A Challenging foam Client
A Client Asks Advice*
November 29, 2004) One day a client called (and then later came into our shop) inquiring about getting replacement foam for his sofa and loveseat (a total of 5 new cushions). After I estimated the price (about $300), he wondered if it was worth spending that much money on new foam. He had bought the set about 8 years ago and had spend about $2000 for it. He was planning of keeping the set for about another 5 years. That worked out to be about $250 per year of ownership. The $300 cost of the foam, divided into the next 5 years, seem workable.
He Comes to get Further Information
When he came into our shop, he brought in the old foam cushions (which had spring centers, and attached pillow-tops filled with polyester (about 2”thick)). The foam had softened up from age. He mentioned that he had back problems and that he wanted something firm. I had him sit on various foam samples (the foam samples are 12” X 12” X 4”) from 2535 (medium), 2743 (firm), 2952 (Extra Firm), & 2670 (Very Very Firm). He decided that he wanted the very firmest that we had. At that time I told him that it was harder than most people choose. He took his cushions and went home to think about it.
Client Orders Foam
A few days later he decided to just get the foam just for the loveseat to try that out. I told him that I needed a deposit. When I received a deposit, I ordered the foam, (each piece of foam was 24.5" X 25.5" X 5.5" thick, grade: 2670 ) and then stuffed his cushions. Yesterday his wife came to pick up the cushions. I had her sit on it while she was here, and then she paid for it, I made out a receipt for her and then she took the cushions home.
Client is Not Happy With Foam
The next morning his wife came back and said that the two cushions were too hard, that they wanted softer foam. I told her that I would need a deposit to order the new foam. She asked if I was going to charge her again for the foam? I told her that we order the foam for each job, and it is cut to size. After she asked the same question again, we told her yes. I showed the wife some foam samples as a replacement and she chose the 2743. She said that her husband would not be happy having to pay for the foam again. She asked to use our phone and called her husband and talked with him. Then the wife had me talk with her husband on the phone. He said that the foam in his cushions was not acceptable, that the foam samples he sat on were too small to truly tell how they would actually sit (this is part is true, he is a pretty big guy). Later in the conversation he said that the foam sample he had sat on was not the same as what was put in his cushions, the foam was like a board. It was totally unacceptable. He said that he wanted to have the same type of foam back in the cushions like when they were new. (When he ordered it, he said that he wanted it firm.) I offered to order the replacement foam (of those two cushions) at half price. He was not happy with that, and wanted me to just replace the cushions at no cost to him. He said that I was the professional, I should know what product to use. He said that I should work with him on this. (which is why I had offered to replace it at half price) I told him that I would talk with my wife and then call him back and tell him what we were going to do. After I got off the phone with him, he wanted to talk to his wife again. When she got was finished with him, she backed out of the foam that she had chosen and said that I should choose the correct foam. She said that I’m the professional and that I should choose the right foam. About the same time as I was talking with her and her husband, another client showed up and I was not able to talk with my wife about what we should do. The wife took the cushions with her and left. She was not happy. Either while the client was here, or when she came back a few minutes later, she asked for a copy of the receipt, which we gave her. (It seemed important to her husband that she make sure that she have that receipt.)
We Consider How to Respond
After both clients had left, I talked it over with my wife. She had been here when the husband had originally been here when he was choosing the foam. I talked about possible options. It really concerns that neither the husband nor the wife wants to have any responsibility in choosing the correct foam. The fact that they just want me to choose it, and then have them decided whether or not it is right, doesn’t set right with me. If I do this, maybe I’d just be more money out on foam. I don’t trust clients who want to take no responsibility for their choices
In trying to figure out how to handle this situation, I made a list of some possible alternatives:
- 1. Just give them their money back, take back the foam, and not do anything more for them.
- 2. I could take a chance and order 1 cushion (of our most commonly ordered foam (2535) and see how they like that.
- 3. I could order 2 cushions, 1 of 2535, and 1 of 2743 (firm) and have them try out both of them.
- 4. Just order the replacement foam for the two cushions and just give it to them. (This would be taking a chance on whether or not they'd be happy with the replacements.)
- 5. I could call the foam company and ask for bigger samples of the foam, say about 22” X 22” X 4” or 5 “ thick. (we’d probably have to pay something for them)
- 6. I could call the foam company and tell them the situation, ask for advice, and possibly a discount.
