Where to find an upholsterer?
The best way is word of mouth. Ask your friends, family, and co-workers for recommendations.
If no one can offer a recommendation, search the internet. This is much more effective than looking at yellow page ads or billboards because a website will include photos of past work. If the website does not include photos, BEWARE!
What to look for?
First you must like their work and feel comfortable with their knowledge and experience. Engage in a discussion with your potential upholsterer, you should not feel rushed and should have every question answered to your satisfaction.
Look for a specialist. A mechanic is not an upholsterer, just as an upholsterer is not a mechanic. A furniture upholsterer is not the same as an automotive or marine upholsterer, they are two very different animals. Make sure the person you hire has experience working on your vehicle or similar projects.
Upholstery is a craft that takes time and proper training to develop. Look for an upholsterer with several years experience and structured training. No matter how talented they may be, a novice is still a novice. This applies to large shops as well. Make sure you know exactly who is working on your project. Just because a shop has been in business 10 years does not mean a master upholsterer will be working on your project.
Feel secure. The upholsterer your choose should provide garage parking for your vehicle and care for it the same way you would at home (please note, garage parking does not apply to boats). BEWARE of shops that leave your vehicle outside and exposed to the elements. The shop should also be licensed and provide a secure facility.
You should always receive a detailed written estimate. Estimates should be itemized and dated, including an expiration date. While you may be able to get a general idea over the phone, the vehicle must be present for a firm estimate in order to see the extent of the project and select materials. Some upholsterers offer mobile estimates for your convenience or can accept digital photos.
Generally a deposit is required at the time the estimate is approved. An estimated completion date should also be established at this time. The completion date will vary based on material delivery and size of the project. BEWARE of upholsterers who will not give an estimated completion date, you may not see your vehicle for months