Is a Messy Shop Costing You Money?

Published by Naseem Muaddi on April 12th, 2012

Though auto upholsterers work in an industry of aesthetics, we sometimes allow our shops to get messy. Sloppiness around the shop, however, can affect our businesses in ways that we may have never imagined. Jay Conrad Levinson describes this in his book Guerrilla Marketing Weapons: 100 affordable marketing methods for maximizing profits from your small business.

The following excerpt is a must-read for all auto upholstery shop owners:

You won’t find neatness listed in any marketing textbooks or discussed in many marketing classes, yet the presence-or absence-of neatness exerts a powerful effect upon a person’s decision to purchase. There is little question that neatness is a potent and inexpensive marketing weapon.

You’d be astonished if you knew how many people decide not to do business with a company that has displayed sloppiness on their premises, in their business practices, or with their marketing.

These people make the unconscious but natural assumption that if a company is sloppy in any way, that must show up in how they run their business. The same, happily, is true of neatness. If your prospects see it physically or sense it intellectually, they assume that you are a together company that doesn’t make mistakes.

Neatness refers to your store, office, premises, delivery vehicles, sales reps, service people, telephone people, signs, and correspondence.

It is a simple matter to ascertain the neatness of these entities on a Monday morning. It is quite a different thing to maintain the neatness throughout the entire day and the entire week. Still, you can and will be judged at any time. And neatness or sloppiness will be part of that judgment. The people who run Disneyland know that very well and set the standards for neatness as a continuing marketing endeavor.

Rarely does a single thing influence a purchase decision. More often, it is a series of items that causes prospects to form opinions. Neatness, though far less heralded, less glamorous (and less expensive) than advertising, is one of those items. It is too important to be overlooked.

This realization should be imparted to every person in your employ [sic]. It is the job of each of them to maintain neatness at all times and in all phases of your business.

Although it is true that some people can overlook a clump of mud in your front doorway or a layer of scum on your countertop, many others cannot. And even if you have created genius-level marketing to attract these people, you probably haven’t got a prayer of selling them. They have seen that your business is messy.

If the environment is appealing, the items sold will be more appealing. Nobody wants to purchase dusty merchandise or see dirt in an office. If you can’t afford janitorial services, assign then neatness to your staff-or yourself.

Guerrillas think of their businesses as their homes and their prospects as their guests.  You wouldn’t invite guests to a cluttered home.  Don’t expect them to buy from a business that looks unappealing. You wouldn’t would you?

Read more: pick up a copy of Guerrilla Marketing Weapons from Amazon for just $10. It’s a small investment with potential for big returns.




4 Responses

  1. John says:

    I try to be neat, but I have a very small work space. If your busy keeping your shop neat you’ll never get anything done. I think if you have garbage, and stuff that needs togo away is one thing, but tools near a work place scattered about is part of the process, scraps of vinyl on the floor, and staples, or hogrings on the ground is no big deal as long as your not swimming in them, and you start fresh the next morning.

    • Nadeem says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head. The key is to start fresh the next morning.

      It’s one thing to have scraps on the floor from work you did that day. But there’s no reason to still have Monday’s scraps on the floor when it’s Thursday.

  2. mario says:

    like “edward scissor hands” sometimes mess goes everywhere

    • Nadeem says:

      Haha, but Edward couldn’t clean up the mess due to his fingers being scissors. We have no such excuse.

      Other comments left about this article in another upholstery forum:

      Gregg @ Keystone Sewing: It’s a funny thing how people can relate things that have nothing to do with one another.

      For example, if a steward leaves an airplane passenger seat soiled with debris, they may think that the jet is lacking in matince, and thus, less safe. Of course, engine maintaince has nothing to do with this, but some folks will perceive things this way.

      Kind of like how some folks will look at your messy shop and wonder how you can fix or make their stuff if you can’t keep your own shop in order. Again, one does not impact the other, but some will see it this way, fair or unfair.

      bobbin: I watch the amount of time my boss wastes attempting to locate “missing” items and shifting one pile of leftover patterns and scraps to another location and I just shake my head and wonder why the debris from one job isn’t taken care of before the next job is started. It never fails, eventually the clutter has to be cleaned up but it always happens after considerable time has been wasted by not doing so in a timely manner. That is time that can never be recovered!

      I find it particularly irritating when I have to clean off a debris covered space to begin my work in the morning. I do only the minimal amount of cleaning, leaving the mess for my boss and co-worker. I was told a couple of years ago that I “was paid to clean up” to which I tartly replied that I clean my work area every single day! I also added that if I wanted to be a Merry Maid I’d buy a franchise! I will not be a defacto maid to my boss and co-worker. Slovenliness sends a poor message to your customers, esp. when you’re charging top dollar for new work.

      sofadoc: I’m much better about cleaning up not only between jobs, but during jobs than I used to be. I don’t consider my shop to be immaculate at all. But I’ve had customers tell me that my place is a palace compared to some of the shops they’ve been in.

