The Vroeg Diaries - interview with an enthusiastic DroomHout customer

The Vroeg Diaries - interview met een bevlogen DroomHout klant

Interview Erik Voskuijl by Jacques Mentrop DroomHout in restaurant Vroeg Bunnik A beautiful story from a loyal customer. Jacques Mentrop from DroomHout interviews Erik Voskuijl. A customer from the very beginning, loyal through to a true fan. But also critical and full of good ideas. Read here the story that was recorded in the Vroeg restaurant in Bunnik.

Jacques Can I ask you something? What did you encounter before you bought a table from us? You hadn't visited us yet. What did you encounter?

Erik Then I have to turn the record back for a moment.

Jacques Don't let your coffee get cold, okay? :-)

Erik I think what we encountered was first of all the ideas about: what do you want? What do you want to put down? What sizes? How should it comply and what should it look like? Etcetera. We really started thinking. It was, of course, a remodeled kitchen. We didn't quite know the space yet. The existing space still had to be renovated. I have to dig deep into my memory. What my problem is is that you have to look around very carefully before you find something. You start looking online. You go to some of those furniture stores. You look left and right and - I told you this before - the problem I really encountered was that they were all standard solutions. It's all: table that and table this and that's often it. Of course you can get the base differently, but I ran into it, combining it with chairs, etc. We found it very difficult to choose. So then I said to Ine: we have to go to Jacques because there we can get exactly what we want. Not everything is unlimited there either. Then we looked at your site and said: we'll just visit you again. I think that's the nice thing. You come into most shops and they either don't have the model or they only have it on a picture. Or they don't have it in the context you want it to be. Take a look at Nijhof, it also has tables. There you don't talk to someone who says: I would do this or that and you can do it this way and that way. Someone who actually makes the table. I think that was the decisive reason for us to come to you again. Of course, we already knew you and that is the infamous step you always have to take. The bridge we have to build. You come from those lounge sofas we have. Then you have to think: oh yes, Jacques has that too. He also has that and also that. That was always the bridge we had to make. Ultimately we are now talking about a sofa in the living room and then we said: why not get that from you? 

I think it's a matter of choice, so many different options, while you actually want to talk to someone who is really interested in your situation. Who is interested in you and who simply has flexibility and solutions.

Jacques What does that do? You are in such a process and say: that is quite difficult for me. What does that do to you? What kind of consequence does that have? 

Erik That really upsets me. I think the whole search for furniture and things is a crime. I find it horrible. It takes all the energy out of me to have to sit in a furniture store and listen to a salesperson who only arrives with samples and makes the choice stress even greater. I haven't gotten that far in my mind yet. I want someone like you to help me make a choice. It is also the trust you have with each other. Then you can say: the collection is important. But I think it is especially in this world the feeling of recognition and the feeling of: I have someone who knows what we want. It is approximately at the same level. He can imagine what it looks like for us. And what we shouldn't have. I also think that the choice you make in your range and the things you make also makes a statement. That's not for everyone. It's not average. Take that agency, those are conscious choices that suit a specific target group and I think we fit into that. 

Jacques Yes nice. Thank you. Another question here - you already partly answered it - so I'm going to change it a bit: what had you already done to solve the problem? You already said: I'm going to look on the internet and I'm going to some shops. Then at some point you went to look at our site. What were you looking for at that moment when you looked at our site that ultimately made you say: okay, we'll go there on a good Saturday? Because you may not have known it completely, well: he makes lounge sofas , but what did you wonder and what did you get answered when you looked at that site that made you say: let's take a look? Can you indicate that? You could also have said: we're not going there either.

Erik I think that by looking around you a bit, because that is always necessary, you have to form your thoughts somewhere in the selection process that you are going through. You have to see a number of things to say what is and what isn't. So we had already been to the site several times. Then you are just in the middle of that selection process and at a certain point a penny drops: okay, so it has to be something that is more tailor-made and not the standard work that we see with other providers. I can't remember very well, I've erased it all.

Jacques It's not your favorite hobby.

