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The Business Of Upholstery => The Business Of Upholstery => Topic started by: mike802 on May 07, 2014, 10:51:29 AM

Title: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: mike802 on May 07, 2014, 10:51:29 AM
Hi everyone:  Yesterday I severed ties with my best return customer, a decorator I have been working with for 8 1/2 years.  Why?  Well, incorrect or incomplete information on a work order led to the wrong product being delivered.  I tried to work with them, they admitted to not giving me all the information, but still said it was my fault.  I pondered all our past, and at the time possible future work and decided not to split hairs and just credit them the total price for the wrong product to keep a long standing customer happy.  Then they told me there customer wanted an upgrade, great right?  So I estimated the cost of an upgrade, deducted the cost of the first incorrect product and came up with a cost.  Unfortunately they thought that was way to much and they figured I should offer them the upgrade at my cost plus give them credit on the wrong product.  To say the least my mother did not raise no fool and I told them to bring the van and pick up any and all remaining furniture in my studio and find a new upholster.  This may sound rash, but over the years I have bent a little to much a little to often for these people and finally got to the last straw.  

To many nights working until 2 AM to meet one of their deadlines, being underhandedly accused of ordering extra fabric and selling the remnants, loosing out on large 10 grand orders because I refused to guarantee fabric they sell, they expect me to give them an exclusive service by not telling the customers I deliver to who my company is, but they have no problem using different upholsters, being asked for estimates when they really are looking for bids,  I could go on and on, but this helps me get it off my chest.

One more thing, when the fabric arrived it was side marked for the pool room in the guest house, and this decorator has the odasity the tell me her client is working on a fixed budget, maybe I should ad lying to my list of complaints, on top of questioning my professionalism!  
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: SteveA on May 07, 2014, 11:13:17 AM
Mike
I've parted ways with customers like that 5-6 times over the years.  Yes they paid a lot of bills and I really didn't mind working overtime in my own business but you reach a point when it's better to go another direction.  What seems apparent is you are really upset about this customer and you shouldn't be.  Better to put it out of your thoughts and realize it was long over due for you to say .......... " See Ya "  !
SA
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: mike802 on May 07, 2014, 12:13:48 PM
Thanks Steve:  Your very perceptive, yes I am quite upset about it, I think what upsets me the most is I put up with it for so long.  On my very first meeting with this decorator I loaded a job into my truck, as she put my name in her Rolodex she told me "this can be removed just as easy as it went in"  I should have told my helper right then and their to unload the work, as I would not work under such conditions.  My only solace in all this is in the end I was the one to tell her to remove it.  My hope is it will not be as easy as she thought it would be.
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: bobbin on May 07, 2014, 12:39:55 PM
Mike, it happens to everyone at some time or another.  Mine was an alteration customer who appeared every year/so.  Always to have something taken in.  Would never make the time to try the altered garment on when she picked it up... but called me 3 or 4 mos. later to tell me I'd taken the item in too much!  When I finally clamped down on the free do overs she wasn't very happy; one day she hit me at the wrong time and I told her working for her very frustrating for me because I could never make her happy.  "But where am I going to go now? can you recommend anyone?".  "You could always try the Yellow Pages.".

Yes, the decorator's work paid a lot of bills.  But if you're not treated with the respect your level of skill deserves... walk away!  No one needs that crap and professionals don't treat each other that way.  Make some time to go outside and enjoy this pretty spring day!
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: mike802 on May 07, 2014, 02:15:58 PM
Thanks Bobbin: You don't know how much it means to me to hear others opinions, especially when they tell me I made the right decision. LOL  I wonder if you alteration customer always came back right after the holidays? LOL

I think I will go out and enjoy the beautiful day we are having. Thanks.
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: bobbin on May 07, 2014, 03:05:15 PM
Actually Mike, you are exactly right about her unfailing "timing"! (took me longer to figure it out, frankly)   ::)  Which has me thinking, do you think she ever figured her card could be removed from the rolodex as quickly as yours could??

I think it's really hard when you work by yourself and are faced with this sort of situation.  I know I always second guess myself... "am I being stupid?", "is it really that annoying?", "am I being unreasonable/unfair?", should I bid adieu to someone who's been a reliable customer for thus and such an amount of time?
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: Steve at Silverstone Fabrics on May 07, 2014, 03:37:52 PM
Mike, Keep your fingers crossed that she will want to "mend fences" and have you become her upholsterer again.

Several years back, I had a similar incident with an interior designer (she always introduced herself: Ms Mary Beth S--------E, ASID) and when she called to try and lure me back. I told her "Have a happy life and never call me again!".......I hung up the phone and realized this is why I am willing to pay the price to self employed. I do not have bosses, I only have customers.......some I want and others that I don't.

