What I can only assume to be a knock on effect from travel restrictions, we have had an increasing amount of enquiries from the public sector. We are predominantly cabinetmakers to commercial, education and healthcare sectors but it isn’t totally unusual as we will produce cabinets for around 3 – 4 domestic customers a year, however this past year we have probably tripled that amount. After some conversation with these potential clients they have revealed to me that as they cannot go away on holiday they are spending what they would normally spend on a holiday on a piece of furniture for their home, which is great for us!
In the past we would normally lose out to the popular bedroom and furniture manufacturers, which is understandable as they are buying materials in bulk and are using CNC machines and expensive equipment to speed up the processing of their furniture. What I have noticed while dealing with potential domestic clients is how used to these types of companies they have become. I frequently get asked, what finishes we offer and my response usually shocks and stuns: “All of them”. Because we are totally bespoke we can do it any colour, shade or finish you want. I am not 100% sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing because when faced with unlimited options it can confuse and overwhelm, so I have considered limiting our range for Domestic customers, but somehow that doesn’t seem fair, so instead I have decided to alter my approach and assess the requirements of the client more before I offer the whole colour range!
Another thing that has become apparent is the expectation from potential clients that we just produce standard size units. If you require a cupboard to fit into a 1400 mm alcove a certain well known furniture manufacturer would build two 600 mm cabinets and supply a 100 mm filler piece down either side, yeah, it looks OK and technically it is “fitted” but it isn’t ideal. Given the same opportunity we would manufacture a cabinet 1350 mm wide and supply a scribe piece of around 25 mm down either side to take up and discrepancies in the wall and get over any skirtings you would have in place. Fully bespoke and fully fitted and it will look like it grew there, not like someone adapted an off the shelf item to an odd sized space. Yes, it would cost more, but it would look so much better and that’s the different kind of service we offer.
If you have read previous blogs you’ll know that what we do isn’t as straight forward as making what an architect draws. More often than not the architects drawing is open to interpretation and we have to develop their initial design and pretty much redesign it into something that can be achieved within budget, is fit for purpose and is what the end user wants. This has been our thing for a long time now, so much so we will meet with a client such as Warwick Hospital and they will show us the space, we’ll measure it, discuss the requirements and then go away and design it. This then gets signed off and we make it, completely cutting out the middle man and saving them a good chunk of their budget. We transfer this skill onto domestic customers who have an idea or a requirement but don’t have a drawing or a plan. I have found that utilising apps such as Pinterest or Instagram are very helpful for achieving exactly what the client wants. I can ask them to show me a photo or pin of the type of thing they would like and we can build up a shared pin board or mood board to work from, I can then adapt the styles and design a unique piece of furniture to the sizes and shape required.
With the development of LED lighting over the years we are able to supply lighting into our cabinets without the need for the client to hire an electrician. All we need is a regular socket to plug in a driver that will power strip lights or spot lights and with the various baffles available we can even illuminate your hanging rail to shine on your clothes. The drivers come with a port to take a switch to operate the lights, this could be a push button, a motion sensor or a door switch. We can even fit a USB charging port into the cabinet.
The beauty about doing work for domestic clients is it’s always different, everybody has different tastes and ideas of what they want, so being able to cater for their requirements and produce different types of furniture all the time really is great and makes our already interesting job more interesting.
Have a great weekend.