The Ways That Upholsterers Do Their Jobs
by Stephen Winters for WR115
Some of the biggest misunderstandings may develop between an upholsterer and a client when there is a mismatch between the type of upholsterer and the type of client. Each client has their own set up expectations, preferences, things they consider important, quality awareness, and cost preference. Similarly, each upholsterer has his own set up skill levels, preferences, supplies, tools, experience, integrity, quality awareness and prices. As long as there is not trickery or deception involved, there is a good match up when a client and an upholsterer both are "on the same page". For instance, some clients consider all upholsterer "the same". This client has no awareness of the variations of quality or experience. So, this client just looks for the "cheapest price". She should find a worker who specializes in working cheap. This would be a good match up. Similarly, a client who is aware of differences in quality and experience and who is expecting top quality should find a skilled craftsman who is quite experienced and focuses on quality work. This would also be a good match up. However, there would not be a good match up if either of the aforementioned clients went to the other type of upholsterer. Although this article (below) is kind of a spoof (fun) writing, it carries a lot of weight. Make sure that your expections of both quality and price line up with the upholsterer.
Since my immersion into the trade in 1966, I have come to realize that there are many different skill levels in the upholstery trade. I have been through many skill levels myself, and I have known other upholsterers at different levels. Those who are just beginning into the trade have very limited skills; to attract clients some of these often use such gimmicks as: having the “cheapest prices”, using flattery or smooth talk, “doing it fast”, or claiming to be “the best.” Those who use these tactics may never advance to higher skill levels. But those who are truly learning the trade avoid these tactics as they learn better skills. In order to become a true craftsman it takes a lot of hard work, diligence, experience, admitting and fixing countless mistakes, asking advice, experimenting with different methods, and constantly looking for better ways to achieve higher levels of quality. The true craftsman doesn’t need any gimmicks to get customers; his workmanship and reputation speak for themselves.
Like any profession, there are types of upholsterers at many different skill levels. There is a good match-up between upholsterers and clients when the right type of upholsterer does work for the corresponding right type of client. Those who work cheaply are best suited to those clients who, unconcerned about quality, want a cheap price. The fast upholsterers are good matches for those clients who want it “NOW!” The average upholsterer is good for most average clients with average expectations. The Perfectionist finds his niche in doing work for people who want to think that they are getting “the very best.” The harder-to-find craftsmen is a good match for those who value their furniture, and who truly appreciate his fastidious attention to the fine details of putting out a true work of art. Those who claim to be “the best” seldom are; those who are the best don’t need to say it.
Those who value this profession will keep learning and persevere through the many difficult times. They will continue to improve their skills as stay in the trade through many years. Those who charge a realistic price for the level of quality that they produce, and deal straightforwardly and honestly with their customers will gain a following of loyal client that will keep them in business for many years.
Note: See the links below and in the left side menu for descriptive paragraphs about each type of upholsterer.