upholstery fabric

Cost of an Upholstery Shop: Is It Worth It?

They say you should monetize your passion so you don’t have to work a day in your life! But turning your upholstery hobby into a business also requires having enough capital and covering ongoing costs. So, is it worth it to establish an upholstery shop? This guide will show you the factors to consider when opening an upholstery shop. 

Start by Getting Experience

The first step to opening an upholstery shop is to ensure you have what it takes to sell your skills. If you’re hiring employees to upholster, you should ensure that they have built a portfolio of their work.

You’ll attract more clients if they know that you’ve been to upholstery school or you have a comprehensive portfolio of your works. Improve your skills by buying old furniture and reupholstering them.

Take pictures of your work for your online presence. Then, display them in your workspace, where clients will meet you. Try offering free services to your friends and asking them to endorse your work. 

Costs Involved in Opening an Upholstery Shop

One of the benefits of starting an upholstery business is the minimal capital you need. You probably already have a vehicle to transport the furniture, so you only have to invest in tools and workspace.

Some owners set up their businesses in their homes, SUVs, or vans. The important thing is that you have a ground-level space. You don’t want to bring the furniture up and down your attic, do you?

You will need the following for the tools:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Hammer
  • Cordless drill
  • Hex wrenches
  • Electric carver’s knife
  • Upholstery shears
  • Gooseneck webbing stretcher
  • Pins
  • Marking chalks
  • Fabric samples 

You probably already have most of these tools if you’ve been into upholstery for a long time now. There are also upholstery kits you can purchase in stores.

Preparing sample fabrics to show your customers is also essential. You can get them from a fabric representative at no cost. 

Overhead Costs of Owning an Upholstery Shop

There is no exact value for the ongoing expenses of an upholstery shop. But it will surely be cheap if you already have a space to do your job at home. Some overhead costs to cover include:

  • Vehicle fuel
  • Tool replacement (if they get broken)
  • Fabric and cushioning

Make sure to consider these factors when pricing your services. 

What Services Should You Offer?

There are plenty of options that your upholstery shop may offer. Here are some recommendations:

  • Upholstery and re-upholstery of modern furniture items
  • Restoration and re-upholstery of antique furniture using different procedures
  • Classic vehicle interior refurbishments
  • Upholstery repairs for caravan and motorhome seats, motorbike seats, etc
  • Upholstery for hotel, office, and catering seating

First, list down the category of services you are willing to offer. Then, provide an estimate of the prices for each. Estimates are essential since not all furniture pieces have the same level of treatment needed. 

Most upholstery businesses also offer the following related services:

  • Loose curtains made to measure
  • Upholstery fabrics and sundries for sale
  • Bespoke sofa, chair, and bed
  • Upholstered and upcycled furniture for sale
  • Non-fabric chair repairs

How Much Profit Can an Upholstery Shop Make?

Upholsterers’ profit depends on several factors, including their level of expertise and location. One report of a 30-year upholsterer states that they charge $44 per hour of labor. 

The average upholstery job costs $648. A single dining chair may cost $40, while a big sofa could approximately be $1,200. Make the business more profitable by selling upcycled furniture. Look for free worn-out furniture, reupholster, then sell at a reasonable price. 

Factors to Consider When Pricing

Pricing your services is a crucial consideration to maximize your profit. Make sure it’s not too high that potential customers would rather go to another shop. But also make sure it’s not too low that you can’t cover the ongoing costs of your business anymore.

Consider your hourly charge-out rate. Some services may require a higher hourly rate than others, like restoring an antique sofa set. You may also have different rates for the general public and regular trade clients. 

Another factor is your upholstery fabric. Are you going to add a markup to the materials or not?

Lastly, do your research on your competitors’ rates. If your rates are too high, your clients will end up buying the other shop’s services. Some might even decide to reupholster by themselves. 

The simplest business structure to form is a sole proprietorship. But if you want to be protected from liability if your business gets sued, establish an LLC or corporation. 

LLC stands for limited liability company. It’s easy to form an LLC yourself, or you can hire LLC services.

You’re also required to register for a tax number before opening your business. It’s free and easy! Some LLCs may take advantage by being taxed as an S corporation. 

Permits and licenses are also essential when setting up a small business. Check the state requirements when operating an upholstery business. You may check with your town for assistance.

Here are other documents to prepare:

  • Service agreements that clarify client expectations and prevent legal disputes
  • Certificate of occupancy that confirms zoning laws, building codes, and more
  • Business insurance to protect your company’s finances

Tips for Owning and Running an Upholstery Shop

Here are eight top tips to consider when owning and running your upholstery business:

  1. Never start with a big workspace for your business
  2. Have a strong branding, so your shop stands out from competitors
  3. Set up your business phone system
  4. Consider Facebook and Instagram ads
  5. Post business cards on bulletin boards in your community
  6. Buy a camera to document your work and add them to your portfolio and site
  7. Take before and after pictures then share them on your site
  8. Ask your friends to share your work with their friends

Is an Upholstery Business Right for You?

Opening an upholstery shop is an excellent idea because furniture repair and replacement is an ever-present demand in communities. But establishing it comes with a price. 

Did this guide help you decide whether to open an upholstery shop or not? Hone your skills and carefully plan your services so that your business becomes a success! 

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