- 7. Any Other Suggestions?
Reply #4 on: December 01, 2004, 07:08:14 AM Hi Jack, Thanks for your very thoughtful response. As I mentioned in my first message (above), when I last talked to the client, I calmly told him that I would call him and tell him what I was going to do. He had been getting upset at the idea that he had any responsibility for his actions at all. My first "emotional" response (which I kept within me) was to just not deal with the client any more. But I've learned it doesn't pay to act out my emotions. So the client only saw me as a calm person who wanted to check out details before giving a reply.
Quote from: Jack on November 29, 2004, 12:48:16 PM First off, don't ever make the choice for the customer without some discussion.
You are so right, I don't intend to make the decision for the client.
Quote: On the other side of the coin, we don't want to have an unhappy customer either.
Yes, I agree. An unreasonable client can badmouth you to many people.
Quote: The one way I have gotten around this problem is to have in stock a few sheets of foam in different weights, then they have something full size to test.
Good idea. However, at this point, I don't have very much space to stock sheets of foam. I do think that the client brought up an important point. I do need to have larger samples. I've been talking this over with my wife, and she agrees. We called up our foam supplier to see what we could do about getting bigger samples. The sales rep checked with the big boss and the best they can do is give us 10-sheet pricing on the foam samples, which is at least something. I was thinking of getting new foam samples that would be about 20" X 20" X 4 1/2" or 5" thick, which is about the size of a small average cushion. This should give a person a reasonable size to try out. I think that they would cost me something like $10 to $15 per sample. As I write this, I had another thought. Another type of sample that I may also try, is a layered cushion, meaning, a firm center with a softer outside. I just recently had another client who wanted firm foam, but didn't want it to me firm on the outside. I order something like a 3" foam for the center, then a 1" sheet of softer which I glued as I wrapped it in 1 piece around the top, front, and bottom. The client seemed happy with it. I haven't yet decided if I would do this but I might considering making one, or more, of my foam samples like this.
Quote: You will probably end up replacing the foam for the loveseat at your cost, then being able to sell them the 3 new ones for the sofa and not be out to much.
I think you are right here. Now about the client. After I wrote my previous message, I remembered that some months back another upholsterer in town (who is a friend of ours) had purchased some foam at a big discount from some supplier and offered to sell me a couple of 22" X 108" X 5" sheets at the same price. So I had purchase them at that time, and had cut one cushion off one of the sheets since then. This left one of the pieces just a little wider than this current client's loveseat need. I don't know if this foam will be the right firmness for the client, but if it would work, it would save us from having to put out the additional money to replace the client's foam.
After my wife and I talked about how to best handle this, we called up the client and just left a message that we had some foam that we would like them to try out. In preparation for them taking it home, I wrapped up the foam in a very thin plastic to keep it clean. The client called us back and Emmy, my wife, spoke sweetly to the client (Emmy is so good at that) about having some foam for him to try out. He came after work and picked up the foam and told us that he is glad that we are "working with him" on this. (Definition: "working with him"= client gets his way) The client said that he would give it a good try for a few hours in the evening, etc.
The client has had the foam since Monday evening. We thought he might send his wife back with the foam first thing yesterday morning, but we didn't he from him yesterday. We'll see what today brings. If by some chance he doesn't like the foam, Emmy and I have been thinking about getting these foam samples anyway. So, another possibility, which I'll probably do, is order a few of the previously mentioned foam samples of different firmnesses. As long as we'd have to buy some more foam to replace the client's foam, we might as well put the foam into getting the foam samples we wanted anyway. Then the client can take a couple different ones home (and perhaps we could even ask the client to bring their foam back in and we could put the foam samples in those cushion to try out. That way we could get the foam back before it gets to used, and the client could try out the foam sample in their actual use. Once they make a decision, then we could order the foam that they like. They might go ahead and order the rest of the foam at the same time? Who knows. I still don't know how this is going to play out, but will keep you update.
