Okay, here is the other half of the story. When we completed the wedding sign project, we learned five lessons about delivery and customer service. Here are those five lessons…
1. Confirm delivery specifics well in advance of the delivery date.
As we approached the delivery date, I emailed the client to confirm the date/time she wanted to pick up the signs. I let her know that we had packaging for her to take them to the wedding, and that final payment would be due upon delivery. We displayed the signs on a large table in our studio and had ready the bubble wrap and two boxes for her to transport them to the wedding. We all were in attendance and wanted to hear her reaction to the variety of signs.
2. Confirm client satisfaction.
When she saw the signs she said, “This is better than I could imagine!” Whew! It is always a gamble when you produce work and present it to the paying client. It could have gone either way, but because we listened VERY carefully during our initial discussion we knew what she wanted. We were all very pleased and glad she loved what we had produced. We reviewed each sign with her and told her our story or idea behind each size and shape. She was delighted and could not say enough nice things about how well it had been completed. She could not wait to get them set up for the wedding, as she was surprising her daughter with the signs.
3. Communicate clearly your price moving forward.
As I mentioned during our production lessons learned, we lost money on this project. We let her know that we WAY under bid on the project, and would increase our price the next time we made signs. Why do this? In a nice way it lets her know she got a real deal, and that if she recommends us to others they will receive different pricing than she received. It also lets her know that we are paying attention and know the value of our work. I have no doubt she will recommend us to others in the future.
4. Package the final product and collect the final payment.
While we wrapped the signs and placed them in the boxes, my husband collected the final payment. This got her out the door more quickly and let her know we had a plan for delivery. We then carried the boxes to her car and put them in her trunk. We all thanked her for her business and looked forward to another opportunity to create on her behalf. This team effort let her know we enjoyed creating her project and that we look forward to seeing her again soon.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for the referral.
From part one of this post, did you remember this client’s connection to an upcoming art auction? I wasn’t afraid to ask her if she would recommend our gallery to contribute…and she told me she had already given the charity director my card and told him to call us. WOO HOO! She did that before she saw the completed signs. It was nice to receive that vote of confidence AND gain confidence in asking for referrals from satisfied clients.
Here is a slide show of the signs we completed:
All in all, we had a lot of fun creating the signs and delivering a unique and special gift for her daughter’s wedding. We learned a great deal and would approach this type of project from a much better prepared perspective in the future. Commissioned work can be lucrative and frustrating at the same time. This client’s trust in our skills and creativity made this a lot easier, but it doesn’t always go that way. In moving foward with commissioned work, think and plan ahead. I have that voice in my head from my dad who always said…Proper Pre Planning Prevents Poor Performance (the 6 Ps!).
This project was a stretch for me, and I liked it. I have a couple other commissioned works in progress, so come back to learn more about how I climbed those mountains!