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is it wise to supply a proof with quote or not?

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Post Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:06 pm

is it wise to supply a proof with quote or not?

Hi

Up until a few days ago I've been supplying proofs with quotes.

The reason I stopped doing this is because I had a few customers who used a lot of my time changing "this and that" on the design.. only to decided not to go ahead with the sign.

A few days ago I also had a customer who I supplied with a design and quote for his van.
Turned out he printed off the design and went to another sign company and asked for a quote from them for the work. (we were £3 more on price but still came to us in the end)

So is it unreasonable to not supply a proof before the customer places an order?

How does everyone else do it?

Thanks

Joseph
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Post Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:09 pm

I give the quote first then get a deposit, usually 50% down.
That means the client is serious.
Then they get two sketches/ideas and one revision.
If they want an additional revision/sketch, they are $75 each.
Never give your work away, it devalues you (in my opinion) if someone gets something for free, it is not as valuable to them as something they've paid for.
Logo design is paid in full up front.
Love....Jill
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Post Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:27 pm

Joseph, this is something that you need to decide for yourself because it could mean losing business so you have to decide if you are prepared to take that chance.
Like Jill I take a deposit, not as much but at least enough to cover my time at the computer. I also have the design watermarked and a copyright notice on the printout. If I do give a proof out I also now email that design to myself after reading about it on here.

If the customer is happy to leave a deposit then thats fine but if they are not then no proof. The way I see it is that if they are not prepared to leave a deposit then they are not the sort of customer I really want. I am quite lucky though because I am in a position where I can turn work away if I choose to which I know some can't.
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Post Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:59 pm

We always take a deposit. If the customer wants to take a design away then say that will cost him £20 -£30 which will be deducted from the price if he comes back.
I Always say that its fine if you want to go to other shops for a price but don't expect me to provide the artwork thats part of MY service. If you go somewhere else for a price thats how business works but get them to do some artwork not use mine. I had a builder got assy once until I explained that if he had drawings done for an extension, would he give them to the customer for free to go hawking around every builder in town.
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Post Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:40 am

Joseph, providing a visual can really help in securing a job but can go against you as discussed here.
I recommend this watermarking program and also read my post on copyright enforcement.
If your artwork isn't marked you haven't got a leg to stand on.

https://www.uksignboards.com/viewtopic.php?t=42165
http://www.aoaophoto.com/ (Watermark software)
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:26 am

Joseph,

There are no hard and fast rules. Learn to play it by ear.

a) We normally DONT take deposits - it creates an image that you need the deposit money to buy materials to complete the job. Client's trust in your abilities goes out the door....

b) We DO require upfront payment from Joe Soap and the likes who wants a tribal on the sides of a '88 Corolla..

c) We INCLUDE artwork and reproduction on the price of any sizeable job - After order.

d) We submit samples from our portfolio of similar jobs

e) We DO supply design proposals / layouts with large quotes. Some you win, some you loose. See the time spent on designs for a large quote in the same way as money spent on an ad in the newspaper. It does not guarantee you will get the work, but it will improve your odds...

f) DONT cry if the client shops around with your design. It was, after all, a risk/gamble you took.You dont go complaining to your local newspaper if an ad you placed resulted in no incoming jobs, do you ?

If you are small / not very busy / want to stand out from the opposition in your area, supplying layouts is a good way. Be careful not to get abused, but dont loose hope the first time a "client" disappears down the road with 2 hours of your life in his hands.
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:03 am

I think it should always be quote first.

If the price is acceptable then the work starts with design.

It seems daft to me to do the design work on the off-chance that the price will be acceptable.

John
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:21 pm

I give the customer an estimate now. Tell them it's half up front before you do the artwork. If the artwork is then altered completely to their original request resulting in a larger job with increased costs to you then you have the right without complaint from the client about a higher charge because you only gave him an estimate. I have lost a lot of business due to the deposit terms but be be honest i'd rather lose the business at the first hurdle rather than find out later I've worked for nothing doing a proof. As we all know much of the artwork can take many hours of your time. Would you work for someone else in a paid job just to find out on the Friday the boss has decided to fire you, refuse to pay you and set someone else on? I don't think so.
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:32 pm

I had an email the other day "we will let you draw up a few ideas for us, if we like them, we will give you a deposit"
Bullsh!t!
That's like going to a restaurant and sampling three or four entrees, and if you like them, you will buy the dinner.
Restaurants don't do that and neither should sign folks.
We normally DONT take deposits - it creates an image that you need the deposit money to buy materials to complete the job. Client's trust in your abilities goes out the door....

