Genius businessman or satisfied with poverty?

I got a few questions about the business strategy, or lack thereof, my boss is using to manage his small business.

A few things to consider: 1. It's a family owned business. 2. There are 4 workers including the owner. Owner (My uncle), Manager (My cousin and daughter of the owner), Grunt laborer (My Aunt and wife of owner). "Upholstery technician" and or whatever they ask (Me). 3. We are an Upholstery shop 4. Been in business for about 40 years 5. We all have our highschool diploma but no degree or certification

Backstory: Started working summer months at their shop when I was about 12. Mostly cleaning and grunt stuff that a 12 year old is capable of doing. I was paid in cash or a hand written check, no taxes withheld. I was 12 making a few bucks, no big deal. I turned 17 and had learned a bit more of the trade. I was still not making minimum wage nor was I on payroll. (I was the first "employee" and am still the only one on payroll.) I get a job making minimum wage at a grocery store, my uncle (mostly guided by his daughter) puts me on payroll and starts me at 25 cents more than minimum wage. I quit the grocery store and keep working for my uncle. I keep a good work ethic up and a learning attitude. I was tearing apart auto seats and taking the covers off and my aunt would cut out and sew in new sections that needed replaced. My aunt started having seizures and between the epilepsy and medication she started forgetting to sew seams, Velcro, or hogring strips. I'd get the seat almost all the way back together only to find something that she missed. I start inspecting her work more thoroughly. When I noticed a spot not sewn I just started fixing it. Eventually, I skip the middle man and start doing the whole seat myself. Everything goes great. I keep learning new stuff and getting better in the trade.

Skills I use at work: Sewing machine operator, small repairs on sewing machine, custom fabrication, welding (mostly aluminum awning frames but sometimes steel on seat frames), social media manager, website designer, shirt and logo designer for company shirts (we didn't have a logo till 2016 and our shirts, I kid you not, were maroon with small golden text on the left breast with the name of our business) I bid jobs, order materials, answer phone calls, schedule jobs, secure deposits, online advertising Manager. I take pictures and videos of our products and services for content on our website and social media. I reply to emails and online estimate requests filled out on our website.

I am currently 23 years old making $14.00 an hour and have 1 week paid vacation. I have a high school diploma. I have no degree or certification. It's been 1 year since my last raise and I asked about getting one this past week.

I've done some research for wages in my field and it seems I should be making about $20.00 an hour despite my lack of education.

Business strategy or lack thereof: Our prices have always been pretty cheap. Any time we suggest raising prices to my uncle he gets kinda defensive insisting that we want to actually get the job.

I'll give you an example of a job he bid without actually calculating the cost. It was a 1940 Ford body, we fabricated everything upholstery related: Dash, carpet, chopped and welded seat from junkyard to fit, custom foam cushions, headliner, door and kick panels, trunk panels and carpet. We had about $500.00 in materials and 3 workers working about 2 weeks. In total, about 240 shop hours. He blurts out this random price to the guy (yes we never quoted a price nor got a deposit before we started) $3,500.00. We made $12.50 an hour shop time on that job once materials were deducted.

He says we have to charge what people can afford but he doesn't realize how much money people can make. And he severely undervalues all of our skills.

Another time, I had priced doing just the bottom of a truck bench seat for a customer for $300.00 the customer had agreed to the price. My uncle sees I only did half the seat and the price I had marked on it. Asks me what I think we should do. I tell him I think we should do what I marked it as. Later that day he says just do the rest of the seat. So I do double the work for the same price as me and the customer had already agreed on.

Trying to make a price list: I've done a lot of research on the market whereas it seams my uncle charges based on what he feels is the right price. One of my cousins in a bigger City does upholstery too. I ask about their prices. They literally charge twice what we do across the industry. I know bigger City means higher cost of living and higher prices but it also usually means more competitive pricing.

How do I help my uncle understand his prices are too cheap? How do I convey, based on the industry, I should make more money?

Tl;Dr whiniest nephew complains about stereotypical family owned and operated business.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated, thanks!


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