There’s something incredibly satisfying about breathing new life into a piece of furniture that was once considered beyond repair. It takes a talented, patient person to take a used, tired piece of furniture and make it new again, but many people find the art of furniture restoration an enjoyable challenge.
If this is your passion and you are skilled at restoring and repairing furniture, starting a furniture repair business could be a profitable business for you. This guide provides an overview of how to start a furniture repair business to help you get started right.
Furniture refinishing businesses fix and restore a variety of furniture, saving customers from having to purchase new furniture. This could range from fixing a loose leg on a chair to completely refurbishing an antique chest of drawers. The services offered can vary widely, including upholstery, refinishing, structural repairs, and more.
One major advantage of this type of business is that it can be started on a part-time basis from home. Starting a business from home can help save money on some expenses like a lease, making it easier to build up clientele in the business’s beginning stages.
Related Business Ideas
The furniture repair industry is expected to reach $2 billion in revenue in 2023, which is an increase of 1.4% from last year. The industry employs over 26,000 workers across close to 18,000 establishments.
This industry is subjected to multiple factors that affect its growth and profitability. Furniture repair businesses often thrive when the economy is distressed since customers are likelier to have furniture repaired rather than pay for new furniture. When the economy improves, customers are more likely to buy new furniture. Still, an improved economy means more offices are full, leading employers to repair furniture instead of buying new office furniture.
There are a number of trends to keep your eye on as you research starting your own furniture repair business. A few of these include:
- Increased interest in vintage and antique furniture, especially among Millennial homebuyers, is a positive trend for the furniture repair industry. Vintage pieces require repairs and reupholstery over time.
- More manufacturers are designing upholstered furniture with replaceable fabric covers that are easy for consumers to swap out when styles change. This lessens the need for full reupholstery.
- Growth in new lower-cost furniture imports often leads customers to replace damaged furniture rather than repair it.
- DIY interest has risen thanks to YouTube and home improvement shows, but tackling full reupholstery and finish stripping is complex for amateurs. Quality repairs still require professionals.
- More people are looking for personalized services like color matching, special finishes, or even upcycling.
- Mobile furniture repair, where you go to the customer’s location, is also becoming increasingly popular.
Identifying your target market is a fundamental step in setting up any business, and it’s no different for a furniture repair venture. So, who may need furniture repaired or restored?
For starters, a large portion of business comes from higher-earning homeowners as they are more likely to purchase nicer furniture. Businesses with more of a general, full-service approach may appeal to homeowners, business owners, rental property owners, and anyone with more modern furniture needing repair or reupholstering.
Businesses specializing in antique restoration will appeal to antique dealers or collectors, families with antiques that have been passed down, and even museums. Interior designers often work with unique or antique pieces that require delicate restoration work. Being their go-to repair shop, they can offer a steady stream of high-quality work.
Local businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, like restaurants and cafes, often have furniture that undergoes significant wear and tear. Instead of buying new sets, many opt for repairs to save costs.
Checklist To Start A Furniture Repair Business
Launching a furniture repair business takes technical expertise along with business strategy and self-motivation. Our guide covers the fundamentals of starting a furniture repair service, from researching the market to making the business legal to marketing your new business, and more. Let’s walk through important steps.
Step 1: Research the Market
The first step in starting any new business should be researching whether there is sufficient demand for your services to support a profitable venture. While passion for furniture restoration is important, making rational assessments about the market opportunity is wise before investing substantial money and time into a new business.
Conducting market research provides insights that help answer critical questions:
- Is there a need for furniture repair services in your area?
- Who are the potential customers – homeowners, businesses, designers?
- What style of furniture is most prevalent that may need repairs?
- What repair services are most in demand – refinishing, reupholstering, repairing broken components?
- How much do potential customers currently spend on furniture repairs?
- Who are your competitors?
Gaining feedback on these questions helps evaluate if there are enough potential customers and revenue to support a new furniture repair business in the market. It also helps shape your business and marketing plans to target the right customers with the most in-demand services.
