What Do You Do When Work Is Slow?

Are you desperate for work? Has it been real slow? Are the bills mounting up?

It's hard to think about what to do differently when things look bleak. But sometimes lack of work is a wakeup call, some things may need to be changed or reevaluated. It might be time to get back to the basics. Here are some suggestions. They may seem simplistic, but they are key to having the clients trust you enough to do their work for them.

  1. Don't Wait Until Your Work is Slow. Many upholsterers don't bother to do much advertising or other business promotion. They think that "word of mouth" is the best form of advertising (and it is). I've never seen that word of mouth alone continues to pay the bills over the long term. To minimize downtime I'd suggest that you continually promote your business by advertising continuously.
  2. DON'T take in work out of desperation. Working cheap and doing jobs that cost you money to do will only hurt you in the long run. If you can't make enough from a job to pay the expenses, don't do the job.
  3. Be open and honest in all your dealings and work with the client.
  4. Do Quality Work, no matter what. This may seem a little out of place, but it's high on the list. One thing that brings clients back is having their furniture well done.
    1. Get the advice and training that you need to do quality work.
    2. Take the time to do the job correctly.
    3. Only use quality materials.
  5. Put the Client first. Along with doing quality work, if the client senses that you have their best interest at heart, she will be more likely to check you out. If, however, you are desperate for work, it's very easy to "try to make a sale". This can drive the clients away.
  6. Promote Your Business: go after work:
    1. Contact interior decorators/designers
    2. Contact furniture stores and offer to do repair work for them
    3. Broaden the type of work that you do
    4. Advertise your business. Be sure to write some Good Ads for your business. 
      1. It is also a good idea to advertise in the yellow pages.
      2. Advertise in any reliable small newspapers in your area. Take the time to make a display ad, which goes in the main parts of the paper.
      3. Make a good sign for your business. (Check with the governing authorities about what you are allowed to do.)
  7. Use your Free time wisely:
    1. Write some brochures or flyers for your business.
    2. Put up a website, or improve your existing website
    3. Walk the neighborhoods delivering your flyers. (Be sure to check with the city about the legality of house to house delivery of flyers.)
    4. Clean and organize your shop. In recent years I have had less and less dead time, so I value whenever I don't have work so that I can have time to clean my shop.
  8. What other skills do you have? Perhaps you can get a part time or full time job in another field until you get your business back on it's feet.
    1. Get an evening job delivering pizzas.
  9. Trust that work will come or that your needs will be provided.