Ward’s Oriental Rug Service & Gallery of Allentown (www.wardsorientalrugservice.com), which opened in 2003, cleans, repairs, restores and appraises oriental carpets and area rugs. Today it has thousands of customers, having grown from 1,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet – with plans to add 4,000 square feet of space. A partner in the family owned business, Kevin Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s your take on the local economy?
We opened Ward’s Oriental Rug Service & Gallery 11 years ago and business has only continued to improve for us. Luckily, when we started our business, we were filling a niche that was a perfect fit for both our customers and ourselves; servicing and protecting an investment the consumer had made, perhaps years before, when they originally purchased or inherited their Oriental rugs. …
With the economic activity in the Valley trending upward, we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of business both on the service as well as the sales side. We have an incredibly loyal customer base, and they continue to be one of our best forms of advertising – sending us referrals.
What issues are you most concerned about?
For the Lehigh Valley, it is so important that we support the Downtown Allentown revitalization effort. I believe it will put Allentown on the map in a very positive way, attracting young professionals who are going to be confident living, working and raising their families in the Lehigh Valley.
Being on the fringe of the NIZ [Neighborhood Improvement Zone], we can only benefit from the increased traffic coming into downtown, which is why we are focusing our efforts on once again expanding both our gallery and our workshop, which will in turn mean increasing our workforce. All good stuff.
How do you connect with the community?
Being a small family-owned business, it is important to us to support the community we live and work in. We are members of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, our local PBS station WDIY and Civic Theatre, to name a few.
We are approached on a regular basis to support many worthy causes in the LV [Lehigh Valley], which we are happy to do on a regular basis.
What advice would you give someone who runs a small business?
No. 1 on that list would be to provide killer customer service. It never ceases to amaze me at how often our customers comment on the friendly service they receive from us. It goes a long way in building the trust you need to establish with your customer.
Of course, following through and delivering the services your customer expects goes without saying.
In today’s world, the Internet is a must. It’s the first place your customers turn to when looking for services.
A good website designer is worth their weight in gold and will keep you apprised of what you need to know without bogging you down with the day-to-day nuances. This professional will know how to position you effectively, allowing you to do what you do best, running your business.
It has been said that if you can do something you love to do, you will never have to work a day in your life. I think my family and I have been very fortunate in doing exactly that, and I highly recommend it.
Editor’s note: “On the Front Line” appears periodically and offers insight on running a small business in the region. If you have a suggestion for a subject for “On the Front Line,” please email Bill Kline at email@example.com.