Market research won’t provide a guaranteed prediction of your business success, but it will offer valuable feedback on the potential interest in your services. Here are some cost-effective ways to conduct this research:
- Examine your competitors. Identify who they are, what services they offer, and how they price their services.
- Search online reviews of existing furniture repair businesses to identify commonly requested services and complaints.
- Join local Facebook groups and NextDoor to poll residents if they have unmet furniture repair needs.
- Survey antique shops, home stagers, designers, hotels, and restaurants on their repair spending.
- Attend a local home show and exhibit sample repairs to gauge consumer interest.
- Search Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for people selling furniture needing repairs.
- Get free demographic data on your area from the Census Bureau to assess the demographics of homeowners.
Thorough market research takes time but reduces risk. It provides the data needed to make smart business decisions and determine if launching a furniture repair shop is viable in your area.
Step 2: Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan is an important step when starting any new business. For a furniture repair shop, the business plan serves as a roadmap and helps turn your ideas into an actionable plan. If you need funding from banks or investors, the business plan needs to persuasively convey why your venture will succeed.
Creating a business plan shouldn’t be thought of as just a formality; it’s a vital step in making your dream of owning a furniture repair business a reality. It allows you to address any gaps, refine your strategy, and provide you with a road map to success.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 3: Source Funding
So, you’ve got your business plan polished, and you’re confident there’s a market for your services. The next big hurdle is getting the money to kickstart your business. In the furniture repair business, the type of funding you seek can vary based on your needs and what stage you’re at. Let’s explore the funding options.
Personal savings: Personal savings are often the primary source of funding for small businesses. You might be able to bootstrap your furniture repair business using your personal savings, especially since the initial costs can be pretty manageable. You could start in a home garage with a set of tools, for instance. However, if your vision for the business requires more resources, you’ll need to explore external funding options.
Bank loans: Banks and credit unions are traditional sources of funding. They typically require borrowers to invest at least 85% of their personal funds into the business, have a good credit score, and provide sufficient collateral. If a bank considers your loan request too risky, they may opt to use an SBA loan guarantee, which can make it easier to secure the loan.
Friends and family: Raising funds from friends and family is another avenue, but tread carefully. Mixing personal relationships with business can get messy. To keep things above board, always put agreements in writing, clearly outlining the terms of the loan or investment.
Microloans: Microloans are small loans typically used by startups and businesses needing smaller amounts of funding. Several organizations offer microloans, and some even provide business training in addition to funding. This can be an excellent option if your funding needs are low or if you can’t secure a loan from a traditional lender.
Local investors: Local investors can also be a source of funding. These individuals often have a high net worth and an interest in supporting local businesses. However, securing investment can be challenging, as investors typically look for high-growth, scalable businesses. It’s important to have a strong business plan and be able to demonstrate the potential for significant returns on their investment.
Step 4: Acquire and Set Up a Location
One of the benefits of starting a furniture repair business is that it can be run out of the owner’s home. A garage or basement workshop may be all the space that a startup refinishing business requires, as long as the space is well-lit and enough outlets are available to power tools.
When choosing a location for your furniture repair business, there are a few things to consider. First, you’ll want to find a space that is large enough to accommodate your equipment and inventory. Second, you’ll want to choose a location that is convenient for your customers. And finally, you’ll want to find a space that is affordable.
Once you’ve got the place, how will you set it up? One idea is to visit other furniture repair businesses and talk to their owners. Industry organizations can also provide some insights into the nitty-gritty details of your workspace.
Step 5: Register the Business
Getting your business off the ground isn’t just about having a great idea and some startup cash; it’s also about navigating the legal landscape. You’ve got to make sure everything’s on the up and up before taking your first client.
Choosing a business structure: Your first order of business is deciding on a structure for your enterprise. The most common forms are Sole Proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Here’s a breakdown of each:
- Sole proprietorship: This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to start a business. However, it doesn’t offer any liability protection, meaning your personal assets could be at risk.
- Partnership: If you’re starting with someone else, a partnership is an option. Just like a sole proprietorship, it’s fairly easy to set up but lacks personal liability protection.
