Rush Jobs

A Rush Order

 Learning to work with clients is an ongoing process for me. Sometimes it takes me a while before I figure out what works best for me.

A Rush Moving Job

    Yesterday I had a client who was going move this weekend. She was calling us because, as they were moving their sofa, she wanted to drop it off at our place, have it repaired, and then take it to the new play. She  wants to drop it off on Saturday, the day that they will be moving. I told her I’d call her back. I was feeling pressured because I have a lot of other work booked ahead of her. I suppose I could do it for her, but it would interfere with my other work. After thinking about it, and especially after talking it over with Emmy, I decided to give them an option. I told them that I was booked out about a month to a month and a half right now. I told her that the cost would be somewhere from $100 to $200. And, If she wants it quick, there would be a $75 rush-fee, because I’d have to move aside my other work, etc. She said that she hadn’t even thought that I would have other work in the shop that she would be interfering with, and she was very understanding. She then said that we could just put her on our schedule. I told her that I would need a signed work order  before I could put her on the schedule, and she was OK with that. I have no idea if I’ll actually get the job, but I emailed the Work Order to her and am waiting for her to mail it back.

Client: I'll Just Drop it Off

    I think that the point of this story is really for me. I tend to feel pressured if I’m not prepared to answer a potential client’s question. In this instance the client wanted to just drop off her sofa this Saturday while she was moving. In her mind it made sense. As long as she had the truck and was moving the sofa, she would just drop it off at my shop on the way to the new place. (She hadn’t even thought that I would be in the midst of other stuff, or that I would have a backlog of work.)

Clarifying My Response

    Part of my problem is that I like to be able to accommodate people. My instant inner-response is to want to say, “Sure, I can do it for you.” (But when I say that, I often don’t’ think about all the other jobs that I also said that too, and that are already on my list.) But one thing that has been really helping me is that I’m learning to say, “Let me call you back.” This gives me time to look at my work flow chart, explain the situation to my wife (She’s really good and giving me realistic feedback.). I can also think about how I’d be in the middle of a job, and would have to set the job aside neatly, organize it so that I can remember where I left off, etc. I might also have to put in extra hours to not get to far behind.
    This extra time helps me to get mentally prepared, to think out my other responsibilities, before I talk with the client. This time of preparing myself really helps me to talk calmly and honestly with the client(s).
    Too many times, when I give "instant" answers, I live to regret it. I speak from the emotion of the moment (of wanting to help (or to be the "hero" )) and not taking time to look at the bigger picture.

A Rush Fee

   Another part of this equation for me was the rush fee. I’ve seldom, if ever, charged a rush fee. My “instant response” is to NOT want to charge a rush fee. (It feels like I’m taking advantage of the customer’s situation). However, taking time to think out the situation, and the extra work that it would cause me to put aside my work,, etc. I was then able to justify (to myself) that, yes, I would need a rush fee to do this job by her timeline.

Having (and Using) Faith

    Part of the issue, for me, is having (and using) a little faith. The fear inside me says “If I don’t accept the job under her terms, I won’t get the job. (The unspoken, and often unthought, implication is that, “If I don’t get this job, I’ll run out of work, and I won’t have enough money … and  ... on and on and on.) But faith comes in to say, “God is my provider. He will provide for my needs. Yes, I’d like to take care of her needs, but I have other responsibilities as well. If I take in her job and get it right back to her, I’m not being responsible to my other clients. My other clients also have needs, and I have a duty to them as well. So faith says, be honest with the new client about where I’m at and what I can and will do. If she needs something more immediate, she has other options; other upholsters, buy another sofa, etc. (and no, I won’t go hungry if I don’t get the job.)

Taking Time Before Answering

   So, the conclusion of this matter is that, when needed or appropriate, I’m learning to take time to think before I give answers to my clients.

At Least Three Issues

Evaluation of Costs

Shop costs
Extra work involved in organizing and straightening up.
Effects on other jobs
Effects on family life


Affect on shops reputation: It would not be wise to charge an outlandishing charge just to get rid of the client or to "put the client in her place". Everything that we do will ultimately be part of our reputation and how client's percieve us.

Our Responsibililty to the Clients: We have a responsibility to treat our clients politely and fairly. Sometimes we just won't be able to meet their needs, or .... but ultimately, we are obligated, as part of a responsible society, to do what we can to be kind and courteous the the client, even if we can't do anything else for them.

Being Fully convinced in one's own mind

What's reasonable. What's fair to the our shop and also fair to the client. This would be based partly on the Evaluation of Costs, Partly on the tempermate of the shopowner,
Base partly on knowledge.
Write out a paragraph or an article about why you charge a Rush Fee. (this is as much to convince myself as it is to explain it to the client.)
What is a Rush Fee. Besides explain why I charge a Rush Fee, explain what a Rush Fee is and and what it covers.

Establishing a Policy.

Putting the Rush Fee charges on the posted hourly rates signs
Possibly putting it on your advertising flyers.

Research Presedence

What do other shops charge?
What is common in the trade?
Look it up on the Internet. See what other trades and businesses charge.

The most recent version of this can be found here.