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2004, 07:19:28 AM » -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HI Susan, Thanks for responding. Your thoughts are very helpful. Quote from: susang on November 29, 2004, 02:46:58 PM I guess I would give him the foam that "most people" order and that would be your professional opinion, which you already gave him. Order it, make it, tell him he's going to love it. Good thought. I guess we each have our own way of doing thing. It's not in me to try to tell a client that they are going to like something. That's not my personality. I'm more of the personality type to help the client in finding what the different options are and then helping them to make a decision themselves. I do agree that our attitude is so important. Keeping a good attitude and win clients and help with difficult situations. I'm a slow thinker. I often need to take time before responding to a difficult situation (especially if I'm not prepared). When I give a response, I like to have a solution that I can acceptably live with. Quote: Stephen, let us know how you resolve it, please. Yes, I'll certainly do that. see my response to Jack (above) for current details. Thanks for your ideas, StephenW
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2004, 12:08:19 AM » -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hi, My message is too long for one post, so I have broken it up into several messages. Part 1 of 3
1. Comments Have Been Helpful: I want to thank all of you for giving me your thoughts and suggestions. The replies from the other professionals on this discussion board have helped to validate what Emmy and I had thought we were going to do. Yes, we felt like the client is unreasonable and that we were in the right. But, as one of the replies said, one unhappy client can do a lot of damage. Since my last message I have been discussing with my wife about what the right thing to do is. I’ve also been reading the comments on this discussion board. Thanks for all those thoughts. I haven’t replied to them because I wasn’t sure what to say or how this was going to turn out. I also wanted to wait to answer until we got some resolution into what was going to happen.
2. Trying a Possible Solution: Since my last message, I had remembered that I already had some foam (out in the back shed) that might do the job without having to spend any more money. It also made sending home a sample with the client easier. I went out to the shed and got a piece of foam, aprox size 22" X 57" X 5", and wrapped it up in plastic to keep it clean. We called the client and suggested that he just take this piece of foam home and give it a try. After he took it home, he called back in a couple of days and said that this new foam was too soft. I was disappointed because I thought that it might save us some money.
3. New Foam Samples: 12/11/2004 Now I knew that we had to do something. We called up our foam supplier and told them the situation of the unhappy client. Their opinion was that the client had made a choice and they weren’t going to do anything about it. In all honesty, I couldn’t really expect them to. After talking it over some more with my wife, and giving it more thought, we decided to that we needed some bigger foam samples for the client to sit on. I also thought that as long as we were getting some samples for him to try out, that I might as well order some other foam samples as well. (I wanted to use this experience to look to the future: having bigger foam samples would better serve all of my future foam clients.) We called our foam supplier back and, after talking with a couple different people, they decided to give us the foam samples at the 10-sheet price. At least that was some sort of a price break. So, we ordered the foam samples large enough to sit on, 20” X 20”. I ordered 1” & 2” & 4” of each of the grades that we might be most likely to sell: 2521, 2528, 2535. 2743, 2952, and sizes of 1818 (2” & 4”) and a 1 inch piece of 2670 (which was the same as we first sold in this client’s cushions) I could use these three thicknesses to create every thickness between 1” and 7”, like this = 1”, 2”, 3” = (1” + 2”), 4”, 5” = (1” + 4”), 6” = (4” + 2”), 7” = (4” + 2” + 1”). This also would allow me to try out different combinations of layered foam, such as, 1” medium on 4” firm, or 2” soft on top of 4” firm, and so on.
4. Client Returns 2nd Softer Foam: When the client brought back in the plastic wrapped softer foam, we told him that we were getting some bigger foam samples, and that when they came in, he could try them out. This seemed to satisfy him, then he left. When the new foam samples came in, we notified the client.
5. Client Tries New Foam Samples: A couple days later, on Thursday night, the client brought the two cushions back in. He was in a rush, so I quickly removed the previous super firm foam, that we had sold him, and put the 20” X 20” X 5”samples of the two different firmnesses of foam in his two cushions, firm in one cushion, and extra firm in the other cushion, and sent them home with him.
6. What About the Cost? Up to this point we still had not talked about price settlement. I still wasn’t sure just how to handle that. However, a thought came to me that I toyed with. The new foam would cost a little less than the first super firm foam, and I thought that I should order the new foam in a little smaller size, ½” thinner and ½” less on each side. This would reduce the tightness of the cover a little, as well as reducing the cost a little. At first I began thinking, because of the reduction is cost, how I could only credit back to the client, ½ of the cost of the previous foam to the new foam, and still have it be the same total price. I could work it all out in the computer, and then just create an invoice that would show no prices, just the total cost. Yes, that should work out just about fine, and I wouldn’t loose to much on the job. So I was thinking this over as I tried to work everything out. (however, something about this was eating at me and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first. I didn’t feel right about “hiding” the price figures.) Fortunately the client didn’t call for a few days.
