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The Business Of Upholstery => The Business Of Upholstery => Topic started by: baileyuph on June 17, 2017, 07:52:52 AM

Title: Diversification?
Post by: baileyuph on June 17, 2017, 07:52:52 AM
It has been quite a week;

Reupholstered two pieces of furniture -

Repaired several pieces of this "New furniture" - less than a week old (uph & frame work were the issues.

Made a bimini top for a larger pontoon boat (Over 18 yards) -

Custom decals were applied to four head rest on a brand new jeep - customer had
4 embroidered decals (very formally designed/colored) installed.  Required removal and
dissassembly of the original (french seams & top stitched seams) upholstery to do the  attach stitch, then resew the original seams recapturing the original style seams, yes hitting the original needle holes.  Customers are different these days, this car cost over 64 K but the logos were important to him.  Note, the OEM work had to be un-sewed to gain needle access -

Repaired a power recliner (diagnose and replace the rectifier and drive motor) -

Two large 6 inch foam replacements in larger sectional cushions -

A couple other smaller jobs (few minutes of work) -

Whew!  I suppose the summary is - business has become -- "DIVERSIFIED" !!!

How did it go with you "others"?

Never a dull moment, a customer commented that  "you need to hire more labor!"

Where???, this could almost be a dying breed - as known now


Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: Mojo on June 17, 2017, 10:11:20 AM
I envy you Doyle.

I can remember when I first started in the upholstery trade. I would do a set of solar screens one day, a seat cushion for a golf kart the next and maybe some upholstery for a boat. I loved it because you never knew what would come in the door next.

Then the awning niche took over and that was all she wrote. Words could never describe just how mundane doing awnings is. The only thing that seems to change is the size and color. I do not keep accurate records when it comes to how many fabric replacements for awnings we have done but I know we are well over 12,000 since 2006.

I just brought home my old Chandler 406 and set it up in my old shop. I will do some stuff at home with it ( cushions, custom covers, etc. ). I miss that kind of work.

I have such deep respect for all of you who can take a car seat, a couch, chair or whatever and turn it into a beautiful restoration. A Monkey can sew awnings but it takes a true craftsman to do what you guys and gals do.

Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: baileyuph on June 17, 2017, 08:59:35 PM
I hear ya Chris, but we have to admit that selling over 12000 of an item in that period of time sounds very exciting!  ($$$$).

Business changes, as you know, and I keep a vigil eye for a nitch that can be automated. 
That is, something that can be done (most anyway), by going digital.  Maybe, one should
go after the digital capability anyway and apply it to the lower volume custom work. 
More specifically, take advantage of the technology available that will enable one to digitize
the one at time custom jobs, which would lead to digital layout and cutting as well.  That would save time as long as one can achieve the patterns digitally in significantly less time.

The process I describe can be applied to fleet truck operators or one at a time truck customers.  As we often acknowledge, the products we work on are accomplished much
]more efficiently by factories, that is who we (custom shops) could advance our throughput by their practices. 

These analytics flow through my mind almost daily.

That is, move from analog to digital patterns and continue to enhance the sewing in the
same manner.  Of course, keep a keen focus on the products that the idea (s) would best apply to.

It is doable, as I understand it.

I suppose your business is already using digital support.  Looks like a serious candidate!


Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: 65Buick on August 25, 2017, 11:57:32 PM
This post is perfect for my question.

I am having a heck of a time trying to sell my product & services. I was shooting for residential upholstery - seating.

I don't know why. Even designers, that I have met with, maybe they end up buying online, or through other vendors. Maybe they don't care about custom, or select shops set up to build anything.

What I do know is - I want to stitch. A lot. As much as possible. Maybe I should take a different direction?

Any input is appreciated.
Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: kodydog on August 27, 2017, 08:01:16 PM
It takes a while to build up a solid base of customers. Over the last 32 years we have moved 3 times. Each time was like starting over. Building our name and winning customer confidence took time. Like 3 years before we really started rolling. Designers are quirky. Some will glam onto you and others are very leery because of bad experiences. You really have to sell yourself. A face to face meeting helps if you can get one.

Advertising is the key but advertising has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Most print advertising is a waste of money for a one man shop. Yellow pages may still work but is expensive. Forget about any large news papers or glossy magazines. Small newspapers are more affordable but my experience is people responding to those ads are looking for a bargain.

The future of advertising is the internet. I've been building our digital presence for the last 3 years and it is really paying off. A web site is key and there are plenty of low cost, do it yourself services on the web. We contacted a rep from SCORE who gave us a lot of helpful advice.

Its important to claim your business and build a page on all of the available high profile business sites. Google My Business is absolutely necessary to get your search ranking on page one. Google owns Google Maps. You need to be on it even if you work at home. It sucks when a customer shows up unexpectedly but if your not on Google Maps your going to be way low on search engine results.

Google also owns YouTube. Be creative and make a video or slide show and get your business on there.

So far I haven't spent a dime on internet advertising. Here are four more business sites I really like.
1. Facebook Business Page, no explanation needed here.
2. Yelp, easy to set up a page and add photos
3. Houzz, is set up to help both the home owner and businesses in the field of decorating.
4. You can create a free online listing for your hometown. January our new yellow pages comes out. We have signed up for one reason. will not let us advertise in other towns without a yellow page listing in that town. We live in High Springs but our biggest draw is Gainesville. Right now we cannot advertise on in Gainesville. This will solve that problem.
As you are building your internet presence you will run across a site called Yext. They are a big player in cordonating business pages. But they charge, for everything. I stay away from Yext.

