Life with Crohn's, Crafts, and Cruisin'.

5 Ways to Easily Manage Custom Orders

5 Ways to Easily Manage Custom Orders

There’s a very distinct feeling you get when creating items just to create. I mean, there could be an underlying reason- building inventory, selling in retail, bolstering your online shop, just because you feel like it. Really though, there’s nothing like creating custom orders.

I love them for a few reasons. First, I love that someone has looked to me to create something for them or for a gift that has a special meaning, silly or not. I also love them for the sheer fact that I love to see what people want to put on an embroidery or cross stitch! Often times, I’m not in on the joke, but sometimes, there’s moments where I crack up at their ideas.

 

image

For me, custom orders tend to come in waves. And sometimes, those waves feel like a tsunami. Here are my 5 tips on handling a flood of custom orders or even one-offs.

  1. Set expectations
    • When you first speak with your client, discover what date they absolutely need this by, and be realistic with them (and yourself) if it can’t happen by then. If you’ve got 15 custom orders ahead of them, plan for that. You may have a typical 2-week turnaround, but add in all of the other orders you need to complete, it may be more like a month. If it means losing that order, don’t sweat it. It’s better to give them quality work that you’re proud of, than half-ass it just to get something to them fast.When both of you have agreed to a timeframe, stick to it. Don’t give them a reason to question why they went to you in the first place. And! If something comes up where you absolutely, positively can’t get them their order on the agreed-upon date, give them a heads up and explanation as far in advance as you can. Try not to let them come back to you questioning where you are. Keep the ball in your court.
  2. Discuss pricing up front
    • If you have a set price you use for custom orders, or an additional fee, let them know up front. It would be wise for you not to work on a project to completion, only to have your client suffer from sticker shock at the end. Let them know your price points, and provide them with the options you allow for payment. If you’re selling through Etsy, communicate with them via the order, and have a separate line item for your custom work (if you’re choosing to upcharge.)
  3. Get as many details as you possibly can, even if you think they’re silly to ask
    • In my line of crafting, I have a standard set of questions I need answered before I can begin working.
      • Would you like embroidery or cross stitch?– I send them examples of each, in case they don’t know the lingo
      • What size would you prefer (if embroidery?)– I provide them the size hoops I offer, with the price points attached to each so there’s no surprises
      • What color scheme are you looking for?– Typically if it’s a gift, they don’t have a specific requirement, but if they’re trying to match something to their existing decor, I try to get it as close as possible.
      • When do you need it by?– I usually get my biggest flood of order right before Christmas (due to the Crafts & Drafts show being in November.) So typically, everyone needs theirs by the same date. I try to work with them to get realistic dates, even if it means after that holiday.  I have yet to run into resistance! Everyone seems to understand time constraints.
      • How can I get it to you?– If they’re local, I try to meet up with them so neither of us incur shipping charges. If not, I send my flat-rate priority shipping so they can have tracking as soon as it’s on its way.
  4. Send progress updates
    • I love sending my clients updates on the progress of their order. It’s great for them to see the thought and work that goes into each piece, but also great for me in case they want to change something up before I’ve gone too far. As long as it’s not reworking something that’s already been stitched, I’m always open to feedback for them.
  5. Ask for a follow up
    • This is great for your social postings and for you to see what happens to those orders once they leave your home. I love seeing where my pieces end up- offices, walls, bathrooms. It’s fun to know that someone gets to look at it and laugh every day.

Here’s a couple of shots of just some of the custom orders I’ve tackled in the last few months.

 

 

What about you? Do you find yourself creating custom orders? How do you handle them when they come in? Any tips you’d like to share?

IMG_0491-3