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Meeting clients when working from home


#1

Hi All

I need some advice or input.

I work from out of my home. I don’t advertise it nor let anyone
know, especially those who live near me for this is somewhat of a
sketchy area.

Those of you who work out of your homes as well, how do you deal
with potential clients who want to have something personally made and
want to meet with you? How do you meet with them to discuss details?
do you talk over the phone? meet them at a coffee shop? invite them
to your home?

I feel uncomfortable having people come to my home even though they
are not privy to the fact that my studio is there,(especially
strangers). I understand that you should meet with them, especially
if it’s an elaborate piece or sizes and/or dimensions need to be
discussed. I haven’t had many commissions and I’m not sure how to
deal with it.

Also, what percentage of down payment do you ask for?

Thanks so much
Carol


#2

I meet them in the living room, my shop is next to that. We discuss
their needs and what my thoughts are, etc. My wife is always present
in the house. I estimate the cost of goods to make the project. That
is the minimum down payment, then the rest of the cost (my profit)
is due before the piece(s) are delivered. Costs include metal,
stones, consumables (solder, etc.) and shipping.

John


#3

I never meet with clients at least for the first meeting at my home
studio. I will always suggest meeting at a local coffee shop to get
a sense of who they are first and then maybe at my studio after
that. I never have an address on my business cards or website. This
might cost me a job once in a while, but my family’s safety far out
weighs any potential sale.

I ask for a 50% deposit to begin a job and if there is a large stone
involved that I need to purchase I ask for that up front as well.
When the piece is complete and meets my client’s approval the final
payment is due within 10 days.

Good luck!
Jim


#4

The meeting places you mention are the last resort options for a new
client.

So no, to those.

Any consultant after an initial communication goes to the clients
place of business. so does the independent insurance agent, who goes
to meet the client in his/her home. Lawers doctors or the like work
the other way of course.

So if you can arrange it, go to their homes, by appointment. Youll
then get a feel for what they like, and the general ambienceof their
tastes.

Take with you lots of photos of previous work you have been
comissioned, after all your there to help the client choose
something special.

However something in writing by way of an introduction outlining the
way you want to conduct your business will pave the way, so to speak.

As to a deposit. Likewise your written should or will
set out your terms of business for comission work.

Work like a professional!
How much you ask? as a deposit.

It has to be the material costs including any stones. So if you get
to an agreement for an initial design at your meeting, confirm that in
writing withing a couple of days, in a follow up letter, asking for
confirmation of this as the clients instructions for you to proceed,
making sure you dont order in materials / stones etc before you
start. And get the deposit! For a customer who comes back for more
commissions, then you can relax your business approach to suit.

I do commissions on a regular basis with a business client, who in
fact gives me a purchase order in writing with costs and delivery
dates printed out.

This client and I have an agreement that on presenting my invoice on
delivery, I get paid by bank transfer in 14 days.

If they screw up and they need the work say overnight, yes it
happens, then I quote a price to reflect this. And I always deliver.


#5

I agree with Jim.

I do a lot of my communications through email. When meeting in
person is necessary, I have a local coffee shop and bar that I let
the client pick from. The people who work their know who I am and
what I do and it seems to work out well.

I also do not put my address on post cards or business cards.

Best of luck!
Christine


#6

Tim and I work out of our home studio. We never post our address
anywhere.

We carefully vet our clients. Most are wholesale and thusly
professionals who respect our anonymity. For many years my neighbors
had no idea what we did for a living. I still seldom tell someone
I’ve just met what I do. " Oh I’m a musician".

We have movement sensor lights all around, cameras, and guns and
make no secret of the fact that we are very well trained, armed and
dangerous. I’ve even considered getting a NRA sticker for our doors.
This won’t keep serious professional jewel thieves out but does scare
away most local thugs.

Keep safe and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#7

This is my advice.

I am a member of the Elks Club. There are many other clubs around.
They havea club that so open from 10 am to 12 pm every day. I have
my clients meetme there and take their orders in that secure and
comfortable place. After a few orders I might invite them to see my
work shop which is very large 1,000 sq ft. Only if I want to be
close friends with them. If not then I also have a travel agent who
has set up a small display place in her office that I also use to
meet customers in. I give her a commission on all jobs I take there.
Little like paying rent but only when someone places a order. She
can sell anything I have in stock at retail and I charge her
wholesale. win win for all…


#8
"Oh I'm a musician". 

That sounds like it’s true in your case Jo! I bet most who do this
at home have a cover story. To deflect the, "what do you do"
question, I’ve heard others in the tribe use things that range from
the vague, I do design work for small companies, make product
prototypes, model maker for industry, a consultant or “I’m and
artist.” To the more specific, a gunsmith, manage our trust fund, a
tool designer. Then there is always the big, maybe wishful lie, “I’m
retired.” Mark


#9

Thank you Jo, appreciate your input.