Gert I respectfully disagree with that entire statement.
I actually DO need the money to buy their materials.
It's not like I have a warehouse full of custom sign supplies in my backyard just waiting for the day when someone orders a lighted American flag sign that says "Happy Birthday Emily".
(that happened once, they wanted it the next day too)
Why would a client not trust me for needing a deposit?
If anything, they will take me seriously because it IS a serious business.
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:37 pm

Jillbeans wrote:I had an email the other day "we will let you draw up a few ideas for us, if we like them, we will give you a deposit"
Bullsh!t!
That's like going to a restaurant and sampling three or four entrees, and if you like them, you will buy the dinner.
Restaurants don't do that and neither should sign folks.
We normally DONT take deposits - it creates an image that you need the deposit money to buy materials to complete the job. Client's trust in your abilities goes out the door....

Gert I respectfully disagree with that entire statement.
I actually DO need the money to buy their materials.
It's not like I have a warehouse full of custom sign supplies in my backyard just waiting for the day when someone orders a lighted American flag sign that says "Happy Birthday Emily".
(that happened once, they wanted it the next day too)
Why would a client not trust me for needing a deposit?
If anything, they will take me seriously because it IS a serious business.


Christ......Jill you do have an aggressive side after all! :D :D
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:43 pm

Just being honest.
I literally HATE to see people give their work away.
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:44 pm

Totally agree with Jill.
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:00 pm

I supply simple layouts with some quotes. Comes on a sheet with copyright warning and the image carries a water mark. Some I win, some I dont, but luckilly the jobs I have lost out on so far have not copied the layout. :lol1:

It is a gamble, but also backs up the quote given.
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Post Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:17 am

Everyone seems to supply the design with the quote over here in our cold Sweden. When I was just getting started I used to supply my artwork without any watermarks och similar stuff. That was until I saw one of my designs in 5 cars rolling beside me, I got so ( oh i swore ) off that I drove to the customers shop. I parked outside his shop and thought about going in a giving him a piece of my mind, but at the end decided it wasn't worth it.
From that moment on I only send out pdf files that are watermarked and that don't allow the customer to print the design. I must say that I haven't gotten any complaint about it in the hole year I've been doing it.
When it comes to down payment I only take it from customers that I sense
that they might trick me.
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Post Mon Jul 27, 2009 2:50 pm

Sorry for the delay.. been busy with the current job (posted pics in the portfolio forum)

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I like to try and keep customers happy, but the way things were going, I'd end up putting myself out of work with all the time wasters.

I did tell a big customer on the weekend that I'm stopping the proofs with quote (I had a problem with them using my time and deciding not to place the order)
So they excepted my quote straight away!


Thanks again

Joe
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Post Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:41 pm

Peter Dee wrote:I recommend this watermarking program and also read my post on copyright enforcement.
If your artwork isn't marked you haven't got a leg to stand on.

Silly question. Is it determined by a Law that if there is a watermark on artwork it proves that artwork is yours?
I can't see any way how watermark can prove ownership.
For example I can (as everyone with some experience can) reproduce any visual, can get any watermarks removed and new ones put on how can you prove that it's me who copied your visual not the opposite?
I can't see any way how I can protect my artwork from a thief.
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Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 3:58 pm

I've advertised that artwork costs are £25, but I've yet to actually implement it.
I have been spending far too much time on cs4 and not enough time making money. When I'm a bit more established I will definately not be giving away my time and hardwork for a chance I MIGHT get the job.

I have a games/pc shop aswell and I never give trade-in prices for games/hardware/repairs etc unless the customer is there with the item. (We get a lot of shop around people and other stores checking prices)
So I think thats relevant....
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Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:43 pm

Tomas Vidziunas wrote:Silly question. Is it determined by a Law that if there is a watermark on artwork it proves that artwork is yours?
I can't see any way how watermark can prove ownership.
For example I can (as everyone with some experience can) reproduce any visual, can get any watermarks removed and new ones put on how can you prove that it's me who copied your visual not the opposite?
I can't see any way how I can protect my artwork from a thief.

