Reasonable Answers to the “How long will it take” Question.


One of the perks of having your own business is the availability to set your own deadlines.  One of the cons could be setting yourself unreasonable deadlines.  When a customer asks you how long it’s going to take to complete a custom order, or when the should receive the product, or an estimated price, what do you reply?

First of all, don’t panic.  Secondly, let’s take a look at all of these questions separately and figure out an equation, of sorts.  You can set a reasonable deadline for yourself and impress your customer in the process.

HOW LONG IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO COMPLETE?  Someone orders a personalized birthday invitation.  Ideally, it’ll take you an hour to complete.  Your first answer to this question is “one hour, I can have it in the mail tomorrow.”  *SLOW DOWN SPARKY* Are you calculating in all of the errands that you need to run today before you can even start on the invitation?  The bookkeeping that you have gotten behind on and need to catch up?  The kids and their unexpected moods?  The forgetfulness factor that is always looming around?  I always give myself at least 2 days *extra* to get a project done and in the mail.  This way, you aren’t stressing about “I’ve GOT to get this order done.  Oh no, the post office is closed, I’m going to have to let my customer down now.  My ratings are going to plummet.”  For instance, I have an order that I’m working on right now, usually takes me 3 or 4 days to work up (it’s a big one, lots of little pieces).  I usually tell the purchaser that it will take me 2 weeks to complete.  This way, I can also work on other orders that aren’t so large and everyone gets their orders within reasonable times, and I stay stress-free and organized.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR ME TO RECEIVE MY ______?

This one is a little trickier to answer.  Most of it is going to depend on where you are shipping to, and what shipping method you are using.  HERE is a great website that lets you know about domestic shipping in the U.S.  For overseas orders, I think that the best thing to do is tell them 2-3 weeks *after* you ship it.  Make sure that you calculate in the time to make the order and get it to the post office.  Always, Always, Always, estimate too much, err on the side of caution, and your customer will be impressed (wow, it came in 3 days earlier than I expected!)

HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK IT WILL COST?  Again, another tricksy one. Especially when it comes to personalized things (hand-stamped jewelry or clothing).  Always, Always, Always, round UP.  How much time does it normally take you to make something similar?  Double that.  Then, when you have the cost figured out (by whatever method you use), it’ll be smaller than what was originally discussed and your customer will be pleasantly surprised.

I think that about covers all of the seemingly frightening questions that a customer might ask.  If you can think of anymore, I’d love to address them in the future.  Or even if you have a different answer for these questions, I know others would definitely be helped by it.  Thanks for reading!

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