Friday, August 25, 2006

The Slipcover Network Forum

The Slipcover Network Forum

I tried to respond with the following to a July 30 post of Shirleys and "the blog ate it!" It was regarding the slow season:

Well, the reason I have a minute to check the blog----

I have work for after Labor Day and I'm going to go visit my parents in a few days so I didn't want to be over-booked for the next few days. Well, I'm not!! It's the first time in about 6 years that I have nothing to do (except paperwork). (I've even completed my "fit in when I can" projects.) I think the problem is due to 1)I'm working faster 2) I'm spending less time on things like planning the next summit and other things in my life like that) But the other reality is that my 6 month wait list is now 2 months. I've lost quite a bit of business by telling people that I mostly just do work for the customers that buy my fabric.

I've been comfortable in saying I reserve 1 week a month for COM but some people don't want to wait and thus go elsewhere. This was fine with me when I had a long wait list.

Also I've had 3-4 customers lately who come to me to look at fabric and I give them an estimate, and then they go buy a fabric on line or at a discount store. (These are things I would do myself, probably!) Anyhow, I can't figure out how to recoup some of the expected, but now lost profit. (Have I become greedy, or what!!!)

I've never charged extra for COM because I have never been able to figure out a nice way to explain it to the customer.

Any suggestions in helping me be less nice??



Shirley Hendry Walsh said...

make them bring you extra COM , and then say, with your best optimism, "I know you could get this done for a little less if you looked, but I am going to charge you ___________ according to my experience level and my belief that I do better work". If they were going to walk for a few dollars, they will anyway. Since I know you, I can say working on that optimistic belief might be something good. The problem with not taking COM is that fabric is like crayons, it's a childish joy to pick the one you want. If you can't get the one they want, they might be pretty unhappy. Needing to charge them more if they do get COM is explanable, making them take a fabric they didn't want is less likely to work.

Anonymous said...

This is a copy of my reply to Jeannie at Carr's Corner. Sorry for the duplication, but it seems to me that the soft furnishings trades are the only ones who have problems charging what we're worth. So I thought that we could all learn from other trades:

Several ways to handle things:

1) Assume that they will buy elsewhere, tack on a COM surcharge when giving an estimate. Then, if they buy the fabric from you, tell them that they get a discount for buying the fabric from you.

2) Do your normal estimate, but let them know up front that there will be a "cutting fee". That's the usual term for a COM surcharge, and it does not sound like a bad thing.

3) Do 2 estimates.

4) Ask them up front if they plan on shopping elsewhere for their fabric.

If you figure that you make an average of $15 per yard, and that your average project takes 10 yards, that's $150 that you have to make up somehow.

Example from another trade: I'm having some remodeling done in our rental place. The guy told me up front, I can buy the materials myself and he needs to charge me $60 per hour to stay in business. It was said very matter of fact, nothing "not nice" about it. He explained that he had to pay his workers, and, of course, himself. Guess what? I'm paying him the $60/hr and shopping at Home Depot and online... still is a better deal for me, and he has made sure that he is profitable.


Agnes said...

Another thing I've done, is apply the principle: if you can't beat them, join them.

If you go on my site, you will see that I have a link. I have bought lots of times from those people, their prices are great and service is good too. If the client wants a fabric but is looking for something less expensive, I check with these guys. Sometimes, I can get the fabric so cheaply from them, that I can still sell it to the client and make a profit. Or, I can direct my clients who want to shop online themselves to that link. I still make a little money if they shop, as it's an affiliate link ;). So, it's a small percentage, but it's better than nothing.

Tessy/OH said...

I tell the customer I discount my labor 20% if the fabric is purchased from me.

jeannie said...

Agnes, If you have time could you explain how the link works regarding you getting money?

Shirley's right about choosing fabric is like playing with crayons (or the pack of 24 coloured markers that Costco sells)and wanting just the right colour. When someone hasn't been able to find a fabric they like in my selection I've never felt the need to recoup the difference in lost profit.

After getting all this great feedback from here and the upholstery forum I'm thinking I might amend things so that I say:

The price range for the labour on "x" is from __ to ____ depending on the fabric.


Anonymous said...


The link is an affiliate link. When someone clicks on the link from my web page, and places an order, I get a commission. The link has some code with my account number to track that.


Shirley Hendry Walsh said...

I don't feel bad about not having a level price. I don't think I owe Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones the same price. The day I quote them differently, I may be anxious, testing the limits, or just feeling nice. The range is for you to know and perhaps not publish, and then play with as you need to.