Hang in there, you did the right thing. Steve
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: sofadoc on May 07, 2014, 05:53:33 PM
She never would've got past that Roladex remark with me.


I've had to sever ties a few times over the years. Decorators and regular customers that demand preferential treatment. The first inclination is to worry about the lost income. But then I would quickly realize that since they were such a PITA, getting rid of them only opened things up for more profitable work.
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: mike802 on May 07, 2014, 07:32:52 PM
Thanks guys for all your support, really nice to hear similar stories.

Quote
She never would've got past that Roladex remark with me.
 Sofa, looking back, I think I was in shock from hearing it and was totally taken off guard. It's been a thorn in my side ever since.

 
Quote
do you think she ever figured her card could be removed from the rolodex as quickly as yours could??
  You know Bobbin, no I don't think she ever even considered I would tell her to take a hike.  I know what you mean about second guessing our decisions, or how we feel, but I got out into the sun today and I feel a whole lot less stress.
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: west coast on May 07, 2014, 10:18:16 PM
Funny eh we can all relate stories of the same situation. In my case it was like a cleansing and relief all at once. The funny thing is I think I went on to make more money and I am darn sure she went on to make alot less going to the shop she went to, win win!
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: sofadoc on May 08, 2014, 08:45:22 AM
they expect me to give them an exclusive service by not telling the customers I deliver to who my company is
I have a decorator who will come in my shop and nose around. When she sees a name on a piece of furniture that matches the name of one of her past/present clients, she will quiz me about it. She has told me that she expects me to refuse any of her clients unless they go through her first.

When I do work for her, I try to remain as anonymous as possible when dealing directly with her clients. But hey, I've got a public store front right downtown, and my business is listed in the local YP's. I'm not turning down anyone who calls me on the phone, or walks into my shop. I'm not going to refuse a customer just because some ID thinks that she has "dibbs" on them.

There was a time when I probably could've worked exclusively for decorators. But as discount fabric stores have popped up everywhere over the last 20+ years, the ID biz has dried up considerably. Decorators come.......they go.......I'm still here.
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: bobbin on May 08, 2014, 09:42:38 AM
Ain't that the truth.  When I do work for an ID I remain very much in the background, too.  But all's fair when the customer contacts me directly.  If an ID wishes an upholsterer to remain "anonymous" shouldn't a retainer be paid??
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: mike802 on May 08, 2014, 04:17:17 PM
I agree that if an ID wants you to be anonymous they should be willing to concede something on their end, I think a minimum of using no other upholster at least.  I have decided that I will no longer remain anonymous for anyone, my tags will always go on my work, how else can I build my business?  The ID I was working for was building a reputation for excellent reupholstering service on my back and now I have to go up against the reputation I built for them. Anyway, their reputation will fall fast, she told me I was the best upholster she had ever worked with.
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: kodydog on May 09, 2014, 08:03:36 PM
Anyway, their reputation will fall fast, she told me I was the best upholster she had ever worked with.

I've seen your work and watched your videos and can tell you this ID is going to be very disappointed when she starts hunting for a new upholsterer.

As far as being anonymous my feeling is if the ID wants exclusive service then she should provide all the services to make sure the upholsterer has no contact with her customer. Going out to make yardage estimates comes to mind. Its not like were out there trying to steal their clients. That would be foolish. But it would also be foolish to turn down a job when her customer calls you. This customer may have found you anyway, even if you had never met the ID.

I generally like working for designers (btw what was her name, hmm) but we've fired at least 2 for acting rude over the years. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it.
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: Mojo on May 10, 2014, 07:20:12 AM
Mike:

I have seen your work and I know the type of person you are. In the end it will be a huge loss for her
and a gain for you. She never deserved you and your skills as a true craftsman. Like Dennis said I would have taken issue with the Rolodex comment right then and there and removed it myself for her. Bobbin hit the nail on the head with her professionalism comment. I have always felt that -
" Professional attitudes works wonders ".

I have never worked with an ID before and in my line of work probably never will. I read the stories that all of you post and it makes me grateful. I have a very low level of patience for people who think I owe them something and exist just for their benefit.

I am truly sorry you had to go through this but like my Dad always told me " It always works out in the end ". I am going to guess that she comes back to you at some point in time and I am hoping you tell her to go pound sand. :)

Chris
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: sofadoc on May 10, 2014, 09:33:28 AM
I have one decorator that decided I was charging too much for supplies like foam and batting.

