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Topics - sofadoc

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General Discussion / Rewards cards
« on: September 29, 2014, 08:40:02 AM »
My wife and I were out of town the other day. We stopped at a nice farmer's market, and bought a few things. Knowing that we had a long drive home, I stopped at a CVS store to buy a cheap Styrofoam cooler and a bag of ice.

I quickly found a Styrofoam cooler that had a price tag of $1.99 on it. The ice was $1.29.
So I'm walking up to the checkout counter all fat, dumb, and happy with a $5 bill.

Imagine my surprise when the total came to over $11. I said "I'm sure you're mistaken. The cooler is 2 bucks, and the ice is less than a buck fifty".

The cashier (acting very annoyed) simply said "Do you have a rewards card?". Before I could even absorb what she was asking me, my wife came over and whipped out her rewards card, and presto! The total came down to under $4.

I never sign up for those things. If I did, I'd have to carry one of those "man purses" just to hold them all.

My original understanding was that they would "reward" you for being a loyal customer by giving you a small discount. But this has evolved into something completely different.

They aren't rewarding your loyalty. They are PUNISHING you for not being a regular customer.

I used to see women all the time with a keychain the size of an NBA basketball with all those little rewards cards on them. Now, most of them have gone the electronic route. They pull up an app on their I-phone, and show it to the cashier.

So is that how the world works now? If you don't play their silly game, you get severely penalized?

General Discussion / "But......but....the other guy is cheaper!"
« on: September 18, 2014, 08:46:58 AM »
 I hear that 5 or 6 times a year. My nearby competitor routinely quote prices on certain jobs that are almost half what I charge. BUT......he follows up that price quote with "But I'm too busy to get to it right now".

I suspect that he does this because he doesn't want the job, but on the other hand, he doesn't want anyone else to have it either. So he give a low-ball estimate, and then passes on the job. This way, he plants a seed of doubt in the customer's mind about having it done for substantially more money somewhere else.

I guess his strategy works a little. Because I get a lot of jaw drops when I quote prices, and then they tell me what "the other guy" was going to charge (had he accepted the job).

He only does this on oddball jobs that may end up being tedious. On "run of the mill" jobs, his prices are very similar to mine.

My policy on jobs that I would really prefer to pass on, is to pass without quoting a price. Some guys throw out a HUGE number just to get rid of the customer. I think this sends the wrong message. The customer then assumes that you are outrageous on everything. And that's what they tell everyone they know.

General Discussion / Folding wheel chair seats
« on: September 05, 2014, 08:15:42 AM »
I seldom do these, since you can order them so cheaply online.

But I have recently established a new relationship with a nearby healthcare facility. And unlike most, the project manager isn't so cheap-ass.

He has a ton of work for me, and he hasn't attempted to negotiate any of my pricing so far.

He has always ordered the replacement seats for folding wheel chairs online. But they tear easily. He said with each passing year, the average patient is creeping closer to 300 lbs.

I have no problem with making him some replacement seats that will certainly hold a lot more weight than the $20 ones you can buy from places like Amazon.

What I'm asking is...........where do I draw the line? If I make them TOO good, they will cost over twice as much as the Amazon seats.

On a product like this, is there a fine line between quality at a reasonable price, and price at reasonable quality?

I have made one prototype. For the liner, I used a 16 oz. mesh vinyl (similar to "Tuff-stuff"), and 1/4" sew foam sewn in to heavy black vinyl cover.

I figure I can fill his order of 50 at a price of $30 each. There is about $10 worth of vinyl and foam in each one, and once I get rolling, they shouldn't take more than 15 minutes apiece to make.

Does this sound reasonable?

General Discussion / New furniture shopping
« on: September 01, 2014, 08:46:08 AM »
Some friends of ours asked me and my wife to go with them to shop for new living room furniture. Mainly, they wanted my "expert" opinion about sofas and such.

I don't have to tell you guys that taking an upholsterer with you to shop for a couch is a bad idea. Especially when you're shopping at all the usual budget places.

But I promised myself that I would be as objective as possible. I took into account that this couple is over 40, their combined weights are under 350 lbs, and they aren't the kind of people that abuse furniture.

I set the bar very low on my criteria. I never absolutely ruled out any piece that they had their eye on. I only pointed out possible shortcomings on various pieces so they could make a more informed decision.

In the end, they picked out a living room set that they felt good about, and that's really all that matters.

As we walked around the stores, one thing I kept noticing was how poorly padded the top arms are. On most pieces, you could feel the hard edge on the front of the arms.

I overheard a salesman telling customers what the hottest fabrics/colors are right now. As I looked around, I'm thinking "Well of course they're hot..........that's all there is to choose from". There are basically only 3 or 4 colors and textures in the whole store.

