I’ve had a site for my upholstery business on line since 2001. Created and maintained by me. The last several years, I’ve concentrated on getting my site recognized by all the major search engines. The effort has paid off because if anyone is looking for an upholsterer on Cape Cod, I can be found pretty easily in all the major search engines, using a variety of search terms. And it hasn’t come a moment to soon. I’m absolutely amazed at the calls and emails I’m getting as a result of people searching the Web. It seems like, two years ago, I’d get an email inquiring about upholstery: I’d reply with a thankful, informative message with general prices and I wouldn’t hear back. But starting in late 2008, the phone calls and emails have become more frequent and I’ve been getting most of the work. It’s like the yellow pages and newspaper ads are out and the Internet is in. Heading into the second quarter of 2009, it’s either word of mouth or the Internet from where my customers come. The location of my business plays a role in some of this. Cape Cod has a lot of second home owners who live out of state. It would make sense for them to Google me, but I’m getting locals as well.
Upholstery, especially small shops like mine, have long since been considered a dying trade. So I find it ironic that something so modern as the Internet is breading new life into such an old business model. There is also a generational shift to go along with it. One reason upholstery was considered a dying trade is the age of it’s mainstay customers, the World War II generation. My new Internet customers are either very hip, up to the times older people or the children and grandchildren of the World War II generation.
So now my focus is to maintain a strong Internet presence and reinvent my business model for a new type of customer. So far I’ve only had one customer ask if I wanted the GPS coordinates to the house and I haven’t received any text messages for an estimate. So there’s plenty more 21st century to go for this upholsterer on the Internet.