Running your own sign shop can often feel chaotic when you’re getting started, or even for those who just haven’t found the right routine yet. You want everything to stay organized and on-schedule, so each order runs smoothly but doing this isn’t always easy. If you don’t have your order taking process down pat, you could be sacrificing the final product, not to mention causing yourself and your team a great deal of stress. While this is extremely important, it can take a while to figure this process out and find what works best for your shop. Fortunately, there are certain best practices that you need to do to make this process efficient for your shop and give great results to your customers.
At shopVOX, we can help make the order-taking process for your sign shop easier. Here are nine steps your sign shop needs to take for more efficient order taking.
Find Out What the Customer Wants
The first step might be an obvious one, but it’s extremely important. You won’t be able to do anything until you know what a customer is looking for. To find out what your customer wants, you need to ask them the right questions. What is the goal they’re trying to get out of having this sign made, and when are they looking to have it completed by? Of course, one of the most important questions to ask a customer is what their budget is. To ensure that you’re asking all customers the right questions, and not leaving anything out, create a questionnaire or form to provide each customer. This is something shopVOX can help with through our sales leads and custom fields. Once you understand what the customer wants, you can start working on providing that to them.
Create a Quote for the Customer
When you know what you need to do for your customer, you’re ready to create a quote or estimate for them. It’s important to include as many details as possible in your quote and make sure you aren’t leaving anything out. Your quote should cover all aspects of what you’ll deliver to the customer, such as the size of the sign, materials, and length of time you’ll need for the project. Here, you can tell your customer exactly what you can provide for them. If they don’t have much experience ordering signs or working with your shop, they may not know everything you’re able to provide. It’s also extremely important that you include information regarding when the final payment is due. By clearly laying everything out, you can prevent any confusion in the future. This is an area where shopVOX can come in handy, as one of the important features we offer is creating custom quotes where you can do this easily.
Obtaining a Deposit
Different print shops may have different rules for obtaining a deposit for orders. Most print shops ask for a certain portion of the total before getting started, such as 50% down before production begins. Although every shop is different, there is one method of asking for a deposit that can benefit you for every order you have. The deposit for a project should cover the actual cost of creating it, such as the cost of materials and labor. This way, you already know you have the funds to cover everything you need for this order. However your shop goes about deposits, this needs to be easy for customers to make this payment. To make payments as easy as possible for all your customers, allow them to pay online, which also means you’ll receive your payment quickly. There are many ways you can do this. Two popular online payment options include Square and PayPal, so customers can pay on whatever device they’re using.
Design and Proof Approval
Now it’s time to get to the design portion of this process. This is where asking plenty of questions at the beginning will benefit you. Hopefully, you should already have a great idea of what the customer is looking for, and you’ll know what to do to deliver it to them. Of course, even if you’ve asked the right questions, you’re likely to end up needing a few revisions. You want to be understanding and listen to what changes your customer wants to ensure the final product is perfect, but you don’t want this to get out of control. Try and set a limit of around three proofs for this step, and communicate that with your customer before you begin the design process, so they know what to expect. How you share your proofs with customers is up to your shop, but shopVOX is a great option for this. We give you one place to share and discuss proofs with customers, so your communication stays organized, and you can get your proofs approved easily.
Send the Job to Production
After you have your customer’s approval, it’s time to send the job to production. What you do in this step can vary depending on the sign you’re making. In this step, you can either create the sign in-house or have a third party do this. Obviously, if a third party is handling the production, it cuts out a lot of work on your end. However, if you’re doing this in-house, you need to create a schedule to ensure the production goes smoothly, and you have all the resources you need. Everyone involved in any stage of production should be well-informed about the schedule and the tasks that need to be completed. You want to plan out each project to be as smooth as possible, and each person should know when they’re needed and for what.
You want your finished sign to be completely perfect for your customer, which is why quality control is extremely important. This is another step that can look different depending on your sign shop. One option is to do quality control once you have the final product in front of you. However, you might not want to wait for it to be completely finished. Your other option is to do quality control checks along the way, rather than inspecting it at the very end. You can do whichever you prefer, so long as you’re sure to carefully check it over before you’re ready for the client to see it. Having more than one person involved in this step is also helpful. Even if one person looks over the sign carefully, they might miss something that could be more obvious to another person.
Delivery, Pick Up, Installation
If your quality control check goes well, it’s time to hand the sign over to your customer. How you do this depends on the customer and the sign, but it’s important to have good communication around this to ensure you’re both on the same page. Will the sign be delivered, is the client picking it up themselves, or is your shop handling the installation. How the customer is getting their sign depends on their situation, so you’ll need to work out different plans for different customers. This is all information to be discussed with the customer early on, so everyone involved in this step should know exactly how to handle the situation when the time comes. You’ve already agreed on a set timeframe for when you’ll complete this project, but you want to double-check that the right person will be available when the sign is ready, whichever way you’ll be providing it. Keeping the customer up to date with their project along the way helps ensure that these final steps run smoothly.
Collect Final Payment
Your customer has the sign, and now it’s time for you to collect the final payment for this project. When the final balance is due might vary between customers, which is why it’s so important to have this established when you begin working with this customer. Each customer has unique needs for their sign, and when they need to pay for it can depend on the situation. Whether they’re picking up the sign themselves or having it delivered or installed can all affect when the final payment is due.
Building great relationships with your customers is extremely important for any successful print shop. This is why you should still follow up with your customer even after you’ve received the final payment. A few days after the customer receives their sign, you should check in with them to see how it’s going. This is an easy step that you don’t want to skip. Creating a good relationship is key to doing more work with them in the future. There are plenty of ways you can do this depending on what your shop prefers, such as sending them an email, a thank you note in the mail, or even meet up with them in person if that’s possible.
Get Everything You Need for Better Order Taking
Many of the steps in sign shop order taking give you some flexibility to do things your way. Whatever you do to make order taking efficient at your shop, you need the right print shop software to go along with it.
Learn more about how shopVOX can help you with order taking.