a paper sack from some place like JoAnn's. I've actually started telling a few of them that there will be an extra charge to steam all the wrinkles/creases out.
 
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: baileyuph on September 11, 2013, 07:53:09 PM
You hit the same nail on the head that I use.  Plus I explain if they should need more COM, they might be out of luck, especially anything with a big discount.

The big retailers will order in front line materials, from sample books.

I agree, sell up and sell fabrics in the process.

Doyle
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on September 15, 2013, 03:36:59 PM
He is 35. I believe he is working for 5 more years and then retiring. He is burnt out and wants to start doing something else. He is considering commercial real estate development or some other business he has a passion for.
must be nice im jelouse .
if I could retire id like to do something easy again like running a small bait shop but without having to worry about money
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: Mike on September 15, 2013, 03:49:31 PM
speaking of com, I never get it with boat work they call me want it redone =ne and I supply the vinyl's.  until last month or so a girl called emailed me photos of a jet boat seat I gave her a price I didn't here back until latr she said she had a lady who was going to do it but cansled could I still do it? she had the material fromk the other lady I sad ok the cost would be less $75  and I hope its enough can you get more?  well it was 1/2 a yard short I had to do a couple of small pieces under the seat not seen a 2 to finnish luck I had some spare grey close in color.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: byhammerandhand on September 15, 2013, 04:25:42 PM
If I won $10 million on Mega Lotto, I'd open an upholstery shop and run it until the money was all gone.

speaking of com, I never get it with boat work they call me want it redone =ne and I supply the vinyl's.  until last month or so a girl called emailed me photos of a jet boat seat I gave her a price I didn't here back until latr she said she had a lady who was going to do it but cansled could I still do it? she had the material fromk the other lady I sad ok the cost would be less $75  and I hope its enough can you get more?  well it was 1/2 a yard short I had to do a couple of small pieces under the seat not seen a 2 to finnish luck I had some spare grey close in color.
Title: Re: General Business Question
Post by: kodydog on September 15, 2013, 06:46:09 PM

I really don't mind when customers furnish quality COM. But it fries me when they bring in some cheap crap all wadded up in a paper sack from some place like JoAnn's. I've actually started telling a few of them that there will be an extra charge to steam all the wrinkles/creases out.
 

We're doing a rush job for a lady who ordered cut velvet from England. It came in loosely rolled and full of creases. At first she was going to buy in stock fabric from us but her daughter talked her into the $100 per yard stuff. Not sure what she's going to do now but the rush is over.

We spent over an hour trying different methods to get the creases out. We tried wrinkle rid, steam (both sides), brushing it out and combinations of all 3 methods. The creases are throughout the whole roll, about every 26 inches. Any ideas?