Get on Manta's e-mail list. This is a site dedicated to help business rank higher on the internet. Everyday they send me short tutorials and have been a wealth of knowledge.
Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: 65Buick on August 28, 2017, 09:02:33 PM
Thanks KodyDog. I'm doing just about everything you've mentioned. I will start claiming my business as your suggested using the major websites.

I'm joining the local interior designer group. I was received well, which was really thrilling. I hope it will pay off. Everyone I met (face to face) was very professional, likeable, etc. Many of them are business owners themselves so I hope that they can see I am trying to make money too, I can't just give my work away. Cost of living here is very high, only short of NYC.

As I am not working explicitly on projects this week I am cleaning up and refining my digital presence. I also use instagram to get my name out, which does really help when it comes to people recognizing me.
Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: brmax on August 29, 2017, 10:33:49 AM
Do you use face book now as a biz, just curious.

  I have thought about diversification in these related talents most here make their lively hood.
The idea is always interesting in special respect to new! experiences.  I am not young and so am reluctant to stray far from the porch. Here in these times I think back to many trainers mention, the project take on of what you can have time to study. For me this and many times the area or space. In my former this is no different except the amount of area a piece can take up. And jokingly here and these concerned talents we sure cannot use outside as I could and "had to" many times. Or even now with boats many times.
Always enjoy the crafted questions, they help a great deal. I wished the upholstery magazine was still available with discussions of these new trends, digital of all kinds.

Good day there
Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: 65Buick on August 30, 2017, 02:25:26 PM
Floyd, yes I use FB & instagram for biz.
Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: kodydog on August 30, 2017, 07:48:56 PM
Give us the name of your fb page and we will all like it. Search engine optimization (SEO) is complicated. I have done everything I can think of to get my web site to the top of the first page. There are two other shops I cannot get above. One is a Face Book page that is updated infrequently. Why is this guy ahead of my web site that is updated weekly? Point is give us a link to your FB page. You just don't know what this will do to boost your ranking.
Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: 65Buick on August 30, 2017, 09:58:04 PM
my FB page is:

But honestly I don't do much there. My wife does marketing and her boss even said instagram is better. And, after trying it for a while, it is. It is much simpler and connects businesses much faster.
Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: kodydog on August 31, 2017, 07:25:01 PM
Thanks 65 Buick. I have considered instagram but haven't taken the leap. I joined Linkedin but once I signed up I didn't really know what to do with it. I have a page on Pintrest with many photos but don't know if its worth the time. I have only a few hours a day to keep up with it all. My wife has taken over our Facebook page and enjoys keeping it updated several times a week. My plan is to find 5 or 6 business pages that work and put most of my efforts into them. I'm always looking for the next best thing.

 BTW I like your FB page that dog is awesome.
Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: 65Buick on August 31, 2017, 09:22:37 PM
I feel I'm pretty savvy with computers, etc. Grew up with them.

And as such, pertaining to upholstery, I would say
FB & Instagram

No for
LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, they'll be a new one tomorrow.

It all takes time and honestly some of it is a waste.

Instagram is easy, takes 5 seconds, and connects people well.

Thanks, that's my pal Wilbur. He's a hound, mostly mini-dachschund, but part rat? terrier.
I've been looking for a camp for him to go to, but he doesn't like that kind of thing. So it will be difficult for both of us.
Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: baileyuph on September 02, 2017, 08:37:26 AM
Diversification is inevitable in time.  If I just worked on what I did when I started, there is no way
I would be able to stay in business today.

As I think about it, auto restoration of certain years are not restored today like old.  A lot of the
older high quality furniture isn't even done today (not like the old days - features/latex, and so on
have changed the face of things. 

There is new equipment today that wasn't around some years ago.

Time changes just about everything, as technology and markets change.

Just one of the driving forces that causes change is we have to make a living.  Ask yourself
if you are making a living doing the business?  Your answer could encourage a change.

Good discussion folks,

Title: Re: Diversification?
Post by: Mojo on September 05, 2017, 08:01:47 AM

Throughout my entire career as a marketing analyst and consultant I learned a great deal from some of the Fortune 500 companies I worked with. While many may have not focused on diversifying they did constantly study new product lines and product/service enhancements.

My success lies with my mentors. I had the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in business and marketing. A great deal of marketing is getting inside the consumer's mind and then finding ways to exploit their wants and needs. I have done this with both of our companies by studying consumer demands and then designing products/services around their needs. I watch, I study and I listen.

Sometimes growth is found in enhancing a product or service and other times it can be found in new products. I have attempted to do both with our companies. It takes a great deal of time and it requires that one steps out of their business mode and into the shoes of the customer. I have seen entire companies destroyed by hard headed owners who shoved services or products down the throats of what THEY thought customers needed versus listening, watching and studying what the consumer actually wants and needs.

I made it a priority to know our customers habits, needs, wants and lifestyles and then designed and formulated products and services around that. I always stand in my customer's shoes to gain a vantage point of what they are looking at.

Diversifying can bring growth but enhancing products and services can as well. I employ a mixture of both. I am always looking at ways to enhance what we have while also looking for new product lines to diversify our company. JMHO.