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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, so I had a repeat customer send me an idea what they wanted for their next reunion. It said in their info 2010 as the year.

So I worked up a sample art based on their description and sent it to them for approval before giving an quote on pricing, etc.

They wrote back the date should be on a different line and added the Month. But... I noticed they then changed the year to 2011.

Without all the long and gory details, after hours of working on this I learn they are planning this for 2011. Usually I don't work up samples until the person puts down a deposit but since this is a repeat cusomer I had no reason to believe that this job would be a year away. :(

Now I think I am loosing my joy of doing custom shirts and this episode just put me over the edge. So I wanted to ask those that do this on a regular basis.

- Do you QUOTE on jobs an ENTIRE year in advance?

- Would it be rude to tell people "you don't quote or work up sample for jobs that are more than 6 months away?

I know that most business say quotes are only good for 30 days, but would you quote anyway if its 6 months away if they put down a deposit (lock in their price)

- How much time will you allow potential customers to waste?

It takes time to work up quotes and especially when they want them without info like (shirt color, quantity, sizes, etc. So will you keep redoing quotes as they come asking for different variations (light color, dark color, etc.) on the same job?

I have a mind to charge per quote. I don't mean to be rude but time is money and I am so tired of people wasting my time. Out of say 100 quotes I probably get the job 1 or 2 times. Not really worth the effort.

Urg...

Signed,
Printchic
 

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I agree an entire year is a little too far away.. so many thing will change.

I have a customer contacting me right now about a quote from 9 months ago.

I mean times change .. if it was a couple of months ago maybe.

She also promised that she was gonna be bringing in 100 shirts a day too..
 

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This happened because you didn't ask good qualifying/profiling questions when talking to the customer. You do not have to "lose your joy" just get better at dealing with sales inquiries by learning sales techniques and taking control of your order taking process.

"When do you want to be able to pick up the finished order?"
"When is your event?"
"Where did you buy these shirts last year?" <if appropriate>
"How many shirts do you think you need? In what sizes?"
"Any odd sizes required such as 5XL, or XXS, toddlers, etc..?
"How did you want to pay the down payment? We accept Credit Cards by phone, Academic Purchase Orders by email or fax, Checks by USPS mail, and cash in person. Payments in Goats or Chickens have to be arranged separately! LOL!"
"Do you have print ready art work or will we need to create the art for you?"
"To save you money you can avoid Graphics Design Charges by providing print ready art such as <insert your art requirements here>."
"Let me describe how we work to you....After we receive your order and down payment we will create a layout and send it to you for proof approval... Once you have approved the layout/colors/garments/sizes we order the shirts, create the color separations and burn the screens required by the design. At this point we schedule the job for the press, do the actual screening, folding, and packaging. At this time your final payment is due and you can pick up the completed shirts. We estimate that this process will take x-xx days from start to finish.... When would you like to start?"

If you do these things you will not have to deal with unqualified customers anymore. People that call you on the phone are not customers...people that have PAID the down payment and have open work orders are customers.

If after you run through all your qualifying questions and you determine that the guy is not serious about giving you the order today you can use some closing techniques to wrap it up...

"Did I cover everything you need to know?"
"When can you come by and see some product samples and pick out a shirt style?"
"When you are ready to get things going you should know that we also manufacture <decals, banners, hats, coffee mugs, ad specialties, posters, coroplast signs, business cards, posters, etc...>. If you are buying some of these other products for this event maybe we can create a bundle for your and save you some money versus having to deal with 2-3 separate vendors!"

Even a simple close//

"What else can I help you with while I have you on the phone?"


Taking control is the key. The customer does not know what they need. You have to grab the bull by the nose and drag him around where you want him to go. He will follow. It is very effective.
 

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Jiarby-

That was probably the most helpful posts i've ever read.

Your right.. customers don't know what they want.. and it drives me up the wall! lol

Thanks much!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wow Jiarby,

Great info.

Actually, alot of what you suggest I do but then there's this little guy in my head (my husband) that works a 9-5 that believes if we don't "quote on everything" that we are loosing out. He believes that "some $$$" is better than no $$$ and I try to tell him that if you spend a lot of time on a possibility by the time you get the job you have used up any profit in time spent.

I agree I didn't qualify the customer like I usually do I just saw "2010" in their email and nothing lead me to believe it wasn't for this June.

All said, I will take your advice as it is really helps and I will definiately share it with hubby. He doesn't understand since he doesn't deal with the customer daily he works a 9-5 so his cash register rings every minute for 8 hours. lol

Signed,
Printchic
 

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I had a boss once, and old-school yellow pages ad salesman, that told me "You can't lose a sale you never had to begin with..." The qualifying questions help you quickly determine whether or not you have a real fish on the line or just a worm stealing blue gill!

The thing is to sell them YOU first then selling them the shirts becomes alot easier...
 

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Jiarby...Thats great advice mate!! I just forwarded your post on to my sales team to read over.

It is stuff we already do but it is great to just confirm it in their minds.

On the original post...if you decided to put the job off until closer to the project don't leave it up to them to contact you. Be active in your follow-up...that goes for all quotes and customers. Simply following up your quotes with courtesy calls will increase you conversion dramatically.

Yeah...so call them 1 month before there reunion and go over everything with them.

Let me know how you go.
 

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If I were to give them a quote this far in advance I would tell them the quote is good for so many days, and explain that because of the changing economy, your prices on garments and consumables may change therefore, their quote would change along with it, and need to be re-quoted if the job is not ordered and completed within a certain amount of time.
 

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Just because the event is a year away doesn't mean you can't print the shirts now. See if they'd be willing to go ahead with the order now. You don't know if you don't ask. If they're already thinking about the shirt now, maybe they're intentions are to print them now. Assume they are speaking with you because they want to order now and ask them closing questions like "so how do you want to pay for this? When can we get started?" or "I can have these ready for your next week."

Also, don't do any art preparation until you have a deposit or payment up front. You can quote a job without doing art preparation. A quote really shouldn't take up much of your time.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Just because the event is a year away doesn't mean you can't print the shirts now. See if they'd be willing to go ahead with the order now. You don't know if you don't ask. If they're already thinking about the shirt now, maybe they're intentions are to print them now. Assume they are speaking with you because they want to order now and ask them closing questions like "so how do you want to pay for this? When can we get started?" or "I can have these ready for your next week."

Also, don't do any art preparation until you have a deposit or payment up front. You can quote a job without doing art preparation. A quote really shouldn't take up much of your time.

Hi Thanks for the feedback,

The person had already indicated this is for a year later and wanted to prepare so that no one can say they didn't have enough time to come up with the $$$.
 
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