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: Pricing and estimates  ( 3509 )
YaBB God

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« : December 09, 2013, 02:10:48 PM »

DB asked a great question about pricing and my own recent experience with "negotiating" pricing on slipcovers has me thinking (always dangerous). 

IMO, we live in a time when people think a google search or a few mouse clicks will give them a firm price.  That's how it works on Amazon, right?  What those very same people fail to understand is that not ALL things can be priced with a mouse click.  Or two, or even three!

The key for us (by the piece, individually priced, "custom" workers) is to figure out how to convey what makes our workmanship special.  I struggle with this! not so much with yachts, but a great deal more with slipcovers, custom cushions, soft home furnishings.  I'm still fumbling to find my "market" for the latter.  Word of mouth is great, but I need more mouths to spread the word about how great my work is, lol.  Thoughts?
YaBB God

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Marine canvas & upholstery SWFL

« #1 : December 09, 2013, 03:21:15 PM »

why not run a small add with weve been in the biz 20 years bla bla bla

in NH I used to have a radio ad also in the summer targeting my clientel
« : December 09, 2013, 03:23:16 PM Mike »

YaBB God

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All types of upholstery.....except cars and boats.

« #2 : December 09, 2013, 04:12:30 PM »

Years ago, I "negotiated" with a man to do some remodeling on my home. He had quoted me a price of $10,000 for the job.

I told him that I had only budgeted $9,000. He thought for a moment, and said "OK".

So I thought I saved myself a cool grand.....right?.......WRONG!

After the job was complete, I found many "corners" that he had cut (about $1000 worth, to be exact).

It set me to wondering. When a customer "Dickers" with their upholsterer, how do they know that they're getting everything they originally bargained for?

Same with getting your house painted. If you talk the painter down on price, how do you know he doesn't just add a few gallons of water to the paint?

A lot of people THINK that they shrewdly negotiated a bottom dollar amount for their new car. Well I got news for you........that salesman got every last dollar that he wanted from you (and  more). You can strut around proudly, thinking that you didn't get screwed like everyone else....but you DID! Those guys ain't in business to sell cars at cost.

I no longer allow myself to be on either end of price haggling. I pay people what they ask, and I expect them to do the same when they pay me.

"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban
YaBB God

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"By hammer and hand, all arts do stand."

« #3 : December 09, 2013, 05:56:01 PM »

Ha, Sofadoc.

My next-door neighbor is Arabic, emigrated from Jerusalem about 40 years ago.   He's very much got the "bazaar mentality."   He's always telling me what good deals he's gotten on work around the house.   But as you can guess, several of them in the last five years, including roof repair and new siding needed to be re-done within a year of the original work.

"There is hardly anything in this world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and those people who consider price only, are this man's lawful prey. It is unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money - that is all.   When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.    The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot; it cannot be done.   If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better"

John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)


"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas A. Edison

« #4 : December 11, 2013, 08:17:13 PM »

Why is it so many people think the price of reupholstery is too much, on anything?

It has been noticed for my years that reupholstery should be less than replacement, therefore why should fix or redo, cost more than new.  Just throw it away and buy new is the level of thinking in most market places.  I even hear this from some who have money, especially when they bought relatively cheap.  This scenario lures so many who may think they understand quality - they really don't.  

This thinking leads to something:  
With respect to cost, new upholstered items are getting cheaper and as I see and understand, it is due primarily to cheap foreign labor.  Numbers, like around 40 cents an hour is the labor rate in the Asian areas and consequently, it is to guess that is where most comes from.

In that perspective, workers for example, US workers have a strong wind going forward, it will definitely pull down the maintenance and restoration of furniture.  That said, one wonders well why is a US worker like me so busy.  The quick answer is - not doing near as much traditional work as years ago, plus there are fewer craftsmen practicing today.  Repairs on everything with upholstery is the thrust of the business situation, for me.

The headwind gets stronger when the economy is factored in, there is less money to be spent in today's market.