7. More Discussion – Let’s Examine The Facts: This morning (Saturday), I was trying to talk out what to do about the monetary situation of the foam with my wife. In explaining my thoughts to her, I had a thought to try out both foams, (my 12” X 12” X 4” foam sample and the foam I took out of his cushions 24 1½”X 25 ½” X 5 ½”) side by side. I first just pressed down on both foams with the palms of my hands (one hand on each piece of foam). They both felt the same: they were indeed the same firmness. Next, I sat on the small foam sample and found the I squished it down about half way. Then I sat to the large cushion foam piece, and didn’t make much of a dent in it: it was almost as hard as a brick. Although these two foam pieces were the same, when I sat on them, they responded differently. Now why would that be? To find the answers, I thought that I would look at the facts. The foam sample measures 12” X 12” = 144 Square inches. When I sat on the larger foam piece my weight was spread out over an area measuring approximately 17” X 18” = 306 square inches. This shows that when I sit on the full cushion size foam my weight is spread out over twice as large of an area as when I sat on the small sample of foam. Consequently, when I am sitting on the small foam sample, I’m putting twice as much weight per square inch as when I sit on the larger foam piece. So, of course the sample would seam twice as soft as the larger foam piece, even though they are exactly the same firmness of foam. (I've included my own struggles with my thoughts (in #6 above) just as an example, having self-centered thoughts is not wrong, acting upon them can damage relationships, harm others, darken our thinking abilitly and hinder our learning new lessons and gaining new insights.)
8. New Insights: What this showed me was that the client, who was even larger than I am, did not sit on a large enough piece of foam to adequately show him how much, or how little, support the foam would give him. He made his choice using faulty information. Yes, a few days ago when I was trying to work things out with him, he had a bad attitude, but that doesn’t change the facts. Yes, I was inwardly angry at him, but, sad to say , even that doesn’t change the facts. Since I’ve had a few days to mull this over, and I’ve seen more facts to this situation, I’ve come up with a different awareness that I originally had.
9. Looking at My Own Mistakes: In examining my own actions, I thought that I’d take myself out of the picture and look at this situation from the standpoint of a judge who would be trying to see who was right. I see that I made several mistakes on this order. First, I had to small of foam samples for clients to adequately choose. The judge would consider me to be the professional who had superior knowledge. I should have known that the small samples would not adequately support the customer to give an accurate representation. And, as the professional with superior knowledge, I should have known that the foam was firmer than any that I had sold for seat cushions before. I had ordered the foam in too large of a size for the cover, which increased it’s firmness. (Also, something that has nothing to do with a judge’s decision, I also made another mistake to my own hurt. I did not charge the client for stuffing his cushions. At the time I gave him the price I was rushing to give the client the estimate and forgot to add that charge.) At last I was ready to face the client and deal with the cost issue.
10. Client Returns Foam Samples: 12/11/2004 4:12 PM This afternoon the client brought back in his cushions (that had our new foam samples inside them.) He said that he wanted to go with the softer of the two (which was the firm). In talking with him, we decided to just order two new cushions of the grade he liked. He’ll try that out for a while, and then see what he wants to do with the cushions in the other furniture. He still has the three sofa cushions that need replacing, and he says that he also has another sofa he may get new foam for.
11. The Cost: After giving it much thought, looking at the facts, examining my own mistakes and my own motives, talking it over with my wife, I’ve decided that I need to just charge him for what he is actually getting, as well as to have all the charges clearly spelled out. I need to eat whatever loss there will be. God is good, he will provide. He expects me to be honest in all of my dealings.
12. Lessons Learned: If I want to look at this from a purely economic viewpoint, with this foam order of the two cushions, with replacing the two cushions, I have lost money: it cost more to deal with him that it would have not to have the sale. But if I look at it from the lessons I’ve learned: I’ve learned that I needed bigger and better foam samples. With them I will be able to better serve my future clients. I’ve learned to check out all the facts before giving an answer. I’ve learned lessons of how give better service to my clients, thus building client loyalty. What I was first thinking about doing, before I looked at the facts, and my own mistakes, was completely different that what I realize that I need to do now. I see this not as a disaster, or as devastating mistakes, but as lessons, as guidance, from God above. My foam samples were faulty in a way that I had not given any thought to. All of the circumstances and the experiences that we go through in life are not important, how we respond to them is what’s important. Did I learn the lessons, is my life improved because of how I responded? Time will tell. I’m a slow learner at times, and so I take my time before responding. My first response is often emotional, and sometimes angry, but I don’t let myself respond when I am in that frame of mind. I like to think things out.