Thomas, it's not just the watermarks but the copyright symbol being implemented.
Then in any case of law other factors and documents would enable you to prove that you were the originator.
Bearing in mind I now use feint watermarks which are placed all over an image at an angle, it would be pretty laborious to clone them out. Also, who's going to do it? Not your typical customer as he will be passing on artwork to another sign maker and would that person then put themselves in such a position? I used to just place a copyright notice on an edge but these can be got rid of too easily.
Remember that our problems arise when a potential customer shows our artwork to another sign maker and since no two designs can ever be the same from independent people, it is generally not too difficult to find something unique in your design to prove the case.
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Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:18 pm

Tomas, the best way apparently is to email it to yourself, I will definitely be doing that once I am up and running properly again.
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Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:45 pm

These days its a matter of just giving them a quote after extracting as much info from them as possible
My time is valuable and I don't have a lot of it to be doing drawings
If they think my quote is fair they normally get back to me
Then I can start to put a few ideas together for them

At the end of the day many customers have no idea of how much signage costs so initially they maybe just inquiring about how much a sign is going to set them back in terms of budgeting
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Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:06 pm

John Singh wrote:These days its a matter of just giving them a quote after extracting as much info from them as possible
My time is valuable and I don't have a lot of it to be doing drawings
If they think my quote is fair they normally get back to me
Then I can start to put a few ideas together for them

At the end of the day many customers have no idea of how much signage costs so initially they maybe just inquiring about how much a sign is going to set them back in terms of budgeting

Wise words, Mr. S. :)
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:26 am

Gotta totally agree with Jilly...We do exactly the same as her and won't change.
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:25 am

Contrary to what many believe - supplying a proof with each quote does not give you a commercial advantage.

First there is the time taken - a reasonable quality design isn't "knocked up" in 5 minutes it takes time to produce. (This time is unpaid for if you don't actually get the job so you will have worked for nothing). These costs will be accounted for in other work that you do which makes these jobs more expensive than they need to be

Second there is the customers perception. If you aren't charging for your time - there are many that will never be satisfied and will come to expect endless permutations until they finally arrive at a design that they deem to be acceptable.

Believe it or not - but a customer paying for a design is more often easily pleased than one who is not. (Simply because he doesn't want to keep shelling out more money on endless permutations).

My advice when dealing with a new customer is always get a deposit before producing any artwork. This leads to a commitment on his part as well as yours.

However, for an existing customer with a trading history with you - a different set of rules should apply depending on your business relationship and history
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:37 am

Apart from with our main customers (who we know we will get the work from) we too don't do any artwork without a commitment. having said that we rarely take a deposit apart from people I think we may have bother with.

What amazes me is why other business people expect us to go to endless lengths for a very small order and when you refuse take their ball home.

I am not saying that this is how we have always worked but the busier you get, the better you have to manage your time. In the past I had one cheeky bar steward say I too expensive to on some 40x60 posters. When invited to go elsewhere to look for them he actually had the balls to ask for my artwork. A lesson was learned very quickly.

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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:18 am

Phill wrote:(This time is unpaid for if you don't actually get the job so you will have worked for nothing).

And that's if you do that work yourself. It's even worse if you employ people to do it. Then you have to pay them on Friday, and no income to do it with.

Phill wrote:However, for an existing customer with a trading history with you - a different set of rules should apply depending on your business relationship and history

Absolutely correct. We are trying to implement the "no drawing until deposit paid" philosophy for the one-off customers, but with the likes of leasing companies we still do drawings on a "some we win" basis, but at least with them the volumes are higher so the cost of artwork on a per van basis can be minimal.
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:53 am

I do designs at my own risk for existing clients and the occassional first time applicant if its prudent to do so, but on the whole quote first include design cost in the quote incase someone accepts but doesnt proceed you can just invoice them for the design as agreed in the quote.

I watermark to and recently have started publishing to PDF via Corel using security permissions, and if you really want you can convert to JPEG then send as PDF providing theres enough resolution client gets a good proof but no use to anyone else.

John
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:53 am

Phill wrote:Believe it or not - but a customer paying for a design is more often easily pleased than one who is not. (Simply because he doesn't want to keep shelling out more money on endless permutations).


Possibly , but then you might be forcing them to settle for something they are not 100% satisfied with. :-?

The way I go about it is I always tell my customers I offer free layout for jobs that go ahead, if the job does not go ahead then there will be a charge and design charges are separate. So if I have to re-create logos etc then they are charged but if it's just laying out logos supplied and text then it's free. A lot of customers really like the fact that I tell them I will do changes until they are 100% happy as it is their sign and they are paying for it so they need to be 100% satisfied with it.

of course the time is built in to the quote but it's the perception of you going that extra mile to give them 100% satisfaction goes a long way.

