How to handle customer inquires in your quilting business
As a professional machine quilter you will get all sorts of questions lobbed to you from potential and existing customers. Likely the most common inquiry you’ll get is for a quote on how much you charge for machine quilting. The second most common question will likely be about your “turn around” time is. While you may think your customers are asking about your ballroom dancing skills when asked this question, they actually want to know how long it will take you to quilt their quilt and get it back to them.
I find it best to pad my quoted estimated delivery date. I like to add two weeks to any time estimate I give. Then, if I get it done sooner they will be thrilled. If I don’t add in those extra two weeks and it takes me longer to get their quilt back, they won’t be super happy with me. I always pad my turn around time a bit and suggest you do the same.
I have found that by posting my pricing very clearly on my website I can cut down on the number of phone calls I get for simple quotes. My customers appreciate that they can quickly get a sense of how much it would be to quilt their quilt. I have examples of the cost for common sizes of baby quilts, lap quilts, twin, queen and king.
If you have a website for your quilting business and are using WordPress on your website you can embed an interactive calculator on your site. The calculator would allow your customers to input the dimensions of their quilt top and get a customized price quote without having to call you. Take a look at my website’s calculator to get a sense of how this interactive calculator works.
Many of my customers email their questions to me. The email service I use, Gmail, has the ability to use canned responses. I save typical email responses to the most common questions I get. Those responses are saved as a “canned response”. Then, when I draft an email to customer I can select any number of my saved responses to the common questions and with a few slight changes, I can personalize the email back to my customer.
The vast majority of your customer inquiries will be through a phone call. Consider setting up a second phone number that is just for your business. It is possible to set up a free business phone number that gets forwarded to your regular phone through Google Voice. This service also allows you to select what hours of the day you allow business calls to roll forward to your regular phone. Be sure your voice mail messages are all professional and friendly. You want to present your business in the best possible light.
Above all else, think about what information you would need if you were going to hire a machine quilter for your project. Be sure you have clearly thought through those questions and know what your response will be when asked. Make sure all contact you have with your customers is professional and always respond back to any inquiries as quickly as possible.
Do you currently quilt for others? What is the most common question you get in your business? What challenges do you have when communicating with your customers? Join us over in the APQS.com forums and let us know!