13. Being of Better Service: One of the strong attractions of “custom made” is helping the client get something that fits her, that they will be happy with. Part of doing what is right means to do the right thing no matter what the client does, and not matter what type of attitude the client has. In Conclusion This job is not yet complete, and has not played out. At least now I know how I am going to respond for my part.
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2004, 10:54:27 AM » -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks Jack for your encouragement. Sometimes it is struggle to know what is the right thing to do. It's good to have a sounding board.
Quote from: Perry on December 12, 2004, 10:52:18 AM My admonishment, if any, to Stephen...is to not worry if this customer runs his trap.
Perry Thanks for your admonishment Perry, it's good not to take things personally. Update "All things work for good to those who love the Lord" I'm already making good use of those nice larger foam samples. Yesterday a customer called wanting some new foam for the cushions. Their cat had vomited on the the curved center sectional cushion. So she wanted to have it replaced with a foam similar to what she already has. Today she brought the old cushion in. Because I had those nice new foam samples (that came to me through all those struggles), she was able to try out the different firmnesses. Consequently, she place a $140 order, which will come down on the truck in 2 days. In addition, since we have invested a little more into getting these foam samples, I've been talking with my wife about putting a listing in the phone book under "Foam & Sponge Rubber" and I've been thinking about adding a corresponding foam page to our web page. (I have been working with foam for over 30 years and have a pretty good "working knowledge" about the different types and densities of foam. It would help to get some more of the technical info though. ) Of course, I don't yet know what will come of this, but there is a chance of earning some extra income from the foam sales, without much additional investment on our part. As I think about it, none of these other things regarding possibly increased foam sales would I have considered if it I had of just gotten angry at that first foam client and gotten in a verbal argument with him, trying to prove myself right. There is a book that says, "Do everything without grumbling and complaining." There is much practical sense and wisdom here. More Lessons Many seemingly "bad" circumstances have a lesson attached to them, and if we learn from the lesson, life improves. As an example, if I had of just gotten angry at that previously mentioned unhappy foam client and just dismissed them, then I wouldn't have had these nice foam samples. If I only call the client names, put all the blame on them, then I stop myself from thinking and growing. Each time I come to a difficult client, and I take the time to work through any problems, finding the difficult solutions, then I grow in my ability to handle difficult clients. In each problem situation, it is rare that only one person is totally to blame. We each come into a situation with our unique set of previous experiences, prejudices, hopes, plans, thoughts, past problems (which we carry into each current situation). My Purpose As an upholsterer, I am not in business merely to provide for myself and my family. I provide a service to my clients. I seek to find solutions (within my knowledge and abilities) to their problems. When I take their needs into consideration, I can better serve my clients, they are more satisfied with my service, and it builds customer loyalty, which helps me to succeed in business. Prologue Besides being an upholstery and a father, I am a writer, a thinker, and an artist. I take pleasure in looking at my life's experiences and my trials and see what I can learn from them. As an upholsterer, I want to continually try to improve the quality of my work, as well as to improve my methods of dealing with clients. When I have "less than perfect" clients, I am less concerned with how they act than I am with how I respond to them. When some clients are nasty or angry, if I respond in like manner, then I'm becoming like them: I am no better than they are. So, when I have an "angry" or "undesirable" client, I'd rather be kind an nice to them no matte how they treat me, because this is who I want to become. How I act toward others, no matter how they act towards me, is an indication of who I am. So, this the choice I have to make every time I deal with a client, how do I want to act, who am I? As a writer I look for experiences in my life to write about. I try to look on as an observer and write out what I see. I also keep a journal and write out many of my life's experiences and the lessons that I learn. Every now and then something tells me to write about one of my life experiences, and then it's amazing what can develop, such as as happened in this topic thread. When I first began to write about "the Unhappy Foam Customer", I had no idea of where it might lead. Yes, I have given a lot of thought to this, probably more than most people, but that is partly because of the writer-thinker in me. As a thinker, I try to look for problems and figure out better ways to do things. I also notice that there is a writer (me) watching my every thought and my every action, and this helps keep me on the straight and narrow (trying to do the right thing). As an artist, I try to see the balance and harmony in God’s creation. I also seek to express what I see in meaningful ways. At times, when I really understand some concept, I try to make a drawing or other visuals to make the concept simpler to understand. I have not developed this gift as much as I should, but it is a worthwhile ambition, which can compliment the writer side of me.
