With temperatures nudging up it seems long lost customers are again popping up, wanting to pick up on conversations from months ago and place orders based on quotes provided in the winter. Like me, during these tough periods you probably drop your prices in the hope that it will result in more work that week. Also like me, you probably regret doing that when you are rushed off your feet again!
We all suffer peaks and troughs in this industry and balancing work to cope during the busiest periods is what makes the difference to both our sanity and bank balance at the end of each year. But, what do you do when you are pushed to breaking point? If you are like The Mole, then you probably never get around to taking a step back to think about what is best for your own business and always make the decision to put the client first. But this can be the wrong way to look at things, as the only winner in this situation is most probably the client, who doesn’t know, or care, about what was needed to get his job out on time. So, how do you overcome the problem? Well, I make sure all quotes are dispatched with a copy of our T&C’s attached and a clear statement making them aware that it is only valid for 30 days. This ‘get out of jail free’ card lets me renegotiate a previous quote on my terms and based on the parameters of the job when the order is placed.
With lead times shrinking not just to days but to hours, and same day turnaround becoming a regular request, do you keep on being the busy fool, stopping production in its tracks to get a rush job out for your best client but not charging any extra, or do you put in place a structure for charging correctly for this service? Once in a while is OK, but it can often becomes the norm, at which point that business becomes unprofitable.
I’ve lost count of the number of good customers that have gradually developed into ones that I wish I could shake off just because they want things produced at the last minute all of the time but don’t want to pay extra for the service. It’s a brave call to make, but for the sake of your own business you have to be tough with your clients and yourself too sometimes. Services need to be paid for!