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Messages - UKSteve

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General Discussion / Re: Hello all, any other brits here?
« on: February 23, 2013, 05:46:23 PM »
1980 was the year I started my apprenticeship, as for the football? You can keep it. Never, ever understood what all the fuss was about.

The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Pricing your Service
« on: January 29, 2013, 05:33:48 AM »
Re: Asian Furniture, since the mid seventies we have had really cheap furniture and people willing to buy the stuff. Furniture has become more of a fashion accesorie here in the last 20 years and there is a mindset that is happy to treat it as such. This furniture has a life cycle that sees it through the latest trend or fad then it's cosigned to landfill the people who buy this stuff are happy to live like that and do not become attached to the furniture, I never get calls from these people. Most of the cheaper stuff came into the Uk from eastern european countries during the last decade, being part of the EU amde this easy. Some larger furniture companies even had it bought in with no bottom cloth on just so they could fix it on here and claim it was uk made. It wasn't all junk but it was built down to a price and had/has a life expectancy to suit.

The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Coconut Fiber
« on: January 28, 2013, 11:17:40 AM »
I don't know what Excelsior is but I have used coconut fibre and while it's fine for building up I'd resist using it on the final coat as it's simply too coarse. When you are working with it it's best to get it as dense and packed as you can when laying up as it's hard work to regulate.

The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Pricing your Service
« on: January 28, 2013, 04:15:16 AM »
DB Yes I do mostly furniture, my trade papers say Coach Trimmer, I did my apprenticeship with British Rail. Back then the train seats were still made of horse hair, lots of quilting, blind quilting and hand sewing so this training translated well to antique furniture. For a while in the mid 80s I worked for a well respected UK furniture manufacturer called Peter Guild. This taught me a lot about high end modern furniture. I set up in business the first time late 80s and did that until 2000. I then got offred a position with Aston Martin and ended up running the DB7 DB9 and V8 trim shops for a few years. I have to say I really have no desire to go into car trim. Now I find myself back on my own and have been since 2006. 

I have no idea about the Asian furniture? I don't think it's hit us yet. Can you explain a bit more.

As I said most if not all of my custom is word of mouth I guess that means that the customer is of a type maybe. The nice thing about word of mouth is that I don't need to sell myself.

Going back to price dropping, my favorite is when someone you've never dealt with rings up (maybe its a small scale manufacturer) and say 'if you do us a really good price there will be more' my reply is 'no I'll price this as I normally would then if there is more I'll review the price' do you really want to work for someone who wants to screw you to the floor. Those calls rarely come to anything and I'm glad.

Cash: I do get offred it and sometimes it's nice but I don't offer discount for it. Most of my payments are via cheque although a few people like to do electronic bank transfers.

Credit Cards: Like Sofadoc said some companies here add a surcharge to use a card and make that clear, maybe that's a way for smaller businesses to handle it?

The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Pricing your Service
« on: January 27, 2013, 05:38:27 AM »
Ever since I started I made it a policy to quote a fair price for a job, fair to both the customer and myself. I don't want to resent the piece or customer because I'm working for nothing.
I try and price by the hour, why not, I consider us to be professionals. Just becasuse I choose an apprenticeship to University dosen't make my skills any less worthy. Obviously my hourly rate has a way to go before I reach that of a Doctor or Lawyer 8)
I've never loaded a price to be able to knock it down to secure the work. I visit a vaiety of people some live in small cottages some live in stately homes, I never bump the price up because I think a customer is wealthier than another. If someone asks me to cut the price I politely refuse. I am never idle, sure I have low overheads so can roll with the ebb and flow but I still need to work and work I do. All my work is word of mouth (no advertising) with many returning customers.
Does that sound arrogant, sorry if it does, it's not meant to. I've been in upholstery/trimming a long time (33yrs) so it didn't happen overnight, it wasn't and isn't always easy and it could all end tomorrow.

Next time you visit someone with a new Merc or BMW on the drive consider how much the customer pays to have those cars serviced usually by a lad who has done less than a years training. It's all about percieved value, if you don't value yourself why should your customer.

Have confidence in yourself and your trade.

Sorry to ramble on.

General Discussion / Re: Hello all, any other brits here?
« on: January 26, 2013, 05:42:30 AM »
For such a small island we do have a lot of dialects, and some of them are so thick I have trouble sometimes. Even words can have different meaning moving from county to county, go into a bakers in the north and tell the young lady she has nice baps, note the reaction. Try the same further south and get ready to run.
We treat swearing as our heritage and right and do it with aplomb, whenever possible, and even the worst words imagineable are used as terms of endearment at times.
Yes we are a strange race, but please never take us too seriously.

As for upholstery, we had many years of older stuff being sold abroad, mostly to the states. During the 80's container load after container load left here as the money to be made was astronomical. There's not as much about as there was but I get to do a lot of interesting stuff for a lot of people who have finally realised that there are not many upholsterers around now who know how to do traditional stuff.
I started my apprenticeship back in 1980, since then our manufacturing base has been raped and the apprenticeship schemes that went with it. It's sad to say but as the years go by fewer and fewer new upholsterers come on to the scene, especially those who can use hair and the like.

General Discussion / Re: Hello all, any other brits here?
« on: January 25, 2013, 12:45:03 PM »
Sofadoc: Cash? Yes I think I remember that stuff.

Gene, most of my work is older stuff it's true, I've got a victorian deep button chesterfield I'm working on this week. It's still on the original horsehair. Like most I take what I can get within reason, new, old and anything in between.
There is a throwaway culture here the same as most other places, luckily I've carved myself a little niche with people who understand the difference betweeen cost and value, all word of mouth and it keeps me busy.

The "GREEN" Room! / Re: antique chair
« on: January 25, 2013, 05:23:01 AM »
What sort of arm front did it have before you striped it out? The construction of the arm plays a part in determining the finished shape.

General Discussion / Re: Hello all, any other brits here?
« on: January 25, 2013, 05:13:42 AM »
Thanks for warm welcome fellas.

General Discussion / Hello all, any other brits here?
« on: January 24, 2013, 04:22:41 AM »
Although I'm a member of lots of other forums based around my hobbies it never occured to look for one for my profession. :-[

I'm based in the midlands in the UK and upholster full time from home.

I hope I can contribute to the group in someway and hopfully pick up some tips along the way.


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