Engraving Business Tips & Suggestions


Chief Administrator & Benevolent Dictator
Staff member
Nov 6, 2006
Covington, Louisiana
Thread starter #1
These are some of the terms I advise customers of before accepting jobs. If engravers and artists state something like this before accepting commissions, it can make transactions go smoothly. Modify and change to suit your needs.

Bottom line for me is I hate surprises when I deal with someone. If everything is out in the open and stated clearly from the beginning there should be no surprises. The biggest mistake we can make is making assumptions. Don't assume *anything*. Make it clear as a bell before you start.


On large jobs I require a 50% deposit to begin work. The balance is to be paid in full when the job is finished and before I return the items to you.
I accept PayPal payments from Verified accounts. If you pay by check it must clear my bank before shipping. No exceptions.
[note: you might choose to request +3% to cover PayPal transaction fees]

I'm currently running about x-weeks backlog. All jobs are done on a first come basis and my backlog is subject to change at any time. If you're in a rush you should probably find another engraver. I already suffer from inbox overload and repeatedly emailing or calling me for updates only delays delivery. I will notify you when the work is nearing completion so you can arrange payment.

I primarily ship US Mail, and FEDEX or UPS as long as it doesn’t require a trip across town. I will issue pickups for UPS and FEDEX packages if/when I can’t get to a dropbox, and expect those companies to charge you a fee for pickup. A dropbox cannot be used for high value items. I commonly ship in US PRIORITY MAIL FLAT RATE BOXES.

Unless you tell me to add insurance, your package will be shipped uninsured. I’ve never had a problem with any shipments being lost or stolen in my x-years in business, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. You accept responsibility if your uninsured package is lost, damaged, or stolen.

FEDEX does not insure jewelry articles. Most jewelry stores insure their FEDEX and UPS shipments though their private insurance companies.

If you have a UPS or FEDEX account, give me your account number and I will bill the shipping charges to you.

Unless you tell me otherwise, your UPS or FEDEX package will be shipped Ground.
Nov 10, 2006
Christchurch, New Zealand
Engraving is a business process just like any other and the key to it is good, upfront communication and professionalism.

1. Your work has to be up to scratch. Do not confuse knowledge with skill. They are two separate things. Just because you know how to do it doesn’t mean that you can do it. Get your skills up to speed on practice plates. There are absolutely no excuses for wonky scrolls with dog legs in them or poorly formed leaves and substandard shading. If you are going to talk the talk then make damn sure you can walk the walk.

If your work is not up to scratch, do not go there or it will end badly. If a client asks you to engrave a gun, a piece of jewellery or whatever and you are out of your depth. Do not take on the work or it will end badly most of the time.

2. Do not differentiate between a $20 canvas or a $20,000 canvas. Always, and I mean always, put your best work forward. Or it will end badly. Your work is your signature so sign it with quality.

3. A client has the right to expect quality work no matter what the budget is. If you can’t fit the budget do not do the work or it will end badly.

4. Learn how to say no. It is the most under utilised word in the English language.

5. Never BS your clients. The proof is in the finished product. People aren’t stupid.

6. If you make a mistake, then fix it immediately and without question. Never try to BS your way out of it as so many often try to do.

7. Don’t whinge to the client about how tough the metal was or how long the job took. Suck it up and learn from it. You are a professional so act like one.

8. Treat all your customers with respect and never assume they know what you are talking about. Walk them through the job.

9. Make all business terms on your terms, not the customers. It is your business not theirs. If they don’t agree then walk away.

10. Price your work properly. Do not work too cheap otherwise resentment kicks in, corners are cut and it ends badly for either you, the customer or both.

11. If the client has a budget and all of them do, then give them quality work at that budget or don’t do it at all.

12. Stick to a deadline (if there is one) unless there is a really good reason not to. Death, hospitalisation and meteorite strikes are acceptable excuses. Being busy is not a good excuse because you should have thought about that before you took the job on.

13. If you want repeat business then make yourself easy to do business with. In some cases this will require a personality transplant.

14. God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen to what your client is asking of you. If it is not clear then keep asking questions till it becomes clear. Communication breakdowns are one of the biggest losses of business I can think of.

15. If you break any of the above rules the chances are that the whole thing will go pear shaped and end in tears.

Always remember that a lot of people will not complain directly to your face……….but they will tell everyone they meet about what a poor quality service you provided. A poor reputation is easy to obtain. Good reputations take a lot longer and are easily destroyed. So be constantly vigilant.

The only thing about our work that survives us is the quality and reputation we leave behind.

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