Question: Business Advice

Joined
Sep 1, 2016
Messages
88
Location
St. Louis, MO
Thread starter #1
Background:
I have a hobby business doing custom fine metal work for a very small market. Primarily fabrication/recreation of historical metal art.

A potential customer approached me in January of 2017 and asked me to quote a project. At that time, I drew up a unique design and provided a reasonable quote.

They did enjoy the design but wanted to discuss it with the other financially responsible parties. I let them know that any design changes that would add to the time required to complete the project or change the material cost would change the quote.

In early March 2017, they got back to me with not insignificant changes. Their changes would add a couple hundred dollars to the piece. They decided to not go forward at that time.

In June 2017, they contacted me again for the same project asking if I was still willing to produce the final design at the same price. By then I had been booked for other work and was clear that I would not be available for several months. They left it there, disappointed but not unhappy.

Today:
This morning the customer contacted me again regarding the exact same design.

They wish to know if Im available now. Technically I am, but any enthusiasm I had for this project is long gone. The cost of materials for the design have gone up, and I now charge more for my time that I did at the time of the original quote.

The question:
Given that I am still building my reputation in this market, have hopes of expanding my market, and that it is potential income...

Do I run the risk of upsetting this customer by rejecting the work? Do I create a new quote based on the new materials and labor costs? Do I honor a 10-month-old quote, eating the cost of the materials and labor?

I would really appreciate any feed back
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
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4,967
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Christchurch, New Zealand
#2
Most quotes have a shelf life of about 6 weeks to 3 months depending on the nature of the work. After that things change as they have in your circumstances. Eg: material costs rising and labour costs going up.

If it was you that caused the delays, then there is a reasonable expectation that you will stick with your original quote.

However, as it is the client that has caused the delays, then there is a reasonable expectation that the quote will change after such a long period.

This is where good communication comes into play. From a personal perspective I would contact the client and explain that the material and labour costs have gone up and the job will cost and extra $XXX amount.

Be professional with your communication with the client and if they get a bit upset about it………..then you have to ask the question…….Do I need the grief?

But…………It’s a tricky one and depends on a couple of things.

1. How much you need/want the work

2. The potential for ongoing future work.

Only you can answer those two questions. Principals are all very well, but pragmatism is always a better option. :)

Cheers
Andrew
 

dogcatcher

Elite Cafe Member
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Oct 6, 2013
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433
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Abilene TX Ruidoso NM
#3
My 2 cents, I bet this guy has been shopping other places looking for a better deal, he did not find it, now he is back. He and about 10% of the population are pains to deal with. I would go with what I felt was fair to me, if I lose a customer or several, it might be better not having to deal with him again. This is really just a guess on my part, but over the years in my business, I have dealt with quite a few of that 10% factor.
 

mitch

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Jul 23, 2007
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#4
the big question is Andrew's second: "2. The potential for ongoing future work. "

do you really want this party yanking your chain on every future job? 'cuz this is likely how things will be going forward...
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2016
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88
Location
St. Louis, MO
Thread starter #5
Thank you for the advice guys. I still haven't made up my mind but I have agreed to another sit down with the group of them that will finalize our transaction one way or the other.
I have reworked the quote a couple of different ways, in case, and am prepared to just walk away. Though my primary fear still stands... word of mouth goes two ways.

Phil
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2009
Messages
24
Location
Oregon
#6
I've found word of mouth is most detrimental when spoken about shoddy workmanship, missed deadlines, etc. everything else just points to a bitter customer, one of the 10%.

Like was mentioned earlier, do you want these folks jerking you around whenever they think they want a project completed.


I own and operate a service based company not related to engraving, but people are the same.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
51
Location
NSW Australia
#7
Be professional with your communication with the client

A lot of people may like your work and pay you nice compliments but the best compliment of them all is a client who is prepared to PAY you for your work. Time wasters, tire kickers are just a fact of life and so are the clients who are only prepared to pay you the same as the trolley boy at Bi-Lo. I always try to keep positive and professional in my dealings with everyone who approaches my metalworking business (engraving is a small part of it)

But pricing, as has been mentioned here before, is a funny thing - I recently got fed up making one of my items so increased the price by 1/3rd to allow me more time to make stuff I like. Guess what! Sales of that item have increased .

Steve
 

monk

Moderator
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
9,009
Location
washington, pa
#8
honoring a 10 mont quote ? to me that's a win for the client, a loss for you. esp after dealing with changes. as a beginner, i was desperate to please, and would do this sort of thing. somehow, my "lightbulb" came on. i abandoned the practice. people that are serious about what they want done, are usually willing to pay the piper.
 

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