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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:19 am

You do NOT have to watermark and copyright your designs, it's automatically yours in law.
Proving this is a different matter, one little change is all it takes, and as has been pointed out anyone can add a copyright notice to a design, it doesn't mean it's theirs.

I asked this question of a copyright specialist and the above was his answer.

As to proofs, depends on the client, regular customers get one, new ones depends on how they approach me.
Some are friends, some come from word of mouth and some are out of the blue so I make a decision based on how I feel about them.
But as few have said a lot of customers just want an idea of price to start off with so why spend time doing a design for a maybe job?

Steve
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:42 am

Warren Beard wrote:
Phill wrote:Believe it or not - but a customer paying for a design is more often easily pleased than one who is not. (Simply because he doesn't want to keep shelling out more money on endless permutations).


Possibly , but then you might be forcing them to settle for something they are not 100% satisfied with. :-?


Perhaps I should have said the person who is not paying for your time is happy to keep on wasting your time - rather than the person that is paying for your time realises that your time has value and would prefer not to waste it.

I'm all for going the "extra mile" but watch out for the ones that take liberties
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:22 pm

Perhaps I should have said the person who is not paying for your time is happy to keep on wasting your time - rather than the person that is paying for your time realises that your time has value and would prefer not to waste it.

I'm all for going the "extra mile" but watch out for the ones that take liberties


Exactly.
Like I have said, I do not even turn on my computer without a deposit.
I never let someone stand behind me and watch me design.
That leads to them wanting to see their name in every font I own.
Or endless "Can I see that in red?"
If they have paid for my services, at the very end of the design process, if they happen to have a question (this is rare because I listen to what they are asking) then I let them come into my workroom and stand behind me while I make a tweak or two on their design.
And you don't have to give away a sketch, a lot of people remember your suggestions and simply tell them to the cheapo cowboy they hire.
I had some woman do that once back in the day when I was all too happy to show off my new toys. She didn't get her sign from me, but it looked exactly like what I had doodled up on my computer in front of her!

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Hey there Leroy! Long time no see!
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:17 pm

Depends on where you are and what you can get away with but round here it would be seen as unprofessional to ask for a deposit. As said before it would give the impression of needing the money to buy the material, not a good look for an established company. I can take my car to the garage without paying up front and I can order stuff in at the local hardware shop... lots of people on here seem to think we are a special case as signmakers, were not, were in a competitive market and there are others out there able to do what we can do (yes they can, not everyone is a cowboy!) so do what you can to win the work! Proofing before quoting is fine if you feel it is and if over time your making money who can say it's the wrong way to do it?

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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:54 pm

Gavin MacMillan wrote: I can take my car to the garage without paying up front G

But you can't take it away again until you've paid for it :-?

Gavin MacMillan wrote:Proofing before quoting is fine if you feel it is and if over time your making money who can say it's the wrong way to do it?

G

Surely you would make even more money if you achieved 100% utilisation of your time instead of wasting time on speculative layouts that didn't go ahead?
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:05 pm

But you can't take it away again until you've paid for it


Yes I can, not everyone is cynical.

Surely you would make even more money if you achieved 100% utilisation of your time instead of wasting time on speculative layouts that didn't go ahead?


Yes, so lets not quote jobs either, after all we may not get them??? I'm not saying do it all the time no questions, I've been doing this long enough now to get a feel for jobs, I go with that and it works here, it's not going to work for everyone though.

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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:19 pm

Even a quote can be tricky because everything I do is completely custom.
But I give quotes every day.
Usually in writing via email AFTER a phone inquiry.
I do not like to quote on the spot without proper research.

If the person wants to pay what I propose, they come and see me and we talk about options. Then I get a deposit. Then they get a sketch.

I did, this week, send an old client a sketch when he was going to add two panels onto a pylon type sign for a very small shop.
But I just superimposed what his sign would look like beside the sketch which I had emailed to the deposited client, his landlord.
It was to prove that the new sign would be more legible than the one I did for him many years ago using his typeface.
That did help to seal the deal.
But that was the first time I'd emailed something without a deposit in at least 4 years.

I had a client for whom I lettered a van ten years ago go to another sign shop and they photographed my handlettering and came up with a very shoddy looking copy for billboard use. I tease him about it to this day when he comes to me for more vehicle lettering.

Again I say there is no shame in the client realizing I need to buy specific materials which I would not stock in house for their custom job.
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:19 pm

Gavin MacMillan wrote:Yes, so lets not quote jobs either, after all we may not get them???


