Selling your Furniture- A Small step that equals BIG results

For the last 22 years, I make a living as a furniture maker and I’m going to share with you a tip that really helps me sell my furniture to a potential new customer. Now let me start off by saying that this is not an online technique or strategy. It’s also not for selling crafty items such as cutting boards or whirlygigs. This is for selling an actual piece of furniture. And by now, I just lost 80% of the readers. But for those of you who are still here, let me give you my scenario. 

My clients who buy from me are in northwest Ohio and southeastern Michigan areas. I usually deal with the customer directly but sometimes through a contractor. Many times the customer has an idea of what they need but not really sure of the look or the size of the piece. 

After talking with the client and asking them a bunch of questions, I leave with a pretty good idea of what they like and their interest. Upon returning to my home I start working on a sketch and drawing.  

Now so far, everything I stated is nothing new. Everyone pretty much will do that. Drawings are so common I’ve seen the drawings of other designers that were already there before me. 

But what I do next blows the client’s mind. I build a scale model of the finished piece. Building a model has several advantages.

1.The customer is very impressed.

When the customer sees the details of the piece in a smaller, scaled-down version of what they want, it makes big points with them.

2. It gives a 3-D view.

Computer added design drawings are great. They show a ton of detail. This is perfect for the craftsman because every measurement and note is on it. But that can be overwhelming to the client and more information than what they actually need. However, the model is clean, simple, and is something the client can pick up and look at from any angle.

3. Work out design flaws.

Believe it or not, building a smaller scale model helps me with the actual building process. I can see where potential weak spots might be and determine the joinery that will be necessary. I can also compare the size and proportions of the individual components and see how they look in relation to each other. This is so vital because this saves time and money on the actual full-size build. I constantly use the model as a reference during the build.

Let me give you an example of how a model helped me. I made a model of a coffee table that I wanted to build. I liked the look of it but something was off. I just didn’t know what it was. So I placed it in an area where I would walk past it every day. Every time I walked past it I realized my eye always first focused on the stretcher. And I knew that was the problem. The stretcher had to be replaced. How did I know that? Well, this was a technique I learned from working with and interior decorator. He told me that when he does a room, he fills it with several interesting items. He says, “First the eyes should always scan everything in the room. It creates an overall feel and mood. Then the second look is slower and more precise on individual things. The second glance takes more time to study the details.  If at first glance the eyes focus on one thing, then that item needs to go. Too much attention to one area is not good. “

So I apply the same technique to furniture design. Back to my coffee table model, I made four different stretchers and tried them out. One day I noticed I walked past it and my eyes scanned the whole coffee table and didn’t zero in on the stretcher. That’s when I knew I had it right.

4. I get the job.

With the model, the customer instantly knows they are getting a high-quality product and excellent customer service. And so far, I have always got the job and beat out the other competition.

So is it necessary to make a model for every single job? No. Here are some rules where I don’t make a model.

1. If the customer needs a  standard utilitarian piece of furniture. Such as a

simple cabinet, bookshelf, or chest.

2. If the customer saw something on Pinterest and wants one like it but in a different size or color.

3. If the job would be less than $1000.

I probably will still do drawings but not the model.

Overall, the models don’t really add too much more time to the job. A couple to few more hours. And it’s typically nailed or hot glued together. Again, nothing too difficult because if I need to change a part I have to be able to disassemble and reassemble it pretty quickly. But this simple step is another tool that helps me make better designs and reaffirms to the client that a craftsman is going to build them a family heirloom. 

For more information or to purchase the legs as seen on the model you can click here.

In upcoming articles, I will give you my complete step by step process for selling yourself and your furniture to a new client.

If you want to have a great book for reference when designing I highly suggest

Illustrated Cabinetmaking-

To see the video of this article click here-

Chad Stanton- Owner of Stanton Fine Furniture