« Reply #28 on: December 22, 2004, 09:09:49 AM » -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hi, I just wanted to add more to the story. More to the Story: While I was gone, the (unhappy foam) client's wife came in yesterday and picked up the cushions with the new foam stuffed into them. She gave my wife a hug and said how much she appreciated our working with them. She even asked how much she owed us. My wife told her she didn't owe us anything. (My wife and I had already discussed this and decided that, even though the client originally had a bad attitude, I, and my inadequate foam samples, were largely to blame) The client's wife also mentioned that after the holidays, if these cushions work out OK, she will probably come back and order the foam for the other furniture. We are each different: Each of us has a different personality, we each come from different backgrounds, we each have different levels of experience, we each have had many different experiences in our lives. All this combines to make us unique individuals, with our own unique sets of gifts, talents, attitudes, prejudices and biases, etc. This also applies to our clients. Consequently, each of will respond differently, each of our clients will respond differently. So you can never know for certain just how a client interaction will turn out. If we give the client angry response back to his anger, then that is like throw gasoline upon a fire. This leads to arguments, fights, lawsuits. Now why do I even say this? It has been wisely said, "A soft answer turns away wrath." So what if I lost some money on this sale. I have to look at the overall picture of how I'm doing as a whole. God provides. You loose a little here, but you gain over there. It all comes out in the end. Lessons about myself: One thing I would like to say. Yes, I put a lot of effort into a seemingly small sale. But the important thing to me is that I feel good about how it turned out. I feel good about myself and how I responded to the client, and how I treated the client. His initial anger is irrelevant to me, my response is what I'm concerned about. I can't control him. But I can learn to control myself. I don't have to live with him, but I do have to live with myself. If I cop an attitude, if I put the client down, if I put "me first", how am I acting any differently than he is? So, as for myself, I'd rather put out more effort and have a good result, rather than just take the easy way out of a situation and have lasting negative affects. Those lasting negative affects would go two ways. First, they would build and increase negativity into me. When I respond negatively to one client, I am much more prone to do it again with the next client, and so it builds. Secondly, when I respond negatively to a client, especially one who is angry, then that builds negativity into my client base. As Someone else mentioned earlier in this thread, one unhappy angry client can tell many others, and so it goes on and on. My self-righteous pride increases and I think more and more about myself, and less and less about my clients. I see the needs of my clients as less important than mine. I become more and more detached from my clients. I have more "difficult clients", not realizing that my own negative attitude is contributing to the negative attitude of my clients. But, conversely, the other side is also true. If I learn to handle each client well, even the difficult ones: My ability to handle difficult clients will increase. My feelings of goodwill towards even my difficult clients will increase My skill at my trade improves because I will change the ways that I do things to better meet the needs of my clients. My sense of self worth and feelings of good will about myself will increase The clients, even the difficult ones, will have a better sense of goodwill toward me. I will have less and less (apparent) "difficult clients" because I learn to meet their needs better. In the process I grow and stretch as a person. It has been rightly said: "We see things, not as they are, but as we are" Reply #30 on: December 22, 2004, 07:50:34 PM » --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quote from: DB on December 22, 2004, 07:17:20 PM Behind every successful man is a goooooood woman. Give your wife a big hug for I sense she gets much of the credit for this wonderful experience you just had.
Yes, Emmy gets much of the credit (and the cash too! ;D ). She has added so much to my life. She my closest and best friend, my life's partner, my lover, my confidant, my business partner, my advisor, my 2X4 (in the head ) when I need it, etc. I would not be who I am if she had not come into my life. Quote: Thanks for sharing your mental growth. Doesn't it make all that we do the way we do worth what we do? DB I couldn't agree more, thanks for responding,
Follow Up on this Story - 3 Years Later
Before I had this client, I had been using the small "free samples" for a few years, but my interaction with this client led me to purchase a whole set of foam samples (a decision I am very thankful for to this day.)