And you know that video at the top of this page where the guy can't keep that nail gun straight? Well he must've done all the nailheads in one of the showrooms that we went in. Not only were they crooked, they were sunk at different depths. Some of them you could pry out with your fingernail.

All things considered, I'm glad I went with them. If you're ever feeling like the business might be passing you by, just go to a new store for a boost of confidence.

General Discussion / Close to the epicenter
« on: August 22, 2014, 06:30:08 PM »
In light of the racial tension in Missouri combined with a few recent events locally, the KKK is rumored to be planning to riot downtown Greenville, Tx. tomorrow morning.

A few weeks ago, a black man was shot to death by a white attorney in the wee hours of the morning. Then last week, 2 young black men were stabbed to death outside a skating rink at 3 AM. The attorney is out on bail. The other killer remains at large.
This has caused tension in the black community, so the KKK plans to flex their muscle.

All this is scheduled to go down in front of the Court House, just a little over 1 block from my shop.

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail.

General Discussion / How far should professional courtesy go?
« on: August 20, 2014, 04:02:02 PM »
There's a Hispanic lady in town who does upholstery out of her garage.

She doesn't collect sales tax, and I seriously doubt that she reports all (if any) of her income to Uncle Sam.

She started coming in my shop 5 or 6 years ago wanting to buy supply items. It started out small, buy has gradually grown the last few years.

I've always sold her stuff at near cost as a professional courtesy. Sometimes, I probably lose a few bucks because I'm too busy to stop and look up prices.

But lately, she has become more and more demanding. She doesn't understand when I don't want to sell her a supply item that I'm running short on myself.

Today, she bought a huge quantity of snaps from me, and then wanted to borrow my snap-setting tools. She got mad when I told her that she would have to leave a deposit equal to replacement cost for the tools.

My experience on loaning tools has always been "They come back broke.......if they come back at all".

She got really mad when I charged her $15 for a 1 lb. spool of #69 thread that was about half gone.

This lady is much cheaper than I am, and takes away some of my customers because of it. I don't feel like I owe her any favors.

She seems to have the attitude that I should be obligated to make her life as easy as possible.

Do you guys have any "Moochers"?

General Discussion / Right there in B & W
« on: August 15, 2014, 05:29:44 PM »
A lady that owns a nearby pub brought in 12 chairs that she bought 2 weeks ago, and they're already falling apart.

It's the ones that come in a box unassembled, and they give you that little toy hex wrench to put them together with.

Just a few days of pub patrons scooting around was enough to loosen up all the bolts, and pull out the insert nuts.

The lady was furious that she had paid a whopping $39.95 each, and the chairs had failed so quickly.

I turned one of the chair seats upside down, and showed her the tag on the underneath side.

If you ask me, that caution label is merely code for "This chair is a POS".

It probably would've only lasted a few extra days under "Household use".

The market is so flooded with this kind of junk, the average consumer doesn't have any quality point of reference to compare with. The lady will probably go back to a similar store, and buy similar priced crap.

General Discussion / Do they even make quality recliners anymore?
« on: August 11, 2014, 10:02:37 PM »
I must admit. When asked what brand of recliner I recommend, I have no answer.

Brand names really don't mean much anymore. I'm sure there are a few high quality brands out there. But I haven't seen any lately.

Throughout the 60's, 70's, 80s, and 90's, La-Z-Boy built a very good recliner for the money.

Here's a La-Z-Boy footrest that I repaired today:

3/8" particle board. The mechanism wasn't much better either.

Is La-Z-Boy outsourcing to China?

Do you guys know of any quality brands/retailers for recliners?

General Discussion / My "Crash Cart"
« on: August 02, 2014, 10:35:11 AM »
The bank where my wife works was throwing out this rolling cart.

I turned it into my "crash cart" (after all......I am a doctor.....right?).
I keep all my pertinent tools and supplies on it, so I can roll it right next to my work.
Screws, staples, hand/air tools, cordless tips, etc.
The bottom shelf has my foam cutter, scissor sharpener, and my "House call" tote.

General Discussion / 30 bucks........are you kiddin?
« on: August 01, 2014, 04:12:21 PM »
I normally do on average about a dozen salon chairs a month for all the local beauty/barber shops. Various styling chairs, shampoo chairs, and dryer chairs.

Usually black vinyl. And if the back isn't torn or cracked, then I just do the seat only.

But there's a guy in town now who is working out of his garage. He does the seats in black vinyl for $30, PU & Delivery included. That's less than half what I charge.

The PU & Delivery time, and a yard of vinyl alone is worth more than $30.

I'm not worried about this guy. At $30, he'll get tired of working for below minimum wage soon enough. But in the meantime, he'll spoil all the hairdressers in town.

