Unique is what all stores want to be. It’s good to separate your business from all others through product selection, design, service, knowledge, quality or, as in the case of Jaureguy’s Paint & Decorating, Turlock, CA, all of the above.
This unusual three-person, husband-wife-son partnership began in 1991 when Sharon returned to Turlock, her hometown, where John Jaureguy had a paint, wallpaper and blinds store. Sharon had earned an interior design degree from the University of Iowa and brought with her fabric samples from an earlier career as a designer. Sharon and John combined the two concepts and this collaboration has made all the difference for the new Jaureguy’s, where business now breaks down roughly to 35 percent paint, 35 percent custom window coverings and 30 percent furniture and accessories.
“We are a full design center,” explains Sharon. “We’re Benjamin Moore paint dealers, we are furniture dealers, custom drapery manufacturers, hard window coverings dealers . . . we’re in accessories . . . and we’re a design center, which is nice for our clients.”
Jaureguy’s also creates custom bedding, duvets and pillows. “What makes us a little unique in that department is every client is unique, every job is custom,” Sharon says.
“Our focus as far as window coverings and draperies are concerned is we pride ourselves in our custom drapery work. It has really developed over the years, fabricating our own window fashions,” says son Eric Jergenson, who joined the company after gaining a degree in business management, economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“And we design them here,” adds Sharon, “so our clients can come into our showroom and we have several examples and vignettes set up around the store. We have found that to be very helpful.”
As unique as anything about Jaureguy’s is its evolution, as Eric explains: “We developed from your typical paint store that sells some blinds, sells some wallpaper . . . to being a custom design house focusing on custom draperies and window coverings.”
Most of Jaureguy’s clients are retail based, but the company does a lot of commercial work (mostly with contractors on the paint side) and some wholesale business. Regardless of the client, service and quality are important parts of what make Jaureguy’s successful. It’s especially so when it comes to custom draperies. “Blinds seem to be more price-driven,” says Eric, “where the draperies seem to be more quality-driven.”
Sharon and Eric do the designing and oversee the fabrication of the custom jobs. The store has one full-time outside salesperson, specializing in hard treatments. John Jaureguy, who started the business nearly 20 years ago, concentrates on paint sales as well as installations. Jaureguy’s has its own workroom, at a site separate from its showroom, plus a 7,000-square-foot warehouse.
To appeal to its clientele, Jaureguy’s renovated its showroom in recent years just as its business was evolving and the downtown portion of Turlock itself was revitalizing. Jaureguy’s became a Benjamin Moore Signature store with that concept’s updated and attractive retail look.
“Then you go over to more of the residential side of the store,” Sharon says, “and we have drapery displays set up in all the windows and different treatments, plus we have one whole wall dedicated strictly to valances. People find that very, very helpful to come in and see our quality and to be able to visualize what that is going to look like in their homes. Even if they don’t select that particular style, they still will have a better grasp of it than from a picture.”
“We utilize all of our floor space. Even though we have 5,000 square feet, we could use 5,000 more quite easily. Every one of our windows has a different treatment on it, to actually show people how light can affect their window coverings by using real windows,” Eric adds.
“It’s a very nice setup,” he continues describing the showroom. “It’s set up like we would set up a home. We want someone to look at it and view it as a room. It’s a little bit tight, but it’s nice that you can lead customers through there and they can really enjoy the experience.”
Jaureguy’s wants to make a visit to the showroom a pleasant experience, and Sharon believes it is important to customers. A separate design room was set up as a comfortable space to show the company’s fabric samples. The room includes a television that shows a video portfolio of past jobs. “That has been really nice for clients because they can see a completed room and that gives them confidence in our work,” Sharon says.
When it comes to showrooms, Sharon’s advice is to be selective. “You don’t need a lot, but what you have has to be lovely,” she says.
Jaureguy’s has always been located in downtown Turlock (Remember when towns had downtowns?), a retail-based area with offices, banks and other retail stores. Its years at this location have created an established feeling among residents and, together with its total design concept, draws customer interest. Eric estimates about 20 percent of the company’s window coverings business is generated from walk-in customers.