The sizes I use for all my foam samples are 20" X 20". I get the foam in 3 thicknesses (1" + 2" & 4") These three thicknesses can be combined to get any thickness between 1" & 7" thick. Since I mostly sell high quality foam for jobs, I have foam samples in the above 3 thicknesses in these qualities: 2523, 2528, 2535, 2743, & 2952. I also have some call for 1833, 1845 (and possibly a little for 1860). I have a 4" sample of the 1833. Someday I'll probably get the 1" & 2" in the 1833, as well as getting the 3 thicknesses in the 1845.
I keep my foam samples in a cabinet.
(click on picture to enlarge)
To have the client try out the foam samples, I have a sturdy coffee table that I put the foam samples on and let them sit on various firmnesses. Sometimes, I let them try out a combination of various firmness, for example, extra firm on the bottom and medium of the top. Occassionally, as shown on the right side of the coffee table, I may llet them try out a combination of 3 different firmness: the stack on the left side is firm on the bottom, medium in the middle, and soft on top.
Since I've had the various samples, I notice that people's preferences vary considerably. Some like it soft, some like it hard, etc.
I must say that I've use the foam samples a LOOOTTTTTT!!!!!. The foam samples were a sizeable investment for me, but it has been well worth it. I sell a lot of foam; I don't stock foam, but only order to the clients' sizes. When I was using the small foam samples, I sold this amount of foam: 1999 = $1678 in foam sales, 2000 = $1768 in foam sales, 2001 = $2218 in foam sales, 2002 = $1731 in foam sales, 2003 = $2381 in foam sales, 2004 = $2092 in foam sales. Then near the end of 2004 I had this incident, in the above story. Shortly after this, on December 4, 2004, I ordered my 20" X 20" foam samples. All the foam samples cost me about $100. Since then, my foam sales have increased to $3240 in 2005, $4532 in 2006, and $5598 in 2007. So that original $100 investment for foam samples has more than paid for itself.
For pricing, I've created a foam price sheet, which you can see here: Foam Price Sheet. I just enter the sizes (shown at the top in red), and then it automatically figures the prices in all foam grades and in all thicknesses from 1" to 7". It makes it real easy for the client to test out the foam and then instantly compare what the price would be for each grade and thickness. (The only part of the foam price sheet that prints out is the part inside the borders.)
Now, as a follow up to the above story, the challenging events of our lives are not nearly as important as HOW we RESPOND to them. If I had of insisted on being "right", then I would have missed out on the blessings (both financial and otherwise)that have flowed out of that event.
Another Update, after another 3 or 4 Years
I had used one of the "mistake" super hard (2670) foam pieces along the line, but still have one of them. Yesterday I had a client come into the shop and told me that his wife wanted the hardest foam that they could get to replace the foam in their sofa cushions. I brought out my 20" X "20 size foam sample of the 2743 and the 2952 for him to sit on. I was feeling a little jovial so, as a kind of joke, I also brought out the piece of super hard 2670 foam for him top sit on, which I had him sit on first. With a smile on his face, he said that it "is" very hard. I then had him try the 2952 foam and the 2743 foam. He went back to the 2670 foam and said he thought that his wife would like that foam. I explained to him that I had brought that foam out as a joke, and that it was super-hard, harder than most people would like, but that the 2952 foam was that very hardest that most customers would want and suggest that his wife would be happier with that. No, he said, he was sure that his wife would rather have the 2670 foam. I explained to him that in ordering the 2670 foam that there would be no refunds or exchanges, so he needs to make sure that is what they want before we order it.
During our conversation he said that his wife frequently lies down on the sofa. I told him about the load ratios, that when he sits on the foam he puts a lot more weight per square inch, but when someone lays down on the foam, his weight will be distributed over a larger area, thus making it even harder. He said that he would have his wife lay down on the foam (having the other cushions on both sides to allow her to better lay on it).
Another part of the story is that since the time that we originally got the 2670 foam we have moved and change foam suppliers because our former supplier won't deliver to us out in our new location in the small town of Independence. Our new suppler has this foam (Q61 3.0 lb 61-71 IFD), which I explained to the client.
