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The Business Of Upholstery => The Business Of Upholstery => Topic started by: 65Buick on March 05, 2018, 10:12:25 PM

Title: Declining
Post by: 65Buick on March 05, 2018, 10:12:25 PM
Most of us understand pricing.
But here's what I don't understand. Folks making good money but instead offer you so little to do a job - it's insulting. Like, not really enough for materials.
Remember, I don't use a store front. So I run into these folks again. I don't know how to really respectfully decline, in a casual convo. We're all trying to make some money. So why offer what you know very well is not enough to do so?
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: MinUph on March 06, 2018, 05:43:15 AM
I run into this on a regular basis. Yesterday a guy came in with a roll of fabric and a dinning room seat. He wanted 5 done. I gave him my price and he was shocked. He said I was thinking 20 each. Why was I thinking 2o each. I said I dont know they are 45. He left. You should be giving customers a price not the other way around. And just stick to it. SOme people have no idea what things cost. And that's fine. But you do.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: Mojo on March 06, 2018, 08:11:48 AM
Many customers do not have the ability to put things into perspective when it comes to our work. I have found some that simply cannot understand or grasp the work we do. They believe a job takes an hour when in fact it takes 3. They have no comprehension of our overhead costs such as our building, taxes, electric, etc. Their entire focus is on a specific job or piece and everything that goes into that job escapes them. They only see a finished product without a clue as to how we will get there.

I used to get pissed off when some customer low balled me. Now I just chuckle and let it go. I had one guy tell me " I can get that awning for XX number of dollars cheaper through ???. I just smiled and said I understood and handed him my card and told him " hold on to this. In 2 years when the thread is rotted you will need me ". A week later he booked his order. I do not have time to screw with low ballers and cheap skates so I no longer bargain or beg for their work. They can KMA.

Ingrid takes a different approach. When they mention a competitor being lower priced she says " I cannot match their price because of the quality of our materials and I understand your looking for a bargain. But to help you get a better deal with them see if they can match our warranty. " That typically sells the order for her. It makes them think " damn, they must use cheap materials if their warranty is so short ".

We built our company on quality and customer service. Our reputation sells our jobs. In the grand scheme of things premium pricing can be obtained with ultra high quality materials and work and customers rarely challenge prices when quality is at stake. The trick is educating them on quality and the materials you use.

Mojo
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: kodydog on March 06, 2018, 09:39:07 AM
So 65, when someone calls you and says they have 6 dining chairs to recover. Then they say, I will pay you $20 each? That would be odd.

When a customer calls Rose they ask how much to recover something. The first thing Rose asks is can they send a picture? Rose will then work up an estimate from the photo and call them back. If they tell her so and so down the road will do it cheaper Rose explains things we do that others may not. If they say they can buy new for less Rose explains the problems with buying cheap furniture. If they simply cannot afford us there is no point in going any further.

Lord knows we turn away more jobs than we get. But we get enough jobs to stay busy. We have a nice group of regular customers who know the value of reupholstering. Our prices aren't outrageously high but we don't have to worry about paying the bills either.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: sofadoc on March 06, 2018, 10:43:42 AM
Most of us understand pricing.
But here's what I don't understand. Folks making good money but instead offer you so little to do a job - it's insulting. Like, not really enough for materials...............Remember, I don't use a store front.
I really think that most people don't even view upholstery as a viable trade anymore. They view us as hobbyists. Especially the ones that work from home, and don't have a commercial store front.

Recently, I quoted a man $475 to replace the foam cores in his cushions. He paused for a moment, and then asked "Would you do it for $80?"  I told him that $80 wouldn't even cover the cost of the foam. He said "OK, I'll pay whatever the foam cost, but not a penny more". The notion of factoring a profit into the equation never even occurred to him.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: SteveA on March 06, 2018, 10:50:20 AM
The last customer who came in and wanted to spend $ 25.00 / seat - just wrap around.... I told them yes if they remove the old fabric, all the staples, check for cracked wood, check the webbing and foam, I would then put the new fabric.  They left the seats and said please do the work and we're sorry if we under estimated the work and cost.  They just didn't realize the work even on a very simple job.  Turned out I only charged them $ 30.00 / seat - it was very easy but you don't know until you open it up. Some staples can be 3/8 in maple and a pain to remove.
SA
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: 65Buick on March 06, 2018, 12:45:09 PM
Many people ask for a quote. But there are many that just throw out an absurd number.