Independent hairdressers are notoriously cheap anyway. Once they get used to paying $30, it'll be tough to get them back paying a normal price again.

Every now and then, a guy like that blows into town, and scoops up all the jobs for a while, but they never last very long.

I just wonder if the idiot even realizes how much money he's "leaving on the table".

General Discussion / Siri knows all
« on: July 22, 2014, 04:07:20 PM »
My daughter was in my shop the other day, extolling the greatness of Siri.

For those of you who are still technologically challenged, Siri is the pleasant sounding robotic female voice that comes to you through your I-phone. You can ask her anything, and she will give you an answer post haste.

So, I decided to put Siri to a simple test. I had my daughter ask her where the nearest upholstery shop was. Remember, we were standing smack dab in the middle of my shop at the time. And this is NOT a shop that's "off the grid". I don't work discretely out of my garage, or under a shade tree. I have a retail store front, website, and a YP listing. Google and Yahoo can find me in a nanosecond.

Siri had several (all highly incorrect) responses. Even though each time my daughter said the words "Upholstery shop" loud and clear, and very distinctly.

Siri offered to connect me with Met Life Insurance, and the Child Abuse Hotline, but no upholstery shop.

Finally in total frustration, my daughter snapped "WELL DAD! NOBODY UNDER THE AGE OF 50 EVEN KNOWS WHAT AN UPHOLSTERY SHOP IS!!!"

Sometimes, I think she's right about that.

General Discussion / Display sofa
« on: July 07, 2014, 07:26:30 AM »
 I did an extra long sofa for a couple about 4 years ago. I've been back to their house 3 or 4 times since then for other projects.

Every time I go in their home, the sofa that I did is completely covered with vintage turntables (record players) and antique recording devices. They look to be quite valuable if you're into that sort of collecting. Most of them are in mint condition. Of course, every time I go in there, I have to listen to his lengthy speech about each of them.

The rest of the house is similarly cluttered.

To my knowledge, that sofa that I did for them has never been used for anything other than a display fixture for his collection. I'm not really sure why they had it recovered. You can barely see it under all the other stuff.

General Discussion / Patience finally paying off
« on: June 28, 2014, 09:00:31 AM »
I've been doing work for a fixtures company for about 8 years.

Usually some type of padded bench seat for various applications. Such as dressing rooms, shoeshine stands, and children's play areas in retail stores. 

The jobs have always been small. They always had an immediate deadline. There was never much profit involved, and they always took over 60 days to pay.
And since they were only a few miles away, it always made more sense for me to deliver the items personally rather than to package and ship them.

I always had the feeling that I was merely doing their prototypes, and once they went into full-scale production with the finished product, the job went to someone else.

Well all of a sudden, the purchase orders are rolling for some fairly decent quantities. And the profit margins are pretty good on them. They are giving me plenty of "lead time", and I'm also getting quite a bit of personal furniture work from some of the managers and engineers that work there.

And I started tipping the guy at the receiving dock 10 bucks to hand-deliver my invoice straight to their accounting dept. I'm getting paid within the month now.

Several times over the last 8 years, I was tempted to tell them that I was no longer interested in doing their piddly little jobs. Now, I'm glad that I was patient with them.


General Discussion / My Pfeeble Attempt at a Pfriday Pfunny
« on: May 30, 2014, 08:04:48 AM »
The coach of the Detroit Lions was looking for a quarterback.

While on a mission trip to Iraq, he witnessed an Iraqi soldier throwing hand grenades over 100 yards with incredible accuracy. So he brought him back to the US to try him out.

The soldier made the team, and the Lions went on to win the Super Bowl.

He called his mother after the game, and said "Mom! I just won the Super Bowl! This is the greatest day of my life!"

His mother responded angrily. "You're no son of mine! You deserted your family at our time of need. Both of your brothers were nearly killed last night. Your sister has been raped repeatedly. Everything we own has been burned or stolen...........I'll NEVER forgive you for moving us to Detroit!!"

The Business Of Upholstery / More Yellow Page talk (last time?)
« on: May 09, 2014, 10:10:26 PM »
Due to an error by the YP ad dept. last year, 2013 was the first year since my grandparents started the upholstery business in 1960 that there was no ad in the local YP phone book.

I was very apprehensive about how it would affect my business. We know that the average furniture upholstery customer is usually a lot closer to age 60 than they are to age 20. And much of the older crowd still relies on the old fashioned Yellow Pages........or do they?

2013 ended up being a good year. Not the best year I've ever had, but close. And the fact that I don't work as hard as I used to would probably account for the slight drop-off.

After several years on life support, I'm about ready to declare the Yellow Pages officially dead. 
I'm back in the phone book this year, but only the free courtesy listing.

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