Sounds like your well armed and ready :slight_smile:

Carol


#10

Thanks so much for your input Vernon. That sounds like a very good
idea. Although we don’t any clubs like that around here. I guess
that I’d have to settle for a coffee shop or something of the like.

Carol


#11

I go to the clients place of work or home. never do they start at my
home-base. In fact, as of today, no more business cards will have my
home address on them. Not even the city, or postal code. nothing! If
I give out my b. c. and somewhere in my mind I hope that I don’t get
any unsolicited visits…:> (don’t need the worry or hassle.

They might know of my home-area, but these days, everyone must be on
guard!!!

Gerry Lewy


#12

Hi Are you allowed to take guns into coffee shops just to cover all
the bases.

DONNIE


#13

Donnie - Depends upon the state. Do you have concealed carry? Are
you licensed? Open carry when meeting with a client is most likely
not a good idea (if your state even allows it) :wink:

Kaleb


#14

Hi Donnie

Hi Are you allowed to take guns into coffee shops just to cover
all the bases. 

Some states will let you carry a concealed gun, but you must get a
gun permit to do so. I know in NH, NH’ers can carry concealed guns
as long as we have the necessary permits. I know a number of people
who do so, so that’s why I know cuz people tell me. In Texas, I’m
sure you can do anything you want. After all, the Freestaters have
"adopted" NH.

Before you start packing, check the state and town regulations.

In a tongue in check way, some of my hunting students and friends
give me their discarded bullet casings. I clean them out in my
ultrasonic cleaner, drill airholes in the rim, and make measuring
spoons out of them. Guys get a kick out of them when they see them.
I prefer to use the new, empty bullet casings before they are
filled, so I don’t have to go thru the cleaning and drilling stage.

Joy


#15

I really am wondering about the cost vs benefit of this kind of
secrecy. I can imagine the problems of convincing potential retail
clients that a jeweler should be trusted when that jeweler won’t let
the customer know where they can be found. My world is a brick and
mortar storefront with all the regular jewelry store security. I have
the benefit of being established in the same very visible location om
Main Street for many years. I fully understand how secrecy is an
effective tool for security if you work from home or in a more
vulnerable location. So how do you overcome the trust issue with the
customers?

Stephen Walker


Andover, NY


#16
So how do you overcome the trust issue with the customers? 

Stephan, I think it could be real problem if you are doing work for
the general public and you’re never quite sure where your next
customer is coming from. But I’m guessing that most people who work
from home either have relationships with a select group of customers
who regularly request work well established, like if you sell
wholesale. Or they build their client base and trusting
relationships by going to them, thru shows, showings or the web. I
can’t imagine trying to run a business modeled on your retail store,
even on amuch smaller scale, out of your home. Although I’m sure
some try to do it.

The beauty of this business, or any business, is that if you can
figure out who you are and how you want to live and work, you can
design your business around that. There is no reason to do things
you don’t want to do if you can figure out how to eliminate them
(and still make a living). Sometimes it takes a little courage, but
usually the bigquestion you ask yourself after you’ve made the
change is, ‘why didn’t I do that sooner?’

Mark


#17

Stephen- Retail is hard work. Really. It’s like being on stage
performing, reading body language, psychoanalyzing your clients, and
running numbers in your head all at the same time. I am humbled by
folks like you who can do that and make fine jewelry at the same
time. Me? I can make jewelry or be nice to the public. Pick one.

We don’t do retail so we can be as secretive as we want. Tim and I
mostly make custom through galleries and retail jewelry stores. We
have some private clients who have been known to us for years or come
on the recommendation of folks in the trade that we know. Our clients
already trust us before they even come here.

It drives advertisers crazy when they try to sell us their services.

“Don’t you WANT your customers to be able to find you?” “Nope” We
only use a land line for biz, no cell phone either.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#18
I really am wondering about the cost vs benefit of this kind of
secrecy. I can imagine the problems of convincing potential retail
clients that a jeweler should be trusted when that jeweler won't
let the customer know where they can be found. 

That really is the crossroad of doing retail from home, isn’t it? I
know in my case, that’s exactly why I opened a retail location. The
best way to prevent theft is to give no one any reason to think that
there might be something worth stealing. The best way to grow a
business is to make sure that as many potential clients as possible
know about it. The two really don’t work well together. I found them
to be completely incompatible.

