This group of respondents really comprises two businesses: fabrication (wholesale) and retail. We did not separate them in the survey. Therefore, because we didn't know what percentage of each business is fabrication and what percentage is retail, it would be difficult to attach real meaning to the answers to given to questions 5 and 7.
• Question 2: Business location
Home:68% On property:12% Off property:20%
Here again, combining these responses with those of Question 3 it was obvious that adding employees started taking businesses off property. No one-person businesses were located off property, whereas 42 percent of those with employees were off property.
• Question 3: Total number of employees
One employee:53% Two employees:15% Three employees:22% Six to 14 employees:10%
Ninety percent of the respondents had one to three employees.
• Question 4: Number of years in business
Less than 10 years:71% 10 years or more:29%
The range was from one year to 30 years with 11.5 years being the average. There was such a wide range in the number of years in business that no one group particularly stood out in responding.
• Question 5: Annual gross sales
No. of Sales % RespondentsNo. of EmployeesYears in Business To $15,000 18% 1 1-24 $15,000 to $20,000 7% 1 9-17 $20,000 to $25,000 5% 1-2 3-4 $25,000 to $30,000 13% 1-3 2-23 $30,000 to $40,000 5% 1-3 10-12 $50,000 to $60,000 13% 1-3 4-20 $60,000 to $100,000 22% 1-13 3-25 $100,000 to $250,000 10% 1-3 8-15 $250,000 to 500,000 5% 10-14 15-21 $500,000 to $1 million 2% 6 8 $1 million plus 0%
• Question 6: Average number of hours worked
The total ranged from six to 75 hours per week.
One-employee companies ranged from six to 60 hours/week, with an average of 33 hours/week. Twenty-seven percent of these were full time (a minimum of 40 hours/week).
Two-employee companies ranged from 12 to 45 hours/week, with an average of 32 hours/week. Thirty-three percent were full time.
Three-employee companies ranged from 20 to 75 hours/week, with an average of 50 hours/week. Seventy-eight percent were full time.
Six-to-14-employee companies ranged from 35 to 70 hours/week, with an average of 51 hours/week. Seventy-five percent were full time.
• Question 7: Percentage net profit is of gross sales
No. of Employees % of RespondentsAverage Range Years in Business 1 55% 25-75%1-30 2 33% 18-50%3-23 3 43% 20-80%6-30 6-14 (not enough responses) 8-22
Net profit was defined as owner's salary plus profit. Thirty-two percent of the respondents in this group didn't know this number. The range was nine to 80 percent. Because we don't know what percentage of each business is retail with cost of goods sold to consider and what percent is wholesale, these numbers can't tell us very much.
• Question 8: Are you satisfied with your income?
Total respondents: Yes28% No72%
Those in business more than a year: 2-4 years 29% unhappy 5-30 years 71% unhappy
We certainly have a lot of financially dissatisfied business owners in this industry! Would all of you please send me e-mail or faxes to explain why you can't improve the satisfaction with your income? Maybe in a future article we can try to resolve some of your obstacles.
• Question 9: How often do you raise prices?
Once a year51% Twice a year10% Every two years 21% Every three years3% More than three years15%
Fifty-eight percent of those companies with employees raised their prices at least every year, 10 percent every two years and 26 percent waited longer than three years to raise prices.
• Question 10: What equipment do you use?
Industrial sewing machines 95% Computer93% Fax 88% Accounting software63% Other industrial equipment59% Gravity feed (bottle) or boiler irons34% Estimating software 17%
Amazingly, these respondents were more advanced in all areas than either of the other two categories. They were way ahead in estimating software and even outdid the wholesale workrooms in every category of sewing/fabrication equipment. Only one company with more than one employee wasn't using a computer.
• Question 11: How often do you attend a trade show or seminar?
Less than once a year42% Once a year34% Twice a year10% More than twice a year2% Never 12%
Overall, the wholesale-only workrooms do a better of job of attending shows and seminars and educating themselves through these media.
• Question 12: Are you a member of a trade group?
None 59% Other22% Local group with no national affiliation15% WCAA 10%
In this question "Other" included Internet e-mail lists and forums (DraperyPro, WindowWeb) and the Chicagoland Drapery Workroom Association.
• Question 13: Where do you obtain industry knowledge?
Books/shelter magazines 90% Trade publications (magazines, directories) 85% Trade show seminars 49% Trade show exhibits 46% Internet (Web sites) 39% Internet (chat rooms/e-mail lists) 37% Local networking 32% Local sales Reps 29% Supplier seminars 15%
All three groups who responded to our survey are gleaning more of their knowledge from books/shelter magazines and trade publications. Interestingly, this group is not using Internet Web sites to the extent the other groups do, but is about the same as the others in using chat rooms and e-mail lists.
• Question 14a: What percentage of annual gross sales comes from:
RangeBusinesses Offering this Service
Fabrication of draperies 5-60%85%
Fabrication of accessories:
(pillows, Tablecloths, etc.) 1-30%85% Fabrication of bed coverings 1-15% 66% Fabrication of Soft shades 1-25%54% Fabrication of roller shades 1-35% 22% Fabrication of top treatments 5-75% 80% Fabrication of slipcovers 1-20%22% Fabrication of upholstery 5-20%20% Installation 1-30% 54% Measuring fee 1-5% 24% Estimating fee 5% Fabric, rods, hard
treatments, etc. 1-35% 76% Consultation 2-20% 17%
Many of the numbers submitted for this question could have included the cost of goods sold, which would make comparison to the wholesale-only workrooms difficult. Overall, the three categories were pretty similar, except that I was surprised to see that the wholesale workrooms were less often offering roller shade fabrication and upholstery. The wholesale workrooms also were way below the others in consultation percentages.
• Question 14b: What products do you sub-contract for fabrication?
% of Businesses
Fabrication of draperies 24%
Fabrication of accessories:
(pillows, tablecloths, etc.) 5% Fabrication of bed coverings29% Fabrication of soft shades10% Fabrication of roller shades15% Fabrication of top treatments2% Fabrication of slipcovers10% Fabrication of upholstery20% Installation 39% Measuring fee2% Estimating fee2% Fabric, rods, hard
treatments, etc. 12% Consultation 2%
This group is doing slightly less sub contracting to wholesale workrooms than the retail-only group. As expected the wholesale-only workrooms don't sub-contract as much as the other two groups.
• Question 15: The most effective means of advertising
Word of mouth90% Referrals85% Yellow pages22% Don't do any20% Newspaper10% Other10% Brochures7% Cold calls7% Direct mail2% Trade magazines0% Trade directory0%
So many respondents did not number their responses by preference so I've only given a percentage of the replies.
This group, by far, used the greatest percentages of word-of-mouth and referrals for advertising. A larger percentage of the retail-only group were investing in some form of paid advertising.
Included under "Other" were leaving business card in local fabric shop, billboard, store front display, working with designers but charging retail prices.
This is the last of the workroom survey results. Compiling all these results has been interesting and, too often, heart breaking. Workroom people are so talented and, in too many cases, they are being shortchanged financially.
Hang on to the three survey results (the first two ran in D&WC May 2000 and June 2000) for my next article. I will use some of the actual data from these surveys to analyze what they reveal about workroom businesses. I will try to help you understand what these revelations mean to you and the industry, and what we might do to improve the credibility and financial rewards of this industry.
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.