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Forum > Beginner's Forum > Beginning to look at working with a local business;How much of a percentage should a drycleaners take for reffering alterations to me?? ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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Beginning to look at working with a local business;How much of a percentage should a drycleaners take for reffering alterations to me??
Drycleaners wants to hire me to do alterations and take 30% of the fee for their part.
textilegram
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Date: 6/13/12 10:17 AM

I have been doing alterations privately for years. I was just contacted by our area dry cleaner and asked if I'd be willing to do alterations business with them.The owner is new and inexperienced in this business, though they have a fair amount of business experience. They want to take a 30% cut of every transaction, except bridal dress work, for their referral fee. This is a small area dry cleaner so I don't expect much bridal work anyway. It will be regular repair work for the most part.
I've never worked for another business. Is this a customary percentage for a dry cleaners to want to take? Is there anything else that I need to be aware of before I make a decision?
Thank you in advance ladies!

Miss Fairchild
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In reply to textilegram <<
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Date: 6/13/12 1:47 PM

I have been working with a men's store/dry cleaning business for several years. I think the 30% is a little high, when you consider you are doing the work, using your thread, your electricity and your time, plus going to the store to pick up and deliver the item. And all that customer has to do is come in there and ask a question. I agree about "overhead" but you're not using their facilities, are you? I would negotiate for 20% and see where it goes from there.

Some questions you might want to ask yourself is how much time you want to put into the business, and if you want short term fuses, like "Gotta have it by tomorrow morning at 9:00" and it's currently 5:00. (I charge an additional amount for that, by the way).

The other thing you want to consider is what to do about bridal dress work; which I won't do because of the "drama". I refer that person to someone else in town. If you want to put up with that, also with the many changes and fittings, then go ahead. A Mother of the Bride can sometimes give you more grief than the Bride herself, and if you want to consider that, make sure you get something worth your time and trouble.

I always slip a business card on every alteration I make; it does come in handy, because I've had calls from several people who knew several people, etc., etc., who had my card. And for an invoice/receipt, I write out clearly what the fees are and any discounts given; even if it's doing just a pant hem. They need to see when you are giving them a deal, and then word will get around.

A couple weeks ago, I had a bad experience with a Mother of the Bride--The dress didn't look right at the side seams, it made her look "too fat", according to her daughter--nothing I could do could make this woman happy. So I fixed it as best I could and sent her on her way, with another two alterations done and no charge for them (I was happy to be done with the situation)

Then I received a card in the mail by a customer who thanked me profusely for fixing a quilt her dog had torn up; a very, very easy patch job. This brought tears to my eyes. It's the "looking beyond the broken fence and admiring the flowers" of the job that keeps me going.

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Fruzzle

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Date: 6/13/12 4:34 PM

They contacted you? Offer 10% and see if they counteroffer. If they come back at 20%, say that you'll give them 15% and up it to 20% if you get referrals over a certain $ amount (IOW, if they make it worth your while, you will make it worth their while).

You should also raise your rate slightly to cover the loss--perhaps by half the percentage of the drycleaner's cut?
-- Edited on 6/13/12 4:35 PM --

Nancy K
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Date: 6/13/12 5:49 PM

30% is really high for just referring clients to you. He's not billing, he's not collecting nor is it his equipment or consumables and as someone else said your gas. I think that 10% is a fair amount.

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genierita
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Date: 6/14/12 1:54 AM

In my alterations I just have my cards at lots of places and the other businesses simply refer to me. Clients that come to me that way get a 10% price discount always. No money changes hands between me and the business. It's just great customer service for both me and the other business point of view. I do all the pinning, fitting, sewing etc with the client.
If the other business involved does the fitting/pinning with client then they should take a % and this part of the consult is about 40% of the cost in every alteration. But you know, Id' rather do my own fitting and pinning as it's so very important to the final result. Even if you sew exactly where someone else has placed the pins. you can still get complaints. Who is responsible? Hope this helps. Rita

Sarsez
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Date: 6/14/12 2:25 AM

I'm in the repairs and alterations business and I work with a local business who act as my collecting agents. They add 10% to my invoice total. What do they do for their fee?
1. Collect, label and hold the rugs and let me know there is working waiting.
2. When the rugs are fixed, I return them to the shop and they tell the customer.
3. When the customer comes in, they collect the money.
4. At the end of the month, I invoice the shop for my percentage of the money collected.

-- Edited on 6/14/12 3:25 AM --

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arianamaniacs
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Date: 6/14/12 3:18 AM

My parents owned a dry cleaning business. Expecting to earn 30% for a mere referral is highway robbery. I wouldn't agree to anything over 10%.
Remember, you are not the only one benefitting from this deal. They are able to offer more services to their customer's to be a one-stop shopping for cleaning and alterations.
Consider the cost of hemming pants. That costs 15 euros here. Would you really want to give them 4.50 just for referring them to you? I'm not sure how long that would stay profitable considering it's your work/electricity/machine wear & tear.

threadgenie
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Date: 6/14/12 10:42 AM

I did alterations for a local cleaners for a while. It was not a good experience for several reasons. This is just my experience. Yours may be totally rewarding and profitable. I commend you for asking for others' opinions.

- There was WAY too much work for one person to do a good job on each piece. Find out how many pieces are average in a day/week to make sure you can keep up.

- I spent a LOT of time driving back and forth to the cleaners to pick-up, deliver and fit special cases. Make a schedule for when you will appear at the cleaners site and stick to it.

- Most communication with the customer went from the customer to whoever was working at the cleaners, then to me. This is not good. You need to do the pinning, discussing what needs to be done, etc. directly with the customer.

- The cleaners I worked with accepted alterations only to be a full-service shop--he didn't know anything about alterations and really didn't want to know about them. Not a good setup for you.

In defense of the shop owner, who took 25%:

- He took the initial heat from unhappy customers.

- When I delivered finished work, he paid me in cash on the spot. This meant that if the customer was real unhappy and refused to pay or never picked up the garment, he took the loss, not me. It's a cash flow thing. Your arrangement may be different.

- He finds the customers for you.

Additional thoughts:

You must be able to speak up should you ever get a job that you can't do well. If the cleaner doesn't know anything about alterations, he/she may think that you can do magic.

My guy took 25% of everything. If I had to go buy a zipper, of course I would bill the customer, but there went 25%. In retrospect, I would make sure I padded the cost reasonably so that I wasn't losing money.

Most people do not understand why alterations cost so much and often aren't willing to pay for your time, skill, supplies, overhead, etc. It's a delicate dance. I think $10 is too little to charge for hemming a pair of pants but I don't think anyone in my town would pay more than that. You would have to make up for it on other types of alterations.

I stopped working with the cleaners because I was totally overwhelmed with the volume. I now work out of my home and have way less business but at least I'm not running myself crazy.

Good luck to you! Hope this is helpful.

cinca
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Date: 6/14/12 7:43 PM

Lots of great analysis and advice already posted. Whatever % you decide on, just make sure that you are getting an amount for the work that it is worth. Do not undercut yourself...if they do not agree...walk away. It is never worth it to accept less than you should.

I do not do custom or alterations at all. I live in a relatively affluent area, yet folks have no idea what is fair to expect to pay. Fair to the seamstress, that is.

Stand your ground and you will do well.

textilegram
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Date: 6/23/12 3:30 AM

Ladies, thank you for your replies! I do want to do some kind of sewing business, but you've confirmed my feeling that that is not the way I need to go.
Blessings to y'all for your info, and encouragement!

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