Upholstery Voltron: A Business Model for the Future. . .

In our last blog post, we introduced the term, “strategic partner” as a mutually beneficial relationship between businesses or individuals.

achievement agreement business clapping

Today, I’d like to discuss strategic partnerships between upholsterers.

At first glance, a strategic partnership with another shop may look like a conflict of interest. Aren’t they competing for the same clients and projects?

Well . . . ARE they?

If you compare 2 or 5 or 10 upholsterers, you will see always variations – Their skills, their branding, their passions, their goals.

These variables add up to one simple truth: We each attract and best serve only a portion of the total market.

As our young professionals hit the limits of what can done well alone, perhaps it’s time to consider what could be accomplished together.

Maybe its time for Upholstery Voltron.

five person holding hands together

Let’s imagine a handful of professionals. Let’s imagine them working together – physically in one location or informally linked.

Let’s imagine that they job share – hey, you’re trained in traditional, do you want to bid this? I don’t have time to drive out on a bid, do you want it? This customer wants a frame refinished, are you interested? What happens when we can sort projects with a handful of trusted colleagues? Do we lose profit? Or do we gradually curate our ideal workload?

Let’s imagine they come together when necessary: Hello! I got a request-for-quote from the state capital –  I’d like to bid it, but I can’t do this project alone . . . What can we say yes to when we have a team at hand?

Let’s imagine that this group is newer professionals (as many professionals are) What can they learn just by being together? What can they problem solve in a group that is slower and harder to solve alone?

Let’s imagine what else these upholsterers could share – a sales person?  A delivery person? A teenager to tear back? The physical overhead of a larger space and better equipment? The emotional strain of running a business?

The possibilities are endless. 

I’m not saying this model is simple or easy . . . I’m saying only that it’s possible. I’m saying it could be smart.

Still not sure? Can’t imagine an industry functioning with flexible, collaborative relationships between “competing” professionals?

Get your hair done. 

black salon chairs

I present to you, the salon industry: a healthy, vibrant part of our national economy that is comprised heavily of professionals working in shared spaces.

Why would anyone chose to work alongside their competitor?? Well. . . isn’t it obvious? It’s a safety net – an environment in which to grow through contact with other professionals. It’s increased visibility and shared resources. It’s a village full of specialties. It may be a place to stay, or a gateway to new paths.

In so many ways, it’s an opportunity to achieve more together.

Can you even imagine the salon industry  without collaborative spaces?  If every stylist was forced to clear their business related overhead alone? If everyone took their skills  home and unplugged from their professional community?

The benefits are obvious in the salon industry – and yet, we hesitate to adopt non-traditional business structures and relationships for ourselves.

Maybe we’ve hesitated long enough.

“Form feet and legs; form arms and body; and I”ll form the head!” 
From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend; the legend of Voltron, a mighty robot, loved by good, feared by evil. . . ”
Voltron, Defender of the Galaxy

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(I don’t know how to get permission for this photo. So please enjoy, however briefly)


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