- Corporation: Incorporating can offer liability protection and potential tax benefits, but it comes with more complicated paperwork and usually higher costs.
- LLC: This structure combines elements of both corporations and sole proprietorships/partnerships. It provides personal liability protection like a corporation but has a simpler management structure similar to a sole proprietorship or partnership.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but many small to medium-sized furniture repair businesses often opt for either a sole proprietorship for the ease and simplicity of setting up or the LLC for its balance of liability protection and flexibility.
Related: Comparison of business structures
Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.
Some popular LLC formation services include:
IncFile - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
ZenBusiness - Best for beginners. $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
Northwest - Best privacy protection. $39 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
Business name registration: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state during the formation process.
During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.
Obtain business licenses and permits: There aren’t specific business licenses for furniture repair business owners; however, there are general business licenses that will be needed. This will vary state to state, but common registrations include a local business license, sales tax permit, and Employer Identification Number.
Step 6: Create a Marketing Plan
Even the best furniture repair business needs to get the word out to potential customers.
Creating a robust marketing plan is an essential step in launching a successful furniture repair business.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram offer advertising options tailored to reach locals interested in home improvement or antique furniture. Creating how-to videos or before-and-after project showcases can help build trust and establish your expertise.
Don’t forget to claim your business on online directories other than Google Business Profile; think Yelp, Angie’s List, or any specialized home improvement platforms. These listings not only increase your online presence but also provide an open channel for customer reviews, which can be gold for a service-oriented business.
Local networking can also be incredibly effective. Becoming a member of your local Chamber of Commerce can give you access to community events, networking opportunities, and the chamber’s own directory, which is often a go-to resource for residents seeking local services.
Step 7: Prepare to Open!
After laying the groundwork for your furniture repair business, there are likely a few remaining steps to help ensure a smooth start and ongoing success. Each business is unique and may require different steps, but here are some common areas you should consider:
- Business insurance: Protect your business with insurance like general liability and property insurance to cover your workshop and protect against customer claims.
- Bookkeeping: Set up a reliable bookkeeping system to keep track of your income, expenses, and taxation obligations. You can use accounting software like Wave Accounting (FREE) or Quickbooks, or hire a professional.
- Contracts: Have service contracts and repair waivers drafted up to document project scope, timeline, warranty, terms, and conditions with customers. RocketLawyer and Law Depot have free and inexpensive templates that may be helpful, but it’s advisable to work with a lawyer to ensure these contracts meet legal requirements and protect your business interests.
- Bank account: Open a separate bank account for your business to make it easier to manage your finances and maintain a clear division between your personal and business transactions.
- Hiring staff: Many furniture businesses start and operate with the owner doing all of the work. If the workload is going to be too much to handle alone, you might consider hiring experienced staff to help with the repairs or administrative tasks.
- Supplier relationships: Establish relationships with suppliers of lumber, fabric, leather, hardware, adhesives, and foam to purchase materials for furniture repairs.
- Pricing: Develop a pricing strategy that covers your costs and provides a reasonable profit margin, while also offering value to your customers.
- Payment options: Offer multiple payment options, including credit card payments, to make transactions convenient for your customers. Services like Square or Stripe can make this easy.
- Grand opening: Plan a grand opening event to draw attention to your business. This could involve special promotions, local advertising, or even a launch event.
Common Questions When Starting A Furniture Repair Business
How much does it cost to start a furniture repair business?
Starting a furniture repair business requires an investment in equipment, tools, supplies, marketing, and other startup costs.
The total costs to start a basic furniture repair business can range from $10,000 to $30,000, with most falling in the $15,000 to $20,000 range. Costs scale higher for those investing in commercial shop space, employees, and specialty woodworking equipment at launch.
Here’s an overview of typical startup costs:
Equipment & tools: Expect to spend $5,000 to $10,000 on basic hand and power tools for disassembly, stripping, sanding, joining, and finishing. Invest in high-quality tools that will withstand heavy use. As your business grows, you may invest another $5,000 to $20,000 in larger equipment like table saws, jointers, and wide belt sanders. Leasing specialty equipment can defer major purchases.