Erik No. Of course, at some point we came and saw that table near you. That entry point and that you have all the functionalities you want at one table. You had it there. And we just know, the clincher was, we know that with you we have flexibility in how we put that thing together. How big it is, how wide it is, how thick it is. What color is that?

Jacques It's nice that it's no longer a topic.

Erik It's not a topic anymore. Also many choices. And then your personal input comes into play when you are in the showroom. I'm like that, I don't feel like walking through the Arena residential mall in Amsterdam South East for 3 hours. That just makes me really sad. I just want to go to a place, it's really nice, but it's also nice that you don't have to hang there for 3 hours. That. That makes you grumpy too because then they won't go away. You also want to go to a place where you say: okay, I don't have to go anywhere else now.

Jacques Thank you. What were your doubts before coming to us?

Erik I think that is always the bridge you have to make here. That's how it goes with all things in the minds of customers, people, you make associations. When you think of Dream Table, we naturally initially thought of lounge furniture and scaffolding wood in the garden. 

Jacques Because you already have that.

Erik Because we have that and because we have also very nicely recommended it to other friends who also have that. So you have to, those are associations, the brand - you know that too -  the brand is not a logo or a name. A brand is formed by the associations in our heads. Apple is not that laptop here, Apple is a network of associations. Design, it looks nice, it works well, everything is fine. At Droomhout you have exactly the same. And a strong brand ensures that those associations are as clear as possible. It could be a whole set. I think that is something where the challenge lies for you, that people have the feeling that they have multiple questions..., that you have a solution for their interior and for their exterior. You have to make that bridge every time. Just like I do. I now have to make a bridge to: Jacques has them here, those indoor benches, those benches. I should pass by, that's another bridge,

Jacques I have something nice for that. I'm going to tell you this way. I have something really nice for that. Thank you. How did you like the product or service? How did you like the table?

Erik You know that. I even had - it's very funny - I had a contractor who's been in the business for years, who's the same age as me. A young boy. A man armed to the teeth. It is quite critical. Contractors are very critical of each other. He saw that table and immediately looked at the bottom and said: how is this put together? He immediately said: this is really great. How that was put together.

Jacques Top. Awesome.

Erik Even the professional sees that it is simply great stuff.

Jacques Nice, cool.

Erik You know, you can buy a good table in many places, right?

Jacques You think so.

Erik An average consumer will not easily be so technically savvy that in perception, which is always reality, people think: a table is a table, what can you screw up with it?

Jacques You can mess up quite a lot with that, of course. We often think that we make a much better table, but we sometimes wonder whether: 

a. the average customer sees that

b. the average customer is waiting for that

Erik Of course it's the same again, that table, I didn't ask you: how do you actually put those tables together, do you do it like this and so and so? I never looked under that table. Anyway, that is of course the confidence you have. I think that is your strength: that triangle of your own personal style, the limited but very good collection that reduces the stress of choice and making it yourself. That combination is how you relieve people's worries. There are of course interior fetishists who know exactly what they want. But I don't think that's quite your market. I think your market sees much more in, if I put it very bluntly, more upmarket people with a certain level of education, with a certain house, from a certain environment, with a certain scope. That matches best.

Jacques Then that table was inside your house, what did you notice afterwards? What has changed for you? 

Erik (laughing) What's great is that I can finally sit down at the table for once. Before that we just had, that was such a shitty table. 

Jacques Seriously?

Erik Of course we had a very narrow table with large chairs and a wooden bench. You just don't feel comfortable with that. We just have a super table. We now have a very large table in front of us. Now you can have a conversation at the table or work. When the children are home, we sit around the table very relaxed. It has become much more the center of the house.

Jacques Fantastic. It's great that we could make a small contribution to that. What kind of people would you recommend a table like this to?

Erik These are our friends, people in our network and so on.

Jacques Would you characterize them? What kind of person is that? What kind is that?

Erik Do you want them sociodemographically? 

Jacques Whatever comes to mind. Whatever you can think of. The more the better.