I really think that most people don't even view upholstery as a viable trade anymore. They view us as hobbyists. Especially the ones that work from home, and don't have a commercial store front.

Why? Because the market is flooded with cheap goods?
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: kodydog on March 06, 2018, 07:28:49 PM
I think most people view a brick and mortar as professional. They want to know where their furniture is going and that they can drop in anytime. Rose and I have had some interesting conversations about this. I wanted a commercial location she wanted to work from home. I'll bet we looked at every piece of commercial property within our budget. We knew our budget was a fixer upper type buildings. Everything we looked at either needed too much work or was inappropriate for an upholstery shop. In the end we opted for an at home business. This saved us about $60k.

We have compensated by making our website look professional. Often when a new customer drops by they are surprised we work at home. Nowhere on our website does it say we have a home based business. Most of our business is done at the customers home anyway. If they ask I simply tell them my shop is at my house in High Springs. This seems to satisfy them.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: SteveA on March 07, 2018, 09:43:42 AM
I think you way under estimated the savings for working at home.  Way more besides the space alone not to mention the peace of mind, ease of access, etc. 
We have the penny saver here and probably most do in other areas.  The popular service people there do not list a company name.  Example = Electrician - no job too small - call John for a free estimate 555-1212 -  this guy is busy all the time.  In this venue a company name would mean higher prices than the home based craftsman.
I've had experience using large companies and many times the work was unacceptable - the labor were low paid guys who didn't care about the job.  I've used numerous service people over the years - e.g.  roofer, mason,  plumber, all small home based guys who did a better job at less cost than a large visible company.
Maybe not the best example but look at Amazon - buy anything under the sun - no brick + mortar building. 
SA
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: kodydog on March 07, 2018, 01:58:41 PM
All good points Steve. I think what really put the cost of brick and mortar out of our reach was insurance and taxes. Other additional costs would be higher commercial rates for water/sewage and electricity. At one point we were looking at a commercial lot to build on. Impact fees were around $10 K.   :(

When the guy from the power company came by to estimate hooking power to the shop he asked if we were running a business out of it. Nooooo. Just using it for storage. He said good because commercial is a different rate. I didn't ask him why. He probably didn't know.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: sofadoc on March 07, 2018, 02:38:38 PM
This is another topic that we've talked into the ground before, but here goes again anyway.

There are pros and cons to commercial building vrs. home-based upholstery business.

True, I have more expenses with a building. Property taxes, insurance, and commercial utility rates.
But I also generate income from walk-ins that I wouldn't otherwise. My fabric sales alone more than covers the building expenses.

So which way makes more sense for a small upholstery shop? It's probably a wash. With a building, you make more but you also spend more.

The main thing I like about having a store front........I never have to "shake the bushes" for work. It finds me.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: SteveA on March 07, 2018, 06:31:21 PM
An old saying is " two hands can only earn so much money" 
I was always torn as to which direction to go. Had any of my son's wanted to do this my choice would have been different.  I had a store front at one time but when rent got too high I let it go.
I have regrets and there have been many slow periods where a visible presence would have carried the day.  Maybe it's an antiquated reason but back than I thought doing everything myself with as little expenses as possible I could keep more of every dollar. Doc you have a great set up - I'm working in a phone booth.  There are some days when I'd like to have the types of shop like you and Ed.  You also have buildings to sell when you've  had enough of this.
 Paul I'd be interested to know your thoughts.
SA
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: MinUph on March 07, 2018, 07:00:50 PM
Well you asked for it. :)

  My Dad and I worked for 25 years out of a 2 1/2 car garage. Did well enough. I moved into a shop that was off the beaten track and didn't do as well. I closed the business and when we moved to Fl. I saw the business from a different perspective. I worked for a guy and he had employees, did pretty well. I took it over and like the face that I have a shop where people can walk in and my employees help make a living for me and them. I like being out in the open. Sure it costs more but we make more. I'm still working out the number of employees that work best and getting close. Right now it is Me another bench man and my secretary. I need a stripper and delivery helper. I'm doing the cutting and sewing as it is very hard finding a seamstress, But it's working out well.
  So I like having a building I think it is much better. Just one man's opinion.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: 65Buick on March 07, 2018, 07:56:32 PM
I did google street for Minichillo's Upholstery. Pretty cool. You have a foam store right next door? Nice.

