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Ask Doug & Kian

Who are Doug and Kian? Doug Snow and Kian Amirkhizi lead a company called MATRI-X. MATRI-X is dedicated to the education and training of interior repair industry technicians. Doug and Kian have a varied and extensive background in training and almost 50 years combined experience as expert repair technicians themselves.  Each are past winners of the Mobile Tech Expos’ Leather Repair Contest.

“You’re FIRED!”


Would you believe that these words could actually be a good thing to hear for some mobile aesthetic businesspersons such as us?  “How could that be?” you ask…


In some situations, being fired is not unlike what I experience when I clean out the garage (except for the direct contact with toxic waste that regularly occurs when cleaning my garage). We’ve all been there – surrounded on all sides by all that dusty, mouse-nibbled junk you have that you never use but you have convinced yourself that you cannot possibly survive without it.


As the action begins, you open a shoebox to find only one shoe and immediately you know you cannot get rid of it - might need that one if I find the other one, or if that one-shoe fashion craze hits.  Then, you find an extra piece of wire left over from when you upgraded your kitchen light and again you are struck by the consequences (can’t throw it away, might need it for the next upgrade in 25 years!)  Finally – the “deal breaker” - a solitary, unpackaged light bulb is saved from the garbage pile as you tell yourself, “when I have time I’ll screw that in and see if it works”.


Why does this happen?  Why do we continue to save “stuff”?  If you’ve ever enjoyed George Carlin’s brilliant monologue on “stuff” you’ve asked yourself these questions before.  For some of us, all this stuff just accumulates because that is the kind of people we are – this particular group of people are affected by the innate human need to “hold on” to things in our life, keep it the same.  Maybe it’s that this phenomenon occurs because most people are so afraid of change.  Parting with stuff and making changes can represent conflicts: emotional, physical and financial.


But, how is that cluttered, dusty garage like our business?  Just like in day-to-day life, we sometimes accumulate and hold onto things we don’t really need within our business. This doesn’t happen all the time – but it does happen. We acquire accounts, some good and some bad, but all of them usually settle into a very comfortable spot, at least for them.


This situation can arise when you start to do too much business with one client. That’s when they might start to think they “own” you. That’s when they start calculating how much they pay you during the course of a month, and that’s when they start wanting things cheaper. This is dangerous territory for any businessperson and creates a dilemma for you.  You think to yourself, “I have to keep my clients happy, I don’t want to sacrifice a client, that would mean losing money; what do I do?” 


The answer is: give yourself a raise – or – fire your client.  In simple terms, it’s time to clear the clutter.



We can’t get caught in the trap of being too comfortable with long time clients, who aren’t willing to pay us what we’re worth.  It is a common practice in the world of business for employees to have yearly evaluations and subsequently get raises.  These raises are sometimes based on performance, and sometimes just to keep pace with the cost of living.  So, evaluate yourself.  Do you deserve a raise?  People, let’s wake up and start charging enough so we don’t strangle ourselves!!!  Get fired up and fire your lousy clients. Lose the losers and let’s start making some real money.


If you are “fired”, or if you “fire” yourself from a bad account, make this time work for you!  Recognize that your time is better spent in pursuit of a more lucrative customer or aspect of your business than “buying a job” by working too cheaply. Pursue other areas and customers that you haven’t thought of or tried before, such as furniture, mass transportation, service drive work.


You are paid exactly what you are worth. How much did you make today?


Tech Tips:


I was asked a question by another repair technician:


“Why do my velour repairs wear out so fast?”   So I asked him, “How do you do your velour repairs?”  He responded, “I just stick some glue in the hole, and put some matching velour fiber on top and that’s it.”


I queried, “Even if it’s all the way through the fabric and into the foam?”

He replied, “Well, yeah, the fabric is glued to the foam so you can’t put a sub-patch beneath it.”  I told him, “I think I know what your problem is!”


Here’s his problem and the solution. We assume in this example that he has cleaned and prepped the fabric properly. Imagine that the fabric itself is about 1/16th of an inch thick. The foam that it is glued onto is about ½ of an inch thick. When he puts the glue into the hole, it soaks into the fabric and down into the foam. Because the foam is so absorbent, it actually sucks the glue into the foam and ends up not entirely filling the hole; in fact, most of the glue actually went into the foam instead of the hole. But you can’t see this phenomenon while the glue is still wet.


Of course, after he fills the hole with the glue, he immediately applies the velour fibers. What he doesn’t know is that when the glue dries it turns into a hard “lump” inside the foam, leaving the hole almost empty, with a layer of velour fibers on top. This lump is about the thickness of the foam, or about ½ of an inch.


Another thing that has occurred is that the water or solvent has evaporated from the glue, also causing the glue to shrink and there not being as much glue in the hole as you first thought. (Note: Solvent-based glues shrink less than water-based glues.) As it dries and the glue starts to soak into the foam and the water or solvent starts to evaporate, the repair will start to sink in or turn into a concave spot so that right where the repair was it will look like a little “bowl”. So now, you have a little concave spot with a hard ½-inch marble like knot of glue underneath. Around the concave spot is a hard edge. When the customer starts rubbing against this edge, the velour wears off very quickly.


It’s the same concept as when you have buttons on a seat. If you are always rubbing against the seat and the buttons, the fabric on the buttons will wear off first because it’s not nice and soft like the foam.


To prevent this from happening: Fill in the area where the foam is with Dacron. Dacron is what they use to stuff pillows, and you can purchase it at any fabric store. Push it into the hole until it is the same density as the foam. Use your fingers (almost like Braille) and feel the hole to make sure that you don’t feel the hole anymore or to make sure that you don’t have too much Dacron which can create a lump. Then apply a small amount of glue on top of the Dacron and then apply the velour fibers. By doing this you have simulated the same thickness and density of the original foam, so the repair should wear much better. Continue to cosmetically finish as usual.


Fabric repairs when done on high wear areas will still not wear as well as the original fabric. However, this method makes the repair last much longer. Problem solved!    


Trivia Question- Why is it really important to mix colors under full spectrum lighting?  Find the answer at www.thematri-x.com.