That's actually very good advice Gavin. I have on occasion turned down the opportunity to quote for a job when I have realised during the course of the enquiry that the whole exercise would be a waste of my time.
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:36 pm

Good, long standing, regular customers with a credit account are something else, but for the normal retail customer it's not a matter of whether you need their deposit to buy materials, it should be their demonstration of good faith.
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:51 pm

John Childs wrote:Good, long standing, regular customers with a credit account are something else, but for the normal retail customer it's not a matter of whether you need their deposit to buy materials, it should be their demonstration of good faith.

I can see how asking for a deposit could be seen that way, but I suppose it's how you present your business image to people. When Arnold Clark ask for a deposit before going through a finance application I dont think they dont have the cash. So, I would agree with John: unless its a previous customer or a big established company (fingers crossed) I would ask for a deposit (for the artwork, or to start job). I've had so many customers lately have me jump through hoops because of their enthusiasm only for them to never come back and not answer my calls.
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:41 pm

For a general layout I give the client upto about 30 minutes before I start talking money, by that time I can usually tell if they are serious, or just testing the water, and can usually sell them something within their budget.

I honestly dont see why we should be any different to other trades,
I would not expect to be charged for a double glazing quote, or a new kitchen. and they would give me a cost and a print out of the layout, not copyright, or going to sue if shown to competitors....

Customers need to be shown what they are getting, or at least something similar, but you must choose how you utilize your time,

Show them your product and sell them the benefits,
but don't ask for money up front until they have agreed that they want to go down your road, then a deposit is a mutual sealing of a contract.
then artwork can be modifies etc

Peter,
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:07 pm

One of the worries is though is if you only spend a few minutes on a design just to give an idea and another company spends a bit longer on something better they might win the job simply because their design was better. It makes it difficult then as doing a quick job just to supply a layout could actually end up costing you the job.

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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:26 pm

Warren Beard wrote:One of the worries is though is if you only spend a few minutes on a design just to give an idea and another company spends a bit longer on something better they might win the job simply because their design was better. It makes it difficult then as doing a quick job just to supply a layout could actually end up costing you the job.

Warren


We need to educate the customer to appreciate the fact that the layout and design is as much a part of the work as actually producing the sign.

An architect wouldn't draw up a speculative design for a house (as part of his quote) if he was approached for his services, why should a signmaker?

A quote is different. Of course the customer is entitled to know how much his job will end up costing. This is why we have portfolios - to demonstrate the standard of our work and demonstrate the range of possibilities and prices. So the best way is to show the customer some examples and explain the costings.

When I get an enquiry asking how much a sign will cost I often ask "how much do you want to spend?" I then try and explain that depending on their budget they can get anything from some simple lettering to a full wrap and anything in between.

It's a difficult subject and something we all struggle with.

But it doesn't help when many are keen to "give away" speculative designs free of charge (then complain when a customer takes it somewhere else to be replicated) which I believe only devalues our industry. :-?
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Post Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:22 am

I agree but was just commenting after Peter said he will do up to 30 minutes before making a decision to charge or leave it. I was just pointing out that another might spend more time to secure the customer. I'm not saying it's right or wrong it was just me thinking out aloud really :roll: :lol1:

Warren
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Post Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:14 pm

One of the first questions you need to ask your client is "What is your budget?"
This is really hard to do.
But I don't want to waste 30 minutes of my life educating a customer about the finer points of a good logo design or a costly sign when all they were looking for is the price of a Calvin peeing sticker.
(God I sound like a real b!tch)
But I have been at this for so long that I can sort of just tell whether the person is a tire-kicker or they are serious. If they are serious, of course I will discuss things.
Many people just don't realize how much certain types of signs cost.
Again, I do not like working for free or giving my ideas away to someone who doesn't value my experience or my opinion.
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Post Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:04 pm

Another slant on this.

People buy from people and if you sit down for 30 mins to do a design, that 30mins can also be used to build a relationship with the prospective customer. When I was in sales we used to talk about any old sh!t to try and get to know the customer.

I personally think that common sense has to prevail here and it all depends on the client.

Just my take on things.

Thanks

Gary
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Post Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:47 pm

We are here to provide a service and do it as best we can. People shop about, all places of work get some jobs and don't get others, it's just the way of it. I think there is a danger of over valuing what we do as well as undervaluing... at the end of the day it's making signs not sending a rocket to mars!
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Post Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:26 pm

So, do you charge the customer for the proof to take away?

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