Needing advise on how to handle a situation in customer relations.

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Forum topic by Blackie_ posted 01-08-2013 02:36 PM 1874 views 1 time favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4883 posts in 2750 days

01-08-2013 02:36 PM

HI LJs I’d like others opinions on how to handle a situation when a customer request an order but leaves you unsure if they want the item or leads you on that they do want the item after completion but never come forth.

Back on Dec 8th I was requested to build a custom box for a customer as a Christmas gift in the shape of a cupcake in which I completed and the transaction was made, I then placed pictures of that box with a description on my facebook business page stating that it was a commissioned box, I received a huge response as it was a huge hit, one of the ladies which is also a facebook friend left a comment with admiration and excitement that she wanted one so I got to work on that one and had it complete on around the 13th, I then sent her a PM letting her know that it was ready, I never heard back for a couple weeks I just figured she was busy through the Christmas holidays so I sent her another message asking if she was still interested on Friday the 28th, she responded the next Monday on the 31st that she was and that she would send me the money via paypal, I’ve still not heard anything from her and have other customers that are interested in the very same box.

So should I go ahead and let it go or hang onto it? If I let it go just build her another if and when she’s ready, and what would I say to her?


-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

41 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3396 days

#1 posted 01-08-2013 02:46 PM

Give her a deadline. Let her know you have another prospective buyer and you cannot risk getting stuck with no buyers. Also, get a phone number.

I would strongly consider not doing such communication online. I’d do these things by phone and leave the Internet for marketing stuff.

-- jay,

View boxcarmarty's profile


16837 posts in 2598 days

#2 posted 01-08-2013 02:48 PM

Sell it Randy. In this business the person with the money wins. It sounds to me like she wanted the box but doesn’t have the money to pay for it. If she does decide she wants it, tell her you need 50% up front to cover materials…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30143 posts in 2576 days

#3 posted 01-08-2013 02:51 PM

Give her a deadline and in the future make sure you get a deposit before you build.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9238 posts in 3158 days

#4 posted 01-08-2013 02:51 PM

Well, it seems to me that she really does want it, but perhaps she just can’t afford the payment now. I think you need to get in contact with her (maybe on the phone) and talk to her and see what she really wants to do. Perhaps she will make a partial payment to hold the box until she can pay for it in full. Maybe she wrote out the excitement of seeing it and over-extended herself and doesn’t quite know how to tell you. In any case, you need to communicate with her.

If you have others who want it, I would (very nicely) explain that to her. That way it would either let her off the hook if she over-extended or cause her to firm up with you.

It probably isn’t anything personal. She probably loved it and wanted it but didn’t think everything through. In my dealings with people for many years, I learned that you can never assume what the other is thinking or going through. By being professional and reasonable, you can’t go wrong. If she doesn’t have the money now, perhaps you can offer to do one later on when she is ready. Only next time take a down payment before you work on one.

While down payments are tricky to ask for from ‘friends’ it not only puts you in a “professional” category, but also insures that both parties are on the same page and protects you from misunderstandings. It is a good practice to follow.

Good luck in the outcome. My advice is to talk to her first. Then do what you need to do. Either way – being up front with her is the best way. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3597 days

#5 posted 01-08-2013 02:53 PM

I would let her know that there are other buyers interested and give her a deadline. I also think that if you’re doing this as a “business” you should tell prospective customers that you need a deposit up front, just so you don’t have to go through this BS very often. There are a lot of people out there that will tell you they want something right up until its ready. Then they have other priorities.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2750 days

#6 posted 01-08-2013 03:03 PM

Thanks I was kind of inclined to selling and they just making another with monies up front I’ll make a note for future sells to get partial monies up front before the build.

In regards to being able to afford it, my asking price was reasonable I thought at $60.00 I gave her this information before as well and she agreed.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2428 days

#7 posted 01-08-2013 03:03 PM

i’d sell it.cause you gave her a month and no money.
i’ve had a lot of people want me to build stuff but when i ask for half down since most is custom i never hear from them again.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6274 posts in 3591 days

#8 posted 01-08-2013 03:06 PM

Send a reply and give her a deadline. That would be fair.
Deadlines should be set up front. And I would also request a down payment of at least 20%. This rule should include everyone you do business with. It’s good business practice, it keeps you from playing the guessing game and allows you to get on with your work
I’ve learned my lesson a long time ago!
I sense you have a heart of gold but business is business!


-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Sodabowski's profile


2385 posts in 3071 days

#9 posted 01-08-2013 03:12 PM

The folks above already said it but it bears repetition: ask for a deposit and give a deadline. That’s what I do when asked for custom stuff. Unless it’s cake and for the family ;)

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2750 days

#10 posted 01-08-2013 03:18 PM

This is great help, thanks for all the comments, all worth it’s weight in gold and makes perfect sense, I’m so glad I asked this question and will start practicing deadlines and monies up front on future sells.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3546 days

#11 posted 01-08-2013 03:23 PM

I always get a deposit of 50% and the balance upon completion. People who are seriously interested will send the deposit and the others who are not will become obvious… I cannot imagine anyone needing to stretch out payments for a $60 item…and think she might have been just complimenting and not really being serious about buying.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3207 days

#12 posted 01-08-2013 03:26 PM

You are in a lucky position in as much as you can sell this piece to someone else who can pay for it now. Good job it’s its not a custom desk or something like that.
If you are making custom jobs then I certainly don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a deposit before commencing work – at least enough to cover materials, but as these boxes are in demand, I would just sell it. If the original buyer comes back to you looking for the box, make another one

View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 2863 days

#13 posted 01-08-2013 03:29 PM

I use facebook to sell my boxes all the time and get lots of commissions from there. I always get a 50% deposit on custom orders. That covers my materials if someone decides they don’t want it. I also get payment in full plus shipping before I go to the post office. If I get a check, I make sure it clears my bank before I ship. Remember, facebook gives a false since of “knowing” someone. I like to think most people are honest, but in business it’s better to be safe than sorry. I am the same way with my angelfish. That’s why I am so careful to protect the integrity of my name.

I know this doesn’t really help on this one, but hopefully it will help avoid it in the future.

Last thought. I did have one commissioned piece that I had trouble getting the final payment for. After the box sat around my house for a month or so, I kindly told my client that they had one week to have it paid in full, including shipping or I would sell to another interested customer. I received payment that day. They had a substantial down payment.

Hope this helps a little.

-- JoeyG ~~~

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6274 posts in 3591 days

#14 posted 01-08-2013 03:29 PM

Could it be when someone says ”I want one” they are really saying they want one but don’t want to buy one?

This could be true but not knowing what people are thinking brings to mind, we should get a down payment and have a deadline for the rest of the $.

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View DocSavage45's profile


8734 posts in 3080 days

#15 posted 01-08-2013 05:45 PM


You did a post on why do artists ask for so much. when you see it differently? I believe you are underselling yourself? Time , materials (what is the cost of purchasing spalted woods) and overhead are factors. Now there is customer relations. Be nice but don’t be easy? Sell yourself and the box. Expect more and let them negotiate? If the box is done, full payment. If needs to be built, half up front. All details of the customer should be kept for future reference. Consider paypal as well?

I have people who see me on their insurance, and do not know what it covers. I too have to be more business and less easy? Otherwise my time is worth nothing and as my wife says “It’s not a hobby!” LOL! I am looking into credit card payments.

Good luck Mr. Businessman. There are some good books on Amazon re: Marketing a woodworking business.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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