The joys and tribulations of scheduling customers...


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I try to call my customers the month before their quilt is scheduled as a reminder and to set up the intake appointment. Last month was hectic and I didn't get that task done, figuring I'd see two of them at a meeting last night. One wasn't there and responded to my inquiring email that she didn't have a quilt ready and for me to schedule her again "some time in the future". The second answered at the meeting that she'd forgotten and would see if she had anything at home that she could bring me, but she "doubted it".

I realize that I need to be more proactive contacting customers and setting up intakes, but it's obvious that all of us are in the end-of-summer frantic-ness. This isn't a huge deal for me. I have a backlog of customers and I can call a couple of scheduled customers for next month and will fill the two spots. Or I may throw something of my own on the machine---woo hoo!

 

 

In any case, I'm retiring from the day-job at the store in two weeks (you can imagine how excited I am! :D ) and will be re-examining my business practices. I'll freely admit that on occasion I welcomed a no-show or rescheduled quilt. It gave me breathing room for custom quilts and I could do some charity quilts a couple of times a year. Now my time will be my own and I'll be scheduling with an eye to some off time for me and retreats and activities with my guild and girlfriends. And maybe requiring a deposit when my backlog gets far enough out that my customers forget they have a quilt scheduled!

 

I love my job, love my customers, and always encourage newbies starting a business to have firm plans in place, set forth their "rules" clearly, and make the business "business-like". I guess I need to take my own advice!! ;) If you've made it this far, thanks for listening!

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Linda, so happy that you are looking forward to retirement.  It is wonderful!

 

I think as you book quilts, and checking your schedule, asking for a deposit (non-refundable) is not out of line.  But, you need to meet a certain deadline for them.  It sounds as if people book you (sometimes) and have nothing to bring you.  Custom always takes much longer.  You need to build time into your schedule, but if they do not produce anything, it is their loss.  Book them when they send a deposit to you.

 

Ypur work is incredible.  You are so inspiring to me!

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Retirement, what a lovely word. My description: Moving from something you have to do to something you want to do. Unless you are one of the few, who actually knew what you wanted to do early on and happen to love their job. My mother said that she never dreaded getting up in the a.m. to go to work, as she loved her job. That was my reason for purchasing a longarm, to stay home and do what I love.

 

Congrats Linda, enjoy!

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Why on earth would people book your services if they didn't even have a quilt ready to go?  I think asking for a deposit when they book a time slot would be a good idea and they would either get on the stick and get their project ready to come to you or they would lose their deposit.   That's not fair to you...........Of course, we all know that ..........."quilting is just your hobby and not a REAL business".   haha   

 

Congrats on your upcoming retirement.   Enjoy it.  We often comment that we are busier now that when DH was working 6 days a week, but now we are busy doing what we WANT to do (for the most part) instead of things we HAVE to do.   We are fortunate to be able to travel and do a lot of things now while our health and bodies are in fairly good shape.  When and if we get to the point we can't do those things any more, we won't have any regrets that we should have done this or should have done that.   

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Congratulations, Linda, on being able to retire soon from your other job! I am still trying to figure out the scheduling thing. I'm just glad my customers have been so understanding that I'm still trying to figure it out and will wait on me. I have customers that book ahead when they don't have anything made yet because they know it's going to take 4-6 months before I could get to them anyway. When you get it all figured out, please share your secret with us! You have been such a giving person in your talent and I really appreciate that!

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Congratulations on retiring soon!!!!!  I am very jealous - just 8 more years for me!  I'm sorry for the hassle of customers taking advantage of you, but I do want to tell you that your advice on scheduling has been a life saver for me.  I was just working on quilts as they came in, not really sure when I would finish what, and was unable to tell my customers when their quilts would be ready.  It was hard for me to tell people it might be 6 weeks before I finished their quilt, so I would give a vague answer.  Now that I am more organized with my quilting schedule I am able to communicate clearly with my customers about finishing their quilts, and they really appreciate the information.  And even better, I now know if I am working behind or ahead of schedule, instead of just working, working, working.  So thanks again for your always excellent advice.

 

Carol

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Linda Congrats on the retirement, but do not expect to have more time..........

Once your time is your own it runs away.

 

Schedule time for yourself, family and then customers and community work.

 

I find I only schedule customers for three days per week.  So that the week I drive to visit my mother I don't quilt - but I add those three quilting days to the other weeks and quilt four days to catch up.

Since my husband still works full time I do not use my machine for customers while he is at home, occasionally for myself if I have to meet a self imposed deadline.

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CONGRATULATIONS! I AM one of the lucky ones who moved from a job I loved (teaching 3rd grade) to a retirement quilting business that I love.  I have never had a 6 month backlog and if I did it would stress me out so I will be happy with my  business that keeps me busy but not overwhelmed. I love taking  a day off whenever I feel like it. Retirement is awesome and I want to continue to feel retired.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have had some health problems (hospital & rehab for 6 weeks) finding it very difficult to get back into any kind of sensable routine. Between Doctors appointments

and rehab. I have some backlog and need to get my act together. I love the quilting and working with customers so much quiting just does not seem to be the answer.

I need some quilters counsiling. Guess the way to do it is to just put one foot in front of another until I am where I want to be. An old friend in quilting told me once that making a quilt was like eating an elephant one bite at a time. If you all have any genious suggestions please send forth. Thanks for letting me vent.

 

Ginny Snowden

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So sorry to read about your bump in the road and I hope you're feeling better. I imagine there is depression involved when your routine tasks are de-railed by health problems. You feel helpless and sometimes hopeless. Sending you a big hug!

 

Assuming that your customers are patient and kind, advise them that you've had a set-back and you're trying to get back to normal while you heal. Take small bites of the elephant and plan for short sessions of quilting to encourage yourself. Even if it's only an hour a couple of times a day---or "I'll do one more pass"--or "If I finish this one I'll have time to think about the next one next before I stop for the day". Reaching a self-imposed goal is a real smile-maker as long as you realize your temporary limitations and listen to your body. Hoping for renewed energy for you and a rekindling of the creative spark we all treasure. 

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