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: 2012 Business Outlook?  ( 5167 )
baileyuph
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« : December 12, 2011, 09:21:27 AM »

Now that the year is closing, 2011; what are the 2012 plans to have a better performance?

Can you list one modification to your business approach to make the next year better for you?

Care to share some ideas along these lines?

Doyle
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« #1 : December 12, 2011, 10:55:58 AM »

I plan on expanding advertising. I love the area where I live and am located, but not a lot of bigger jobs come from around here. I think a Facebook business page will be in order very soon. Currently on my personal FB page I am members with several local "buy,sell,trade" pages that I advertise on with some success. Most on there are just looking to unload garage sale type items to make a few bucks, But it's good free advertising. A lot of guys from Cincinnati and Louisville come up here  for our towns Ohio river access, so I think trying to advertise in those areas may be beneficial.
Kyle
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North Central Florida


« #2 : December 12, 2011, 08:26:01 PM »

During an economic slow down you need to take advantage of opportunities. We bought a small fixer upper on the coast and are expanding our business there. Our St Augustine Yellow Page add came out in August and were getting some jobs from it.

Speaking of new years, New years day we will be at a antique show in St Augustine. Selling pieces we restored and meeting new customers.

We've had an incredible year and are looking forward to the next one.

 

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html
sofadoc
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All types of upholstery.....except cars and boats.


« #3 : December 12, 2011, 09:34:25 PM »

My goal the last few years has been simple. Make the same money, while doing less work.
I accomplish this by buying in bulk. Buying time-saving tools. Turning down low profit jobs. And not allowing customers to waste so much of my time.
I refuse to be held prisoner in the customer's home anymore. I give estimates from photos sent to me by e-mail, or phone pic.
I could make even more by "shmoozing" the customers into upgrades, but that would involve me spending a lot of time with them. Anyway, "Up-selling" isn't my style.
The arches in my feet give me a lot of trouble. So I'm not as "Gung-ho" as I was in my 20's-40's.
But I still love what I do. And I still enjoy 98% of my customers.
I'm glad to hear that people like Doyle, Kody, and Kyle are still looking to grow their businesses.
But me? I'm just trying to make it until I qualify for the job of "Wal-Mart greeter"  :)

"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban
Mike8560
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« #4 : December 13, 2011, 12:59:35 AM »

Hey sofa if you see here on Florida you could aspire to push carts or be a bag boy  also. 
Soulnds like a good plan ;)
 me I'm just trying to get by doing less work too
I've eliminated costly papers adds  and havnt realy noticed a decline in work from it
bobbin
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« #5 : December 13, 2011, 05:19:25 AM »

I have to network and increase the sort of work I want to do in my own shop so I can gradually ease off "workin' for the man".  Right now it's not much fun, but we do what me must, yes? 

I have to keep plugging away at the computer stuff and all that that involves... a website? increased comfort level with book keeping, billing, and possibly estimates?  It all seems like a tall order, but my hope is with time, diligence (more of that) it will get easier and more "natural".
baileyuph
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« #6 : December 13, 2011, 09:18:57 AM »

Wow!  You people are imparting some very good ideas, encouragement, and ways to tailor business most suitable for you.

Kyle, you and your wife will be fully gratified with diversifying, quilts are a very popular item around these parts and particularly profitable when interfaced with the latest equipments.  There seems to be some marketing opportunities there in terms of selling supplies.

Kody, your ability to adapt and adjust is very impressive.  I like the way you think outside the box.

Sofa and Mike, nothing wrong with keeping on and keeping on.  You have carved your nitch so why not keep doing a good thing and continue to reap the benefits of your experience and knowledge.

Bobbin, very impressive plan and bets are you will pull it off in class.  Your wealth of experience going into the game is a tremendous asset.  Don't sell your self short on the computer bit, that stuff is easier to pickup compared to your other accomplishments.   Going forward, a trail of customers coming your way who would not go anywhere else.

For me, I want to continue improving work efficiency in areas of repairs.  My focus is away from the intensive labor requirements, for example, full custom auto interiors and some of the time consuming furniture restoration.