Shop setup Renting a retail shop will cost $500 to $1,000 per month, depending on location and size, and initial deposits will be needed. Alternately, $2,000 to $5,000 can outfit a professional shop in a garage or other existing space. Key items are workbenches, dust collection, shelving, lighting, and a spray booth area.
Materials & supplies: An initial inventory of $2,000 to $5,000 will stock adhesives, abrasives, finish products, cleaners, shop supplies, wood, paint, lacquer, and basic upholstery supplies to complete early repair projects.
Marketing: $2,000 to $5,000 helps fund branding, a website, print materials like business cards and flyers, and initial advertising.
Insurance: General liability insurance will cost $500 to $2,000 per year, depending on location and coverage level. Product liability protects if repairs fail.
Legal & professional fees: $500 to $2,000 covers business formation, licensing, and filing fees. Accountant fees assist in setting up your books, payroll, and taxes.
How profitable is a furniture repair business?
Furniture repair businesses have the potential to generate steady profits if run efficiently.
Using the industry data from IBISWorld where the 18,000 furniture repair businesses were projected to generate $2 billion of revenue in 2023, we can see that the average furniture repair shop is making $111,000 per year.
Hitting that number right out of the gate in the first year may be doable, but let’s estimate $60,000 in revenue when starting out for the sake of this calculation.
Out of this revenue, material costs are usually the largest expense, typically accounting for around 25-30%, while labor (which should be accounted for even if you are doing all of the work) makes up another 15-20%. Then there are the remaining costs of rent, advertising, insurance, etc., which make up another 20-30% on average. The remaining 20-40% represents potential profit.
For example, a shop generating $60,000 in revenue would incur about $16,500 in material costs, $10,500 in labor costs, and $15,000 in other operating expenses. This would leave $18,000 remaining as potential profit.
It’s important to note that these percentages are estimated averages and can vary based on your specific circumstances and the scale of your business. Additionally, this calculation does not account for taxes, which will also impact your net profit. Profitability ultimately depends on keeping material and labor costs in check, controlling overhead, retaining quality staff, and maintaining excellent customer service to support ongoing business. But furniture repair can be a solid small business opportunity if executed well.
Specializing in a particular area, such as restoring antique pieces, can let a business ask for higher prices and enjoy higher profits.
An additional revenue stream can come from making money from furniture flipping by refinishing inexpensive pieces found at garage sales and flea markets.
What skills are needed to run a furniture repair business?
Attention to detail: Repairing furniture well requires excellent attention to detail. From matching an exact shade of stain to ensuring perfect alignment between two pieces, a repair business owner needs to be aware of the nuances involved in every piece of furniture. If you feel like more training is needed, completing an apprenticeship or other type of training is a valuable option.
Woodworking skills: Some carpentry and woodworking skills are beneficial in opening a repair business since some repairs may need new pieces created and assembled.
Upholstery skills: Offering furniture upholstery and reupholstery services can expand the offerings and versatility of a furniture refinishing business, potentially bringing in new clients and resulting in higher-paying projects.
Creativity: Finding the right solution to a furniture repair challenge takes some creativity and resourcefulness. A business owner who is innovative and creative is often better able to meet the repair challenges than an owner with limited creativity.
Multitasking capabilities: Repairing furniture is often a balancing act, and a business owner may be working on multiple projects at once. The ability to multitask helps ensure that all projects make progress and that the business meets all deadlines.
Customer service skills: A repair business owner needs to provide quality customer service. Previous experience in a customer service setting will help owners understand the importance of clear communication, address customer concerns, and find solutions to problems.
Marketing skills: When a business owner is able to handle some of their marketing, they can save costs and get more return on a smaller marketing budget. This is particularly important to startup furniture repair businesses, which often have a limited marketing budget.
What is the NAICS code for a furniture repair business?
The NAICS code for a furniture repair business is 811420, which is classified under Reupholstery and Furniture Repair.
The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.