For centuries the four poster bed has been considered
the ultimate dream, for practical, status or for romantic
reasons. This still seems to be the case today, although
wood and plastics are being used to make four poster beds
as well as the traditional solid woods.
As a business devoted to customer satisfaction, we would
like to give our clients the designs that they want, and
not make what we want, and expect or hope that they like
them, or not as the case may be.
The best thing that product manufacturers can have from
customers is feedback. It has become clear to me
that negative feedback can be as useful, if not more so
than positive. Constructive criticism and the reasons for
not liking a product can often be more productive than
a pat on the back.
Many business gurus believe that businesses can grow to
be hardly recognisable from how they started within five
years, as they develop to meet market demand. Markets change,
and it is said that clever businesses should keep up with
customer taste. It has also been said that the best businesses
anticipate what the customer wants. Others say that
cutting edge businesses give the customer what they want,
before they even know they want it, and so define fashions.
So why do markets change? Why do people stop buying a
certain style of furniture that has been fashionable for
years? You know that the product is good because
the customers that have bought it previously are delighted,
and told you so. You know that the quality is good, as
there is no negative feedback. We have been making quality
coffee tables for years, but in the last twelve months,
I have not sold one!
With four poster beds, I can understand issues other than
design coming onto play when they do not sell. Interest
rates and mortgage rates going up all reduce expendable
cash. Enquiries are often less during February, reflecting
credit card payments after Christmas. The telephone
is quieter during August as people are away on holiday.
As the years go by, businesses will notice their individual
busy and quiet seasons.
The problems may begin when a traditionally busy season
is quiet. You find yourself questioning quality and price,
and finally you wonder whether the product is no longer
in fashion, or perhaps less people are looking at the type
of product that you are offering. Instead of designing
and developing a new product that you feel may be more
suitable, or throwing money at ideas that may or may not
work, surely it would be easier and more economical to
ask customers what they would like.
The art of a successful business and basic business philosophy
is to give the customer what they want, whether it is a
custom made piece or a mass produced item. One of the best
ways to learn is to ask.
After leaving college I started making what I wanted and
failed to find customers to buy my designs. I decided
to make traditional furniture that would fit the status
quo and found attracting customers became easier. For years
we have been making custom made or bespoke furniture for
clients. Now, I believe that we can still grow further
and to take quality furniture into the 21st century.
Furniture makers must ask their customers and potential
future clients, what they would like to see, and
move forward with designs, instead of just living in the
past with traditional styles and reproduction furniture.