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: Changing landscape for PRO Stitch  ( 2169 )
YaBB God

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It's a summer thing

« : August 20, 2010, 01:21:52 AM »

Next month will be 10 years that I've had PRO Stitch open in Taylorville, Illinois. When I started, I was filling a void left when another upholsterer just up and quit several months prior. There was no one in the area willing to tackle boat and auto-related upholstery. There's always been a couple other shops in Taylorville whose main focus has been furniture. Over the years we've never seemed to step on each other's toes, even referring work back and forth.

In these 10 years, I've also taught upholstery to four different people: from "Here is the on button; here is how you strip a seam; the easiest way to pattern is this" to their having the ability to repair/recover seating and work on interiors. None of these guys stayed long enough to learn how to finish out an interior. They all felt they could go it alone after a year or so, and left.

Of the four, only one has hung on the last few years doing upholstery. He went from me to a stereo shop, which began advertising "maring and auto upholstery." I've never worried about them as competition, because I know their skills and it's non-threatening. The upholsterer I taught was excused from that shop because he was doing work on the side, using the shop's suppliers and credit. So for the last couple months, he too has been advertising as doing upholstery on his own. Still no competition and not a threat. He didn't even have a shop, just his garage.

Here's where it gets odd.

The stereo shop built a new building a mile up the road from me, closer to town than my shop. The guy who burned bridges with both of our shops has hung out his sign on a building on the main drag in town. Ironically, it's across the street from the stereo shop's old location.  Part of me realizes that neither of these shops is real competition for what we do at PRO Stitch, but it will be confusing when someone sees two other shops with the word "upholstery" on their buildings, and one is right down the road from me. A potential customer looking for my shop might pull in to their parking lot never realizing the gaff. I'm not too worried about the guy just opening, the rent alone for the prime spot he does not own is going to suck him dry. But after 10 years of building a name and reputation among car builders and enthusiasts, as well as the general public all over this part of the state, it's maddening to think that I caused this whole predicament.

Oh well. Back to the machine.
« : August 20, 2010, 01:31:28 AM stitcher_guy »

Sew what???
YaBB God

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I'm Always In Trouble

« #1 : August 20, 2010, 07:04:16 AM »

I had a client in the UK who came to me with a huge problem. One of their competitors was stepping up their game and even went as far as securing a web address that was very close to their name.

My advice to them at the time was to focus on the business at hand and keep providing the best customer service you can. The rest will fall into place. And it did. They essentially ignored their competition and focused instead on manufacturing the best rigging they could and ended up capturing 80 % of the European market.

My advice Russ is to stay focused on your business and providing exceptional work like you have been doing and keep up your awesome customer service.

I wouldn't waste much time worrying about your competition. They will hang themselves and will probably not need any of your assistance. :)

YaBB God

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"No worries, I've got you covered"

« #2 : August 20, 2010, 07:07:32 AM »

I would not worry about it,  you have built a reputation for your works and his sign does not say Pro Stitch on it.  When prospects ask how to get to your place just tell them not to be confused with the Upholstery sign and look for Pro Stitch and ask for me.

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« #3 : August 20, 2010, 08:09:15 AM »

Three shops, all different is my understanding, the word upholstery is the common denominator.

The outcome will likely be each shop will attract the market they appeal to and all will or might succeed if run smartly. 

Russ, your business might lose some of the non show car market that is lured more by price.  Your business will definitely lure the market with a passion for upscale upholstery.  The plus at this point is, they aren't your competitor.  Sounds like they will compete more against other.

The stero shop/upholstery shop will likely end up depending on stero sales and service to survive, even if he puts the downtown shop out of business, as it doesn't sound like either is real strong in upholstery.   

Therefore, my point is, all shops have a chance of surviving, the landscape will change for everyone because of the different markets each serves.  Will it be better or worse competing in the new configuration?  This is one of those "depends" situation.

A competitor doesn't have to know everything to be a strong competitor.  They can be good enough at part of it to take that part on price. 

For example, I have lost most of the glue in headliner market to a guy who only knows that part of the auto upholstery market.  He did it without knowing how to sew a stitch, 10 years ago.  Actually, today hasn't ever bought a sewing machine and still only does headliners, glue in only. Sticks to that segment of the market and after 10 years of specializing has become as good at it as there are around.  He did it on offering a price and hard work.

Did he change the landscape for me, yes.  The market said I want a headliner and want price.  I said I won't work that cheap and you now know the results.  I am still in business because I have other things to do.

All said to suggest, there will always be a market for the more complex custom work, given the two other competitors stay around, so I suspect you will always stay busy as long as you are small.  The other two shops probably don't even want to get into the labor intensive custom work.

Business today is a study, less loyalty and more price sensitive.  Therefore, the more a shop stands out in the crowd and provides a less competitive  product and service, it will likely survive as long as their market is strong enough and can afford them.

What will be the net result in 10 years?  Standby, time only will tell.

Good luck,

Sr. Member

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« #4 : August 20, 2010, 04:29:18 PM »

Sometime go to one of your competitors neighbors and try to work out a deal to place a sign of your's on their property that says something like "Pro Stitch straight ahead 2 Miles' or whatever the distance is. That will guide in customers looking for you and send a friendly message to those trying to compete as well.
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