“The paint often gets people in through the front door that might not have otherwise come in,” admits Sharon, “or they see our beautiful drapery displays in the window and they’ll stop and come in. Some people will walk in for a quart of paint. Many projects start with color,” she notes. “And by the time they are done, we maybe have sold their whole house.”
But having a beautiful showroom isn’t enough. “What’s very important for us is heavily training our staff,” Eric says. “Everything has to be custom ordered, so everyone has to be very knowledgeable and be able to exude confidence and, hopefully, the customer picks that up. We have a very educated, service-oriented staff. We pride ourselves on product knowledge.”
“We send our staff to continuing education classes constantly. To be current on the features of the different products is very important,” says Sharon. The sales force begins making the customer feel comfortable with product knowledge and from there it extends to accuracy in measurement and perfect installation. “Our draperies are not inexpensive. You have to exude confidence that this is going to look beautiful and the client is going to be happy with it.”
“A lot of clients, because of our geographical area, have fairly elaborate tastes. They like a lot of trims and tassels, which is fun. It can be a little bit dressier,” Sharon says. “Silk is probably our No. 1 seller, we often line and interline and then line again. It has been just a fabulous market. And they’ve come out with a lot of beautiful rodding—elaborate with big finials in large scale and that’s been really fun.”
Many homes in the area have been built with high ceilings and big windows, and some customers say they don’t want anything to cover the view. So, Sharon and Eric will concentrate on treating the wall around the windows and the header space above the windows so they might end up with very little actually covering the glass, but elaborate treatments that surround the window and make it look even larger.
Turlock is located almost dead center in California—an hour and a half east/southeast of San Francisco; two hours south of Sacramento; and four hours north of Los Angeles. Most customers are from a 30-mile radius, although Jaureguy’s has done work for clients in Southern California, coastal California, Colorado and Oregon.
A building boom in Turlock that lasted four to five years has ended now, leaving homeowners, and Jaureguy’s clientele, who are more established, who have settled in for a few years. “We are focused, and we found out that it works for us, on dealing more with the do-it-for-me clientele,” Eric explains. “The tract homes or mass new construction really isn’t our business. In fact, for us, it’s better when people aren’t jumping around and moving. When they know they are staying they want something nice, then they come and see us.”
With the average starter home running from the upper $300,000 to mid-$500,000 range, customers often wait before looking for that something special. “After they have their yard in and after they get settled and are ready for the custom decorating part of our business,” Sharon points out.
“A lot of people moving into the area aren’t our clients . . . yet,” says Eric.
IT HAS TO BE RIGHT
Jaureguy’s location has a unique effect on its business. The area has become a commuter locale for people working in the San Francisco Bay area. Often they work all week and have only the two days on the weekend to begin and to work on home projects. They want to come in to a place that has paint, furniture, accessories and window coverings and will work to do it all for them. But there’s also a down side. Often, Jaureguy’s competition is San Francisco. If a high-end client wants a special, custom project he or she might think of looking in the city first.
“The clients that we lose will go with a designer or workroom that is located in San Francisco,” says Eric, “just to enjoy that allure of going to the city even though we often create products that are sometimes far superior.”
To keep in touch with its target customers, Jaureguy’s relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals, but has plans to focus more on the Internet in the future. The company’s Web site, www.jaureguys.com, “gives us credibility for sure,” says Sharon. “People are able to get on there and see what we do.” The site features a portfolio of work they have done (see page 30).
It’s also a matter of which vehicle will more readily reach new customers. Jaureguy’s has used radio, newspaper and yellow pages advertising in the past, but is taking a closer look at each. “You have to spend your advertising dollars. We’re curious if the young crowd even reads the paper any more,” Sharon says.
But with an eye to the future, Jaureguy’s also wants to keep control of its growth. “How big do you want to get?” Sharon asks. “We’re so quality-driven that if we’re not careful we can lose that edge. We’re talking window coverings anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 a window. It has to right, it has to be precise, it has to be beautiful from the onset.”
Always hands-on, Jaureguy’s wants to keep the quality of its products high and focus on its best customers. “It allows us to have more fun,” says Eric. “We can focus on higher end, higher margin and have fun doing it.”