I gave this client a choice of (1. bringing his wife out to us and letting her try out the foam, 2. paying a deposit and taking the foam home for her to try out, or 3. ordering the foam and paying a 1/2 deposit on the foam. If he chose #3, then we'd let him take home the foam sample for his wife to try out, and we wouldn't cash his check or order the foam until he called us back to confirm that his wife liked the foam. He decided to go with choice #3.
When I made out his invoice for the foam order, I put this on the Invoice:
Another followup on this story. I had used one of the "mistake" super hard (2670) foam pieces along the line, but still have one of them. Yesterday I had a client come into the shop and told me that his wife wanted the hardest foam that they could get to replace the foam in their sofa cushions. I brought out my 20" X "20 size foam sample of the 2743 and the 2952 for him to sit on. I was feeling a little jovial so, as a kind of joke, I also brought out the piece of super hard 2670 foam for him top sit on, which I had him sit on first. With a smile on his face, he said that it "is" very hard. I then had him try the 2952 foam and the 2743 foam. He went back to the 2670 foam and said he thought that his wife would like that foam. I explained to him that I had brought that foam out as a joke, and that it was super-hard, harder than most people would like, but that the 2952 foam was that very hardest that most customers would want and suggest that his wife would be happier with that. No, he said, he was sure that his wife would rather have the 2670 foam. I explained to him that in ordering the 2670 foam that there would be no refunds or exchanges, so he needs to make sure that is what they want before we order it.
Another part of the story is that since the time that we originally got the 2670 foam we have moved and change foam suppliers because our former supplier won't deliver to us out in our new location in the small town of Independence. Our new suppler has this foam (Q61 3.0 lb 61-71 IFD), which I explained to the client.
I gave this client a choice of (1. bringing his wife out to us and letting her try out the foam, 2. paying a deposit and taking the foam home for her to try out, or 3. ordering the foam and paying a 1/2 deposit on the foam. If he chose #3, then we'd let him take home the foam sample for his wife to try out, and we wouldn't cash his check or order the foam until he called us back to confirm that his wife liked the foam.
When I made out his invoice for the foam order, I put this on the Invoice:
QuoteCustomer has been warned how hard the cushions are. No Refunds and No exchanges once the foam is order.
Client will take home a sample and confirm this is what they want before we order it.
He read over the invoice, signed it and paid the deposit. An hour or two later his wife called back and said that she liked the foam and to go ahead and order the foam.
The moral of this story has several parts.
1. I sure didn't think that anyone would ever want cushions that hard.
2. Because we had that piece of foam we had a sample to let him and his wife try out.
3. His cushion sizes were 24 x 28 x 6 and we'll make over $300 over the cost of the foam on this order. This, again, helps to continue to reimburse for that original foam mistake.
Another part of the update.
So, here is a summary of how my foam sales have been affected.
This is a list of my foam income for a few years before the original "challenging" foam client came into my shop.
Year Foam sales for the year
2004 $2092 <<< Nov 29, 2004 Challenging Foam Client
The Challenging Foam client came into my shop near the end of 2004. Shortly after that I got new 20" X 20" foam samples, as describe in the previous message:
So, we ordered the foam samples large enough to sit on, 20” X 20”. I ordered 1” & 2” & 4” of each of the grades that we might be most likely to sell: 2521, 2528, 2535. 2743, 2952, and sizes of 1818 (2” & 4”) and a 1 inch piece of 2670 (which was the same as we first sold in this client’s cushions) I could use these three thicknesses to create every thickness between 1” and 7”, like this = 1”, 2”, 3” = (1” + 2”), 4”, 5” = (1” + 4”), 6” = (4” + 2”), 7” = (4” + 2” + 1”). This also would allow me to try out different combinations of layered foam, such as, 1” medium on 4” firm, or 2” soft on top of 4” firm, and so on.
From the time we received the new foam samples we have been making about an additional two thousand to three thousand dollars per year above what we were selling before that time.
So, to restate, having that "challenging" foam client was really a blessing to us. It caused us to correct a problem of insufficient foam samples. The result was increased sales.
Another part of the message is that when we have challenging times, or difficult clients, it is very important to watch our attitudes. Many times those things happen to bring correction into our lives, and we are blessed (if we watch our attitudes and actions).
*This was originally written as messages on Carrscorner Upholstery Discussion.
I have not yet had time to edit and rewrite this, but this is just raw text.
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