So she ordered her own online. This is how the batting looked when I opened the box:
(http://i775.photobucket.com/albums/yy33/sofadoc/th_DSC05496.jpg) (http://s775.photobucket.com/user/sofadoc/media/DSC05496.jpg.html)

I normally get my batting off a supply truck that delivers it un-shrunk.

I'll have to waste a lot of time trying to get all the wrinkles out of this crap. The price that she paid for a 16 yard roll was only slightly less than what I would've charged her for 25 yards.

It's been my experience in recent years that ID's don't have as much common sense as they used to. They're always just looking for the cheapest way out.
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: mike802 on May 15, 2014, 10:40:45 AM
Thanks guys:  Man it's been one stressful event after another here lately, I guess when it rains it pours. LOL The rest has been of personal maters and not business related.  They came and picked up there remaining furniture and it was uneventful thankfully.  They brought help for loading, but I would not let them touch a thing. The last thing I need is someone getting injured on my property.

Quote
I am going to guess that she comes back to you at some point in time and I am hoping you tell her to go pound sand.
  Chris, I wouldn't have it any other way, even it I was about half starved!

Quote
I have one decorator that decided I was charging too much for supplies like foam and batting.
  During our back and forth, trying to come to terms, I was told who my supplier was and what my markup should be and subsequently what I should be able to charge for my services.  This was a turning point, where I decided I no longer wanted them as a client.

Thanks once again everybody for your support, it really means a lot.
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: JuneC on May 15, 2014, 09:12:47 PM
During our back and forth, trying to come to terms, I was told who my supplier was and what my markup should be and subsequently what I should be able to charge for my services. 

People kill me... sigh...  If it was so easy, why not do it yourself?  Some customer just aren't worth having.

June
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: SteveA on May 16, 2014, 05:33:45 AM
Mike
Just picture the first time their new upholstery service has a major wood structural damage to repair on the finished surface before recovering.  I'm thinking a full 4 oz can of minwax filler - brown crayons, and spray poly top coat.  When the client objects the decorator states - " that's character and distressing" !  But Ms. decorator, " I never noticed this distressing before on other finished pieces !"
SA
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: Mojo on May 16, 2014, 06:22:19 AM
I had to eat some dirt and play nice when we first started this business but those days are behind us thankfully.

I treat all of our customers with the utmost respect. We are known throughout the motorcoach circles as having the very best customer service of any company in our respective sector. We go overboard in some cases in assisting our customers, helping them line up technicians for installs, talking through install issues with them, etc.

But I will not stand for rudeness or deal with people who think we owe them a living. I especially despise those who try and cut our prices based on what others are charging. I just went through this with a customer this week when he e-mailed me saying " But XYZ company sells toppers for $ 30 less ". I very nicely told him we do not compete on price, we compete on quality of workmanship and materials as well as warranty periods. He came back yesterday and placed an order.

We offer the very best in materials and workmanship and we have triple the warranty the others have. Why would I want to try and compete on price ?

Once a customer turns into a jerk with me I will send them packing. Our Interior Decorators in our business are the RV dealers who come to us and want to cut our margins so they can mark our products up to the customer. Thankfully we only have a couple dealers to work with and their orders are very few and far between.

I get PO'ed when I read about ID's that push and shove our members here around. Especially when they are true masters at their trade like Mike. His furniture work is over the top high quality and this ID will never be able to replace his skills with another upholsterer.

Chris
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: sofadoc on May 16, 2014, 08:31:59 AM
Actually, I don't think that I have ever formally severed ties with an ID. What I have done, is just put them off until they get tired of waiting, and go somewhere else.

I've had some that call me again years later. By then, I've forgotten why we ended our relationship. Sometimes they've either mellowed, or they've "burned their bridges" with everyone else. So we get along OK the second time around.

There's a good chance that the ID in Mike's post will make more of an effort to get along with her next upholsterer. Her ego kept her from admitting any fault in dealing with Mike. But with a fresh start, she may try harder to be accommodating.

Kinda like marriage. Many fail the first time. But they learn from their mistakes, and they have success on the second one. But of course, there are others that just "ain't the marryin' kind".
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: kodydog on May 16, 2014, 08:54:36 PM
I very nicely told him we do not compete on price, we compete on quality of workmanship and materials as well as warranty periods. He came back yesterday and placed an order.

We offer the very best in materials and workmanship and we have triple the warranty the others have. Why would I want to try and compete on price ?

Exactly
Title: Re: Severed ties with my best return customer
Post by: byhammerandhand on May 17, 2014, 07:14:53 AM
"There is hardly anything in this world that some man cannot make a little worse
and sell a little cheaper, and those people who consider price only, are this man's lawful prey. It is unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money - that is all.   When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.    The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot; it cannot be done.   If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better"

John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)