And sofa, what is your biz name so I can look that up?

I definitely ponder commercial space. I was at a meeting for these designers and the assistant's first question was 'do you have a storefront'. My answer was no, so she probably doesn't take me seriously.

For my personal life I have liked finally settling down and not being a gypsy. But there are many days I enjoy being out and about, driving from one location to the other for work, supplies, etc.

Title: Re: Declining
Post by: sofadoc on March 08, 2018, 09:22:25 AM
And sofa, what is your biz name so I can look that up?

This Google street view pic is from 2013 when a lot of construction was going on all around me. I'm now located around the corner from a ritzy dinner theatre. The entertainers park across the street from my shop. A few have wandered in over the years. I've met Roy Clark, Barbara Eden, Shirley Jones, Rick Springfield, and members of Quiet Riot, and the Village People. Billy Bob Thornton talked to me from across the street, but wouldn't come in. I read on Wikipedia that in addition to his many quirks, he has a deep rooted fear of antique furniture.

BTW It's called Payne's Upholstery because that was my mother's name after she remarried. When she passed, I just left it that way. My name is Dennis Locke.

I get wonderful exposure from this location, and my property taxes are only $1500 a year. The building is 2700 sq. ft. My electric bill (including water, sewer, and trash) is around $150 in the winter, and $225 in the summer. If I had to deal with some of the property values that you guys in other states have to deal with, you'd better believe I'd be working out of my garage.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/2405+St+John+St,+Greenville,
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: 65Buick on March 08, 2018, 10:26:30 AM
Dennis, what a cool and classic neighborhood there. Is Lee St. the main drag?
I once stayed a night in Dallas, and had the best steak I have ever had in my life.

There's a major city/town up the way from me. But where I am is really nothing special, and a lot of it was developed less than 50 years ago. My particular neighborhood, about 20 years ago.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: Mojo on March 08, 2018, 10:44:34 AM
We started our company in an enclosed trailer. I used the ramp door for cutting and had a plastic sewing table. I can still remember sewing in the Florida heat inside that NON air conditioned trailer. We then bought a house and I set up shop inside a spare bedroom. 3 months later business took off so I made a spare 10 x 20 room into my shop. Business kept growing so we expanded into our garage. Then orders really started pouring in so we are now leasing a 1,600 sq ft building in an industrial shop. We out grew that space in one year and are now looking for a building that will at least double our size.

I hate leasing mainly because I hate putting money into someone else's pocket. Our problem right now is trying to figure out where we want to relocate to. I have not had the time to do a study to find out where our best bet would be according to orders. Believe it or not, Florida is not our biggest State for sales.

Either way our end goal is to purchase a commercial property.

Mojo
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: sofadoc on March 08, 2018, 10:50:21 AM
Dennis, what a cool and classic neighborhood there. Is Lee St. the main drag?
Lee St. is the OLD main drag. All the fast food joints and major retail moved a few miles southward toward the interstate highway many years ago. But downtown has seen quite a resurgence in the last 10-15 years. A few upscale restaurants and the dinner theater I mentioned. But aside from a couple of upscale boutique shops, still not much retail. Mainly the courthouse surrounded by lawyers and bail bondsmen........and oh yeah.....an upholstery shop.

If you got a great steak in Dallas, you must've paid an arm and a leg for it. All the steak places that I can think of on an upholsterer's budget are pretty mediocre.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: 65Buick on March 08, 2018, 01:27:11 PM
If you got a great steak in Dallas, you must've paid an arm and a leg for it.

That would probably be accurate. Though it was back in 08. We were on a splurge, and stayed at the Hilton. It was a good time. On the way back from working a summer in Michigan.
Title: Re: Declining
Post by: baileyuph on March 10, 2018, 09:41:34 AM
Yes, to all reasons stated.

Another is some are only looking at price, not quality.

Commercial space, high quality materials, and good marketing!

The market, much don't have a clue about the work requirements.  Market to the where the money is,
those are a lot less to worry about a few bucks and will not compare you to the Asian imported new
prices.

Going forward, shops will have to be smarter, the younger people are more "new" oriented".

I stay busy!!

Doyle