There is hardly any way, our labor can compete with that, hence the changes and it may not be over.  When this breed of craftsmen lay down their tools, who is in line to continue the industry?  Tough situation, one thing for sure there will be "change", as it is the only thing constant these days, constantly changing.

Yep!  Consumers love cheap prices!  Some even don't know the correlation between quality and price.  Others buy on "how much are the payments per month"?  

These people are not going to have much redone, rebuilt, lucky if they can make payments on the Asian stuff, imported and sold by American vendors.

"Nutty" market we are in today.  Change is on the way- to what?

« : December 13, 2013, 09:03:48 PM DB »
YaBB God

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« #5 : December 13, 2013, 11:34:58 AM »

My price to slipcover 4 "bar chairs" which were basically slipper chairs with sloping arms (French nailing detail) was shot down as "too expensive" by the "contractor".  I didn't flinch; I know how much time goes into fitting a nice slip. and adding a skirt doesn't lessen the time required!  I was told contractor would do it himself.  OK. 

I think too few people have ever made the time to master a skill that requires more than tapping out requests on a keyboard and they have no real conception of how many hours are required to deliver a quality job.  So much of the way things are now is tied up in "time, time, time"... gotta be here tomorrow (w/free shipping!) that the idea of what is actually required to make something from scratch and "to fit" has  become a completely alien concept.

Time to start charging the "throw away" people for the privilege of sending their "cheaper than reupholstery" rejects to the landfill??  Throwing cheaply produced crap into a landfill should carry a cost of its very own I think. 
YaBB God

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I'm a llama!

« #6 : December 13, 2013, 09:16:16 PM »

I think the "reward" of the current throw-away mentality that is gripping our society is that fewer and fewer skilled trades people are still around while fewer want to get into it b/c of the hard work and decreasing profit. At some point, there will be no one to repair anything even if it has any repairable quality to it.
Its a hole we are digging for ourselves and before long (if not already) we will be slaves to the manufacturers b/c our ONLY option will be to replace.

Everything's getting so expensive these days, doesn't anything ever stay at the same price? Well the price for reupholstery hasn't changed much in years!

« #7 : December 13, 2013, 09:23:28 PM »

Oh, it already cost to send "throw away" to landfills.  I forget the amount that was charged to get rid of a computer monitor.  It was irritating, had to take my time to take it to them plus the dump charge.

For sure that will be another lucraive business if it already isn't.

Working with contractors, namely decorators -- I couldn't make any money off the relationship because they couldn't charge enough to make it happen.  There is just so much - most of the market can spend on a chair redo; therefore the more that amount is split, with will leave just a small amount for the relationship to possibly work.  This possibly was the constraint, the contractor was working with; therefore, doing it himself is his only way to stay in business.

We, in this country cannot compete with foreign labor of 40 cents per hour;  therefore, what is there to do that is not directly competitive with Asian manufacturing?  Repairs, as long as the repair cost doesn't get too close to replacement.  So far, repairs are keeping my shop alive.  Fewer others are doing repairs also, as has been suggested.


What about this posture developing:  "cheaper to fix it than throw it away"  ........hmmmm.
« : December 14, 2013, 09:12:03 AM DB »
YaBB God

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North Central Florida

« #8 : December 13, 2013, 09:33:36 PM »

This thinking leads to something:  
With respect to cost, new upholstered items are getting cheaper and as I see and understand, it is due primarily to cheap foreign labor.  Numbers, like around 40 cents an hour is the labor rate in the Asian areas and consequently, it is to guess that is where most comes from.

I think you will find this interesting Doyle,

NPR has been running a commentary called, Our Industry Follows Poverty. It speaks of clothing but could very well relate to the furniture industry. The story tell of an industry that constantly follows low income areas of the world.

With furniture the industry traveled from New York and Michigan to the low income of the south. North Carolina and Mississippi. Then to Mexico and South America and now to Asia. Where will it move next?

The oddest part of the link I posted is the comparison between workers in Colombia who make $13 dollars a day and workers in Bangladesh who make $3 dollars a day. Both incredibly low wages by our standards but at more than three times the wages the Colombian standard of living is much higher than those in Bangladesh.

