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Client Breakdown -Type?

Started by 65Buick, February 02, 2017, 05:01:57 pm

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Yes these comments are all very true and important. Balancing the work is a difficult task.

I think in these types of businesses many customers (general public) aren't considering that part of the cost includes the cost to stay open, research, etc. And unless you've dealt specifically with these operations then you don't have a full understanding of what is happening.

It's just been my experience thus far that people balk at price but then buy something cheap and probably end up regretting it.


Here's a podcast done by some friends of mine who run a consulting / education business in woodworking.   The guest is another guy I know who is a third generation "housewright" who specializes in historic renovations.  While the context is "quitting your job and starting into the furniture business,"  it also applies to trades like upholstery.    Fast forward to 1:00 to bypass the intro and sales pitch.

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


Maybe one can size this upholstery, woodwork up in three columns:
Repair,  Replacement,  Custom design  ~ all "needs"

In these columns one can readily see a couple possibly 3 columns under each of these above categories.

If we simply think in a professional sense there are 4 parts here: individuals tire kicking the options, contractors as me just using another pros talent for a task needed to complete job, individuals that have considered options smartly and use your talents,  and then pros setting up for designs specific.

So we need four of your experienced tips to deal with the above clients for each of the topics having 3 columns.

That's my thoughts on it for the day and I'm sticking to it.

good luck


February 17, 2017, 06:17:09 am #18 Last Edit: February 17, 2017, 06:19:19 am by byhammerandhand
Good thoughts, Floyd.

I've stayed out until now because I'm strictly in the "repair" column.  I do a mix of wood, upholstery, and install/repair (frames, recliner parts, etc.)   I'm "semi-retired" now so I've cut way back on customers.   But at its peak, pretty much in descending volume

National accounts -- there are a number of companies that have a network of technicians to service furniture.  Of those:
- warranty work from mfr / retail chains
- "protection plans" sold by retailers and underwritten and serviced by another company
- direct to consumer services (co. gets a cut, but they handle all the advertising, billing, and customer acquisition)

Pre-delivery service from "last mile" delivery service companies, either dispatched by nation account or delivery co. and billed back to retailer or mfr.

Moving Companies Post-move repairs that can be about anything from scratches, tears, broken glass, damaged appliances, to damaged wallboard (which I subbed out).  You need to have broad skills to do these. I think if you limited to "cloth and leather" only, you probably won't make their list often.

Local retailers (these really took a hit after the 2008 "Great Recession", so thankful to have the above)  Thinking about it, more than half of my regulars are now out of business.  One of the larger ones went from 4 stores to 1.

Direct to consumer.
  I was generally busy enough I did not need to advertise or promote much.   Small web site.  Getting good reviews on Angie's List was a big boost here.   You can encourage clients to write a review for you, even if not a member (though now I think membership is free and open).  Yellow pages was pretty much a waste, and very expensive in my area (min. $300/month for a credit card sized ad.)   A "remote call forwarding" listing was cheaper by 2/3 than a business land-line and it auto-forwarded to my mobile phone.

The advantages of this is I didn't need a storefront and staff it.   Disadvantages is you spend a lot of time on the road and have to be very diligent about scheduling.   I always hated "We'll be there between 8 and 12, then have them call at 1 and say they are "running a little late."  This is not good for anyone that has to take off work, take care of kids from school, etc.)   I generally give people an exact time and get there +-10 minutes.


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


Thanks for all thoughts here. Very helpful.

I think so far that talking to you folks and others who I've met through supply businesses and other areas, I am very happy to be a part of it. A good life, not a big money maker, but certainly satisfaction.

I think I fall into the 'direct to consumer' category and can for the most part put up with the extra driving and lack of consistent scheduling.