Posted on 26 April 2016
This week I'm going to be telling you all about what it's like to work in our fabulous Soft Furnishings Department, or 'Softs' for short.
So, what does a Softs Sales Assistant and Estimator actually do? Well, whilst serving customers in the shop is an important part of the job, it’s only one element. Let’s look at the example of a customer wanting some new curtains in her home - let’s call her Mrs Drybridge. She’s a busy lady, and wants someone to help with design advice and just sort everything out for her. She visited the Estuary Reach development at Deben Mill and was impressed with how Barretts furnished the showhome. So she decides to have a look at our ‘Curtains, Blinds & Shutters’ web page (under ‘Services’ on the homepage).
She likes what she reads - sounds perfect in fact so she pays a visit to Barretts. The Softs Department is at the back of the main showroom, and Mrs Drybridge is greeted with a friendly smile by Debs, our Softs Department Head (on the left in the photo), and an offer of help. Mrs Drybridge explains that she fancies something floral and bold, but with a contemporary twist for her living room window. Debs asks a few questions to tease out what the customer is looking for, then she picks out some fabric swatch books to browse through. They go through the books together, with Debs giving colour and style advice. After a relaxing peruse, Harlequin Lisanne from the Impasto collection is picked out, though Mrs Drybridge would like to see what it looks like in her home. Debs tells her she can take the book home with her now, or that she can bring it out when she comes to do the free, no obligation measure and estimate. ‘Great, bring it with you' says Mrs Drybridge, and a date and time is booked.
Come the measure day (Softs have 3 measure days per week) Debs checks her notes from the conversation with Mrs Drybridge, collects the reserved Harlequin book, jumps into the Barretts van and heads off to the appointment. She measures up, talks through some finishing options and trimmings, and makes lots of notes. Harlequin 'Lisanne' fabric is duly chosen, with interlining, a pinch pleat header and a nice new track, all fitted by Barretts. Mrs Drybridge also loves Debs' suggestion that we make some cushions for her sofa in a co-ordinating Harlequin Impasto fabric to compliment the new curtains.
Debs thanks Mrs Drybridge for her time, and heads off to the next measure - there could be 4 or 5 on a busy day. Once back in the store, Debs will produce an estimate from her measurements and notes, calculating the length of fabric and interliner required based on a set formulae, adding in the making up and fitting costs, and cost of the track. The estimate is then typed and posted or emailed to Mrs Drybridge, who contacts the store and says yes! Debs will then take a 50% deposit, enter the order into the Softs Daybook, and place an order for the fabric and track with the respective suppliers.
Once these are delivered to the store, usually in under a week, Debs will produce a work sheet for one of our local outworkers e.g. Liz, detailing all the dimensions, heading types and linings. Liz then picks up the fabric and materials for her jobs, discussing each one with Debs. A few weeks later the completed curtains and cushions are returned to the department and are carefully stored.
Debs then contacts Mrs Drybridge to book in a fitting date and time. Every attempt is made to fill the fitters day with jobs, and a work sheet is then produced for each of these jobs. For Mrs Drybridge this includes her address details, which room the curtains are to go into, the height of the track, any finishing information, and don’t forget to bring the cushions! Come the day one of our fitters Phil arrives first thing to pick his work job sheet for the day, along with the required curtains, tracks, blinds etc. The curtains are successfully fitted, a bill for the balance is then sent out to a very happy Mrs Drybridge.
This is probably the most involved service we offer, but the window treatment could be any type of blind, shutter, or a set of curtains from the machine stitched service from Iliv. The Softs Department also sell fabric, tracks and poles, accessories, and even paint from Little Green. So it’s a truly varied job, where you meet and build relationships with customers, outworkers, fitters, and of course other lovely members of ‘Team Barretts’.