I give customers a free hour of consultation. Because they may never
have met me before, and what they bring me may be something I simply
don't do, but it may turn out they like something else I do that
they may carry away with them. But I also have a contract, that says
their first hour is free. And after that the clock starts. It helps
to be verbally specific, "Sure you can come to my studio to talk
about wedding rings, and your first hour is FREE" reminds them that
if they want a studio tour or whatever else, time is well, time.
When they leave after their first hour either the contract is signed
or it isn't.
A contract is important, because, has I have learned the hard way,
that first consultation may go swimmingly, and then they get home
and have other thoughts they want to incorporate that they think
won't be that much of a bother, but YOU realized just changed the
fabrication in major ways.
I also just added to my contract (for the back set drivers), I will
be glad to send them updates on how a project is going, and send
images, and updates, but this is also considered "consultation"
time. Customers forget that every email that we respond it is time.
I do not work well with someone breathing down my neck, but I
realize the necessity of trust when work is being delivered over a
website. So yes, I will work with their comfort zone, as long as
they also recognize that they are paying for me to take the pictures
of my work along the way.
I also give them some responsibility. I tell them that their special
order is made as accurately as I can make it based on their verbal
description. But that they should be knowledgeable about my specific
style as posted on my website, and that I will not deliver anything
that is below the standard of what is posted on my website. This is
a result of what I dubbed the "Lord of the Rings" phenomenon. They
know they want something really special, which is why they are
having it custom made, but they can't be entirely specific about
what they want. They only know they want it to have some unearthly
"glow" about it. And though I feel my work is pretty good, I haven't
seen any of it "glow".
Elizabeth R. Agte