This year, repairs have been most profitable in all dimensions of work and with greater efficiencies that work is where the money is for me.  This past year, time has been reduced significantly for some of the the repairs and there is even room for me.  That translates into higher profits and less effort to do the work.

I too have reduced the time selling the job with customers.  They can take your time if you let them.  Working smarter is the word. 

Bottom line is concentrate on what I do best but do it better and quicker,
avoid going head to head against the big boxes and mass production as well, my small business is best suited as a service shop, to all dimensions of the work.   

Great ideas from all, more are welcome.  Thanks.

Doyle
bobbin
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« #7 : December 13, 2011, 05:18:48 PM »

I have always been a bit of machine junkie.  Time saving attachments, presser feet, and other tools are things that I feel no compunction in adding, so I second Sofa.'s commitment to aspect of the business.  I like the idea of working smarter, not harder.  And I like the puzzle of solving "log jams" at work. 

The other thing I've resolved to do more of is to say, "Yeah, I can do that!" when I'm asked to do something I've maybe never done before.  I did those two armless chairs with that attitude.  I made some money, but not as much I'd have liked, BUT I did something I'd never done before and  they looked nice when I was finished.  And I learned a TON by just doing it.  Hands on training, 'n' all that jazz.  I have always taken notes on "new" projects and kept them for future reference and I now resolved to do that... on the computer. 

I hear you on "time wasting" customers.  I tend to be organized and methodical with alteration customers and I have resolved to politely decline those customers who are "time sinks" while keeping those who value my expertise and respect the value of my time, too!

I also resolve to ask more questions when I'm not sure how to do something.  I've found the gang here unswervingly generous in their advice and thoughts on things I've asked.  Thank you, very much. 
stitcher_guy
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« #8 : December 28, 2011, 10:08:03 PM »

I've got a weird one. Basically, I've always said that I would be my own worst customer. I would NEVER pay the prices that it takes to have upholstery repair or custom work done. Unfortunately, when it comes to pricing my work, that attitude tends to creep into things. I always seem to end up cutting myself short when making out the bill.

For the last year and a half I've had a great right-hand guy working in the shop. We get into "spirited" conversations about progressing the shop (I've known him since I first opened, we sponsor and build his show cars and finally got him on board working in the shop). He goes after the money on the table, and I have let him more and more be involved in the pricing and completing the transaction. On smaller jobs right now I am letting him take the reins (except for sewing) on the whole job, and he is progressing quite well. In 2012 I hope to be able to delegate more of the business transacting to him so I can focus on completing jobs and moving them out the door.

Sew what???
mike802
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« #9 : December 28, 2011, 11:19:12 PM »

Although I have the best web site I have ever had, I feel it is holding me back.  The shopping cart is difficult to use and this is apparent when a customer tries to check out, also the products are not displayed as well as they could be.  There is something about the basic code that is outdated and makes it hard for the search engines to find.  I have been working with an outfit on optimization and this has increased my sites rankings, but the out dated code continues to work against me.  My original host, Jack Carr was wonderful to do business with, he always fixed any problems and answered questions quickly and his prices are more than reasonable, but it is time for me to leave the nest, so to speak.   So for 2012 I am having my web site totally updated with a new and better shopping cart, and modern code.  It is still a far cry form my main competitors ten grand as in $10,000.00 site, not counting photography, but it will be a big step up for me.  Right now I have my Facebook page linked to my site and I am hoping to get my YouTube channel linked up as well, I am hoping my series on reupholstering a wing chair will sell my reupholstering services.  I am also planning on filming videos on building furniture and accessories as well for the same reasons.  I also think if people feel they know me from the videos, they will feel more comfortable becoming customers, this is my reason for not being to professional and flashy with my videos, just trying to keep it real and be myself, I am not capable of being any more professional than that anyway with the equipment and acting skills I have to work with.  I would also like to make my show room look more professional as well with good signage and curb appeal, I am also working on building more display furniture and accessories to fill the show room and a better trade show and craft fair booth is a must.  On top of all this, I would love to find my business a home of its own, so I can have mine back.  I measured the amount of space the business is hogging and it takes up 3000 sq. feet and is bursting at the seams, but a stand alone building with all it's own bills and a mortgage would raise my overhead considerably, a home of its own will have to wait, but 2012 looks like a busy year for me whether I have any customers or not.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
http://www.mjamsdenfurniture.com
Mojo
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« #10 : January 04, 2012, 08:59:29 AM »

