Does Your Auto Upholstery Shop Measure Up?

Published by Naseem Muaddi on February 11th, 2013

Hotrod & Restoration Magazine has published its annual report on the automotive restoration industry – including statistics on hourly rates, revenue and busy seasons for auto upholstery shops. Take a look at the data that they’ve compiled and let us know how your business measures up.

According to the report, the average auto upholstery shop…

  • Has been in business for 30 years.
  • Estimates sales revenue of $149,193.97 in 2013
  • Charges an average of $55.56 per hour (a slight increase over last year)
  • Works on an average of 33 vehicles per yeaar
  • Is at its busiest during the months of May, July and August
  • Is at its slowest during the months of January, December and February

Of the auto upholstery shops polled in HRR’s survey…

  • 37% plan to raise their prices in 2013
  • 16% plan to expand their business in 2013
  • 48% have a website for their business
  • 43% use social media to promote their services
    • 62% Facebook
    • 54% Google+
    • 31% LinkedIn
    • 23% HubGarage
    • 8% Instagram

What do you think? Do these numbers seem right to you? How do they compare to your auto upholstery shop? Let us know in the comment section below.

For more detailed information – including similar data on mechanic, paint and body shops – check out the latest issue of Hotrod & Restoration Magazine.




11 Responses

  1. DnDCustomz DnDCustomz says:

    I actually just raised my labor rate to $55 hr, jus a $5 raise from last year. Ive been in business for 5yrs every year ive been going up in gross sales $10k-$12k a year since I opened up shop. This year I plan to gross somewhere around $55k, Im a one man show….. And so far this year I have been maxed out on work…. So I dont think I can handle too much more unless I hire an experienced trimmer, but how much should I pay him…..?

    • In my opinion an experienced trimmers should expect around 40 – 50K a year depending on where the shop is located He should also be able to produce twice his salary worth of work.

      I’m in a tough position now where I have too much work for two guys but not enough for three. I think if you’re in the same position I am, it’s best to hire an apprentice or helper who could take some pressure off of you and is much more affordable.

  2. I was surprised how accurate these figures are. My shop is pretty much on par with all the stats except we service far more than 33 vehicles per year.

  3. Tom Vaughan says:

    33 cars annually seems low, 2 cars x 250 days / yr = 500 cars and that is one trimmer doing inserts or any typical trim job.

  4. Pretty much right in line, except we work on 0 cars in a year. If its not on two wheels we send it to a friend.

  5. rich says:

    I’ve been in business for over 27 years. I’ve been getting about 4-6 full interiors a year on top of repairs,convertible tops etc.. I to am a one man show and have always been. Yearly sales have been 100k +. The 55 an hour is way low in my opinion. We’re worth more. We craftsmen are well worth it. Never sell yourself short.

  6. mark wood says:

    Greetings from Australia, I am a bit surprised about American hourly rate & annual turnover. I have heard about interiors costing 15K+ over there for hotrods & show cars & the work I have seen for that price was just stunning & well worth the money. I have a small trim shop here in Australia with 2 tradesmen & myself & we have an annual turnover of 300K, sometimes a bit more if we have a good year. My hourly rate is $75.00 + tax & I dont think this is enough for the type of work we trimmers do. Here a mechanic can charge between $85.00ph up to $120.00 ph & in most cases modern mechanics today just change over spare parts or tune up a car using a computer which tells them what to do. Trimmers have to make everything by hand & they dont just need to know how to upholster a seat, they need to know how to make patterns, how to lay carpet, how to sew, how to make a soft top, how to fabricate & the list goes on. When you think about it we are the most clever of all automotive trades & we deserve to be paid accordingly. If you are good at what you do & proud of the finished product & your customer is very happy with the finished job then they wont have a problem with paying the right amount for a interior they are going to enjoy for many years to come

  7. d-better d-better says:

    I work real fast. I average 3500 a week by myself. I charge acording to how hard the job is for me.

  8. Terry Schutz says:

    Hi Guys, I am also from Australia. I charge $80ph+ tax which is pretty reasonable now days. I have myself and a 2nd year apprentice and are not keeping up with things. Turnover is around the $150K pa and growing annually. We put our hourly rate up to reflect the level of work that we do and most reasonable people are happy with that but you still get people expecting to get a set of seats recovered for $300 and nearly have a coronary when you quote them your price.

  9. We are in western Canada. We just raised our rate to $75 per hr + shop supplies & tax. I feel that is more than fair seeing as most auto shops in my area charge 75-100 per hr. I do high quality work and charge accordingly.

    I have been in the business for almost 21 years. I am a one man shop and it is tough to keep up with the demand. I agree with needing someone to help out but not fulltime.The toughest part around here is finding skilled workers.

    As Mark Wood mentioned: the thought that we trimmers are probably the most skilled in the auto trade rings true, so true. Do not sell yourself short. If you are good at the trade don’t be afraid to up your rates.

    A friend once told me if no ones complains your prices are too high your should have already raised them.

  10. The Seat Doc says:

    We’re located in Northeastern Wi USA and our hourly is much lower. However you all are right.we do all phases of the bus. And are booked @ 8 wks.out.. My partner and I combined over 30 yrs. exp.and cover more than a 4 state area. I’am always hesidant to raise our rates. But want to. Now hearing what other shops do I am more confident. Their no shop books that help you determine this . Thanks for the input…. The Seat Doc


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