How did your shop get started?
As a young woman, I lived in South Florida and wanted to do something I could travel with. That was canvas work, and I found a job as an apprentice for the wonderful pay of $4.64 an hour and quickly found out I had a real talent for it.
What is your product focus?
All marine canvas and upholstery, the auto racing industry (Road Atlanta), outdoor furniture, prototyping, industrial and just about all types of custom sewing that finds its way to my door.
Who are your main customers?
Local Lake Lanier boating enthusiasts, auto-racing teams and local businesses.
Describe your shop layout.
We have one 29-by-8-foot long sewing table with two built-in sewing stations at opposite ends, a smaller sewing station with table and a foam loft.
What is your work-flow process?
We move very methodically down a job list. We work in blocks and, being a small shop, we don’t focus on work until it comes up in the block. We line up the two-week blocks just ahead of the work, and the customers are informed just before we begin, giving them plenty of advanced notice that their job is in the line. When possible, we like to work around their schedules of enjoying their boats. We find that this keeps jobs from stalling on the worktable and not being completed. Focusing on a narrow group of customers allows us to give 100 percent attention to the jobs we are working on, which lowers stress and keeps us from being spread too thin. This also keeps the customer happy and they don’t feel like they need to call us and nag us to finish the job, a problem I have seen in every shop I ever worked in and in many of my competitors’ shops. Repairs are worked in weekly, and we encourage clients to come in at the beginning of the week with return by the end of the week.
How do you deal with scheduling and handling customers?
Most customers are visited with and scheduled over the phone with email used for photos and estimates. Now that most business is handled on the phone and by email, we run only about one of every five on the boat estimates.
Do you create a product that
you consider your specialty?
EZ-Xtend Boat Zippers is a product I developed and have brought to market. It is a spacer zipper that provides an instant inch of space to shrinking enclosures, allowing the enclosure to snap or zip again.
What do you do to stay busy in
I keep a schedule 10 to 12 weeks out
year round, so I am very blessed to not have an off season.
Do you use any new or
I have implemented an iPad into my business and am now pretty much paperless.
What unique things do you
do to market your business?
Nothing too unusual. The quality of work we turn out usually keeps us overbooked, so I don’t find it necessary to do anything more than keep a small presence in my local lake newspaper. I have a website
my customers seem to be very happy with, and I have implemented the ideas of Duct Tape Marketing into my newspaper ad, which makes the ad stand out over my competitors.