Erik It sounds very bad, but that's kind of our kind of people. These are people with a sense of taste, but who don't just put up a Linteloo chair or something. These are not people who pride themselves on: look at me with an expensive interior. Or: look at me with this shiny car and this and that. Just people who have their feet on the ground. Still somewhat wealthy. Living in a nice house, but with both feet on the ground. How subdued. Civilized.

Jacques Cool

Erik I think that is somewhat true for us, that is our circle of people apparently... because people who come in say: yes, I like that too. These are people who are critical enough that they do not want something standard. They can also go to Ikea, which they do. We do too. But for these kinds of things they also look for personal contact with someone. Are they also looking for something that does not come standard from the showroom?

Jacques And they look for that personal contact because?

Erik Because I think, just like me, they like it to be worn by someone who is recognizable. Who stands for it. Who speaks to you normally and who thinks and speaks just like them. Not the usual showroom salesman or one of those sweaty furniture guys with brown shoes, you know?

Jacques You know them.

Erik Yes, you know them. With a jacket that is too short.

Jacques The last question: What else is fun to tell? If any.

Erik About what? About you and about Droomhout or about your work?

Jacques About your table, about your experience with Droomhout.

Erik We also simply have respect for someone who builds up their own business. I think that's it. I think the individuality is the feeling of: it is something unique. It doesn't suit everyone. It is something that is special to me. That's how you did it with us. And I think that, combined with your taste for beautiful things, but not over the top. It must also be used. Ultimately it is what it is. It is a cozy table that we enjoy sitting around, even when family and friends are present. It is also immediately a utensil. It is not in the room to be beautiful and not to be used.

Jacques It also functions in that capacity. It also has that role of connecting you.

Erik It is also a commodity. That's also why. It is accessible enough that you can say: if it breaks, we will go back and buy a new one. It is not some kind of design object. Not to us. Others may think so. I also think that you should not underestimate your own role in the whole thing. As an entrepreneur, you have successfully handled this. Plus the fact that you also give it a social twist. Kind of the way you produce. What kind of people you do that with. That is really different from Middelman Wonen or Het Kabinet.

Jacques May I thank you very much, Erik, for this pleasant conversation.

Erik You're doing a nice job.

Jacques Thank you.

Erik I forgot to say that by the way. I think that would also contribute to the individuality of the things you do. Namely production with the people. You enter a home, a furniture store. I don't know who makes that thing. Where does that come from?

Jacques And knowing that is an advantage?

Erik Yes, nice to take a look at your sawmill. There is also a story behind it that you work with people who are at a distance from the labor market.

Jacques A little less than it was, but we are certainly still open to it.

Erik You already did it. You just did it. That is a unique combination. The triangle I say. You must cherish that. You also have to keep them together.

Jacques Thank you. Yes, that's a good one. I'm going to write him out.

Erik You have to keep them together. You shouldn't be afraid to emphasize your own signature even more.

Jacques I will work on that. Nice. I'm going to write it down for myself anyway. That provides insights and inspiration. Super.

Erik It's never just one thing, right? I don't come to you for furniture. Of course we come because we have a relationship with each other. We like each other. But also because it is just in that context. It is not a unique piece of furniture that we have, but on the other hand it is.

Jacques Yes.

Erik That's why I think, you have to think very selectively in what you include.

Jacques That shouldn't be too many brands.

Erik It shouldn't be too much. It has to match. It doesn't have to be too much either. I actually expect, which is a difficult one for you I think, that you have a personal relationship with Mobitec . 

Jacques That's what you expect? Well, we happen to have that. So you're basically saying: the brands you run must also have something to do with them, a personal connection.

Erik You have to distinguish yourself as a furniture store, and you can do that better than a tent like Topform.

Jacques Yes exactly.

Erik You have to stand up for the crap you sell.

Jacques Yes, that must be 'for a reason'.

Erik You must also have been to Eupen. You have to know your guests. You also have to be able to give people the feeling that if something is wrong, it will be taken care of.

Jacques Right. Super. Many thanks!


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