This is in response to the long thread on fears about the new domestic quilting frame systems by Viking/Pfaff.
Has anyone ever thought of organizing a national long arm quilter's association? Perhaps there is one that already exists? Through annual dues, an organization like this could conduct formal market research to formally assess the market potential for professional long arm quilting from year to year.
I understand these machines are an 'investment' for alot of people. IF anyone at APQS is reading this, that would be a wonderful service for your buyers, to establish an annual survey of quilters with a few basic questions on type of machine used, estimated number of quilts requiring professional quilting services, etc. There are surveys like this conducted to estimate demand for quilt fabric buying that I've seen posted at the Quilt Inc. website:
Link to PDF file:
If a large percentage of APQS owners are using their machines for a business, if you form your own association, and collect a small amount in dues from everyone, you could commission your own survey that could provide some really informative information on what your market really looks like from year to year and help you understand and respond to changing market conditions.
Here are some questions that you could address with the data that you could collect from this kind of initiative:
1.) What is the average dollar amount spent on professional long arm quilting per year?
2.) What is the average dollar amount per quilt spent on professional long arm quilting services?
3.) What are the key factors in a quilter's decision making process that lead them to commission the work of a professional long arm quilter?
4.) What are the customer segments that commission long arm quilting services, and by size? How can we profile them as distinctive segments with specific needs?
It would be really great to get a database started that collects this kind of information so anyone who has a concern about a new trend could look to this information as a source of support for their business planning. This kind of database could tell you if demand for long arm quilting services is being impacted by new market developments, so that you can be responsive to any kind of changing market conditions.
Also, one final thought. If you are experiencing a loss of demand for your services, you could always do a mini-survey of your own, informally, through your website with visitors and customers, or through a local quilt shop using a paper based survey. It can help you try to understand the conditions in your local market and help you respond to those with new marketing messages that appeal to your customer base. For example, the original post was alarmed about new home quilting frame purchases by her customers - from the information in the replies, I would have concluded that home quilting frame owners are one customer segment that you need to appeal to through your marketing efforts - ie. "Large quilts never a problem, discounts offered for multiple orders" or any kind of message that appeals to that customer segment to help win them back, in a way that works for your business.
If anyone is interested, you can create your own informal web based survey at no cost through: http://www.vizu.com/
I hope this helps.