Your Time - Use It Wisely!
I am always surprised at how much time business owners in this industry spend trying to find something for a customer. Hours are spent looking for a certain product, a font, a stock design because our customer described it to us and said that is what they want.
When you go to the grocery store, do you tell the store owner the flavors that you want to find in the yogurts they carry?
Nope - you pick one that sounds good and you put it in your buggy.
When you go to buy a car, do you tell them you want the top end luxury vehicle, but you are only willing to pay for a basic stripped down model?
Nope - you buy what you can afford. You either custom order it and wait, or you take a car off the lot, as is.
When you go to a restaurant, do you go in the kitchen and tell them how to prepare your meal? Or would you expect the chef to come up with an entirely new recipe using ingredients that you list for him?
Nope - you order off the menu and enjoy it when it is served.
Yet for some strange reason, our customers come in and ask if we can provide a product that they describe. The product may not even exist! Their dream product is something that they've thought up - a red shirt with stars along the tail - and that is what they MUST have. Yet they only want a handful of them and the customer gets miffed at us when we are not able to magically make such an item appear out of thin air.
Or they come in with an already embroidered item and want us to match it exactly, yet they are unwilling to pay for the digitizing to replicate that design easily. So we default to doing a search for that font - scouring the web for hours for a font that matches exactly.
We field these calls all day long here at NNEP from members of the embroidery organization. NNEP members call or email and ask, "Where can I find...." and then they describe something that does not exist or is not carried on the shelves of the industry wholesale suppliers, because there is simply not enough demand for such a product.
Sell your customers what you CAN provide! If they want a shirt with stars on it, embroider or applique the stars on the shirt and charge them for it! Presto - a shirt with stars on the tail. Now if the customer does not want to pay for it, then that is their decision, and you will never need to even make that shirt in the first place.
When members of NNEP call in search of that funky item, we help them identify what is unique or important about the mythical product, and then we can make suggestions of products that they can get wholesale that might work for that customer.
If the customer brings you an existing product and wants you to match it, the answer is, "Sure we can do that. The charge to recreate that design is $XX.00. How many would you like?" Again, if the customer does not want to pay - no worries, and no time lost on your part.
Your time is your most precious asset as a business owner. Spend it wisely to be a profitable business owner. The next time you find yourself scouring the internet for that funky product or that font that matches exactly, ask yourself WHY am I doing this? If the answer is because the customer is paying me to do so, proceed! If the customer is not paying you, then you are losing money and more importantly, you are wasting time!
You do not have to turn away these customers. With a bit of creative problem solving, see if you can turn them on to products, fonts and designs that you CAN provide that will meet their needs and enable to you profit at a reasonable level.
How have your turned an inquiry for a fantasy product or design into an order? Share your suggestions here below!
Wonderful article (we expect no less from Jen) for pointing out one of the biggest reasons that people have epic 'fails' in this industry. Yes, we ARE all about service and pleasing the customer - but the other side of 'custom' is paying for the expertise of someone who is not mass producing goods, marking them up and selling them. Custom is the key!
I'm going to read this over and over until it is implanted on my brain. This is so true. I now suggest a nice font and 99 percent of the time they go for it. If it has a picture or must match their font I tell them "I am not a digitizer and the charge will be $$$$ to send it out. " But I say all this in a nice way. But up until this article I've sort of felt bad if I couldn't get it exact , no more feeling bad.
YEAH Vicki! That is progress indeed, and your right as the business owner! Onward and upward 🙂
This is so on point. A week ago I got an order to monogram some towels. But before the job was accepted she wanted me to duplicate the Font that she had before. I did one that was close (digital sample) but she was not happy with the outcome or the look. I also mocked up some other options that I told her I thought would look better. And she agreed. I completed the job last night and she is extremely pleased with the results. So I am a huge fan of using a "guiding hand" when customers want something specific.
I'm going to have everybody in my shop read this.
I think the biggest reason why is that we are in the business of providing custom. Even though most of the time, it's just custom decorating, customers think that it should apply to the product itself. In some instances, if it's something that I can build from the ground up, I just tell them that their budget is going to be the biggest factor.
Love this article!!!