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
YaBB God

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« #9 : December 13, 2013, 10:00:05 PM »

There are those, however, who can make VERY good money in the right market.  Any of you old-timer's remember a gal named Gail (if memory serves me).  She was doing furniture for a select group of decorators/designers in North Palm Beach and charging crazy money.  She was a participant here maybe in the 2006/2007 timeframe.  Oh, she was good....  very good.  But most of the country can't afford to hire people like that.  I'd guess maybe 6 or 8 cities in the country have affluent clientele who can afford that type of work.  Upholsterers and other service providers targeting middle-America, I think, are going to continue to have a tough row to hoe.


"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people."

     W. C. Fields

« #10 : December 14, 2013, 09:46:27 AM »

"I was told the contractor was going to do the sloping armed slipper chairs himself" (above posted info).

Is there a parallel between this decision and the Columbia shirt manufacturer decision?  That factory is going to bring the work back into his shop and do it his way.  Stretching perhaps, there is some parallel in that "control" is being brought back in both business decisions. 

The obvious truth is a business can only cut so much, no future being the cheapest because the day a cheaper competitor crops up anyway. 

I remember a few years ago when there were three shops like mine in the community and there was a problem with "under bidding" to get work.  One shop owned by a well experience German fellow, friend of mine also, who said don't cut your price, the cheap shop will get too much business to handle and consumers will go to the shop who can get it done with no long waits anyway.

That strategy worked, the cheapest shop was over whelmed from all the work (went out) and me and the other two got the atta boys for being able to meet schedules.  Our prices went up btw.

So, yes our industry chases cheap labor and industries will continue to do that, but maybe getting out of the rat race and providing a class business/good product can still work for the smaller with the control kept on our side. 

Ideas are great but reality in execution and results are the determinants that count.   We small business owners have to remember how important "Control" is and use it to make our business prosper.  I think Columbia is making the right decision, sounds like their background already supports their ideas for they already prepare the materials opposed to Bangladesh who appears to be primarily a sewing function.

Leads to a comment/possible question, doesn't diversification expand "control"?

Full Member

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« #11 : December 29, 2013, 12:18:08 PM »

Hi Everyone,

This topic has been all over the board, Wow... I never worry about the other guy, never. I just worry about me and my customers. I never come down in price, however i do have a hard time pricing right now on a job which I will ask in another post. I come from Syracuse, NY originally so most people there are low to middle class with some doing much better. I was considered one of the expensive guys. I used all top quality products and rarely worked for the decorators. I like working for folk who can not afford the decorators or designers. I charge for the products I use and my talents, skill, experience. If someone tells me they can buy it cheaper I say go ahead but...  when you buy new what are you really getting and what is your choice of fabric? If you re-uph sky's the limit, any fabric, the best supplies, add a skirt, remove a skirt, change out the legs, change up the cushion design, cut a piece down, OMG there is so much you can do and the older frames blow away the new ones.  Once you get a name for yourself they will follow. You get what you pay for. I used to re do other upholsterers jobs because the customer went to a cheaper shop and Paid for it.
Now I work on the beautiful Island of Martha's Vineyard and I work for the shipyard, decorators, designers, plain folk, everyone!! My prices are the same across the board. I don't care who you are the prices are the same for everyone. The decorators had a hard time with this because they wanted to mark up my pricing. I said go ahead but my prices remain. As long as I get what I need to survive, that is what matters. Right now we are offering a 20% Off Season Sale on an Entire job. Here we are swamped the summer months and quiet the rest of the year. I have been here one year and doing mostly decorators and still one of the highest, but I keep getting more decorators from all over the states because the have a client with a house here. You have to charge what you think you are worth not what others think.. 
YaBB God

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« #12 : December 29, 2013, 09:19:19 PM »

why are you giving 20% off when you are swomppe.
 50 years and  just surviving . ?????????????????????????????????????????????????
« : December 29, 2013, 09:21:45 PM papasage »

just recovering 40 years
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