I have about 4 serious leads, but I have yet to receive a deposit from any of them. The way I do things, I usally require a 25% deposit (or $50 if Im feeling nice) to hold their event date.
So anyway, 2 of these people contacted me more than 2 months ago, one had a tasting about a month ago and said I was a consideration, the other one had a tasting about 6 weeks ago and said without a doubt they would go with me. Filled out a contract and everything, no deposit yet. Two other people also said they wanted my services, still havent really closed the sale.
I want to be able to followup on these people, but Im a little unsure of how to do it without looking pushy. Is once a week too much? Maybe once every two weeks?
Do you guys keep a record of your leads and follow up? Or do you just leave it be and if they call back, then so be it. Im really curious to know how you guys handle all your leads.
I think everyone follows up at least once. There is nothing wrong with e-mailing someone saying how great it was to meet with them and you look forward to working with them, yadda,yadda, yadda, after the first meeting. Then follow up one more time and see if they are still interested. I don't think that is piushy at all. I'm also now redoing my business strategies as well, as I've decided to start taking on more orders. Here's to the both of us this year!
Try not to think of it as being pushy. If you don't follow-up, your competition definitely will.
Emails in addition to phone calls (both minimal in cost) are effective. The more you stay on their mind, the more likely it is that they will book you.
Oh definitely follow up.....especially for the one that filled out a contract and said they are definitely going with you.
Reason being, in their mind they may think you are saving the date for them when in fact without a deposit that date is still open.
I would send a short reminder letting them know that in order for you to hold their date you require that the deposit be made by such and such date.
If you don't hear back from them then I would assume that they made other arrangements.
I just wanted to add that I would send 1 e-mail and make 1 phone call.
I'd limit it to one email after the appointment saying that you enjoyed meeting them that day, and if they have any questions be sure to let you know. I've had customers complain to me that other bakers in town follow up more than once to see if they've made a decision yet, and they thought it was pesty.
I would say that if someone said they'd definitely be using you to see if they think you're saving the date. If no deposit has been put down, I don't consider the date booked, even if someone has said tha they were definitely going to hire me. I think that people say that sometimes to try to save the date for themselves even if they haven't really decided yet.
Whether my leads come from phone or email, I always end up sending information packets through email.
For consultations, I have an "appointment" reminder that is sent out to them after they choose their cake flavors to sample (2 flavors for party consults and 3 flavors for wedding consults.) The form specifically states that if they do not leave a deposit at the consultation (required for wedding cakes regardless of price and required for party cakes over $100), their paperwork will be kept on file for 3 weeks and then their order will be considered cancelled. Typically, clients don't meet for party cakes, only weddings. Party cakes are usually handled through email without needing to sample cakes. But some like to "try it before you buy it."
I don't feel like it's my job to keep up with them. However, I do send an email after the consultation with a write-up of details that we discussed and a computer graphic representing their cake.
For party cakes that are under $100, I send out an invoice that details what they want and that invoice says " If you accept this proposal, you must respond back to me, by email or phone, and tell me that you want me to proceed with the order, no later than 5 days before the scheduled delivery date."
For party cakes that are over $100, they get the same invoice as above. There is a note about requiring a 50% deposit 2 weeks before the scheduled delivery date. If it's not received, the cake is not ordered.
Hope that helps and isn't confusing.
How far out is the date? Brides are shopping early and they are doing more comparison shopping, so if they are taking 3-4 weeks or even 3-4 months to do that, it's normal.
I just got an email 2 days ago from a bride I spoke with in May 2009 .... 8 months ago. She's just now deciding to book for her Aug 2010 wedding.
Remember, they are not shopping for shoes which they can buy in one day. They are spending a lot of money on this event and they are taking their time.
The downside is you may already be booked by the time they make their decision, but oh well ... their loss!