Having a shop in the home can be a great way to keep expenses low,
but there is a cost. Next to the obvious personal safety and security
concerns, probably the largest problem is the credibility and trust
issue that Stephen describes. The next one is the lack of insurance
coverage available to the home craftsman. Sure you can get it, but
it’s usually very restrictive and requires some investments in a
security system and a safe. I think a check of one’s homeowner’s
policy or mortgage agreement may also reveal wording that forbids a
home business, or at the very minimum limits coverage when there is a
business being run on the premises. Mine did. And then there’s the
marketing aspect.

I would recommend that a home based shop be limited to doing
wholesale work or creating goods that are to be sold and marketed
outside of the home, at shows or online for instance. The risk of
being the victim of a crime is just too high to open it up to the
public. You don’t necessarily have to worry about your clientele,
it’s mainly the risk posed by the other people that they know, or
even the people that they know, know, that should be cause for
concern.

“Where did you get that pendant?”

“I got it from a metalsmith that works from her house, Isn’t she
talented? You should see her shop! It’s so cool!” I’ll have to
introduce you though, she’s really careful about who she lets in."

“Really?? Wait til my sister-in-law sees it! She loves that kind of
thing and she’ll want to meet her.”

Word of mouth at it’s best. The part of this story that we don’t
know yet, is that the sister-in-law’s boyfriend’s son just got
released from juvenile detention for assault and breaking and
entering for the fourth time, and tomorrow he’s going to overhear a
conversation about a very talented and security conscious metalsmith
creating beautiful jewelry at home. It won’t be long until all of
his little buddies from juvey hear about her too. And who knows who
they know that might be interested in that little piece of
or how much the story will have been embellished by the
time it gets to the end-user.

That’s the kind of thing that you have to worry about, and unless
nobody knows where and what you do, you have to assume that if one
person knows, everybody knows or can find out. Once it’s out there,
there’s not a darn thing you can do to control who gets access to
that

There are also local ordinances that might come into play with the
home shop. In many parts of the US (specifically) there are zoning
restrictions that prohibit running a retail business from a
residential location. So a home craftsperson may face not only an
elevated risk of home invasion or burglary, a lack of sufficient
insurance coverage and a real marketing conundrum, but fines and
other legal action from the local government, if the shop is not up
to code and they ever find out. They can fine you and hit you with
interest and penalties from day one too, in many locales.

The very worst way for them to find out is immediately after a
break-in or even a fire when the police ask for a list of things
damaged and/or stolen and by the way, how come you have all these
tools in here. That’s not the best time to find out about insurance
conditions and limits or mortgage restrictions either. The burglary
or fire may actually end up being the easy part if you haven’t done
your homework. And unless you hold public office, the fact that you
"didn’t know" won’t get you any breaks from anyone.

Of course every situation is different, and the things that I face
here may be quite different from what someone in rural South Dakota
is dealing with. Still, there’s no free lunch and urban America isn’t
the only place bad people do bad things. I put my family’s safety and
the security of other people’s belongings entrusted to my care above
all else. That’s why I don’t work from home anymore.

Dave Phelps


#19
You don't necessarily have to worry about your clientele, it's
mainly the risk posed by the other people that they know, or even
the people that they know, know, that should be cause for concern. 

Words of wisdom. It’s funny how little things change. Since the
beginning, we humans have always had to fortify to protect what we
value, be ready to defend ourselves or our stuff and generally be
wary and ready at all times. Just be glad you don’t have to dig a
moat around your castle or bury your valuables in a secret spot.

Personally, I think you and those that you love at almost and equal
risk whether you work at home or have a store/shop/studio at a
second location. You need to take steps to secure your people and
things as best you can, then stay on your toes.

Mark


#20

Hi re Stephen’s post

I am a two person business myself and my wife. We have a showroom
which we run by appointment only. My workshop is in the same
building. Those we see there we have met before at our market stalls
and have judged them as reliable. Or they come referred by people we
know.

Unknown people I meet at a local coffee shop in a gas station, CCTV
on all who enter. If they pass the test they can then meet us at the
showroom. Customers like the mystique of this security arrangement.

We do not keep stock at the showroom/workshop. We keep that at my
house in the country. Two guard dogs and all who live in the bush in
Australia pack serious artillery. Also with the quick delivery time
from suppliers we carry very little stock to make up. I am also
security trained and also trained in unarmed combat, not the belt
factory BS but the “dead before they hit the ground” stuff. Rule one
of which is give them what they want, unless you see an opportunity
to strike. Live to fight/trade another day.

Also I do not take many stones from customers to set. For example I
have orders to set some serious quality opals, rings, earrings and
pendants. About 20 pieces all up. I am working through this order
one piece at a time. Less risk for all concerned.

About market stalls, they are great advertising, people see the
stock and quality of work. And are happy to order or come to the
showroom to discuss serious pieces. Because of the low cost of
running stalls we can offer our work at wholesale prices.

Richard
Xtines Jewels