Im starting to have a bit of trouble getting back to clients. It is just me and the number of inquiries have increased for various things needing my attention to the point where I can not keep up. I do custom design all orders, and I typically dont repeat exact designs. I cannot keep up with the designing and pricing process, bridal tastings, emials, actually making and putting the orders together, updating the site with new information, shopping for the business, and all my business stuff I have to handle on the backend. Im getting tired of going to bed at 4-6am only to wake up to more emials and phone calls. Im noticing that while im out or even holding a tasting my phone will light up with a new message or phone call. (I do keep it on silent during meetings. l like to use the calulator on it during the consult)
Im starting to feel like no mater the order clients come to me, I need to only deal with current clients as they are the source of my current income. The ones who have dates in the future are only holding me up for the current ones. I know this is bad but this is how I feel. The number one problem is clients asking for future dates. As im starting to get more clients, they are trying to book early to get on the calendar in advance.
I feel like I should just shut down for a week or so just so I can get caught up with no, or few new inquiries but I could loose potential money. I am in no means a situation to hire anyone to help me. That is not an option. I know this should be a good thing, but it is very tiring. Im just starting year two and Im already having a hard time keeping up.
How do I organize all this? Should I put up some sort of notice to clients that it may be awhle before I get back to them? I kinda want them to know Im one person and that I am not always sitting behind my desk waiting to answer thier every question. I do have to actually make thier orders.
Sorry for the long rant. I just don't know what I should do to make it easier.
without knowing specifically what you're doing when, it sounds like you're doing way too much work at the initial contact.
Them: How much are your cakes and can you make me one that looks like this?
You: That sounds possible. let's get together for a sampling appt so we can discuss the details together. I have Tuesday at 5:30 or Thursday at 9:00 a.m. available. Which works best for you?
i dont' believe you (generic you) should go more than 3 emails (and 3 is 1 too many) without having an appt for them to come in an talk. OTherwise you're just doing a lot of design work for nothing.
You might also start to notice what questions you're getting all the time and do a FAQ sheet that you can email out and/or add to your website. Every single thing that I could tell a bride was written out in multiple FAQ sheets (I had a Delivery Info sheet; Indiana licensing info sheet; Misc Tips; Tips for a Successful Outdoor Wedding; Wedding cake pricing; catering menu/pricing; and more). Click click click, they're all attached and emailed in just a few seconds.
I agree with Debi (wonderful font of information there!) but also I wonder what email application you are using? In Outlook (and probably in billions of other applications) there are autotexts you can slip in and customise how you see fit - I use them dozens of times a day. I just paste my autotext, customise the bits which need changing (e.g. names, dates, numbers etc - the bits I need to change are all in a bright red font so I can't miss any of them and I change the text back to black once I have made the required change), and hit send. They literally save my life in busy periods, and I have them for *everything* - I probably only type out 5 emails a day from scratch, the rest are edited autotexts.
Also, you could maybe put an auto-responder on your emails with a "terribly sorry but snowed under right now, am dealing with my clients on date-basis and will get back to you as soon as I can" - obviously not a very good long-term solution but for a short-term backlog it will help for a week or so - will stop "chaser" emails.
If you're *that* busy, maybe it is time to review your pricing, and raise your prices a little, and instigate a minimum servings policy? It sounds like you have a good customer base, so is it time to work smarter and earn more money on less caking - so you will be doing less work, but earning more for the work you do take on - so your income will stay the same but your workload decreases?
My last tip is similar to Indi's about getting them in for a consult - don't forget you can use your phone - so many emails can be cleared up in 3 mins in a phone call which takes 10 mins to reply by email... so maybe you can print off any emails which can be sorted on the phone, and next time you are in a waiting room, or standing in a queue, or driving somewhere (only with a car handsfree kit of course!) maybe you can clear some up that way? It's amazing how much business I can get done in a 40 minute drive.
Best of luck going forward!
I also found that "scheduling" office time helps. I spend 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes after lunch, and 30 minutes after dinner. I find the "drop everything and answer me now" calls or emails really took more than the 3 minutes I "thought" it took... screen ALL calls, sift through emails.
Good luck! Oh, and as always, IndyDebi has it all. You should NOT become the "answer queen". If there is no $$$$ in it for you, drop them fast.
you sound like me about a year ago. Well I fixed it by doing appointments 2 days a week(4-5 hours both days). I did strict appointments by the hour but some didn't show , so now between these set hours, I tell them to show up and they wait for their turn. Rules: 1. at least 2 wks, a wk if I'm not booked for your order 2. bring $50 to book, half need to be paid a wk before date 3. If they ask for pricing, tell them your start $ for ex. 2 tier $150, 3 tier $200, 3D-$200, or $3/serving, 3D $5/serving 4. maybe you are to cheap, if you rolling like that its time to go up, you might scare off some people. But hey trust me it will be worth it. you won't be so tired, and it will feel worth it. 5. all emails I send them my number, copy and paste. or send them all the info, let them know you are the only designer to pay attention to details. so you do appoint. only and info on your pricing and deposit requirements. copy and paste same info with number. don't try to design something through email. 6. Thursday- Saturday is strictly focused on my weekend orders. and 7. should have been first, ask them what day first maybe you are already booked and save some time. And those loyal cutomers that helped build your business will return, but earlier next time. & Stop stressing, get organized.
Now that I'm about to open shop, I will have pics available or they can bring in their on. Let them know it will be similar, not exact. To custom design each cake its too much time. Now if there is someone that want something different, I'm going to set a starting pricing plus a fee that will go toward the cake to design something.
I hope this helps. and sorry I forgot, my very first step was do a starting price of $100. I stopped a lot of calls. But to know if I have ten orders and they are all over $100, most are over $200 is worth it to me. Don't stunt your growth with old customers that don't want to pay or the new ones. Good luck
Raise your prices and post a minimum on your website.That will eliminate a lot of the looky-lous.
Yup..Totally agree...If you raise your prices and add a minimum it will cut down on the people who are tire kicking.
What helpful information! Dreme, as far as I'm concerned you are so freaking talented that you could raise your prices as much as you want.
Totally LOL at the "tire kickers"! Never heard that one before.