      I actually owe my improved work habits to reading posts and viewing pics on this forum.
      But the bottom line is, tearing down couches is a sloppy business. So my shop isn’t always gonna be a Taj Mahal when you walk in.

      bobbin: And I agree, Sofa.. When work is actually being performed and it involves old fabric, crumbling foam, tattered canvas and shattered plastic a certain amount of debris is to be expected. Leaving all that debris lying around on work benches and the floor for a week or more is another story entirely. And when all that debris buries important tools, work orders, stymies a very productive worker and foments resentment while wasting precious time there is a problem.

      More than one customer has looked at me and asked me how we get anything done in the shop. I smile and say something benign but the fact that customers say that speaks volumes about the level of accumulated grime and clutter. It’s one of the reasons I’ve worked so hard to keep my own shop picked up and it’s another reason I’ve made my tables easy to roll out of the way to make cleaning the place as painless as it can be.

      DBR1957: Silly me! I always thought a messy shop was a sign a great craftmanship. You do
      such good work that you’re constantly busy and don’t have time to clean up.

      I better go mess up the shop so customers think I do excellent work.

      Mojo: Did someone say ” Clean shops ” ?

      The joke around here is that a few members have threatened to come over and mess my shop up or misplace my tools for me just to send me into OCD fits.

      I cannot handle dirt, clutter or a mess. There is not enough Xanax to keep me from going out of my mind when things get cluttered.

      http://s181.photobucket.com/albums/x200/throgmartin/Up%20Shop/?action=view&current=Shopdecorations1.jpg

      Yes, I admit I am a wacko when it comes to a clean shop. I have even went as far as decorating it with antiques. I like a little bit of homey feel in there instead of that ” Shop ” feel.

      jojo: Thanks for posting this, Hogring. I have a messy (not dirty) shop, and it’s killing me. The problem is the size, mostly. Like I’ve run out of room on my rack for fabric, so there are rolls propped up in corners. And I’m constantly tripping over the compressor hose. I need a consultant. This thread is motivation to work on this. Today!

      Gregg @ Keystone Sewing: This is a common misconception that you would/could be more organized if you had a larger space. Nothing further from the truth; more larger area to clean, and the realality is that you will fill in any available space with something, no matter how large the area. It’s just how it happens!

      SHHR: I remember when I was much younger reading a Mad Magazine that had a fake ad for a pull down screen for a teens door to their room. The room stayed messed but with the screen in place you had a picture of a nice tidy room. I wonder if they make those for big overhead doors? My problem would be solved!

      Mojo: You are so right. I built a storage room as an addition to the side of my garage. It is 10 x 16. It was supposed to house my tractor along with my foam and other fabrics and such. It is jam packed and I am now using my enclosed trailer for overflow.

      The addition was supposed to be the overflow, now that is overflowing and I need the trailer for the other overflow…….lmao. The more space you have, the more s**t you accumulate.

      sofadoc: I have to disagree this time. I find that more room makes it easier to keep organized.
      And I get so many more jobs because I can store their furniture until they’re ready for it.

      Same at home too. The kids are grown and gone now. It seems like we have vast open spaces now that we no longer have to slosh through toys just to walk across the floor. The house seems HUGE to us now, and it’s so much easier to keep it clean.

      If you guys don’t want your extra space, I’ll take it.

      bobbin: Jojo, just a thought for the compressor hose. Could you run it overhead? Say, use one of the inexpensive ones for the jump to the ceiling and the run overhead and then get one of the really nice red rubber ones (the kind that remain flexible and coil easily) for the drop to your stapler? My brother helped me pipe the air from my compressor and it too, runs along the ceiling with 3 or 4 quick connect couplings. My Juki plugs into one of them and I have options for plugging in my stapler. Huge help! hoses are pain when they’re on the floor. I know exactly what you mean!

      One of the smartest things I did was invest in track for the ceiling (hospital exam room track) and the little cars that roll along inside it (they hold 50 lbs. each). I have an extension cord strung along it and my gravity feed iron and the water reservoir are suspended over the padded tables. I can press large drapery panels with relative ease as the water jug and iron can move the entire length of the table (16+’). Neither the electrical cords or the water hose are ever in my way. If I want to cut acrylics with my hot knife I use the same table (padding removed) and can cut without worrying about the cord.

      jojo: Bobbin….brilliant!!! Thank you! I will do this tomorrow.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *