Here is an email with my response to a Ken Brown Certified Engraver in New Jersey. To protect her privacy and established accounts, I’m blocking some information. I think this will be helpful to some of you who follow this blog.
You are amazing! So proud of your progress and that you’ve made some great inroads with major corporations there. I’ll put my remarks within your text below.
Happy Summer to you and Gail! I have been following your BrownIines and wanted to tell you that I still look forward to the occasional tips you share; I actually print them out and refer back to them when a particular situation arises. I saw that you did an event in NYC engraving growlers-looked like fun!
Networking at its best. Your professional appearance, your excellent work, your followup….all vital for this kind of success.
A lot of info that I know can be answered w/short answers. I just did not want to forget details if we were to speak on the phone…
I engraved a Waterford clock last year and had an issue; fortunately, I was able to go to the Outlet and pick one up so the customer did not know either way. It was a very painful $150.00 lesson (I charged her $50.00 for the engraving).
As you know from the Engraving Workshop you attended here, the ‘show and tell’ of my mistakes can be painful to the pocket, but they are also a vital part of your growth. Those ‘lessons’ you never forget and seldom repeat in the same way.
Establishing fees is one of the most difficult parts of what we do. I don’t have a ‘formula,’ but base my charge on the value of the piece and the time I silently calculate it will take to complete.
Two questions (Maybe 3):
*At what price point do you have a customer sign a waiver? *Is there a waiver you have so I can see the wording?
There is no such in my work. If there is a question in my mind about possible problems on a particular surface, I explain to the customer that I won’t be responsible for plated items peeling, or extremely thin wine glasses breaking, or clear coatings on some brass items being a problem after engraving, when removing lines. If a problem comes up that I didn’t anticipate, and the issue is not my fault, we work it out on the other end. If you feel more comfortable having a signed document ahead of the work, go for it.
The foil may well have been sterling silver but engraving it was never anticipated. I called the customer and explained. No charge to her for anything I did. She understood completely and came to pick them up. She assured me there was no problem with me and said she’d return them for a full refund. End of story.
Some more back ground:
Last Christmas I engraved for _____ for 5 days per your recommendation to_____. Great gig and great pay (almost $5000.00). I have a customer (I worked an event for her at Macy’s Philadelphia this year) who wants to book another day in December. I contacted _____to see if they are doing another promo this year. He said they are working out details, but to keep my eyes open in the coming weeks. He does not know how many engravers needed, but he would love to use me again (if needed). I emailed my contact that I am away (which I am!) and will get back to her in two weeks.
Do I book my definite Macy’s gig or wait for____? How do you handle a “tentative” booking? I do not want to leave my rep hanging and then there is not an offer from ____.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This loyalty issue is tricky. You have to decide which is most important…_____, I’d guess…and tell him you have a request for that date. You cannot risk losing a sure thing when his may not materialize. He should understand. He must make the commitment or lose the opportunity with you. Unfortunately, you can only be in one place at a time….I go through that quite often.