• Question 1 asked respondents to describe their businesses given three possibilities and allowed them to select all that applied. Of the total responses, 35 percent indicated they fit into this category. From some of the responses, it looked as if a few people were doing mostly C.O.M. (customer's own material) and not selling their own materials. However, it also could be that they didn't keep records separating materials from the labor.
• Question 2: Business location
Home:80% On property:6% Off property:14%
Combining these results with those from Question 3, it was determined that all but one of the one-person businesses were home based. Of those with employees, 45 percent were home-based businesses. Again, adding employees seems to be what takes the business out of the home.
• Question 3: Total number of employees
One employee:66% Two employees:15% Three employees:12% Four employees:3% Seven employees:2% Eight employees:3%
Ninety-three percent of the respondents reported having from one to three employees.
• Question 4: Number of years in business
Less than 10 years:71% 10 years or more:29%
The range of responses was from less than a year to 46 years with 10.1 years being the average.
• Question 5: Annual gross sales
No. of Sales % RespondentsNo. of EmployeesYears in Business To $15,000 23% 1-2 less than 1 to 10 $15,000 to $20,000 9% 1 less than 1 to 8 $20,000 to $25,000 3% 1 5-9 $25,000 to $30,000 9% 1 2-11 $30,000 to $40,000 9%1-3 1-36 $50,000 to $60,000 6% 1-26-24 $60,000 to $100,000 22% 1-4 2-26 $100,000 to $250,000 12%1-3 6-46 $250,000 to 500,000 5% 3-87-20 $500,000 to $1 million 2%8 24 $1 million to $3 million 0 More than $3 million 0 262
• Question 6: Average number of hours worked
The total ranged from eight to 70 hours per week.
One-employee companies ranged from eight to 65 hours/week, averaging 28.9 hours with 14 percent working full-time (minimum 40 hours/week).
Two-employee companies ranged from 30 to 70 hours/week, averaging 50.2 hours. (There was only one part-time respondent in this group.)
Three-employee companies ranged from 38 to 60 hours/week, averaging 48.5 hours. (There was one part-time respondent in this group.)
Four-to-eight-employee companies ranged from 45 to 55 hours/week, averaging 48.8 hours.
• Question 7: Percentage net profit is of gross sales
No. of Employees % of RespondentsAverage Range Years in Business 1 38% 0-97%less than 1-36 2 24.7% 3-35%5-23 3 26.8% 20-52%2-29 4+ (not enough responses) 10-46
Net profit was defined as owner's salary plus profit. I thought it was bad last month because 20 percent of the respondents didn't know this number, but 40 percent of this group didn't know it! The range was zero to 97 percent.
If a workroom is selling fabric and all materials, I don't understand how a 97 percent net profit is possible. To achieve it, there would have to be a terrific markup—way in excess of 100 percent on the cost of goods sold and/or the fabrication.
• Question 8: Are you satisfied with your income?
Total respondents: Those in business 4+ years: Yes25%Yes 29% No75%No 71%
I thought last month's results was bad! How sad! I just can't understand why people stay in a business 10, 20 and more than 30 years and are not happy with their incomes when it's their own business! You and only you have the power to do something about this!
• Question 9: How often do you raise prices?
Once a year42% Twice a year11% Every two years 21% Every three years16% More than three years10%
Only 45 percent of those companies with employees raised their prices at least every year. Those owners have to be taking pay cuts to give their employees annual raises. If not, I hope they will share their secret. If they are not giving their employees annual raises, how are they keeping them? Please tell us!
• Question 10: Which of the following equipment do you use for business purposes?
Computer85% Fax 83% Industrial sewing machines 82% Accounting software55% Other industrial equipment29% Gravity feed (bottle) or boiler irons22% Estimating software 9%
These respondents were more technologically advanced in the first four categories than the wholesale workrooms last month—although in some cases not by much. Only one respondent with more than one employee wasn't using a computer.
The wholesale workrooms had decidedly more industrial production equipment.
• Question 11: How often do you attend a trade show or seminar?
Less than once a year34% Once a year37% Twice a year13% More than twice a year3% Never 13%
I was surprised that, overall, this group does not attend as many trade shows as the wholesale workroom group.
• Question 12: Are you a member of a trade group?
None 60% Other20% Local group with no national affiliation2% WCAA 9%
These total to more than 100 percent because some respondents reported belonging to two or more groups.
• Question 13: Where do you obtain industry knowledge?
Trade publications (magazines, directories) 78% Books/shelter magazines 75% Trade show seminars 43% Trade show exhibits 41% Internet (Web sites) 41% Internet (chat rooms/e-mail lists) 41% Local networking 41% Local sales Reps 26% Supplier seminars 20%
Here, too, the respondents could check more than one answer. Readers were not asked to rank their responses in order of importance.
• Question 14a: What percentage of annual gross sales comes from:
RangeBusinesses Offering this Service
Fabrication of draperies 2-90%82%
Fabrication of accessories:
(pillows, Tablecloths, etc.) 1-40%71% Fabrication of bed coverings 1-30% 65% Fabrication of Soft shades 2-30%38% Fabrication of roller shades 1-25% 17% Fabrication of top treatments 5-75 80% Fabrication of slipcovers 1-2512% Fabrication of upholstery 1-3018% Installation 2-25% 49% Measuring fee 2-5% 6% Estimating fee 5% 2% Fabric, rods, hard
treatments, etc. 1-75% 78% Consultation 1.5-10% 14%
• Question 14b: What products do you sub-contract for fabrication?
% of Businesses
Fabrication of draperies 38%
Fabrication of accessories:
(pillows, tablecloths, etc.) 6% Fabrication of bed coverings40% Fabrication of soft shades6% Fabrication of roller shades23% Fabrication of top treatments5% Fabrication of slipcovers11% Fabrication of upholstery29% Installation 23% Measuring fee2% Fabric, rods, hard
treatments, etc. 8%
This group is doing a lot more sub-contracting than the wholesale workrooms.
• Question 15: Three most effective means of advertising (with 1 being the most effective)
Word of mouth83% Referrals66% Yellow pages22% Newspaper18% Direct mail12% Brochures11% Don't do any6% Cold calls5% Other5% Trade magazines0% Trade directory0%
So many respondents did not rate their responses in order of most effective, so I've simply given a percentage of the replies. Many more respondents in this group than in the wholesale workroom group invested in some form of paid advertising method.
For "Other," some of responces written in included leaving business cards in local businesses, door-to-door flyers, television, networking, charity donations, radio, ad in local newsletter, workroom list in local fabric store, local chamber of commerce, float in Christmas parade, church bulletin, home owner's association and newsletter.
Next month I will present the survey results of those who indicated they were in both of these first two categories.
Kitty Stein, WCAA, is a 20-year veteran of the drapery workroom field, having owned and operated her own business for 18 years and having taught classes on window treatment construction. Until 1990, Stein and a partner owned a workroom with nine employees. She since has opened her own smaller workroom, Workroom Concepts, that has just one employee. She also does workroom consulting, seminar speaking and is the author of Order in the Workroom available through Draperies & Window Coverings.