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Special Order : Not as Easy as You Think!

December 5th, 2011 at 11:37 am

As a consumer and money conscious reader, you probably think special orders are heaven sent for a retailer. What could be easier than income for work not yet made?

HOLD ON THERE! Certainly if the request is a simply duplicated idea, the seller will have it easy. But special orders are made usually because the request is NOT easily replicated. Why else would it be necessary to make a special request?!

In the case of jewelry (or accessory or clothing design, for example), I found these steps to be very important in taking special orders:

1. LISTEN WITH YOUR FEELINGS. Listen to what the customer describes, not only the item desired, but WHY they are requesting the item. Different feelings are imparted to an order if it is for a simple birthday gift versus if it is for a milestone event. More interaction with the customer might be worthwhile for the emotional orders!

2. FINAL PRICE AND DEPOSIT. I am elated when I get a special order!! So happy that I want to rush out and just MAKE IT! But I have learned it is stressful and anxious for a seller to take an order, purchase the supplies, and produce the items just to have the customer back out or make changes to the request in progress. SO name your price to the customer for the order and take a deposit before starting.

Which brings up the next important step:

2. Pictures tell a thousand words! After making notes and agreeing on an order, send photos to the customer with the ideas portrayed in photos. Not the finished work, but the materials shown including alternatives and colors.

THEN:

3. Send more pictures. Send pictures of the work in progress, especially at points where the customer can make minor changes without a cost to the seller. These progress photos also give the customer confidence that the order will be done on time and according to the agreement. Not to mention giving the seller confidence that all is approved!!

Below is an example of an order I received over the weekend. The customer saw a pair of earrings in a salon where I have a case, and wanted a second pair but somewhat different. The first pair are gold and square shape (chandelier style) with a garnet dot in the upper loop.

She wants the second pair in silver (chandelier style) with a garnet dot in the upper loop. But there are no square silver chandelier frames anymore. I suggested rain shaped silver chandeliers with 5 loops below (not sterling) or 3 loops below (sterling). She is not certain what she wants on the lower loops, nor even if she wants a 5 loop frame or a 3 loop frame.

So I sent her photos like these...


Silver frame with white (clear) glass drops.


Silver frame with black glass drops.


Silver frame with suggested crystal colors for the loops.

This is not a terribly expensive order and I happen to have the supplies on hand. In fact, I am suggesting these designs specifically because I already have the materials and therefore I will pass the savings to her and keep the price VERY AFFORDABLE!

Of course that's why I am The Frugal Artisan!

Thanks for reading and Have a Good Monday!

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