Mike:

I like your website. It is clean, easy to navigate and the colors are an excellent match for your business scope. The one problem I seen from a marketing standpoint is your product descriptions.
You need to go back and give more info on the descriptions. The small cutting board gives measurements but the medium and large ones do not. So how big are they ? Are they 24 inches or 8 ft long ? The customer needs this info.

Also, I happen to think your work is exceptional but like all tradespeople you lack the skills to sell it. This is very common and nothing to be ashamed of. It takes a special skill set in order to market, advertise, create, write and sell products. That's why so many companies hired marketing geeks like me. :)

Your work is amazing and top notch, but you need to convey this to the potential customer. I would go back and re-write your descriptions and " SELL " those babies by using wording that excites the customer. Include all the info but also bring the customer into each product your selling by giving great ( and enticing ) descriptions. Highlight what is good about each product and separate yours from your competition.

As with all the members on here I would be more then happy to review  your changes when done and make suggestions afterwards to you in regards to changes I think that need to be made. I can sit down and go through your web site and see if I can find anything that may work better. I only scanned it a little and caught the description issues and a couple typos. :)

You have done an awesome job with your site and your Facebook page is one of the best I have seen. Your on the mark my friend, now just refine and go. :)

Chris

mike802
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« #11 : January 04, 2012, 09:50:48 AM »

Chris:  Thank you so much for both the kind words and the constructive criticism.  I did not realize the dimensions were not posted for the large cutting / bread boards and I have read them over hundreds of times  >:(  I really stink as a salesman and I know it.  I have read books and watched videos on how to sell, but I just feel uncomfortable doing it.  I am going to take your advice and rewrite many of the product descriptions and try to polish them up.  Thanks for the offer to look over the new site, I will let you know when it is live, I need all the help I can get in this department.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
http://www.mjamsdenfurniture.com
bobbin
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« #12 : January 04, 2012, 04:57:35 PM »

OK, I'm going to "say this out loud".  I really, really hate to hear capable and talented people say they "stink" at anything, Mike.  Don't sell yourself short! your website is a good one and it's nearly impossible to write something and then reread it countless times and not "blow by" some error.  We read what we expect to see, esp. if we were the one to write it in the first place!  How many times have any of us been unable to balance a checkbook because we somehow failed to "see" the simple error?

(you did correct the apostrophes! excellent!)
mike802
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« #13 : January 04, 2012, 06:50:56 PM »

Bobbin:  Thanks for the moral support.  I know it's never good to say your bad at something, it kind of becomes a self fulfilling prophecy if you let it, but in this case, I have to admit, I am not a salesman, but I am up to the challenge.  I think it is common for craftsmen and woman to think anyone can do it, obviously they cant, but realizing you have a special gift, or talent  is essential, especially if you are trying to make a living selling it, I think.  So maybe a good new years resolution for me would be to find a sales technique that I am comfortable with, hopefully one that works LOL.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
http://www.mjamsdenfurniture.com
Mojo
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I'm Always In Trouble


« #14 : January 04, 2012, 08:13:21 PM »

Mike your new site is going to be a winner. I love the layout, colors and how it is put together.

We cannot be experts at everything. All of us have skill sets that differ from one another. I am not the worlds greatest stitcher but where I excel is marketing. I agree with Bobbin, no one sucks at anything they just lack skill sets. So don't sell yourself short.

One of the reasons why I made a good living as a consultant was that smart business people knew that a fresh outside view of their operations was essential in order to improve their business. It is far to easy for owners to get buried inside their operations and the " forest for the trees " syndrome takes over.

Never be afraid to ask for help and it is always good idea to have a few sets of eyes from the outside world look things over for you.

Chris
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