Are you uncomfortable asking your customers for money? Are you currently using a system for tracking? Two pieces of easy advice, first ‘get over it’ and second ‘always track your sales’!

I have been a buyer and seller of handmade for years and I can say with confidence that not everyone in the business is comfortable with the above. I’m not about to deconstruct the ‘why’, but I am here to tell you that you’re in the business of selling and if you’re going to be a successful business you need to be ok with asking for money! There’s no way around it.

A good rule of thumb is this, a customer should never have to ask you how much something is. If they are inquiring about something they want to know how much too. It’s a no brainer. Don’t make them ask you. Price is not something you need to hide or be ashamed of. If it is, perhaps you need to re-look at why. I understand custom orders take some thought and consideration, but once you have those details together, please let your prospective buyer know what they’re looking at. It’s ok to give price ranges too and them know you will firm up pricing once you have all the order details together. This may save you a lot of time and effort if your ‘range’ isn’t within their budget.

Secondly, don’t leave a customer wondering if they have just placed an order or not. Invoice them! Make it official. It makes things clear that you have entered into a sales contract with them. They shouldn’t be questioning it. Or forgetting about it all together. Take the lead and close the sale with an invoice. This is your business and they are your customer. You are the lead in this dance whether you like it or not. Invoicing, deposits and payments create customer and seller commitments.

Invoicing also gives you the opportunity to layout your policies, outline the payment plan (do they need to pay a deposit or in full), include your return policies and the payment due date. And of course a personalized thank you for shopping handmade. Oh and let’s not forget, it gives the customer a chance to review the order details and confirm that you are both on the same page. If they pay it, you know you are safe to proceed with the order details as is. If they come back to you with a change, you know you’ve got a chance to get it right before you start. Avoid those awkward moments of ‘uh, sorry, but I ordered blue not red’. Those typically turn into refunds, freebies, lost customers and lost referrals. Plus, you now have a quick reference for the order details without having to scroll through a message, search for an email or even worse, write it down somewhere! BOOM.

Want to know another great benefit about invoicing? Ya ya do 😉

Tracking! Tracking tracking tracking. I can’t tell you how important tracking your sales is. Of course you can manually track your sales, it’s arduous to say the least! Ain’t nobody got time for that. Never mind the chance for human error! There are so many different payment options out there just waiting to do all the tracking for you. Ask around. See what other people are using. What do they recommend? Do your research. Try a few out, see what you like. I personally have used Square, Paypal and Moneris. Each have pluses and minuses, but all make business more fluid and clear. I know how much revenue I’ve made this week, this month and this year at a glance. I also know my most popular items, sales trends, my busiest times, discounts, refunds…and oh so much more valuable information. Information that I didn’t have to compile myself. Information I can use to make decisions about my business. Trust me, if you’re not doing this you need to start. Plus when it comes time to file your taxes you can easily access your sales data…wait, did I say file your taxes? Feels like a naughty word doesn’t it?!? We’ll get more into the benefits of filing in the New Year. Baby steps.

For now my friends try starting with invoicing your customers. After all, we all want to work smarter not harder. Let’s start 2018 with doing just that.

Yours Truly,

Cheryl Wilson

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